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Discussion Starter #1
(perhaps this would make a good sticky)

4C Tire Reviews, the tires we've used on our 4Cs and what we thought about them.

Tire reviews are always helpful. Questions plentiful, answers sometime limited.

There are many good posts scattered in this wonderful forum about tires, but buried deep and hard to find. Our 4C has a unique tire size, at least the rear 19s anyway. What's available, what will actually fit, what works well or doesn't work at all?

Before I get into a review of my own, I thought I'd write (talk?) about tire basics. I know there are other people with excellent knowledge and I hope they chime in as well. But don't take our words as the only real views, there's plenty of good reading on the net and in books. Tire Rack has lots of wonderful, easy to read information about tires.
http://www.tirerack.com/content/tirerack/desktop/en/research_advice.html

There are street tires and there are competition tires.

Competition tires are a subject all to their own and deserve a thread of their own. They are not street legal, seldom have tread, and have minimal traction when cold and best grip when extremely hot.

Street tires have been tested and approved by a government agency for your area. In the USA it's DOT (Department of Transportation). They have tread and work best in cool to warm temperatures. Snow tires work best in ice cold temperatures.

All tires have numbers on the side, which can be a mystery to some people. I'll try to explain.

Tire Size: ie 185/75R14
'185' is the section width. The widest part of the tire where it bulges at the sidewall. This is a metric number, 185 mm. Section width is not tread width.

'/' is more than just a separator. It's also a math operator as you'll see in the next sentence.

'75' is the aspect ratio. This is a percentage or a division. The sidewall height is 75% of the section width. In this example the sidewall is 139 mm tall.

'R' indicates it's a radial tire. Usually there is another letter leading the 'R' such as 'SR'. The 'S' is a speed rating. A 'V' tire can sustain higher speeds than an 'S' tire. There are non-radials using this system and then it would just be an 'X'. (185/75x14). A tire without a speed rating can not be used faster that 65 or 70 MPH, which is the maximum speed allowed in most of America.

'14' is the bead size as measured where the tire touches the rim. This is in inches. Don't ask why we mix Metric and American Standard cause I don't know.

Over the years, there have been many different tire size systems. I used the above example because that's the system our 4C uses.

If you read the fine print, you'll find a load rating. When buying new tires, make sure the new tires can carry the same load as the OEM tire, or more. This is very important if you want to use a different size. This is not a static load. As the car turns, brakes and goes over bumps, the tires load and unload. In some situations, a single tire may need to carry half the weight of the car. Our 4C weighs about 2500 pounds, but all four tires added together equals 5048 pounds, about twice the car.

You'll also notice the load is with a certain air pressure, maybe 50 pounds. This second number is the maximum air pressure you can safely put in the tire. As the pressure drops, so does the ability to carry a big load.

Most of us here have a scare story or two about somebody that put undersized tires on their car and didn't live to tell the tale. Don't do it!

One of the things that's important to look for is the tread wear rating. This is somewhat new, maybe ten years or less. Not all tires have this rating. They're either very old, or rock hard. In any case, you don't want them. Usually you'll find 'UTQG' followed by the tread wear rating number followed by traction grade followed by temperature grade. Our P-Zero is UTQG 220 AA A. In this example, AA & A are the best ratings possible. The 220 is arbitrary and deserves an explanation.

By location, the 'AA' is Traction Grade and the 'A' is Temperature Grade.

Tread wear rating number is a measure of how fast the tread wears out. The smaller the number, the faster it wears. I've seen number from 500 to 60. Long lasting tires have less grip, it's a harder rubber compound. Tires with lots of traction have a soft compound and wear quick. Race compound rubber actually rolls off in strings and balls hitting the following cars. It's hot and sticky leaving black streaks on the other race cars.

So, this tread wear rating is only a guide. What do you want? A tire that lasts 60,000 miles and has no traction in the canyons? Or a tire that can hug the twisties but wear out in 15,000 miles? 500 vs 220. The good news is there are tires with 300 ratings. I'm just saying that you have choices.

Staggered set is when all four tires are not the same size. It may have started in NASCAR where they use four different tire sizes. But it usually means that the rears are wider or taller. In the case of our 4Cs, the rears are wider and taller than the fronts.

As of this writing (July 2016), there isn't much of a tire selection for the 18/19 combo. I'm not sure what's available to fit the 17/18 combo. I found that going up one size offers a better selection.

