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Author Topic: How important are light wheels / tires?  (Read 7355 times)
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Ruffy
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« on: March 26, 2005, 02:51:26 PM »

I've read in a few places that installing light wheels (9-12#) will make the Miata considerably more responsive. I would assume that tire weight would be at least as important, although I am unaware of any particularly light tires. Does anyone have experience with light-weight wheels and/or tires, especially on the MSM?
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Neil
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2005, 08:23:51 PM »

Sure, lighter tires and rims will  make the MSM faster, how much? I had a 96M before the MSM, and I could see where heavier rims could affect the acceleration, but the 96 had a normal aspirated 1.8. I think with the FM downpipe and Hydra ECU, the weight difference will be negated IMHO

As far as handling, I think the MSM stock setup is great with the 17" Racing Hearts. I do want to change to  better stickier tires soon. I have read where people think the ride is too harsh, but again my MSM is a far better riding and handling car than the 96M.

I did laugh when people showed concern over getting curb rash with the 17's,

park carefully, it's not like a Miata is a hard car to park laugh

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04 Titanium MSM FM DP Hydra ECU, 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9
04VRMSMX5
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2005, 04:04:49 PM »

Good points Neil. If Mazda did their job correctly, and I believe they did, the suspension (i.e spring and damper rates) is selected with the stock tire/wheel weight in mind. It is true that the springs/shocks work harder with heavier wheels/tires, but as long as they were designed for the weight, it shouldn't be a problem. Acceleration could be helped slightly by lighter wheels/tires, but it would be harder to get light enough to make a big difference.
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Eric
gtgray
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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2005, 08:06:58 PM »

Good points Neil. If Mazda did their job correctly, and I believe they did, the suspension (i.e spring and damper rates) is selected with the stock tire/wheel weight in mind. It is true that the springs/shocks work harder with heavier wheels/tires, but as long as they were designed for the weight, it shouldn't be a problem. Acceleration could be helped slightly by lighter wheels/tires, but it would be harder to get light enough to make a big difference.

Ah I beg to differ. If you have ever dropped 5lbs a corner on a Miata, you darned well will notice, the improvement in acceleration, braking, stopping, and handling in general. I had a Protege with steel wheels and plastic alloy wheel look hupcaps new from factory. I put some 18 lb cheap enkei wheels on it, with sub 18 pound Toyos. The factory stuff was about 42 lbs.  It transformed the car. I can only imagine what a 12 or 13 lb wheel would have meant.

 I went from factory 16s on my 2001 LS to SSR comps. The difference was impressive. Unfortunately the SSRs 16s were not robust enough for me to use. I guess I just can seem to avoid enough of the very common potholes in Houston. I am hoping my 15' GT3/ Kumho MX combo will save 4 pounds a corner when I get them, and I expect to feel the difference. Unfortunately if you get to the super light wheels even forged, they are just not that strong, especially with superlight tires which usaully have softer sidewalls (think Toyos). I hope I will be striking the right balance... with the GT3s, light enough to improve acceleration and other dynamics, rugged enough to survive ahile in the real world.

My Mazda3 factory stuff is getting worn. If only I had the budget to go to lighter wheels on it when I change the tires. Last week I drove a Mazda6 as a loaner while they ironed out a few issues with the MSM, the 6 had steel wheels with the funky alloy look hubcaps. This was the second time I had a Mazda6 as a loaner. The first one had aftermarket alloys on it. The first car was a blast to drive, even more fun than my 3. The second car with the steel wheels (read heavy) was as souless as a Buick.
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Gary Gray

FM DP K&N Filer panel
Magnaflow Exhaust, Forge MSM specific DV on the car.
Cruise Control still in the box not on the car.
15" Rota GT3s Black with Polished Lip... Yeah Muddy made me do it.
Michelin Exalto P2
Neil
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« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2005, 10:16:38 PM »

gtgray,

it was already stated that lighter wheels would make a large difference a normally asperated 1.8, like in your 2001. A MSM, with mods like a downpipe and ecu, I do not think the accerlation will be that much difference.

