Featured In praise of 17" wheels.

Discussion in 'General chat' started by Douglas W, Nov 29, 2018.

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  1. Douglas W
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    Douglas W Site Supporter

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    In praise of 17" wheels on a F30 LCI 330D S Drive with adaptive suspension.

    20181126-IMG_7924DEW.jpg

    20181126-IMG_7940DEW.jpg

    Earlier this week I enjoyed a 200 mile round trip from Glasgow south through the Galloway Hills to the Solway coast and back. It involves a great mix of motorway, dual carriageway, wide and narrow single carriageway A road and single track with passing places. It is a trip I have done many times since 1970 by motorbike or car and is one of the reasons I have the 330D and a Mazda MX-5 ND. It is a great road for driving :)

    I have done the round trip in the 330D 4 times since the 25th of October, the first three times were on on summer Bridgestone runflat tyres, 18" 225/45 at front and 255/40 at rear. The last trip was on winter Dunlop runflats, 225/50 on 17" wheels. Tyre tread was 5mm all round on the 17" winters and 6mm front 4mm rear on the 18" summers. Pressures were correct for relatively unloaded car with just driver and no passenger.

    All trips involved a mixture of dry and wet roads, though no rain was falling. The minimum temperature on the trips on summer tyres was 10C and the trip on winter tyres varied between -3C and +2C and, apart from the single track, the road had been salted. The road surfaces varied from perfect fresh to worn out tarmac and some sections had potholes that would have been at home on the lunar surface.

    Well who would not enjoy driving on roads like these? There was very little traffic south of Ayr. which is about 30 miles south of Glasgow. South of Ayr there are few straight sections, which makes for a fun trip. I averaged 38mpg rather than my usual 44mpg on motorways. What might be a surprise is that I enjoyed the drive on the 17" wheels much better! At legal speeds I preferred the quickness, lightness and accuracy of the steering of the 17" wheels compared with 18". On the motorway, even the F30's vagueness in steering in the straight ahead position seemed less. (For non F30 owners, you can give the F30 steering wheel a slight shoogle with no effect on the road wheels in the straight ahead position (apparently a safety feature for batting down the autobahn at speeds I never reach). I also preferred the comfort and handling of the 17" wheels on the bumpy bends. Indeed the combination of sport mode adaptive suspension and 17" wheels seems to be a particular sweet combination for these roads.

    Maybe it's just me, maybe it's because I have a senior citizen bus pass but I like driving the 330D with my 17" wheels. They also have other advantages. You can rotate the tyres to even tyre wear and get a discount for buying four at once rather than two. Tyres are significantly cheaper and there is a greater choice. The 17' wheels/tyres are very noticeably lighter (I change winter/summer wheels/tyres myself) and this difference in unsprung mass must have some effect on the suspension/ handling.

    Whatever, I do enjoy a good run on quiet country roads. I even managed a little, slow speed, 4 wheel drift on a shaded, icy corner on the unsalted single track through the forest!

    Douglas :)
     
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  2. Peter
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    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

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    I run 17" RFTs in winter. Like yourself, also find they run well on the 5-series.

    Peter
     
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  3. Mieke
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    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

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    @Douglas W I know what you mean. My 330d runs very well - smooth and quiet, on the 18" wheels shod with Pirelli Soto's.
    But I do like driving on the 19"s in summer shod with P Zero's - sharp turn in and stick like glue. :driving:

    I know all the roads around Dumfries and Galloway (the wife is a Doonhamer), and it's perfect for motorcycling.
    I'm thinking of taking my bike up there next summer. Don't know how the wife will feel about that - she normally only rides pillion for a gentle pootle to a pub for lunch and back, provided the sun is beaming down. I'll suggest that she can always get the train up to Dumfries and I'll collect her from the station. :punch: :swear: :ROFLMAO:

    I especially like the route up through New Galloway to Clatteringshaws Loch in the Galloway Forest. Perfect on 2 wheels. :)

    clatteringshaws_autumn_5.jpg
     
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  4. a.s.uk
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    a.s.uk

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    Douglas
    I fully hear what you’re saying... our car has 20 inch run flats for the summer for the purposes of my wife’s vanity.... but in winter it is shod with 18 inch non run flats and the ride is gorgeous... much more how I would like it.... I have posted this several times... if it were totally my car it’d be on 18’s all year round....
    Full stop....


