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Sounds like 185's in the front would not be a bad idea to combat the understeer.
Would they fit in the same rims (I'm not a tire expert)

Here's what the standard Elise (might) get:
175/55/16, Rear: 225/45/17
 

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Matt,

As a current owner from the uk I can only advise that whatever you do with regard to tyres it's probably best not to change the sizes without also altering the suspension. Lotus are probably the best ride and handling engineers in the world, certainly they make cars that feel like no other on the road. Recently I put a set of 195 fronts on my car, here are my findings

"I've just been out and broken my proxes track day virginity, I was out on the same track two weeks ago but on an old set of potenzas so I thought it would be a good chance to get a back to back comparison.

The standard suspension is no match for the front end grip but I've kind of got used to that. On turn in the car lolls and drops it's shoulder to the side before turning into the corner as opposed to the potenzas where the front end is always very light and seems to dance it's way through the bends. Even on a relatively slow turn in you've used up a hell of a lot of suspension travel before you're really into the corner and I was lifting the inside front regularly.

Mid corner the grip characteristics of the tyre really came into play, they do not have a smooth progressive breakaway but tend to hold, hold, hold before letting go and sliding away, it's very non linear compared to the potenzas. I felt at times that I was driving on grease - all four wheels sliding in what must have looked quite impressive but was in fact a very unnerving experience.
Grip also started to fade as the tyres heated up, I've always found that the potenzas got better as the day went on but feel free to lend your opinions here

There was much less understeer than with potenzas which I suppose goes without saying and oversteer was on tap with a mid corner lift or a violent throw of the wheel, I still had to work to get it though.

Under braking they performed brilliantly, probably the only area that they beat the potenzas on - then again when you think of the size of the footprint its hardly surprising.

I've been trying to think of a simple analagy to describe the overall feeling and this is the best I can do. With the potenzas you can caress the car round the track and it will reward you (swiss tony feel free to insert beautiful woman gag), with the toyos however you have to wrestle it round and the car will fight you all the way.

I am by no means a ride and handling expert but these are my observations.

I will be going back to potenzas - the toyos have turned my ballet dancer into a prop forward"

For 'prop forward' read 'Linebacker'

Currently running F(195) R(225) Toyo proxes T1-S

OM
 

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Monkey said:
The standard suspension is no match for the front end grip but I've kind of got used to that. On turn in the car lolls and drops it's shoulder to the side before turning into the corner as opposed to the potenzas where the front end is always very light and seems to dance it's way through the bends.
I think that this probably has very little to do with the size and very much to do with the Toyos themselves. They have a reputation of being quite mushy for a high performance tire.
 

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John,

The suspension setup of the Elise is *very* finely tuned, you are right the Toyo's are a very soft compound considering their speed rating I should provide a little more background information though. The Elise offers outstanding handling and by that I don't just mean cornering speed, I mean the way it is able to keep four wheel perfectly damped and on the road at all times, providing unparalleled feedback through the steering wheel and seat of your pants.

As standard the Elise S2 is supplied with Bridgestone Potenzas with a very specific DOT code, so specific in fact that Bridgestone developed this tyre for the elise, GM produce a sister car - the VX220 (tell me if I'm teaching you to suck eggs here) which although not much heavier runs the same size rims and tyres but with a different DOT code. The VX220 tyres are a harder compound than the Elise, but not by a great deal, yet the VX220 is only 100kg max heavier than the Elise, several uk owners have had the vx220 tyres fitted to their elises and even these upset the handling of the car.

The tyres that come as standard are so soft that Bridgestone only make them in Elise sizes, the car is very light and hence tyre wear is not too bad whilst grip is phenomenal (in the dry!)

Anyhow even a change in tyre compound at the same size is enough to upset the handling characteristics of the car, I really don't want this message to come across as patronising but have you ever driven an elise or a lotus 7 alike?

By increasing the footprint at the front you are asking the suspension to do more work, and when you're dealing with a system that is so finely balanced you need to weight up the other end of the scales too. Currently a number of options are available to dial out the understeer, Lotus offer LSS (Lotus Sport Suspension) a complete re-work of the cars suspension including new dampers, brakes, rims and tyres. Meanwhile another uk based company, one eleven tuning offer an upgrade kit that has been developed by an ex Formula 1 test driver (and elise owner), a man very well respected in the Elise owning community.

