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Might as well face it, you’re addicted to dubs

“Rock bottom is everything out of focus… it’s a failure of vision.” That’s what Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote in her controversial and often difficult memoir, Prozac Nation. I like her phrasing because it implies both cause and effect; we know we’ve hit “rock bottom” because we are unable to understand or see any way out, yet we have likely arrived there courtesy of our inability to productively focus on the future. Rock bottom is the natural, almost inevitable, consequence of short-term thinking.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/03/19/avoidable-contact-addicted-to-big-wheels

Am I the only one who read the title of this article and thought the author meant VW vehicles?

Keying in on what he is saying, sure, the physics check out, however, a few caveats to watch out for:

Smaller size tires than stock will mess with your speedo calibration.

Smaller size tires than stock could also affect the ride/and make your engine work harder than it has to.

Not saying this “dub” look isn’t a cool one, but it might indeed just be another fad, less like tailfins and more like chopped tops, and Bonneville salt flat style flat hubcaps.

So long as you keep the rolling radius the same, it shouldn’t affect your speedo calibration or make the engine work harder.

By fitting a higher profile tyre to go with the smaller wheel size, the rolling radius stays the same, you just get less rotating wheel mass and a better ride over potholes.

I bought a Jag XK8 a couple of years ago with 20" wheels. They looked great but made the ride very crashy, so I replaced them with 18" wheels (and made a nice amount of money selling the 20s on eBay).

If you end up with your speedo off (checked by gps) due to a change in tire size, you can change the speedo driven gear rather quickly and easily. If the car is later, there are electronic speedo adapters available.
There’s a rule of thumb in the offroad community, wheel size should be no more than half the tire diameter. The 35’s on 20” rims our pickup came with violates that, but it doesn’t go off road. The Jeep, however, rides on 42’s with 17” wheels (to clear the brake calipers, otherwise it’d still be on 15’s) for maximum sidewall flexibility with single digit tire pressures. There almost no road feel, it just rolls over bumps, where the truck handles far better than stock a 3/4 ton truck should and rides nicely.

Aside from the performance penalty, when I see older or classic cars fitted with tractor-diameter wheels and rubber band tires I see what looks like to me a juvenile attempt at coolness. Older vehicles just look stupid with such wheels.

The next time a 2008 Cayenne Turbo on $139 “ROAD POWER FORCE CHAMP ZXPQi” tires blasts past me on a rain-soaked freeway I will give that car a wide berth not so much due to the tires, as the fact that the moron driving that 4,000 lb vehicle feels that they have personally rescinded the laws of physics.These peopled are endemic to Marin County, California where I live

I like the idea of going minus one on my “summer” tires as well. I always use -1 for the winter wheels on all four of the cars in the family fleet, as the extra sidewall helps with pothole impacts, and the narrower tread width (for equivalent rolling diameter) helps in getting through deep snow. To keep the speedo accurate, just try to match the “revs per mile” spec to that of the O.E. tires (a website like TR has this info under the ‘Description’ tab for a given tire size.) The revs/mi value is a loaded-tire, standard spec that I believe most mfrs adhere to, so you can compare across brands/models. True on the inertia effect of heavier wheels too–once I went cheap on winter wheels for a Vibe and bought a set of [very heavy] steel wheels from an '80s J-body LeBaron…what a mistake! It launched like it was stuck in 3rd gear, and acceleration was painfully slow (quickly swapped them out for a set of aluminum Neon wheels.) Thanks, Jack, I was reasonably happy with gravity-cast aluminum, but now I’m going to have to invest in pressure-cast or forged wheels.