And I agree that the MSM was designed for the stock Racing Hearts in mind and after I got a performance alignment, I think the MSM is the best handling stock Miata ever built, with the stock rims. I would change my rims if I didn't like the looks, but I think they look very classy.

I don't get all this "we have to buy new rims becuase the stockers are too heavy stuff" I weigh 165 lbs, and just adding a passenger will REALLY make a difference. Maybe the "heavy weights" (over 200 lbs) should consider lighter wheels, or a diet (just kidding)

Now if someone has either the track or autoX in future plans, sure, go with light rims and r compound tires. For those of us who just like spirited driving on the twisties, the stock setup is great.

Too many people read and have to be like the miata.net fanatics who think their every word is positively true.
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04 Titanium MSM FM DP Hydra ECU, 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9
gtgray
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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2005, 10:50:07 PM »

gtgray,

it was already stated that lighter wheels would make a large difference a normally asperated 1.8, like in your 2001. A MSM, with mods like a downpipe and ecu, I do not think the accerlation will be that much difference.

And I agree that the MSM was designed for the stock Racing Hearts in mind and after I got a performance alignment, I think the MSM is the best handling stock Miata ever built, with the stock rims. I would change my rims if I didn't like the looks, but I think they look very classy.

I don't get all this "we have to buy new rims becuase the stockers are too heavy stuff" I weigh 165 lbs, and just adding a passenger will REALLY make a difference. Maybe the "heavy weights" (over 200 lbs) should consider lighter wheels, or a diet (just kidding)

Now if someone has either the track or autoX in future plans, sure, go with light rims and r compound tires. For those of us who just like spirited driving on the twisties, the stock setup is great.

Too many people read and have to be like the miata.net fanatics who think their every word is positively true.

I am not replacing the wheels and tires to get a performance gain, that will be a fortunate by product. I am replacing them because I have bent too many expensive wheels. The Racing Harts can stay in the Garage for a long time, and when if ever the car goes on auction block I will have the OEM wheels in pristine shape. The Racing Harts on the 2004 are very expensive wheels to replace. Unlike my 2001 the MSM is not going to see so many mods that it can't be taken easily back to bone stock. I have a suspicion that down the road the MSM, will easily replace the 10AE as the NB of choice for a collector, especially the leather cars. If my finances hold out.. in time this car will get a hard top painted to match.

BTW you really are missing the point when you talk about your weight. Lighter rims equals lower unsprung weight and lower inertia. Every single bump and ripple in the road puts less force into the suspension, and then car if the unsprung weight is lowered. The smaller diameter will have less of a gyroscopic effect which is the inertia that makes the car want to keep on going in the same direction even though the drive input is saying go another way. Another piece of the gyroscopic inertia is the loading on the brakes. You have a bigger lever to work against.

The Racing Harts and R28s are very nice combination... I loved the way the car handles stock. Unfortunately they are just are too fragile and expensive for me enjoy the car to the fullest based on my personal experience bending wheels on the Miata. The fact that there should be a modest but noticeable benefit to acceleration, braking and compliance over rough surfaces are icing on the cake for me. If I bend a Rota oh well. Bend one Racing Hart and I can almost buy a whole set of Rotas.

BTW I am 173 lbs this morning, and I am on a diet... I should weigh under 160.. My fiancee is a little less than 110lbs...  If I was just looking to save weight I would ditch the spare, as I have done on the 2001. There are more and easier opportunities to loose sprung weight than unsprung. A dry cell battery at about $115 is good for about 10 lbs. Some of the aftermarket exhausts will save you ten or more pounds depending on what you eardrums can stand.

I have done all that and more on my 2001 which needs the perfromance help much less than the MSM.  The KB blown 2001 makes power from idle up.... and the boost is immediate. It is a whole another kettle of fish, but it responds favorably to lighter rims even with all the power because  the wheels stay in contact with the road better.

Just take a 15 lb hammer raise it up a foot and drop it. Now do the same thing with a 30 pound hammer... you will find not only is the 15 lb hammer easier to raise, it does not break as much concrete as the 30 lb. I know that is an extreme example but in sense that is exactly what is happening when you go over a bump. The bigger rims are beautiful..... and Mazda spent a fortune to light wheels on the car, so I can't criticize the handling, I just don't enjoy buying expensive replacements or even thinking about it when a wheel slams down into that inevitable chasm of a pothole.