I am hoping to upgrade my suspension shortly

OM
 

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On the Top Gear review (on the 111s, I believe) the host didn't like the understeering set-up at all and the Lotus rep said they'd sell them larger front wheels. They didn't mention changing the suspension. Not much info. and Monkey knows more about it than I do, certainly, it's just that the Top Gear made it sound like Lotus botched the stock set-up to cater to lesser drivers. By the effort the Lotus rep. used in order to induce oversteer it looked like they weren't exagerrating.
 

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Gavan Kershaw did indeed mention changing the wheels - bit of a throwaway comment as he was referring to the LSS kit I mentioned below. It is possible to get the S2 to oversteer, certainly a lot easier than the top gear presenter (Jeremy Clarkson) made it look. His point I think was that it doesn't oversteer as easily as the S1. However the only places I have felt really noticeable understeer on track have been low speed tight corners - hence my experiment with the tyres. In everyday situations you can provoke oversteer with throttle control, feathering and lifting slightly, incresing steering input (Clarksons method) does not do the trick.

OM
 

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For what it's worth, a local Lotus dealer told me that the US Elise would come with tires specially designed for it by Yokohama.
 

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Monkey said:
you are right the Toyo's are a very soft compound considering their speed rating
When I wrote "mushy" I wasn't so much talking about the rubber compound (which would affect grip) as the construction of the tire (which affects handling response and steering feel). In your testing, you changed both the size and the model of the tires on your car. That makes it impossible to determine which factor contributed to the differences you experienced. However, based on my own experiences I think that the model of the tire was a stronger contributor than the slight change in size.

I haven't driven a 7 or an Elise, but the same has been said about the sensitivity of the Miata to mismatched tire sizes and models, and different tire models even when they are otherwise matched. Some people like the grip, rain capability, and smooth ride of the T1-S, while others believe it ruins the responsiveness of the Miata's suspension. Perhaps this sounds familiar ;)

There are many ways to correct for a small amount of understeer. Among them are: alignment, tire width, spring rate, and anti-swaybar changes. I don't think that any of those adjustments, if done in small increments, will ruin the synergy of the Lotus suspension tuning. I'm assuming that the person who makes the adjustments has identified a specific flaw in the handling that he/she wants to correct. It would make no sense to change anything if you think that the suspension works well as it is.

Matt, I heard the same thing from Clyde. By the way, can anyone tell me which models/versions of the Elise came with the Advan (Yokohama) Neova tires? According to Bob Hall, the 195/50-15 Neova LTS (Lotus edition) used on the front wheels of Elises are the same as the non-LTS version which was originally designed for use on the Miata.
 

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Fair points John,

I don't disagree that the Toyo sidewall does suffer from a degree of flex and you are quite right that I have changed many factors at once making a real scientific comparison impossible.

In my mind though there is a distinction between suspension balance and grip, previously the suspension feel was perfect, like driving a go kart it was almost innate, though front end grip was lacking. Now there is plenty of front end grip, too much in fact for the standard spring rates so stiffer springs are needed. I really can't convey the experience of driving a car that is so responsive and finely balanced that you can feel even the smallest change - it's something you have to experience for yourself.

The S1 Elise was released with Pirelli P0's as standard but they were found to be lacking in the wet and after work with Yokohama Lotus started issuing the Advan Neova tyre, I'd go so far as to say these are now the most popular tyre amongst uk enthusiasts and have a very good reputation

OM
 

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My experience racing on Toyo racing tires bears this out. I find that the compound is very good. But the sidewalls have way too mich flex. So the easy solution is more pressure. If I run less than 45psi in the tires, the handling gets mushy. I like around 48-50psi.
 

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In an elise equipped with toyos that would be 25psi front and 28 rear. any more and the car will be all over the place, any less and the tyres will be rolling on their shoulders.

Craigy
 

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Lotus puted on the 175 in the front b/c the market was so big that they needed to get a "safe" car.
On the S1 195 was available and they're on my car to. This way you dont have understeer but the risk is that al of a sudden the car can go sliding or break out. The understeer setup is more safe for the unexperienst and non-hardcore drivers. If you want to drive to the limit you need bigger tires at the front.
And there is no way you need to change the suspension, if you get semi-slicks roadtyres you need to change some weakpoints in the suspension but they are widely available.
Besides more grip nothing changes.
 

