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Old 11-23-2012, 01:16 PM   #1
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What is the idea wheel size

The Focus is available in an amazing spectrum of wheel sizes:
  • 15" in the S model
    16" in the SE
    17" in the Titanium
    18" in the ST

Is there an optimal size?

Or is bigger always better?

How badly am I missing out if I'm riding on 15" wheels?


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Old 11-23-2012, 02:09 PM   #2
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what are your driving objectives?

comfort - 15"
tire price - 15"
looks - 17" IMO
performance - (if limited to OEM wheels, would go with 17x7 or 18x8"), if after market i would go with light and wide 15".
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Old 11-23-2012, 02:42 PM   #3
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bigger isn't always better

The 15" wheels will give the best ride & all season performance, If you eventually buy a set of 17's for example (best range of choice in performance summer rubber currently), the 15's will be GREAT for the dedicated winter snows that are the way to go in your area.

Look around a bit & you'll find Racers running 15's for their lighter weight, and street appearance folks looking to fit the largest wheels they can....

Tire availability is the main thing right now in choosing wheel sizes.

15" - In street tires the cheapest, but not a lot of choices - mostly "generic" all season types. Good Snows avail..

16" - More choices, but again mostly all season types - a bit pricier. Good Snow tires avail..

17" - The best selection of Summer High Performance tires, and at the best prices for this performance level. Snows can be found, but not as many & they won't work as well as narrower tires on smaller wheels - a bit pricey as well.

18" - Just starting to be more common, so less choices avail., and the prices are higher as well.

That'll give you some idea on how things stand right now, not that long ago the stock 15" size tires on that car would have been a performance size - and they still work quite well. Larger wheels are heavier, and really large with very low profile tires get to be like riding solid rubber for tires... "In between" isn't bad when you're looking for more of a "Go Cart" feel in the Summer, the ride isn't bad on a 45 series tire. If you read a lot of new car reviews, you'll notice the main complaints are from extreme wheel sizes - Noise, ride quality (banging over potholes), and damaged wheels are things that come up regularly.

Cheers!
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Old 11-23-2012, 03:12 PM   #4
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Thanks. Good info. Have been reading up on wheel sizes, trying to decide what to do for winter. (big storm today. should have gotten off the dime already).

Reading up on winter sizing has gotten me curious about other seasons, especially with respect to the many sizes offered by Ford on the Focus.


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Old 11-23-2012, 03:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor View Post
not that long ago the stock 15" size tires on that car would have been a performance size - and they still work quite well.
Yes. In my previous Focus, that I believe was the case. I recall being pleased at the time at having 15 inch tires. My car before that had 14s.


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Old 11-23-2012, 03:40 PM   #6
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Jonathan,

When you're thinking about changing wheel diameter, also think about the tire diameter/circumference you will have. You want to stay pretty close to original tire diameter or you'll need to change the speedometer drive gear to compensate for the change of the speedometer/odometer readings. Also consider the fit of the tire within the wheel opening to avoid problems with tire rub and damage against the car body.

Here's one calculator of tire diameter that you can use to compare different tire/wheel/aspect ratio combinations. There are lots of these on the Internet:

http://www.csgnetwork.com/tiresizescalc.html

I'm doing the same thing you are, my 06 ZXW has 15 inch steel wheels and I'm looking for 16 or 17 inch alloys and a lower profile tire.

Best wishes!
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Old 11-23-2012, 03:47 PM   #7
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Aside from the wheel weight (bigger IS heavier)
The tire aspect ratio is a big part of the "what is right for me" issue.
15" wheels on the 2012 Focus will give you a smooth quiet ride due to the high aspect ratio (the height of the tire vs the width. So a 15" wheel with a 60 aspect ratio will have the biggest air volume inside the tire. This contributes to a smooth ride.
The downside is cornering suffers from the tall tires (if you like to corner fast)

16" is a good modern compromise. With 55 series aspect ratio A compromise for handling and a little performance

The performance tire really begins with the 17" and aspect ration of 50.
The low 50 aspect ratio adds to the handling capablity all by itself. It also rides harsher, but has faster turn in when driving hard With a 50 aspect the tire have just enough air volume to not damage the rim if they hit a pothole
So IMO the 17" wheel is the best performance wheel for the tire diameter used on the 2012 Focus

The 18 is into for looks. It goes beyond handling and is a 45 series tire, where cool looks and heavy wheel weight cancel the performance gained from the very thin sidwall height. Tire pressure is critical in these thin aspect ratio tires. They ride hard, but turn on a dime. These are the tires that break a rim hitting a deep pothole (and it gets worse with 40 aspect, 35 is sheer looks with little to redeem use, and why I think Ford did NOT go with 19" wheels on the ST.)

Whatever wheel size gives a 50 series tire is the one that will work best all around performance/ decent comfort.

The comment about tuners using 15" wheels is for cars which came stock with 13" (60 aspect ratio tire) wheels!!!! (the Ricers..) Then they can have a 15" wheel with a 50 aspect ratio tire. Perfect. So a very light 15" is IDEAL for (older) rice...
Not so for a car with a larger tire diameter to start with. (or later japanese cars with larger tires and wheels as stock.)

So i am saying the 17" wheel is the perfect performance wheel for the third gen Focus. Due primarily to it's combo with a 50 aspect tire on the third gen car.
This is my opinion.

And all this is realizing one wants to keep the total circumference of the original equipment tires so the speedo and all will be correct.
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Old 11-23-2012, 04:08 PM   #8
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Yup - Exactly!

And often the easiest way when there are so MANY stock fitments avail. is to match the stock tire sizes for the different wheel diameters.

On the same diameter rim, a couple sizes of width requires a full size in profile change as well - once you change diameter as well, the rough estimate doesn't work anymore!

(for example, my first gen. Focus had 195/60-15's, and an alternate that is close enough for winter tires was 185/65-15's. Going to stock SVT 17" wheels, the std. size was 215/45-17 while 205/45-17's are "close enough" to work as well. The car came used with replacement 185's from a Dealer, and the speedo was slightly off - the stock SVT size corrected that to an exact speedo reading.)

J.G. - If you plan on some dedicated Summer wheels & tires next year, just put good snows on your current wheels & sell off the all seasons it came with next spring when you find the new wheels you want. By the way, even though the new Focus hasn't been out too long you may still find take-offs avail. as folks switch to aftermarket or larger stock wheels - and another source might be Volvo wheels since some of their newer cars use the 5x108 bolt pattern the new Focus uses.

New options showing up constantly for the new cars as folks get a chance to try out new tricks for them!
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Old 11-23-2012, 04:09 PM   #9
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Wow. Elizabeth. That's a hugely informative post.

What about weight as one goes up the scale? For example, one might buy steel wheels at the 15" end. Yet it's hard to imagine steel being a good idea at the 18" size found in the ST. Right? At what point should one not even consider steel? And related question: would you choose 15" aluminum over 16" steel, or vice-versa?
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Old 11-23-2012, 04:15 PM   #10
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And what about rim width? Looking at Tire Rack, I see 16" wheels in 6.5", 7.0", and 7.5" widths. What are the tradeoffs to made there? Is there a generally accepted ratio of rim width to tire width?
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