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Old 05-14-2007, 12:33 AM   #1
stevehecht
1990 325i coupe
 
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Your opinion please: Best 15" tires for E30 325i

First post folks: I've just bought my first BMW (YAY!), a 1990 325i coupe with M3 4.10 LSD, steering rack and springs, and Bilstein struts. The car comes with 17" Mille Miglia wheels and I'm downsizing to 15". I'll be using the car primarily for 'spirited' road driving. I'll be buying reconditioned stock 15x7 or 15x7.5 wheels. I've got Kumho SPT on my '07 V6 Accord and like them very much. What's your opinion about the best tire for me and this car? All suggestions are welcome.

I'll be selling the Mille Miglias, BTW.
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Old 05-16-2007, 10:49 PM   #2
Mystikal
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Rank these in order:

Ride Quality
Noise
Dry Traction
Wet Traction
Steering Response
Price
Treadlife

-Jay
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Old 05-17-2007, 12:58 AM   #3
stevehecht
1990 325i coupe
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mystikal
Rank these in order:

Ride Quality
Noise
Dry Traction
Wet Traction
Steering Response
Price
Treadlife

-Jay
1) Steering response
2) Ride quality
3/4) