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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-28-2011, 06:53 AM Thread Starter
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Wheels, the complete story

Hello everyone,

I'm relatively new to the Lotus circle and I'm trying to get the complete story on the wheels available from Lotus on our cars of various years/options.

What I think I know so far is this. My car is a 2005 with the sport package so it has the LSS (split seven spoke) wheels. These are apparently wider front wheels than later LSS wheels??? Are the LSS wheels significantly lighter than the standard touring wheels? Are they wider than the touring wheels? And when I say touring wheels I mean the standard 7 spoke wheels that you frequently see.

There has been a lot of talk about tire sizes to run for various events and people putting huge (relatively wide) tires on these cars. I read here that some people put 225's on the front and 245's on the rear but I just can picture it in my head.

Lets say you have 2005 LSS wheels, and 2005 standard wheels, what width tire can you safely put on the front and rear? 205/245 for both sets of wheels?

I hope someone can help clarify things for me.

Thanks,

Keith
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-28-2011, 07:10 AM
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This is mostly off the top of my head, but the complete history of Elise wheels in the US is something like this:

The base wheels on the Elise from '05-'10 in the US were the seven spoke cast wheels that you mentioned. They are 16x5.5/17x7.5 and weigh 15.17lbs/20.94lbs.

If you ordered the Sport Pack in '05-'07, that came with forged split-spoke wheels that were the optional forged wheels on the Euro Exige. They are 16x6.5/17x7.5 and weigh 12lbs/14lbs. These were also the standard wheel (in black) on all Exige and Exige S cars other than the Exige S 260 and Exige Cup cars. These always shipped with A048s.

The Sport Pack wheels on the very first few '05s were anodized a nice satin silver, but this process produced too many QA issues so they moved to a flat silver paint until they were able to change the process to paint them with a similar shiny silver/chrome paint to that on the base cast Elise wheels. I believe this switch occurred at the very tail end of '05 production.

In 2006 they added the Black Pack, which included black wheels among other things.

For a period during 2006 the forged wheels were back-ordered from the supplier, so they gave the people who had ordered their cars with the Sport Pack the option of waiting or taking the cast wheels that were standard on the Euro Exige with a credit for the value difference. These are 16x6.5/17x7.5 and weigh 19.4lbs/21.6Lbs. They were also standard on some special editions, such as the California.

In 2007 they added a forged wheel option to the non-Sport Pack cars which consisted of forged split spoke wheels that looked exactly the same as the Sport Pack wheels, but were 6" wide up front instead of the standard 6.5" wide.

The Elise SC, introduced in 2008, moved to a new style cast wheel as standard. They were 16x6/17x8.

In 2008 the Sport Pack on the Elise/Elise SC changed to the 6" wide front wheels and went to AD07s.

Last edited by JWA; 06-28-2011 at 07:25 AM.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-28-2011, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, that is comprehensive! Thank you so much!!
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-28-2011, 10:09 AM
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That about sums up the wheel history. Regarding tire size:

The sport wheels came with 195/50/16 and 225/45/17 tires and the base with 175/55/16 and 225/45/17.

On the sport wheels, the following will "fit" but which is best will continue to be debated but these are probably the most common choices:
195/50/16
205/50/16*
205/45/16*
215/45/16

On the rears:
225/45/17
235/45/17*
245/40/17*
255/40/17

Again, other tire sizes can fit on the rim but even the sizes listed may have rubbing issues depending on your ride height and the actual make of tire. I've marked the most common (non OEM) choices I've seen with an *.

What are you trying to do with the car? Comfy cruiser, weekend toy, track rat, etc? With that info, I sure people will chime in with good tire choices and size combos.

Just for reference, I have 245/40/17 on the rear with NO rubbing but the 205/50/16 on the front can be made to rub if you really try under heavy braking with alot of steering input. Something not likely in typical driving conditions.

Last edited by MusicCity_Elise; 06-28-2011 at 07:47 PM.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-28-2011, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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I use the car regularly on sunny days, and I autocross it. I have LSS wheels now and I'm planning on getting touring wheels for street tires and use the LSS ones for slicks for autocrossing.

I think I want to put 205/45-16's up front and 245/40-17's in the rear for slicks. And I am going to stick with the OEM tire sizes for road tires probably, or maybe change the front size just to find a matched set easier.