205/45ZR17 --> 215/45ZR17
235/40ZR18 --> 245/40ZR18

205/40ZR18 --> 215/40VR18
235/35ZR19 --> 245/35VR19

Tires, for a given size, have a window or a minimum and maximum allowed tolerance. Some manufacturers choose to make a smaller tire so they can sell it for less money. Another may choose to build the largest allowed to claim better grip or more tread life. Yet another may just make their tire the exact size it says. This effects tire weight, life, grip, price and maybe fitment.

Tread width isn't mentioned and there is no number or marking on the tire that tells the consumer what the actual tread width is. This effects contact patch and rolling resistance.

To find all these things, and more, Tire Rack (no, I don't get paid by Tire Rack, it's just a very informative site) has almost all these specs listed. You can also go to the tire manufacturer web site. Find the tire size and model you're interested in and they will list all these numbers.

The weight of the tire matters. This is un-sprung weight. How fast the tire/wheel goes up and down as the road moves under the car effects not just the passenger comfort, but traction as well. If the tire can't stay on the ground (heavy tire), you can't have good traction. Tire weight also effects rolling resistance and reciprocating mass. This directly effects acceleration and braking as well as turning, especially tight serpentine turns. A low tire weight is a good thing.

Driver reviews usually include, but are not limited to:
Road noise: Usually a tread pattern thing. Not all tires are quiet.
Grip: Traction. Want to go fast(er) in the turns?
Stability: Tram-lining, darting. Does the car feel stable in a straight line or is it darting and wondering?
Longevity: How long did the tires last?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Michelin Pilot Super Sport

I installed new tires yesterday. I got 21,000 miles out of the original P-Zeros. The rears were danger thin, but...

I wanted a longer lasting tire without sacrificing much grip. In the 18/19 set there just isn't any choices. So I went up one size. After reviewing the good selection of tires and juggling my compromises, I chose the Michelin Pilot Super Sport.

215/40ZR18 (205/40ZR18 OEM) front
245/35ZR19 (235/35ZR19 OEM) rear

I based my decision on many things.

- Weight: lightest in this size.
- Tread width: widest in this size.
- Tread wear rating: 300 so it will last longer than 20k without giving up much traction. Besides, as a daily driver I don't drive on that ragged edge. When I do push the canyons, I'm still not on the ragged edge.
- Price: well, uhm, actually expensive compared to the others.
- Reviews online and some people I know: it's getting good reviews.

I did my home work and found that the OEM Pirelli P-Zero are small for their size class with a tiny tread width. These Michelin's are large for their size class and I'm going up a size. I was unsure if they would fit, maybe they'll rub the springs. Will I need spacers?

At the tire shop we mounted one front and one rear and did a test fit. All seemed well. It looked and felt like plenty of room. So we mounted the other two and finished the job. With about 50 miles now, all seems good.

I measured the ride height before and after. The larger tires raised the car 3/8 inch. Probably not enough to matter. If I had coil overs, I could lower it back to stock ride height.

I was concerned about speedometer error as well. I used my smart phone GPS to check the speed before and after. With the P-Zeros, it was 2 mph under. Meaning if the speedo showed 60 mph, I was actually doing 58. With the new larger tires, I was 1 mph under. 60 showing is now 59 actual.

I need to let the tires break-in before I can offer more of a review. Part of break-in is waiting for the bead-lube to dry. I don't want to spin the tire on the wheel. I will also need to check the pressure soon as it will drop during break-in. So far I like them.
 

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I installed new tires yesterday. I got 21,000 miles out of the original P-Zeros. The rears were danger thin, but...

I wanted a longer lasting tire without sacrificing much grip. In the 18/19 set there just isn't any choices. So I went up one size. After reviewing the good selection of tires and juggling my compromises, I chose the Michelin Pilot Super Sport.

215/40ZR18 (205/40ZR18 OEM) front
245/35ZR19 (235/35ZR19 OEM) rear

I based my decision on many things.

- Weight: lightest in this size.
- Tread width: widest in this size.
- Tread wear rating: 300 so it will last longer than 20k without giving up much traction. Besides, as a daily driver I don't drive on that ragged edge. When I do push the canyons, I'm still not on the ragged edge.
- Price: well, uhm, actually expensive compared to the others.
- Reviews online and some people I know: it's getting good reviews.

I did my home work and found that the OEM Pirelli P-Zero are small for their size class with a tiny tread width. These Michelin's are large for their size class and I'm going up a size. I was unsure if they would fit, maybe they'll rub the springs. Will I need spacers?

