The Ultimate Guide to Suspension and Handling Part 1, Wheels and Tires

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Nitto NT01

Get Some Sticky Tires

Tires by far are the biggest contributor to finding more cornering force. By bolting on a set of gumball tires, you can make the biggest possible single net gain in cornering power in minutes. Generally, putting the widest tires and wheels that will fit inside your wheel wells without rubbing is the way to go. Specing out an ultra-high performance tire is also important. Most of these tires can perform decently during track days and are good for autocross in SCCA's ST street classes.

If you are doing track events, autocrossing or are just plain nuts and simply have to have the most grip possible, you can try a set of DOT approved racing tires. Some of these tires are nearly useable as everyday driving tires while others grip almost like racing slicks and last about the same length of time. Below is a chart which categorizes these tires. Note that this is somewhat subjective and there is some overlap here.

Sticky Ultra High Performance Street Tire

Race Tire, Nearly Streetable, Long Wearing, Many Heat Cycles

 

 

Race Tire, Sticky Medium Wearing, Medium Heat Cycle

 

 

Race Tire, Really Sticky, Fast Wearing, Low Heat Cycles

 

Yokohama Advan Neova AD008

Hankook Z214 C31

Hankook Z214 C51, C71

Hankook Z214 C91

Nitto NT05

Toyo RA-1

Toyo 888R

Hoosier A6, R6

Falken RT-615

Nitto NT01

Kumho Ecsta 700

Kumho Ecsta 710

Kumho XS KU36

Yokohama A048R

Goodyear GS-CS

 

Michelin Pilot Sport PS2

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup

BFG G-Force R1

 

Bridgestone Pontenza RE11

Kumho Victoracer V700

  
 

Avon Tech RA

  
 

Pirelli Pzero Corsa

  
 

 

  

 Bridgestone RE11

 

9 comments

  1. Hi.. This is a very informative article. Thanks for writing it. I am a student trying to learn about vehicle dynamics. I have a doubt in this article… When the example of the monster truck is given regarding the weight of the unsprung mass, the statement “For the suspension to work well, the ratio of sprung to unsprung weight must be kept as low as possible” seems contradictory. Is this a mistake or have I misunderstood it?

  2. Thank you so much Mike,
    For sharing those precious informations. I’m a racer and I’m actually setting up a Nissan Sentra B13 that’s powered by an SR20VE with N1 cams coupled to an SR16VE transmission. I’m debating on using 17″ wheels with 225/50/17 or 15″wheels with 205/50/15.
    The track is 2.3km long with lots of in field sections and only 2 straight lines basically, one of 250 meters and the other one is 400 meters.
    I’m racing against a bunch of Honda civics with B20 engines.
    Now, with the 17″ setup, the car will sit higher to the ground compared to the 15″, but the tires are wider. The shorter gearing ratio with the 15″ should be a plus for acceleration, but the extra grip of the 17″ from my understanding should be better for braking and turning. The 15″ are lighter so less unsprung weight.
    Sorry for the long and detailed post but I really need your input.
    Thank you.

    1. Since there are no optional gear ratios for the Nissan transmission, it’s 15″ wheels unless you are running slicks and need more brake. Your track might not be too hard on brakes.

      1. Thanks Mike,
        we are using street tires for the class I’m racing. So you don’t think that the extra grip provided by the wider 225/50/17 tires would make a big difference when braking and turning on that track compared to the 205/50/15?

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