Wheel vs Tire Performance

Wheels and Tires go hand-in-hand; you can’t have one without the other. We get this question constantly: “Which of the two, wheels or tires, should we focus on first?” The simple answer is, if you’re looking to change wheels, you’ll have to get both. A high-performance set of wheels, like the RSR R980 Magnesium Forged wheels, are only as good as the tires that are wrapped around it. If you’re looking to buy wheels think package (wheel and tire package that is).

RSR R980 Porsche 997 GT3

While tires make the actual contact with the road, wheels get the attention; how many ways can you really design the outer look of the tire? When people look at purchasing tires, it’s never with an enthusiastic tone: it’s a necessity and people know it. Most of the time, it catches you by surprise. We hardly get people calling in asking for a certain set of tires that they’ve been dreaming about for years (the only exception to this rule is your Jeep guys; they call in with tires in mind first).

Wheels are items that most purchase once and they stay on the vehicle for the entire length of vehicle ownership. Wheels are dreamed about; saving accounts are created to help fund people’s obsession with a set of wheels that sometimes cost more than the vehicle they’re going on. Not many people are going to complement you on the look of your tires, but you’ll generate some head-turning with the proper set of wheels.

Most people make the same mistake; they look at the gap between the fender and the top of the tire and spontaneously want to go bigger. We’re all about going bigger but the number one response we get when someone calls in about plus-sized wheels and we follow up with “have you chosen the tires to go along with these wheels” is “I didn’t even think about the tires; what do you have?”

Most people have heard about UHP (Ultra High Performance) tires by now; they perform in both wet and dry conditions. It’s the tire that’ll get you up to a ridiculous speed (track only please). When was the last time you got up past 150mph and thought to yourself “I really hope these tires hold up?” You don’t want to have that thought when it’s too late.

Michelin Pilot Sport AS3 Plus BMW Tire

Aside from performance, most tire manufacturers are actually investing in that additional styling. From white letter sidewalls on low-profile tires to a unique tread design that sometimes turns heads itself, tire vendors have come a long way. Truck tires are exceptionally well designed nowadays; just take a look at a Mickey Thompson or Dick Cepek 35” + tire. To be fair they do have a lot more real-estate to work with.

Mickey Thompson MTZ P3 on Jeep Wrangler

With this article, it seems like we’re not interested in wheels whatsoever; that could be further from the truth. When you upgrade the size of the wheel, especially the width, you’re increasing the contact point with the road. Shifting the offset (reasonably) changes how your car feels and performs; take a look at drift cars and the low offset that those guys run on their cars (of course don’t run super low offset; it can increase understeer and cause a variety of other issues). Have you ever had the pleasure of running a significantly more lightweight wheel than your stock wheels? You’ll feel the performance and your car will feel significantly more responsive.

To summarize, when wanting to buy wheels, research a wheel and tire package. When going with tires, research tires. To get the most performance, you’ll want to get high quality, lightweight wheels (preferably wider than what you currently are running) and high performance tires that’ll make sure to keep you on the road.


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