At the tire shop we mounted one front and one rear and did a test fit. All seemed well. It looked and felt like plenty of room. So we mounted the other two and finished the job. With about 50 miles now, all seems good.

I measured the ride height before and after. The larger tires raised the car 3/8 inch. Probably not enough to matter. If I had coil overs, I could lower it back to stock ride height.

I was concerned about speedometer error as well. I used my smart phone GPS to check the speed before and after. With the P-Zeros, it was 2 mph under. Meaning if the speedo showed 60 mph, I was actually doing 58. With the new larger tires, I was 1 mph under. 60 showing is now 59 actual.

I need to let the tires break-in before I can offer more of a review. Part of break-in is waiting for the bead-lube to dry. I don't want to spin the tire on the wheel. I will also need to check the pressure soon as it will drop during break-in. So far I like them.

You re going to absolutely love these tires. Super responsive, very predictable and they definitely inspire confidence on the track or canyons. Great wear rating too. I've used theres for years on my other car and I'd use nothing but them. They are the best all around tire offered.
 

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I wanted a longer lasting tire without sacrificing much grip. In the 18/19 set there just isn't any choices. So I went up one size. After reviewing the good selection of tires and juggling my compromises, I chose the Michelin Pilot Super Sport.

215/40ZR18 (205/40ZR18 OEM) front
245/35ZR19 (235/35ZR19 OEM) rear
I'm using the Pilot Super Sport in the same sizes as you. I have been very impressed with them. I really didn't have any complaints with the P-Zeros but I feel the Michelins are better in ultimate grip, certainly quieter, and have been fantastic in the wet.

Going up one size certainly seems to help front grip, especially as the OEM P-Zeros were quite undersized from the factory (they were listed as a 205 but really measure closer to a 185 tread width).
 

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I'm using 17/18 Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R's - pretty awesome for a street tire. I want to also try the Hankook RS-3's they are in the same "almost R compound" category. If Toyo made RA-1's in the sizes I want they would be on the car. Also if BFG R1's were in the sizes those as well :) I don't mind the mileage hit on real R compound tires for the street since my car is canyon duty 98% of the time.
 

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So no spacers with 245/35-19's? I have 15k and i need a shoe change.


I installed new tires yesterday. I got 21,000 miles out of the original P-Zeros. The rears were danger thin, but...

I wanted a longer lasting tire without sacrificing much grip. In the 18/19 set there just isn't any choices. So I went up one size. After reviewing the good selection of tires and juggling my compromises, I chose the Michelin Pilot Super Sport.

215/40ZR18 (205/40ZR18 OEM) front
245/35ZR19 (235/35ZR19 OEM) rear

I based my decision on many things.

- Weight: lightest in this size.
- Tread width: widest in this size.
- Tread wear rating: 300 so it will last longer than 20k without giving up much traction. Besides, as a daily driver I don't drive on that ragged edge. When I do push the canyons, I'm still not on the ragged edge.
- Price: well, uhm, actually expensive compared to the others.
- Reviews online and some people I know: it's getting good reviews.

I did my home work and found that the OEM Pirelli P-Zero are small for their size class with a tiny tread width. These Michelin's are large for their size class and I'm going up a size. I was unsure if they would fit, maybe they'll rub the springs. Will I need spacers?

At the tire shop we mounted one front and one rear and did a test fit. All seemed well. It looked and felt like plenty of room. So we mounted the other two and finished the job. With about 50 miles now, all seems good.

I measured the ride height before and after. The larger tires raised the car 3/8 inch. Probably not enough to matter. If I had coil overs, I could lower it back to stock ride height.

I was concerned about speedometer error as well. I used my smart phone GPS to check the speed before and after. With the P-Zeros, it was 2 mph under. Meaning if the speedo showed 60 mph, I was actually doing 58. With the new larger tires, I was 1 mph under. 60 showing is now 59 actual.

I need to let the tires break-in before I can offer more of a review. Part of break-in is waiting for the bead-lube to dry. I don't want to spin the tire on the wheel. I will also need to check the pressure soon as it will drop during break-in. So far I like them.
 

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If you read the fine print, you'll find a load rating. When buying new tires, make sure the new tires can carry the same load as the OEM tire, or more. This is very important if you want to use a different size. This is not a static load. As the car turns, brakes and goes over bumps, the tires load and unload. In some situations, a single tire may need to carry half the weight of the car. Our 4C weighs about 2500 pounds, but all four tires added together equals 5048 pounds, about twice the car.
The fine print? My P-zero's that came with the car have the sidewall rating written exactly the same size as the rest. 205/40 ZR18 86Y (530kg) for the fronts, and 235/35 ZR19 91Y (615kg) for the rear. Weights as published in the owners manual. That gives a total of 2290 kg (5048 lbs).

