Mike Walsted's Miata Pages - Tires and Wheels


Disclaimer - I am not a tire and/or wheel expert. The opinions below are based on my own personal experiences, and may not be valid for your specific situation. I hope this page is helpful, but I encourage everyone to do more research when making tire and/or wheel decisions.

When I bought this car, it was equipped with three nearly bald Michelin Pilot Exaltos, and a fourth completely bald and out-of-balance tire of a brand I don't remember. The car stuck to wet roads like an ice cube on oiled glass, and shook when traveling at highway speeds. Consequently, new tires were a priority.

My first stop in tire shopping was TireRack.com. I have always had positive experiences when dealing with them, and they were usually competitively priced. This time, though, they didn't have a tire I liked at a price I liked, so I started looking elsewhere. A friend in the Mojave Desert had Falken Ziex ze512s, and had good luck with those tires. I really liked those tires, and found a good price at 2dayParts.com, and they answered emails promptly and courteously. I had concerns about replacement if something should happen, however, as the ze912 was advertised as the replacement for the ze512. Instead, I ended up purchasing Falken Ziex ZE912 tires from Edge Racing, as others on an internet board had good experiences with them, and the to-the-door price was less than 2dayParts. (Less than a month later, Discount Tire Direct had a $100-off-of-a-set-of-four sale, which would have made them the lowest price by far. Too late for me, though.) The tires were received soon after ordering and at a reasonable price, with great service. Others have had serious problems after placing orders through Edge Racing around the time I ordered. Luckily, I was not caught in that mess.

As far as the tires themselves, they were installed and balanced (by a friend for a reasonable fee), and had no vibration. The ze912s gripped reasonably for the most part when the weather is cool, and did okay in wet conditions as well. I wasn't real happy with their performance on hot roads, though - they don't stick well when the roads get as hot as they do in Texas in the summer, and feel as though they are slipping around some highway curves. The friend with the Ziex ze512s did not have the instability on hot roads that I had with the Ziex ze912s. So, in hindsight, getting the Ziex ze512s from 2DayParts may have been a better move on my part, but may not be for you. Plenty of other folks like the ze912s better than the ze512s.

I have ordered, received, and installed Yokohama Avid T4s, since the Falkens needed to be replaced. (The tire on the right rear, where the dead shock is, reached the wear indicator after about 23,000 miles.) I have used Yokohama Avid S/Ts on a previous vehicle for years, and they performed well as three season tires. (Not so great on snow or ice.) Consequently, the Yokohama Avid T4s seemed like a good idea for the weather in Texas. I have read reviews and have heard of others' experiences which disagree with this assessment. Even so, I tried the tires to see for myself, and to me they were better for my needs than the Falken ze912s, but I doubt this would hold true for others. The stiffer sidewall was noticeable, and the Yokohamas seemed to hold much better on hot roads than the Falkens. Around curves, I can feel the Yokohamas slip if the speed is too high and the turn is too tight, but it is a gradual slip, and control isn't lost. After 30,000 miles, the Yokohamas seemed to be losing their wet grip, (especially when roads are cold,) even though their wear indicator bars weren't at to the surface of the tire.

The Yokohamas and the stock rims met an untimely end due to a meeting with a pothole. I needed replacements real quick (as it was in the middle of my work week,) and ended up with MB Five X Wheels and Goodyear Eagle GTs from Jeremy at Discount Tire in Burleson. The MB Five X is heavier and wider than the 15-inch stock wheel for 1999 Miatas.
The MB Five X is pictured here:
MB Five X Wheel

In the far distant future, I plan on getting lighter and possibly wider wheels. Miatas are sensitive to combined wheel and tire weight, with better handling and performance associated with lighter tires and wheels. Of course, lighter tires and wheels slightly help fuel economy on all vehicles, and Miatas are no exception, but I doubt the minute fuel savings would offset the cost of the wheels. The 1999 Miata with the leather or sport package came with 15x6 wheels (4x100mm bolt pattern, 40mm offset,) that weigh 13.1 pounds, so wheels that are wider than 6 inches and lighter than 13 pounds can be considered an upgrade from stock, and if they are at least 6.5 inches and lighter than the MB Five X, those wheels would be upgrades from what I currently have. Konig Feathers are slightly wider than stock, and about a pound lighter. They are also available in gold, which may look better with the tan leather package on my Miata. Konig Brite-lites are less than a pound lighter than stock wheels, are also slightly wider than stock, and to my eye, better-looking. Konig Daylites are another wheel that is slightly wider and about a pound lighter. I'm currently leaning toward the Konig Heliums, as they are almost two pounds per wheel lighter than stock, slightly wider than stock, and priced around the same as the Konig Feathers, Britelites, and Daylites. These would be my first choice hands-down, except for a few reports of bending when hitting very large potholes (like the ones that occassionally are found on local freeways) at freeway speeds, and my opinion that the Brite-lites look better. Like the Konig Feathers, they are also available in gold. Konig Foils are a full inch wider than stock, but are slightly heavier, so they don't really fit my needs unless I plan on moving to a much wider tire. Kosei K1 TS wheels are also a full inch wider than stock and under a pound lighter, but are also more expensive. One popular option is the Enkei RPF1, which saves over three pounds per wheel, and gains an inch in width over stock, but is significantly more expensive than the Kosei and Konig wheels. Motegi Traklite 2.0 wheels have similar specifications to the Enkei RPF1s, but are forged rather than cast, so they should be stronger than the other wheels. They are also harder to find on sale, so they are almost always significantly more expensive than the Enkei RPF1s. At more than twice the price of the Enkeis, the BBS RG-F wheels are forged, light, high quality wheels that are way outside of my budget, but pictured below for comparison purposes.

Here are images of the wheels mentioned, with links to a source:


Konig Feather from Goodwin Racing (Silver)

Konig Feather from Goodwin Racing (Gold)

Konig Brite-lite from Goodwin Racing

Konig Daylite from Performance Plus Tire

Konig Helium from Goodwin Racing

Konig Helium (Gold) from JLB Motorsports
.

Konig Foils from Good-Win-Racing

Kosei K1 TS from TireRack.com

Enkei RPF1 from Goodwin Racing

Motegi Traklite 2.0 wheels from
Summit Racing

BBS RG-F wheels from Vivid Racing


Pictures of many of the wheels above mounted on Miatas are available at Goodwin Racing's Forum.

If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments, please feel free to e-mail me at mike@mikewalsted.com.