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16/17 Wheels vs 17/18, 18/19 or 19/20??

14 April 2004
East Bay Area - CA
I am somewhat new to the forum - basically, absorbed info over the past year but have rarely posted or contributed. I own a red/black 91 and have recently begun upgrading it, primarily performance oriented upgrades:
Taitec headers
Anytime exhaust
Large bore throttle body
reprogrammed ECU
Cantrell air intake
UNI high flow filter
SOS water reservoir – not performance but needed to replace leaky OEM junk
(all SOS - thanks SOS)
Also thanks to all the forum contributors who have helped educate me.

I am now thinking about replacing the ugly looking stock 91 wheels with something more attractive. After reading the forum it seems the tendency is to increase the wheel size by +1, +2 and even +3 inches. Now here is by question:

Why would anyone want 19/20, 18/19, 17/18 wheels on their car?

I’ve spoken to several wheel retailers and all suggest bigger is better. However, the unsprung wheel weight goes up with wheel size contributing to numerous performance degradations - Poor handling, Poor braking , Poor acceleration. The outer diameter of the wheel does not change – so the aesthetics of filling the wheel well does not improve. Yes you can see more brake but you’ll need bigger brakes to offset the bigger wheels. You’ll also need all the above performance mods and improved suspension to offset the additional unsprung weight. What gives?

Any opinions would be appreciated.
Hi Mark
Welcome to the site.
As far as wheels go,figure what your plans are for the car(track,cruiser or both).Wheel weight didn't matter to me as I am just a speed limit street cruiser with no intentions of ever tracking my car.So I did the 19 and 20's.Others here who enjoy the adrenalin rush of racing will definately prefer the light weight wheels.It is entirely up to you and your needs.One thing no matter wich way you go you still will own one of the nicest rides on the street.NSX's turn heads!
here's a report I posted on the UK forum regarding my wheel upgrade last year - you may find this relevant and informative since you appear to be in the exact same place I was in re: deciding on a wheel upgrade with preformance being foremost in mind.



as you can see the oem wheels grew by 1" diameter and 0.5" width both front & rear between the orig spec in 1991 and the revised spec in 1994, and my new wheels have retained the larger 16"/17" diameters of the revised sizes, but added an extra inch width at the same time. Crucially this extra width in the larger size has come not only with zero weight overhead but has reduced the wheel weight below both the revised AND original weights.


I have gone for Kumho V70A tyres front & rear for 3 reasons:
1. excellent trackday grip
2. lowest weight I could find
3. comparatively inexpensive

see in the chart above how 3 different sets of tyres compare - there's not quite so much of a weight saving for me on the tyres, but not bad considering the extra tyre width though - up from the current 225 front to 245 with a minor saving of 0.4kg per tyre, and up from the current 255 rear to 275 for the same weight.

so I have gained 20mm per corner over my current setup at the same time as trimming 8.7kg of rotational unsprung weight from the car (that's 30mm per corner over standard oem 94-01 sizes with similar weight savings), and a whopping 40mm per corner front and 50mm per corner rear over the oem 91-93 sizes at a weight penalty of just 3.2kg - although this last comparison is largely academic for me and most NSX'ers since most are on the oem 94-01 wheels anyway, but useful for anyone who is still on the smaller oems.

here is how the dimensions vary between the different setups


the Volk TE37s look like this

the website is here http://www.rayswheels.co.jp/emenu/wheel.html

my source for the wheels was Dali Racing - details here

useful tool here for calculating tyre sizes etc

UK & Europe info on the Kumho ECSTA V70As is here

USA info on the Kumho ECSTA V70As is here

here are some pics of them on my car

here are some action shots at Nurburgring, Germany



smhrednsx91 said:
Why would anyone want 19/20, 18/19, 17/18 wheels on their car?
Appearance is a matter of personal taste. What you may not want (because it degrades performance, or it is susceptible to damage from potholes, or you think it looks silly) may be exactly the way someone else wants his car to look. Different spokes :D for different folks.

smhrednsx91 said:
I’ve spoken to several wheel retailers and all suggest bigger is better.
And they all have a personal interest in selling the biggest, most expensive wheels and tires. (And they probably all have a lot of customers who are more interested in bling than performance.)
I also don't care for the looks of the '91-'93 15/16 wheels. My experience, however, is the NSX handles best on those wheels with OEM Yokohamas. Great feel, razor sharp turn in. I switched to the OEM 16/17 setup and it's good, yet not as good as the original OEM 15/16 combo.

Why? Look at the wheel/tire combos on any professional roadgoing race car, i.e. F1 or NASCAR for the answer. None use low profile tires, in fact, the sidewalls are huge by today's street norms. This is at least because 1) the larger sidewall allows tires to be more compliant, thus acting as part of the suspension and providing better contact patch management near the limit and 2) use of a smaller wheel affords significant weight savings.
Russ - I can see the sense in what you say about the advantages of tyre sidewall.

my current setup is very nice and as you'll see from the charts above on my 16/17 combo I have 20mm more sidewall at the front and just 2.5mm less at the rear than the factory 15/16 spec.

even my oem 16/17 setup was only slightly down on the 15/16 by 1.3mm front & 10.5mm rear

you'll also notice that my wheels are actually lighter than the oem 15/16s by some 7lb, although due to the wider tyres (+40mm front, +50mm rear) the total weight of wheels plus tyres is almost 9lb heavier :frown:
smhrednsx91 said:
Why would anyone want 19/20, 18/19, 17/18 wheels on their car?

The outer diameter of the wheel does not change – so the aesthetics of filling the wheel well does not improve.

19" Rear tire 275x30 = 25.5" Diameter
From the FAQ
Stock 16 (91-93) = 24.9"
Stock 17 (94-97) =24.7"

So on my 95, the gain is nearly an inch in overall diameter. Plus there is less rubber so the tires look less like tractor tires. But as stacy'snsx indicated, a lot of us don't track our cars so I could care less about the small loss in performance. I just hate the small wheels and thick tires, even my 19s look small now.