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Liz said:
Lotus puted on the 175 in the front b/c the market was so big that they needed to get a "safe" car.
On the S1 195 was available and they're on my car to. This way you dont have understeer but the risk is that al of a sudden the car can go sliding or break out. The understeer setup is more safe for the unexperienst and non-hardcore drivers. If you want to drive to the limit you need bigger tires at the front.
And there is no way you need to change the suspension, if you get semi-slicks roadtyres you need to change some weakpoints in the suspension but they are widely available.
Besides more grip nothing changes.
I disagree with that statement. If you put stickier rubber on, the car rolls too much. It's a problem I currently have on my elise S1. (which I plan to fix with nitron suspension an adjustable antiroll bar).

Craigy
 

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Liz said:
Lotus puted on the 175 in the front b/c the market was so big that they needed to get a "safe" car.
On the S1 195 was available and they're on my car to. This way you dont have understeer but the risk is that al of a sudden the car can go sliding or break out. The understeer setup is more safe for the unexperienst and non-hardcore drivers. If you want to drive to the limit you need bigger tires at the front.
And there is no way you need to change the suspension, if you get semi-slicks roadtyres you need to change some weakpoints in the suspension but they are widely available.
Besides more grip nothing changes.
Look I'm talking from experience here and my findings are backed up by many of those who actually have an S2 elise and regularly track it. The S1 suspension setup is designed to deal with the grip generated by 195 fronts, the S2 is not it's as simple as that. There is a thread on the SELOC board about this right now, 1st lotus are offering a free airfield day to anyone with wider fronts and standard suspension (http://forums.seloc.org/viewthread.php?tid=7284)
The aim being to highlight how badly the setup of the car is affected, I still have 195's on the front of mine and as a comparison was able to travel faster in a VX220 on the same stretch of track than I could in mine. A total reversal from the usual situation

OM
 

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Monkey said:
Look I'm talking from experience here and my findings are backed up by many of those who actually have an S2 elise and regularly track it. The S1 suspension setup is designed to deal with the grip generated by 195 fronts, the S2 is not it's as simple as that. There is a thread on the SELOC board about this right now, 1st lotus are offering a free airfield day to anyone with wider fronts and standard suspension (http://forums.seloc.org/viewthread.php?tid=7284)
The aim being to highlight how badly the setup of the car is affected, I still have 195's on the front of mine and as a comparison was able to travel faster in a VX220 on the same stretch of track than I could in mine. A total reversal from the usual situation

OM
Ok good to hear, but i drive an S1 with 195 front and 225 back (Neova Advan LTS, specialy for the elise made tyres and it drives great. Didnt knew this was a problem with the S2... :) But you say the S2 becomes quicker or you talking about the S1 now?? Well on the S1 the 195 tyres work great and it will help the S2 from less understeer. Havent driven an S2 at all so cannot say anything about the handling.
 

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My bad,

The S2 is a different chassis and has different suspension to the S1. To clarify I have an S2 and adding wider front tyres to the car introduced such a degree of instability and uncertainty to the handling that it just isn't as fast round a track as it used to be. The suspension is soo finely balanced that simply sticking wider fronts to reduce understeer will ruin the feel of the car, and after all thats what most of us buy it for.

The understeer can be dialled out by either adopting some pretty hairy driving techniques. i.e. flicking nose out before turning in, lifting off mid bend or left foot braking to bring the nose in. None of which I would want to try on a public road, however packages exist and continue to be developed that will change the characteristics to give a more S1 like feel to the handling. My advice would be to try the car on a standard setup before deciding to change it.

OM
 

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I've been through the whole debate myself and to be honest the conclusion I came to was ;

1) Lotus are arguably the best car manufacturer in the world for chassis, suspension, ride and handling.

2) Lotus setup the S2 with the Bridgestone tyre.

3) Not only that Bridgestone produced a Potenza tyre for the Elise (it's a unique DOT code for the Elise - ie don't put Potenzas for a VX220 on an Elise !).

My conclusion was therefore leave well alone, I think Lotus have a better idea about this than I

:D
 

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Randy Chase said:
I like around 48-50psi.
I hope these are hot temps you're talking about. That seems way high for what I (and others) run for the RA1s. Low 40s hot has been endorsed by a Toyo tire engineer, which means I have a starting (cold) pressure of 31-34 cold depending on the track and conditions, sometimes higher.

Of course, it'd be great if I could blame my times on wacky tire pressures. :)
 

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Nope. Cold temps. And it works. :)
 
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