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Wheels vs Suspension

Discussion in 'Leon Mk3' started by Mr Pig, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Full Member

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    Just wondering out loud...

    I have a Leon SE that has 16'' alloys as standard. I've just bought a set of 17'' FR alloys for it because... why not, right? Leons come with wheels ranging from 15'' on the S up to I think 19'' on the Cupra? Obviously, as the rubber gets wider and shallower you get more feel, more dry grip and more direct steering. And more backache and pothole damage as well but that aside, I was wondering.

    As you move up the range in terms of sportiness, how much of the handling improvement you experience will be down to upgrades to the suspension and how much is simply due to the badasser wheels?

    What do you think?
     
  2. Legojon

    Legojon This is the last mod, I promise.
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    It's a toughie as I've generally upgraded a load of stuff together.

    But on my fr with 18" 225s I noticed a massive difference with moderate antiroll bars. On the Cupra with 19" 235s I went with big roll bars and they made little difference. But of course it's technically cheating as it's not 1" bigger. It's 20mm wider across the front and back as well.

    Having just moved from h&r springs to coilovers. I now have less body roll. Hence better cornering. So that made some difference.
     
  3. theoldboy

    theoldboy Senior Member

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    It also depends on the power output you are going for.

    The MK3 with big power needs mount kits to stop wheel tramp, Rubber is also key to keeping all the stuff on the road before you do the rest.

    Like @Legojon I tend to make many changes at the same time so changed wheels (19" with different offset only) and went coilover to lower the car (for the looks) but kept the Dampers (DCC) in place to have a comfy ride and support the various modes.
     
  4. Oldbutswift

    Oldbutswift Full Member

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    I would say wider tyres equal more grip and traction, but less feel,so faster cornering speeds but harder to control on the limit,hence,some would say, poorer handling.
    The manufacturers are well aware that the look of bigger fancy wheels and wide tyres sells cars,so is this overdone with some lower powered ones?...I rather think so.
     
  5. LouG

    LouG Full Member

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    FWIW. Having 215/45x18's on my wifes Arona was ideal. Everything improved at the cost of a slightly firmer ride, but not harsh.
    I wouldn't go larger than 18's.
     
  6. Owen83

    Owen83 Full Member

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    Wider tyres give you more straight line grip, but can actually give you less lateral grip as the middle of the tyre is more 'floppy' and hence slower corner speeds
     
  7. LouG

    LouG Full Member

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    I don't know what brands you use, but the major ones design tyres properly. If yours are doing that it would show in the wear patterns.
     
  8. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Full Member

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    I've never heard anyone say that before?
     
  9. Damo H

    Damo H That Carbon snob down the street...

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    I think the key word here in @Owen83’s post is ‘can’ not ‘will’.

    Generally speaking with the width increases made 10-20mm and the narrow profiles being used, it’s unlikeky to happen.

    However if you were to go with wider tyres with a higher profile tyres it can happen. But as we’re not driving on off-road tyres, pretty sure the wider tyre is a benefit.

    Now what about on snow, ice and water. It’s accepted by most tyre manufacturers than thinner tyres are better to cut through. However I forget which tyre manufacturer, may be Continental, says their testing shows that it’s better to stay with wider.

    Down side to wider tyres though is generally weight and potentially less feel and or feedback as others have said. But all of this is subjective and impacted by different tyre makes etc.
     
  10. Big Col

    Big Col Full Member

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    it difficult to give a definitive answer to this because 'upgrades to suspension' can vary so much.

    Cheap 18" alloys, chinese ditchfinder tyres and a £150 ebay coilover kit, the car will handle terribly.

    If you are serious about making the car handle better then a decent spring/damper kit and decent tyres would be my starting point. No idea on prices but I assume a quality kit from the likes of bilstein or koni will be 7-800 quid?

    I put £400 Koni dampers on a car nearly 20 years ago. The difference it made down a B road was stunning. Car was left on the standard wheels.
     
  11. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Full Member

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    Thinking about it today, I reckon the best thing I could do to the suspension of my car (SE) would be stiffer anti-roll bars. Not sexy but I really think that is the weakest link.
     
  12. LouG

    LouG Full Member

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    Traditionally, higher quality shocks make the greatest difference for street use, especially on rough roads. I haven't seen any comparisons between a DCC system and aftermarket shocks so can't be certain on that.
    I did see that XthiloX did fit aftermarket shocks and springs to his Cupra for use at the Nordschliefe. And in the bike world, high end shocks are still the choice for serious track work.
     
  13. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Full Member

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    Surely that's going to depend on your starting point? What the car alreadt has? If the cupra already has thick roll-bars then that's not an issue but the SE clearly does not.
     
  14. LouG

    LouG Full Member

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    Does it need them?
     
  15. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Full Member

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    I think it would benefit greatly from stiffer anti-roll bars.
     
  16. LouG

    LouG Full Member

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    Stiffer bars will reduce grip in the wet because they transfer more loading to the outside tyres more quickly. That's why race cars have totally different settings for wet and dry. Unless you're bothered by too much body roll, I'd look elsewhere, or get expert advice.
     
  17. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Full Member

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    I don't understand that? If the body of the car rolls, the centre of gravity moves towards the outside and loads up the outside tyres more. I thought the whole point of keeping a car flatter was to keep the weight more evenly distributed on the wheels and keep the tyres closer to vertical. Otherwise, what is the point? And I don't see how this would be a benefit in the dry but a disadvantage in the wet. The principals are the same.

    Anyway, I'm not asking about how to upgrade my car. It's a hypothetical question about the relative importance of wheels/tyres vs suspension itself.
     
  18. martin j.

    martin j. Full Member

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    I would suggest suspension mods first, fancy wheels and sticky tyres are no good if not in contact with the road?
     
  19. Damo H

    Damo H That Carbon snob down the street...

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    I'd argue tyres are the most important thing to change first.
     
  20. theoldboy

    theoldboy Senior Member

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    I would agree with @Damo H tyres come first on my list and I have replaced the Suspension, Brakes, Wheels and tyres on my car.

    However I would stress the first thing you need to do is decide what you are trying to achieve with the mods and how much money you have to pay for it all.
     
    Damo H likes this.

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