Still struggling to find tires here though. Maybe I should just go and look at the Michelin's
 

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The ultimate "almost R" tire these days is the Bridgestone RE71R. Very popular in my track circles. It's available in the same sizes as the Michelins. They're really noisy and a little down on wet performance but an awesome dry weather tire. I don't have them on my 4C yet but I have had them over a year on my Mazdaspeed3. Tried them on the track last weekend too and they have an immense amount of grip. I'll definitely be going this route for the 4C next.
 

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So no spacers with 245/35-19's? I have 15k and i need a shoe change.
No spacers at all. At the tire shop on the lift, there seemed to be more than plenty of room. I only have about fifty miles on them now. I just looked and don't see any sign of rubbing. I'm waiting on an alignment Monday, by then the bead lube will be dry and I can go for an extended and fun test drive.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Racer, you got a couple of pics of the tires installed? Still no clearance issues?
I took plenty of before and after pictures. They didn't turn out well because of the lighting. Will post some soon.
 

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All my track rat pals tell me 71R is the way to go. RS3's I'm told turn into gummy balls after a few hot laps. I'm on my second set of rears (at 10K km) and fronts are still good. OEM's are decent
 

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The fine print? My P-zero's that came with the car have the sidewall rating written exactly the same size as the rest. 205/40 ZR18 86Y (530kg) for the fronts, and 235/35 ZR19 91Y (615kg) for the rear. Weights as published in the owners manual. That gives a total of 2290 kg (5048 lbs).

Still struggling to find tires here though. Maybe I should just go and look at the Michelin's
I believe the manual states the minimum load rating as 70W front and rear. So anything above this should be fine. I don't think you need anything higher rated than W, as this rated for speeds up to 270km/h at the the highest load rating weight. Given that most tires will be 84w for the front and greater than 88W for the rear this should be well within the weights and loads expected by a 4c even for track work.
 

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Michelin pilot sport 3

Just fitted these in place of the Pirrelli's on my 17/18 inch set of rims in the standard size 205/45R17 84W and 235/40R18 95W.

Both tires felt slightly lighter in construction than the Pirrelli's
Definitely a wider contact patch or squarer profile than the Pirrelli
Steering feel was lighter in effort and more crisp on turn-in
Overall grip feel better than the Pirrelli's but then again this is comparing old with new tires.
Road noise and comfort are the single biggest noticeable difference, particularly at highway speeds
I bought these in Sydney for $944 for the set fitted and balanced which is very good value for such a high performance tire.
 

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I believe the manual states the minimum load rating as 70W front and rear. So anything above this should be fine. I don't think you need anything higher rated than W, as this rated for speeds up to 270km/h at the the highest load rating weight. Given that most tires will be 84w for the front and greater than 88W for the rear this should be well within the weights and loads expected by a 4c even for track work.
Um, my ECU allows me to laugh at 270km/h. I feel safer with 300.
 

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Um, my ECU allows me to laugh at 270km/h. I feel safer with 300.
Sure different strokes for different folks, the point is that w rated tires at 84w front and 95w rear are designed for much heavier loads already, so the miserly corner loads of a 4c is not really going to challenge them. Even with a stage 2 ecu unless your on a circuit like spa or the green mile than your not really going to have the room to wind a 4c up to 300km/h certainly not for any extended period. The 4c suffers from the same problem as a formula 3 at that speed - the downforce and drag it produces is simply too much for even improved output in horsepower that a 4c produces.

Is supect the higher speed rated tires use additional belt reinforcements resulting in a heavier tire - which is counter to the 4c design preference.

Ofcourse anyone planning to do extended high speed autobahn runs should absolutely invest in y rated tires!
 

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not really going to have the room to wind a 4c up to 300km/h certainly not for any extended period. The 4c suffers from the same problem as a formula 3 at that speed - the downforce and drag it produces is simply too much for even improved output in horsepower that a 4c produces.
You should come visit then. Stupid long open 3 lane stretches of highway through the desert.

I find the nose gets too light for me once through 250, and yes, the engine struggles to push her through the air above that speed. I find that she's great until about 220 (also very settled and stable).

But thanks, will look into the lower ratings if I get no joy with what I want.
 
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