Wheels and Tyres (11 articles)

Tyre Makes and Size - the view from Lotus' Technical Department.

Dear Mr. Belchamber,

The last recommendation for tyres was for Goodyear Eagle NCT 205/60 VR14 as used on the earlier Excel models. Since this time, no further testing has been carried out on your model. In general, a tyre in the Goodyear VR range should prove suitable but I cannot recommend a specific product. It may be worthwhile you contacting one of the Lotus owner's clubs, whose members may have practical experience to offer.

Yours sincerely,
Dave Massey - Technical Service, Lotus

Tyre Makes and Suggestions

Some of the tires you listed are pretty crummy for a nice performance car! How about the Dunlop SP8000? Remember you get what you pay for. I wouldn't recommend most of those cheap tyres! Michelin MXX3's are VERY good. Yokohama AVS si's are pretty good tires also.

Tyre Makes and Suggestions (2)

In the awkward 205/60x14 size, I've been offered Falken SK-06 tyres. I know nothing about Falken tyres, and research has not given me much useful info so far on this make or type. So ... any comments anyone? Does Falken have a good reputation generally? I've seen Falken ZE502 listed in my size, but reports at www.tyres- online.co.uk suggest they are poor in the wet and have a tendency to aquaplane. Er, sorry, *not* what this car needs! So I can rule these out. I may have to end up with the Yoko S306, which I think are OK but a bit 'sub-optimal' for this kind of car.

Tyre Makes and Suggestions (3)

Try the Yokohama AVS Intermediate. It's probably the best (dry) performing street tire available in 205/60-14. You can find quite a bit of information on tires at Tirerack. Though a U.S. company, some of the information may be generally useful.

Tyre Makes and Suggestions (4)

I too went for RE71s in the end ('83 Excel) as it was these or Yokohama A509s. A pair went on the back first (old NCT2s on the front) and it understeered big time. Obvious that the RE71s have more grip that the NCT2s then! I also noticed that they gripped like a leach even in the wet. Both wet and dry it was much more difficult to get the back end out. I then swapped them to the front and got more neutral handling. Strangely I didn't find what others have. Turn is was sharper (much less steering input needed for a given corner), tramlining was reduced but no problem with self centering, mine has always been fine about 10mph but a bit vague slower than that. Front was a lot more bouncy though and there did appeared to be less feedback on what they were doing. However, a couple of track days later I am now pretty used to them and there is no problem knowing where the limit is. :) One big downside on the track is that they appear to wear very quickly if over-driven. On balance I would say that they do feel a lot different to the NCT2s but when you get used to them that isn't such a problem. This is easily balanced by their much better grip, especially in the wet. I will be using them again (not that there is much choice in the UK!). I should add that my Excel is well past it's prime. I have no idea what the geometry is like and I know the springs/shocks are pretty sad so this might explain why I have had a different experience to others.

Tyre Makes and Suggestions (5)

Tyres should be 205/60-HR14 or better. The proper tyre would still be 205/60-VR14.

Assuming you have the Lotus alloys on it. The "504" would have the BW automatic trans, and a power antenna for the radio. Is that right? Yours should have A/C, P/S, and 3-pot calipers. The rear end should be about 4.1:1.

My car is also a 1976 model, but it's a 503. That means 5-speed, A/C, P/S, 3-pot calipers, and a somewhat taller set of gears in the diff. Mine came with 215/60-14 Goodyear Eagle ST's. Slightly oversize, but they've been good runners, and I like the way they fill the wheel arches amply. I drove the car to work every day for about 2 years (at least 10,000 miles before speedo cable broke).

Pick a tyre that suits your weather and driving style. There are still some decent choices in the 205/60-14.

www.tirerack.com has Yokohama AVS Intermediates (VR's) in stock, and the Dunlop SP Sport A2 (HR's). The tread on that Dunlop looks a bit like my old ST's, IMO, a solid center rib sharpens the steering feel and tracking while cruising down the highways. It just seems to be easier to finesse the car's direction.
You should be fitting 205/60-14 I assume? There don't seem to be many tyre makers doing that size any longer :-( Three years ago I was desparately trying to find that size for my Excel, which had been on Goodyear NCT & NCT2 until then. I even resorted to phoning various manufacturers to try to get a definitive answer on what they were currently producing. Fat chance of getting sense out of them!

Tyre Makes and Suggestions (6)

Eventually I had to take the only tyres in the right size that I could find, which are Bridgestone RE71. At the time I hated them, but I had no other option. The grip seems OK, although I haven't had a serious attempt to find their limits (no trackdays in 3 years :- (), but there was a big problem with the handling. All the feedback that the NCTs showed was gone, the Bridgestones were just dead. The steering had to be physically turned back to centre after going round a corner, and keeping it in a straight line needed definite thought, rather than letting it sort itself out as before. This was improved considerably last year when the KPI was increased by moving the front lower arm as far forward as it would go on the adjustment. On my early Excel this is done by moving spacing washers on the ends of the roll-bar. I still can't say I like them, but they are better than they were.

Tyre Makes and Suggestions (7)

The Yoko AVS-I is probably the best price/performance, Ultra-high performance at a modest price, and always in our sizes. Otherwise, for a cheaper "H" option, I know someone with a 13" size (215/50HR13) on his Europa and he likes them fairly well.