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  5. pinewood
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    I run 17's on the X3 in winter. The drive compared to summer 19's is quieter and smoother.
     
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  6. Douglas W
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    It looks like I am not alone... What set me off on this train of thought is a conversation with my brother, who also loves his cars and bikes. He has just bought a new Civic type R which has 20 inch wheels. He lives in Elgin and so is another advocate for winter tyres. The smallest wheels he could get over his brakes were 19" and he is currently running round on those with winter tyres. He is enjoying a much improved ride and is not nearly so worried about going into a pothole.

    @Mieke The A713 is one of my favourite roads as well!! That looks like the Black Loch near the Grey Mare's Tail (just north of the road) in that very nice photo of yours. Back in the '70s and '80s the Grey Mare's Tail bridge was a hump back.

    http://streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=249110&Y=572074&A=Y&Z=115

    As you can see from the map, it was set in the middle of a magnificent, fast sweeping bend. It unsettled many a rider! Sadly dislocating knees have ended my biking days which is why I got the MX-5. Since I retired I live April till October on the Solway coast, which gives me plenty opportunity to drive the highways and byways of Galloway...

    20180510-IMG_5899-2DEW-2.jpg
    Due to the rough Galloway roads, I decided the combination of 17" wheels and SE (rather than Sport) suspension on the MX-5 would suit me best.

    Douglas
     
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    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  7. E39mad
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    E39mad

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    Makes you wonder why we order/run cars with such big rims - UK driving does not generally get anywhere near the extremes of any tyre from a speed/handling viewpoint.

    I am just about happy with my F11 on standard SE suspension and 18" non run flat summers - winters are 17" run flats and the ride is better over our poorly maintained roads.

    My brother lives in Moniaive and I do enjoy the traffic free roads when visiting!
     
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  8. Mieke
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    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

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    They look good! And there's always the occasional chance of selecting Sport mode on an empty section of twisty country road . . . :driving::woohoo:
     
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  9. Peter
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    Definitely a case of fashion over form. :rolleyes: Yes, we have bigger brakes to accommodate, this requires a decent rim size. But once we clear the brakes, there is no real need for bigger rims for daily driving. In fact we can lose more than we gain. Even handling precision and grip are often compromised with too low a tyre profile.

    I tried 18" & 19" on demo F10 models. 19" work well on decent roads, but lose composure more quickly (than 18") as roads deteriorate. The 18" are the better compromise in my view. Therefore chose 18" for summer, 17" for the winter months. The 17" give a much more fluid drive, with a decent ride and handling balance,

    There is even the question of the need to firm up the suspension for the fastest 'point to point' driving. I've got a piece of road which has deteriorated over the past couple of years. The F11 used to handle it well in Sport mode, on both 17" and 18" wheel sets. Now I find it is more unsettled in Sport mode on either set, more predictable and consistent grip in the Normal mode.

    Peter
     
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  10. Singvogel
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    My F30 330d M-Sport has the Adaptive Suspension too.

    When I drew up the spec list I went for the 18" wheels and no M-Sport brake package - specifically in order to continue using my 17" Winter wheels from my e90.

    They are within the 4% recommended limit for alternative sizes.

    Unfortunately when I bought the Winter tyres (ContiWinterContact TS830P) I went for non run-flats - silly me.

    They are 225/45 17 which I know is not the exact correct fitment which is a 50 series not a 45 series profile, but I'm happy to run them out and get 225/50 17 next time - but that could well be 2 or 3 Winters in the future. Being a square set-up I can swap them around and can buy a complete set of four, rather than renew one axle at a time.

    When I changed over to the Winter wheels early last month when the temperatures were around 7 to 10 degrees there wasn't any immediate obvious difference in the suppleness of the tyres compared to the Summer ContiSportContact5s

    Had I been swapping over from the dreaded Bridgestones there would likely have been more of a difference - I say that based on my previous experiences with Bridgestone Potenzas

    I'm certainly not aware of the vagueness @Douglas W mentions on my CSC5s at autobahn speeds well over 120mph - the car is simply rock-steady and in my opinion is instantly responsive to even minor steering corrections/changes.

