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Truckin Blog - Big Wheels

Big Wheels: How big is too big?

Jan 24, 2006
Edward A. Sanchez, Senior Online Editor
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Photo 2/3   |   The '07 Escalade: First with factory 22s
Okay, I know I'm probably going to catch some heat for this, but I have a pet peeve. My peeve is wheels that are way bigger than they need to be for a certain vehicle. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not categorically against plus-sizing when it offers a demonstrative performance advantage. What I'm against is big-@$$ wheels just for the sake of the "bling" factor. These to me are the automotive equivalent of gold chains.
Photo 3/3   |   No, it ain't a Photoshop job. Those are 30s.
Case in point: Hankook unveiled a production 28-inch light truck tire at last year's SEMA show. Huge by anyone's standards. Not content to rest on their laurels, at this year's show, the company showcased a 30-inch tire on Lexani rims. I kid you not. Un-freakin' real. Personally, I don't think there's any functional reason to go beyond 22s in any application. Even the biggest of the big brakes will clear double-deuces, no problem. Most will clear 18s or 20s without problems.
22s have become so common, that GM is now offering them as a factory option on the 2007 Escalade. So now that they're factory equipment, are 24s going to be the new price of admission to the cool truck club? How long will it be until we see 24s from the factory?
The problem is, with the exponential increase in wheel and tire size comes some real functional issues with the vehicle. Wheels that are 20 inches or larger are heavy suckers. The factory brakes originally made for 16 to 18-inch wheels and tires are taxed to the max when they're asked to haul down these massive rollers. I think big brakes should be mandatory for wheels over 22 inches. I'm surprised Brembo or Baer hasn't partnered with a wheel or tire company to offer a package deal for big wheels. Maybe they have, and I just don't know about it.
But if bigger wheels mean bigger brakes, we're talking about some massive weight. Ever tried to pick up a brake rotor? Granted, you get one off a Toyota Tercel, and it's not all that heavy. But grab one off a Ram or Silverado, and you've got one beefy chunk of iron in your hand. Now, imagine one about an inch or two or three larger in diameter. Yeah. It's little wonder that most aftermarket brake kits use a two-piece design with an aluminum hat. Otherwise, you'd be spinning freakin' boat anchors under your rims!
I suppose it might be too much to ask a scene that prides itself on pushing the limits of sanity and functionality to back down and take an objective look at the performance sacrifices they're making to run those huge rims. Maybe they don't care. If it's all about the street cred and the "bling" factor, then this battle is already lost. What would really impress me is a 22-inch carbon-fiber or Titanium wheel that weighed half what the factory 17-inch cast wheel weighed. Now THAT would have me picking my jaw up off the ground in awe.

Think I'm a loser geek for thinking that 30s aren't cool? Tell me! E-mail me at edward.sanchez@primedia.com. Please give your first name, last initial and hometown. Example: "Joe W., Indianapolis, Indiana"
Submitted Friday, January 27, 2006

Hey, I just read your article on big wheels. So what's the difference? On 4 wheelers they have 39-inch tires, and some big wheels. Some people may want bigger wheels for the "Bling" factor, if that is what you want to call it. So don't knock on some one way of going about the way they want their car to look.

Theotis T.
Macon, GA
My objection to these outrageously large wheels is more from a safety and performance standpoint. I just believe that vehicle owners should be aware of the potential side-effects of these modifications. I am equally disdainful of poorly-executed lifts and oversize tires where the tires rub on the fenders, and cause darty steering. It's a free country, owners can do what they want to their vehicles, but they should know what they're getting into.
Submitted Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hey, I was just reading your blog on big wheels. I personally agree with you. 30 inch rims on a truck is almost as ridiculous as putting 70 inch tractor tires on a 4x4 truck but they do it anyway. But I mean hey, they made 30s what's going to stop them from making 40s or 45s? Its all just a matter of time.

Brett M., via E-mail
Submitted Saturday, February 2, 2006

You know what?, I agree with you on the stupidly large rims. I'm a man of function, not a man of having a vehicle that makes me look cool. 30" rims are cool if you're 50 cent, but if you are the least bit concerned with performance, you gotta think function. I drive an '03 Sunfire, and even though I own one, I pity anybody who would be dumb enough to modify one. I wouldn't even put rims on that car. It's a commutermobile. Don't pimp it! And H2s? They are such a poser-mobile!
Anyway, yeah, I love custom cars, but, really, 30" rims? I've seen big older cars that actually look like they were lifted to fit bigger rims. Each type of car has it's suitable wheels. 4X4s?-TSLs Boggers on 15s or 17s depending on tire size. Musclecars? - rallyes. Impalas, classic Buicks & Olds'? - 14" white walls on wires. SUVs, slammed with 22s. Trucks, slammed with 22s. Honda Civics - light it on fire!

Andrew W., via E-mail
Andrew, thanks for your submission. As far as the Civic comment, I don't know if I'd go THAT far. After all, I own & drive an import, but not a Honda. Hey, to each their own. But I have to say you generally have good taste and reason as to which wheel styles look best on which vehicles. But as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

2015 Cadillac Escalade Specifications

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MSRP $72,970
Editors' Overall Rating
Mileage 15 City / 21 Highway
Engine 6.2L V8
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Torque 460 ft lb of torque @ 4,100 rpm
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