Tyre codes and ratings

Tire makers around the world are standardizing the ratings and the way they designate the sizes of tires. Typically a tire will be marked... 205/60-13. The 205 is the width in millimeters and the 60 refers to the aspect ratio, or the height of the sidewall as compared to the width (sidewall to sidewall) expressed in terms of a percentage. Thus 60 would mean a 60% aspect ratio or the height of the sidewall is 60% of the width or .60 x 205 or 123mm. The 13 is in inches and refers to the diameter of the wheel used.

Now comes some new numbers and letters... Here's an example...

P205/60R13 86H

The "P" is the U.S. means of designating a "P" metric tire size. The 205/60 is the same as above. The "R" refers to the fact that the tire is a RADIAL. The 13 is again the wheel diameter. But, then comes the 86H... The 86 is the load rating designation. It is a code to designate the maximum load that the tire can sustain at the speed indicated by the Speed Symbol, which is the "H" in this case. Load indexes for passenger car tires typically range from 75 ot 100. The Speed Rating is the "H" and refers to the tire's maximum sustained speed rating (see table).

Letter Maximum Rating Speed (kph/mph)

L......120 / 74.5
M......130 / 80.7
N......140 / 86.9
P......150 / 93.2
Q......160 / 99.4
R......170 /105.6
S......180 /111.8
T......190 /118.1
H......210 /130.4
V......240 /149.1
Z......240+ /149.1+

Odd tyre wear

It seems strange that only your left tyre is wearing badly - if you had a toe error, I'd expect that to show up on both tyres. (Because even if only one wheel is adjusted incorrectly, you will have to turn the wheel off-centre to drive straight - which will divide the error between the two wheels, causing both tyres to show the wear. It will also tend to offset one axle relative to the other as you drive down the road - not desirable). You could look for excessive positive camber on your left wheel - if it's bad enough to show wear, it might be visible by eye. Depending on the position and shape of the wear, it could be due to wear in a ball joint or wheel bearing. Or a difference in ride height from side to side. On the other hand, if you have a square-shouldered tyre like the original Eagles on the Excel, you will often see outside shoulder wear because of the underlying construction of the tyre. And left tyres often wear first, because British people typically drive harder on right corners... You can check toe on all four wheels by wrapping a piece of string tightly around the four tyres at hub level, and sighting the wheels relative to the string. You can do one axle at a time by using straight edges laid against the rim of each wheel, and comparing distance between the edges behind and in front of the wheel. I would avoid taking measurements off the frame, because there are too many possible build and adjustment errors that can accumulate between the frame and the wheel (the frame leg is only required to hold the wheel somewhere at the front corner of the car, with precise location handled within the suspension components - the frame surface could be very different from side to side, yet still do the job it was designed for).

Odd tyre wear (2)

Jack front wheels off ground and spray paint center of tire tread. After paint dries use a screw driver and jack stand to scribe a line in the paint. Unjack car and roll back and forth to settle suspension. Use a tape measure to determine the distance between the left and right at the rear and the front as close to the frame as possible. You will probably find the front to be less. Don't know the spec for the Eclat but adjust to make the front longer (less toe-in) but do not go to toe out (rear measurement greater than front). Since the left is wearing I would adjust that tie rod.

Changing the Wheel size (1)

Looking back on my notes, I see we have been thru this before.

My game plan is 205/50-15 on 15 x 7 in wheels.

205/60-14 (stock)
Sidewall: 4.8 in Radius:
11.8 in Diameter: 23.7 in
Circumference: 74.4 in
Revolutions per mile: 852

Sidewall: 4.0 in
Radius: 11.5 in
Diameter: 23.1 in
Circumference: 72.5 in
Revolutions per mile: 874
Difference: -2.6%

Sidewall: 4.4 in
Radius: 11.9 in
Diameter: 23.9 in
Circumference: 75.0 in
Revolutions per mile: 845
Difference: +0.8%

I would definitely NOT go any wider or narrower than the stock 205 mm. That is plenty wide for a car this light. Any wider would be difficult in the rain, and may not work up to their design operating temperature. I would go narrower only if fitting snow tires (perish the thought)

Changing the Wheel size (2)

Have you considered converting to a 16"x 7" wheel and 205/50 or 205/40tyres? Bigger selection in tyres with virtually same rolling diameter, but a hair skinnier on the pavement, and depending on desired wheel there is also a good selection. I am converting to 16" on an Eclat and guarantee the car will look better and I expect it to handle better. The radials that are available should provide a comparably soft ride, the increase of 1" in the wheel radius will reduce the characteristic side wall flexing of the 14" tyres. All in all, the 16"s will increase lateral stiffness but still having a streetable ride

Changing the Wheel size (3)

Consider the cost of the wheels. Then there are tires. Yoko's A520 may be the cheapest "MAX-Performance" tire. They are rated 180-AA-A.

Original 205/60-14 were 23 2/3" tall. Compare... 205/50-16 is 24" tall and $94 205/45-16 is 23 1/4" and $99

The 50 series may take bumps better than the 45. They are both close enough in diameter to OEM tires.

There's room for a 225, if it isn't too tall. For $112, you can do a 225/40-16 (at 23.1"). You might have the symptomatic front well rubbing-while-backing-and-turning (I get it on my 215/60-14's and 225/50-14's will too). The PO picked the 215/60-14. They actually do look good, filling the wheel arches nicely, and the grip is great. Feels right on an Elite

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