    However earlier this week I swapped back to Summers for the MOT - I didn't want any advisories about 'wrong' tyre fitments etc - or any future hassle if anything drivetrain related were to go amiss.

    On the way to the Dealer's workshop the temperature was around 2 to 3 degrees with the roads bone dry.

    What a difference from the Winters the previous day. - the Summers were now decidedly stiff and 'twitchy' - there was tyre roar in evidence and the suspension tended to thump more on poor surfaces - even in comfort mode.

    As I predicted I managed to get two advisories - Rear Tyre worn close to legal limit/worn on inner edge - but they have 3 or 4mm on the other 85% of the tread.

    I've found that all my BMWs wore the inner edges of the rears - it's just a fact of life with that design of rear suspension - X5s are the extreme example of that tendency.

    My grandson confirms the stiffness of Summer tyres in low temperatures on him M2 - telling me "the Traction Control warning light is more frequently seen" :rolleyes:

    I've now changed the wheels back and everything is smooth and quiet again.

    Bring on the snow - :D - there is some forecast for us in the NE of Scotland tomorrow. (y)
     
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  11. Peter
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    Like you, I notice the change in comfort at cooler temperatures, really shows up swapping summer to winter wheel sets.

    I've mentioned it before... (appropriate for this topic)… I find running RFTs for both 17" and 18" wheel sets, that the winter set (at winter temperatures) feel very similar to the 18" set at summer temperatures. Was what I was after and suits me fine. (y)

    Peter
     
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  12. Harry
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    I'm getting a bit fed up with road noise off 20s. Helen's latest car has 19" wheels and they're not a whole lot better.

    It's probably my age. For the time being I'm happy to crank up the music.

    Possibly, as people become more obsessed with weight, drag and making it to the next charger, big wheels will become less popular. Although, we should always have the freedom to chose, and they do look wicked good.
     
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  13. slim_boy_fat
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    I run 18" Summer & Winters.

    On smooth tarmac I might notice a difference over the 17" which the car came on, but the road conditions up here have noticeably deteriorated over the last 18 months so it's hard to tell.

    I can say, having done a job on the front brakes yesterday, the wheel/tyre combo is bloody heavy!. :D
     
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  14. Harry
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    The bloke who sometimes comes here to swap my winters/summers says that a few years back he would walk up to a car and think "Oh no! Not heavy 18s" Now he practically jumps for joy!
     
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  15. Douglas W
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    Douglas W Site Supporter

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    Yes my 18" wheels are shod with RF Bridgestone tyres. I will be looking to replace them with something else (see below). Never liked them.

    At 70ish on the motorway my car is rock steady and on the twisties you can feel the wheels respond to the slightest movement of the steering wheel. However, in the straight ahead position I can move the wheel a very little either way before there is any response from the wheels. I have driven my old E46 330i M Sport recently and straight ahead is more positive and responsive than the F30 LCI (as it is on my MX-5 ND). I am not really complaining about it as the car steers really well on a variety of corner radii at a variety of speeds.

    @Singvogel That was a really good opportunity to compare 17" and 18" wheels, switching back for the MOT! :) I had a somewhat similar experience with tyres and MOT. I had to switch to my 17" winter tyres before my MOT as I went into a pothole on a dark rainy night and managed to create a bulge in the sidewall of one of the front 18" Potenza runflats!!

    20181115-IMG_7865DEW.jpg
    I decided I had better get a 4 wheel alignment, not just because of the pothole but because both fronts had been wearing on the outside edges. (Unlike Singvogel's F30 LCI and my E90 330D, the inside edges of the F30 LCI rears are OK.) So I took it to Pro-Grip in Larbert who are wheel alignment specialists. I had to have a full tank of fuel and another weight was added to the boot before the test was done. Several measurements were in the red before the alignment but all were in the green afterwards.

    Both @slim_boy_fat and @Harry mention the weight of bigger wheels. My brother was amazed at the weight of the 20" rims on his new Honda Civic Type R. Apparently these wheels have had to be beefed up since the car was launched as so many were cracking. It is not just the unsprung mass of heavy wheels that might have an effect on a car's handling. At speed they will have a greater gyroscopic effect resisting change of direction more than smaller, lighter wheels. Also during acceleration and braking there will be a greater rotational inertia to overcome...

    Thanks to all for contributing their thoughts and experiences.

    Douglas
     
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