Cars: Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality? - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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CarsAre bigger wheels really ruining ride quality?

17:50  04 july  2019
17:50  04 july  2019 Source:   autocar.co.uk

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Car maniacs always want bigger wheels than the stock ones, just for aesthetics. But do they really know the consequences? In my opinion, for a sports car with moderate specs, 17 and 18 inch wheels are the best choice. Sizes bigger than that are expensive, and a bit annoying over time, and sizes

Out the box, these wheels are ready to ride because Hunt provides them tubeless ready, and once set up the rims give a perfect seal. The Zipp 303 Firecrest wheelset have a very stable ride quality , but they’re also very quick and really rocketed up to speed and stayed put long after you stopped pedalling.

Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality? © Autocar Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality?

You’ll have read plenty on these pages over the years about how a car’s wheel size affects how it drives. There’s a reason why we bang on about it with such regularity: yes, there may be style benefits to upgrading to the most extravagant rims, but more often than not they have an adverse dynamic impact.

Yet it appears our protestations are falling on deaf ears. Wheels are continuing to get larger across every new car category, and buyers keep on lapping them up. The rise of the SUV has also had a marked effect, with most running wheels and tyres substantially larger than their hatchback or saloon equivalents for that chunky look.

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Replacing a standard size steel wheel with the same size of cast light alloy wheel improves performance and road-holding considerably, without any reduction in comfort. Further improvement in road-holding comes with increased wheel size

The largest factor that affects ride quality is the tires and how they meet the road. Not only does this make operating the vehicle more dangerous, but it also has a drastic effect on ride quality . The tires will also wear unevenly when an alignment is needed.

Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality? © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

So, we thought the best way to illustrate this was to get two cars together from either end of the spectrum: a Mini Cooper hatchback and a DS 7 Crossback SUV. The latter is running the kind of typical wheel-and-tyre combo that you will find in many well-specced premium SUVs: a 20in alloy shod in 235/45 profile Continental ContiSportContact 5s. The size of the Mini’s, on the other hand, were commonplace a decade ago but are now among the smallest on the market: 15in alloys shod in 175/65 profile Michelin Energy Savers.

Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality? © Autocar DS 7’s wheels are much heavier than Mini’s

Direct comparisons between the two shouldn’t be fair, as one is a sportily set up supermini and the other is a comfort-focused SUV, but here’s the surprise: by our reckoning, the Mini has a smoother, more consistent and ultimately more comfortable ride.

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I find the ride quality of the bike harsh, but have limited experience on other bikes and do not know what is normal. How the tire is constructed is also important. Lower- quality or bombproof tires will tend to be stiffer.

Ride quality refers to a vehicle's effectiveness in insulating the occupants from undulations in the road surface (e.g., bumps or corrugations). A vehicle with good ride quality provides a comfort for the driver and passengers.

On our control route, mixing town roads with B-roads of varying speed and surface quality, the Mini’s combination of firm-yet-composed damping and squidgy sidewalls shone through. You’re always aware of the road surface passing beneath you, yet both primary and secondary ride comfort is strong, the body stays level, while even the worst surface disruption or potholes are ably dealt with. How much of that is down to the wheels is open to debate, but we’ve tried Minis with larger wheels and tyres that are much less absorptive over nasty potholes.

Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality? © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

The DS 7, on the other hand, is a master of inconsistency. The supple set-up gives the illusion of comfort as you float over speed bumps and bound over crests, yet a tricky road surface (of which there are many in the UK) sees the springs and dampers struggle to control the wheel movements. Around town big bumps audibly shudder and crash through the chassis, while even at speed poor surfaces cause it to thump and fidget. Mid-corner potholes can easily throw the SUV off course, too. (For balance: I’m now running a DS 7 on 19in wheels that is noticeably better in this regard.)

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A detailed overview of vehicle ride quality and how it as affected by suspension design, geometry, springs, shocks, and shock valving by Ben Brazda, owner of Filthy Motorsports. Sections: 4:00 - Tire and Wheel Size 7:34 - Springs and Shocks 16:25 - Solid Axles 21:32 - Coil Springs 24:35

On the one hand, bigger wheels make for a more beautiful car since they visually fill the gap in the car chassis around the wheel and tire, but you have to be pretty sure about which Furthermore, cars with bigger and wider wheels are more stable because they are stiffer and have more contact with the road.

Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality? © Autocar Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality?

So why is this the case? David Pook, formerly a vehicle dynamics manager at Jaguar Land Rover who now heads his own vehicle dynamics support firm, VEDynamics, explains.

“One thing that does change is the unsprung mass,” he says. “Take a 22in wheel and tyre and it could be upwards of 40kg on the scales. Now imagine that 40kg mass hitting ridges and potholes and how much energy it will transfer back to the body, which then needs to be controlled and absorbed.”

Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality? © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

Indeed, we checked the unsprung weight on an unscientific set of bathroom scales, the Mini’s weighing in at around 14kg and the DS 7’s nearly twice that at 26kg. With the DS 7 the heavier car by a mere 235kg, it seems to be the SUV’s substantial extra mass of unsprung weight, alongside inadequate damping to compensate, that has the main effect here.

Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality? © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

Pook claims big wheels aren’t the only factor to consider, however. “It’s never one single thing – not tyre stiffness, nor mass in isolation – but a combination of factors,” he explains. “The tyre is a complex spring-and-damper system all in one, so one will ride worse than the other because of its damping inside. All of this changes depending on the load the tyre is carrying and its inflation pressure. A big tyre or small sidewall doesn’t necessary equal a poor ride, it’s just a different balance or challenge.”

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The ride is a bit softer, maybe 10% at most, and the road noise seems about the same. I bought a set of 19" wheels from a CX-5 owner who traded his car in with the non standard 17" wheels .

22" wheels - bouncy 20 wheels - bouncy 19.5 wheels bouncy 18" wheels bouncy 17" wheels rode the best. shocks did not make the biggest diiference. ranchos 9000 series really weren't a help since the selector just takes the shocks from firm

Cars, then, that have been designed to feature large wheels from the off, or those with more advanced suspension systems, can mitigate the influence of the extra size and weight. There may yet be a technical solution that completely offsets the effect, too.

Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality? © Autocar Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality?

But there’s more than just ride quality to contemplate. Bigger, heavier wheels often mean worse fuel economy, while the cost of tyres is also worth considering. Using tyre comparison site Blackcircles.com, we were quoted more than £200 for the same tyres on the DS 7, compared with £128 for the 18in wheel option. The Mini’s tyres were a mere £67. Finally, bigger wheels are far easier to kerb, a particular problem for SUVs that get used on rough terrain.

Is it still worth it? For some, yes. Bigger wheels help offset the sheer visual bulk of modern cars, while the lower tyre profile (in theory) improves cornering stability. But for those who don’t consider that a priority, we would advise thinking again before upgrading.

Smooth operators with snazzy wheels

While some chassis development engineers accept the impact on ride comfort that big wheels have as inevitable, the very best consider it a challenge not to accept.

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A salesperson at a Big O tire store told me not to get wheel spacers as my ride quality will suffer. is that true, and why? I tried some and believe they were a little off (hub centric) and pretty much ruined a set of tires Took em' off and back to normal, but I know there are a lot of people using them with

A good ride quality means different things to different people. Someone who is accustomed to driving a new Lexus or Mercedes will have an entirely To understand how to achieve a good ride quality , it helps to understand exactly what happens within the suspension. When the wheel hits a bump, for

And for proof that big rims, big grip levels, sporting handling and good ride comfort needn’t be mutually exclusive, you don’t have to look too far. Cars like the Porsche Macan Turbo, Jaguar F-Type SVR and Volkswagen Golf R all show that rolling comfort needn’t suffer at the mercy of flash wheels. But what they have in common, as high-performance derivatives, is the happy combination of advanced suspension technology, performance tyre technology and extra suspension tuning that tends to be lavished on go-faster models.

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Porsche has yet to launch the Turbo version of the current Macan, but the pre-facelift version rode with a versatility denied by lesser variants. In this case, it was because it represented the point at which adaptive air suspension became standard fit – and without that, the car’s breadth of dynamic ability is much less striking.

Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality? © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

For the Golf R, it’s both suspension technology and fine ride tuning that delivers such an impressively rounded drive. The key here is to make sure you buy a car with optional adaptive damping.

With the F-Type SVR, it was Jaguar’s wide-ranging suspension overhaul and road-biased priorities, properly executed, that resulted in a sports car that not only handles better and is faster than any of its range-mates but rides better on testing surfaces too. Matt Saunders

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