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Is Bigger Best?
Eric (Eni) Enescu
Wheels are the most important part of the vehicle. The way the wheels and tires interact with the tarmac car make a car feel like a dream or make the handling awful. So, how does wheel size influence driving?
Wheels do one thing: interlink the vehicle with the road. The better the wheel and tire combination works, the better the car will handle. If you have ever driven a car with different wheel sizes, you might have perceived that cars with larger rim diameters feel more responsive than smaller rim sizes. For example, an 18-inch rim versus a 15-inch rim. It sounds like a small difference, but it has a major impact on performance. The larger rim allows for a thinner tire, making the overall wheel stiffer and more responsive, with a much better feeling. There is a reason why sports cars are available in those sizes. The larger rim also allows you to have bigger, more powerful brakes, making you a bit safer. An extra bonus would be that you get better fuel range because the roll is better than it normally is for smaller rim sizes.
Larger rim sizes do have their drawbacks. Because the tire is thinner, you will get quite a gnarly buzzing from the road surface. On top of that, there are greater risks of curbing or smashing a wheel when hitting a pothole, so no rally stages.
I highly recommend you test out different wheel sizes before you buy a new car or new wheels. The extra 20 or 30 minutes it will take will pay great dividends in sheer driving experience. Be warned though, not everything comes safe-packaged.
Originally Published in Bandersnatch Vol.49 Issue 07 on December 4th, 2019