I remember reading about how you could take a field mouse and drop it 30 feet into a well, and it would survive unscathed while a heavier animal would be smashed up fatally.
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Gary Gray

FM DP K&N Filer panel
Magnaflow Exhaust, Forge MSM specific DV on the car.
Cruise Control still in the box not on the car.
15" Rota GT3s Black with Polished Lip... Yeah Muddy made me do it.
Michelin Exalto P2
Neil
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2005, 11:02:25 PM »

I understand your explanation about unsprung weight and handling characteristics. On my 96M, there was no doubt that 17" wheels would have been way too heavy for a bumpy road, not to mention a harsh ride, it was bad enough with the 195/5015 S02's I had on it.

I don't know what it is, but the MSM suspension just seems way more gentle, yet stiff with less body roll. The cowl shake is even much better on the MSM, I don't really notice it.

I guess where I live, the roads are not so bad that I cannot avoid pot holes, at least I haven't bent a rim yet.

I guess I just got ranting from all the naysayers on the "other" forum who said toss the 17's for 15 or 16, when I bet they had never ever driven an MSM. I really like the one's who say toss the turbo and replace it with an FM, when we haven't even begun exploring what RWHP we can make with the future mods that are in the works now.

Cheers afro
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04 Titanium MSM FM DP Hydra ECU, 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9
04VRMSMX5
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« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2005, 02:14:29 PM »

Last week I drove a Mazda6 as a loaner while they ironed out a few issues with the MSM, the 6 had steel wheels with the funky alloy look hubcaps. This was the second time I had a Mazda6 as a loaner. The first one had aftermarket alloys on it. The first car was a blast to drive, even more fun than my 3. The second car with the steel wheels (read heavy) was as souless as a Buick.


I wonder if that had something to do with the 2.3l 4cyl in the Mazda 6i versus the 3.0l V6 in the Mazda 6s?
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Eric
gtgray
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« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2005, 07:38:05 PM »

Last week I drove a Mazda6 as a loaner while they ironed out a few issues with the MSM, the 6 had steel wheels with the funky alloy look hubcaps. This was the second time I had a Mazda6 as a loaner. The first one had aftermarket alloys on it. The first car was a blast to drive, even more fun than my 3. The second car with the steel wheels (read heavy) was as souless as a Buick.


I wonder if that had something to do with the 2.3l 4cyl in the Mazda 6i versus the 3.0l V6 in the Mazda 6s?

The were both 6i, it was the wheels, it was the steel wheels. I had the same experience with my Protege, it came from the factory with steel wheels, and it would not stop for crap, would not accelerate or turn either.. Putting even cheap 18 lb wheels on the Protege transformed the car. I save about 6 lbs a corner.

 The steel wheel/OEM tire combo on the Mazda6 must weigh 45 lbs a corner. The other 6i had aftermarket alloys. People never want to accept what heavy wheels do to a car's handling, braking, and acceleration. I have seen it too many times. I am not an advocate of saving the last pound or two on wheel/tire weights as you pay a premium price and loose reliability, but there is certainly a sweet spot where you can get reasonably light wheels and tires, without breaking the budget,  and still have confidence that the first pothole is not going to break something, and get much or most of the acceleration, handling, and braking benefits associated with light wheels.
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Gary Gray

FM DP K&N Filer panel
Magnaflow Exhaust, Forge MSM specific DV on the car.
Cruise Control still in the box not on the car.
15" Rota GT3s Black with Polished Lip... Yeah Muddy made me do it.
Michelin Exalto P2
enuttage
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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2005, 09:27:33 PM »

I'm thinking of going down this road as well, and am happy to hear that I'll feel a difference.

The stock wheels are stronger than many (dealership trying to sell me a wheel warranty, for one) would have you believe. I've taken two *serious* hits in the past two weeks without incident (knock on wood). Either would've crumpled my old 17" SSRs I was running on my Audi. That being said, it'd be nice to *only* ruin a $100 wheel.