Thanks a lot for your input! This takes a lot of guessing (trial and error) out of the whole process.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-28-2011, 02:32 PM
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Can someone add the Exige wheel history and tire choices and then this thread will actually be the Complete Wheels history?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-28-2011, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JungleJim View Post
Can someone add the Exige wheel history and tire choices and then this thread will actually be the Complete Wheels history?
US Exige should be pretty easy: they all came with the 16x6.5/17x7.5 split-spoke forged wheels except for the Exige S 260 which has a multi-spoke forged wheel. I know that the Cup cars had five-spoke wheels, but those aren't street cars here. I can't think of any special editions that had different wheels - but who can keep track of all of them .
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-28-2011, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 05 Elise Freak View Post
...And when I say touring wheels I mean the standard 7 spoke wheels that you frequently see.
...
Quote:
Originally Posted by JWA View Post
...
The base wheels on the Elise from '05-'10 in the US were the seven spoke cast wheels that you mentioned. They are 16x5.5/17x7.5 and weigh 15.17lbs/20.94lbs.
...
The standard wheels are eight spoke... not seven

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In terms of tyre size the standard fronts will happily accept a 195 but a 205 is too much.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 06:48 AM
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I noticed another variation the stock 2005 wheels. My car came with the caps that stick out. I noticed that some cars that weremade later in 2005 had the flush mounted wheel caps like the ones in the post above. Originally people thought that this was done because of changes to the rear hub and that you cant put a flush mount cap on an early model 05 car.

When I first bought my car, I bought a spare set of tires and rims in case I ever got a flat. I never used them, and they were off of a later model 05. I had to take my tires off a few weeks ago to get the rebalanced, and put the other set of tires and rims on. The set I bought didnt have any caps, so I never noticed anything. However, when I put them on the car, THEY ARE DIFFERENT. The later rims are much thicker in the round center area of the wheel center where the bolts go in and as a result, there is a thicker recessed area in the middle. Best way to describe it is like having two almost identical bagels with a whole in the center, except one bagel is thicker. As a result the depth of the hole is greater. As a result, flush mount caps can be used because the newer wheels have a center that is thicker and sticks out past the nut for the axle . I dont know how to determine if the offset is the same. It also looks like the lugbolts on the older wheels stick out a little, but are recessed more in the newer wheels. Dont know if the newer model wheels weight more, but I assuming they do becasue of the increased thickest.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 12:43 PM
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I dont know how to determine if the offset is the same.
Put one of each wheel face down on the floor. Cut a piece of straight wood to fit across the flat part of the wheel rim. Measure from wood to hub face on the wheel. This is the backspacing. If the two wheels are the same width, and the backspacing is the same, the offset is the same.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 11:53 PM
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Walton's book on the Elise gives an interesting anecdote about Lotus sorting out the handling. The story goes that prototypes were good at swapping ends, and after careful study it was down to the front end sticking too well. Minimizing the front grip with narrower less grippy front tire helped them make the Series 1 more progressive in its transition to oversteer. That was Pirelli 185/55 on 5.5x15 fronts, 205/50 on 7x16 rears. Maybe a lesson to be learned here is that Lotus knows nothing if not handling, so maybe for your road setup at least, consider the stock tire sizes to be well developed.

You're not autocrossing with slicks are you, or have you moved to modified class? I have zero experience with slicks, but I do know from experience working the start as a kid that formula cars' slicks were gummy enough to lift all the little stones from the course and rain a shower of them (and trash your paint.) Consider this if you're trying to keep your car nice.

Mechanical sympathy makes us better mechanics and better owners. Ducati dry clutches .... I just don't get it.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-30-2011, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by karlInSanDiego View Post
Walton's book on the Elise gives an interesting anecdote about Lotus sorting out the handling. The story goes that prototypes were good at swapping ends, and after careful study it was down to the front end sticking too well. Minimizing the front grip with narrower less grippy front tire helped them make the Series 1 more progressive in its transition to oversteer. That was Pirelli 185/55 on 5.5x15 fronts, 205/50 on 7x16 rears. Maybe a lesson to be learned here is that Lotus knows nothing if not handling, so maybe for your road setup at least, consider the stock tire sizes to be well developed.
Better than making the front stick less, make the rear stick more. Leave the tires alone and put in more front sway bar. This lessens body roll and makes the rear tires share the load with each other better. It also makes the outside rear tire work at a better dynamic camber. I autocross under Stock rules, and there is no legal way to get the static camber negative enough to give a proper dynamic camber, so lessening the body roll with the (rules-legal) stiffer front sway bar instead of cutting back on front tire size both tames the snap ovsteer and increases overal grip.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-30-2011, 06:44 AM
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I noticed another variation the stock 2005 wheels...
Ah yes - I forgot about that change. I believe the offset was the same, though I'd also assume it weighs a bit more.
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