Now I have to decide if the 15s will look too small. Smiley
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Jae
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2005, 01:35:35 AM »

I'm thinking 16's are a nice compromise (based on FM's photos of their MSM at the track).  I like the idea of filling up the wheelwells too with 225 to 245's.  Course that will probably negate the weight savings of going to a smaller wheel, esp if I elect to buy the 7.5" wide Kosei K1 rims.
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2005, 04:01:39 AM »

I must be the only one who thinks the stock wheels are incredible looking.  Yes they can be bumpy on a rough road but , call me crazy, I like to feel the road   cheesy
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2005, 04:36:29 AM »

I also like the stock wheels. I have had a hard time finding anything signifcantly lighter without a lot of $$$. I think if it was a matter of 45lbs a corner we would see a difference. I for one dont want to swerve all over the place to avoid the massive amount of potholes around town or on the freeway as far as that goes, because I bought wheels so light that they can bend or break as may not have been designed for street use. Here in FL the potholes grow into sink holes that can swallow a car or a house or a lake for that matter. If it makes you feel good to have light tires and wheels, by all means go for it. afro
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04VRMSMX5
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2005, 03:06:47 PM »

I must be the only one who thinks the stock wheels are incredible looking. Yes they can be bumpy on a rough road but , call me crazy, I like to feel the road cheesy


Not at all. I like the stockers a lot. This coming from someone who's bought more than a dozen sets of wheel and tire packages over the years for various cars. Several of which are stacked to the ceiling in the garage at the moment.  rolleyes  Since the weather here seems to have finally turned the corner, I replaced my winter tires with the stockers and noticed something interesting. The stock wheels and tires ride better than my winter ones do. Winter tires BTW, are 205/50/17 Pirelli Sottozeros on Kosei K1-R 17x7.5 wheels. They are lighter than stock (don't know how much exactly, I forget to weigh them when I changed them), but enough to notice when lifting to place on the afore mentioned stack. I can't say how much is due to the weight versus the different tires, but I'd be shocked if the Pirellis have a stiffer sidewall than the Toyos. They're quieter also, which isn't that surprising with the extra siping on the snow tires.
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Eric
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« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2005, 05:34:21 PM »

I must be the only one who thinks the stock wheels are incredible looking. Yes they can be bumpy on a rough road but , call me crazy, I like to feel the road cheesy


Not at all. I like the stockers a lot. This coming from someone who's bought more than a dozen sets of wheel and tire packages over the years for various cars. Several of which are stacked to the ceiling in the garage at the moment. rolleyes Since the weather here seems to have finally turned the corner, I replaced my winter tires with the stockers and noticed something interesting. The stock wheels and tires ride better than my winter ones do. Winter tires BTW, are 205/50/17 Pirelli Sottozeros on Kosei K1-R 17x7.5 wheels. They are lighter than stock (don't know how much exactly, I forget to weigh them when I changed them), but enough to notice when lifting to place on the afore mentioned stack. I can't say how much is due to the weight versus the different tires, but I'd be shocked if the Pirellis have a stiffer sidewall than the Toyos. They're quieter also, which isn't that surprising with the extra siping on the snow tires.

Mazda did its homework on the stock bits. It has that magic combination of little or no body roll, sharp steering, yet relatively soft ride.

If the stock wheels were $150 a piece for replacements I would not change a thing. I think the stock wheels are real beauties.

A 17" open look wheel does look a bit funny on a Miata though. Just a bit too much of the wagon wheel, baby buggy look for me. That is mostly because they open design Racing Harts don't reveal massive brake rotors. They are marvelously easy to clean compared to most wheels. For me it just comes down to replacement cost if I bend one...it is a small fortune to replace. Bend two well you have a sink hole in the making.

I have better things to spend my money on than wheels so installing something other than the stockers is not a want, but a need. I too have a big stack of take-off wheels in the garage. I don't relish the idea of stacking up 4 more, but I am cursed by bent rims, so I will choose to bend $125 wheels, not $350 wheels.
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Gary Gray

FM DP K&N Filer panel
Magnaflow Exhaust, Forge MSM specific DV on the car.
Cruise Control still in the box not on the car.
15" Rota GT3s Black with Polished Lip... Yeah Muddy made me do it.
Michelin Exalto P2
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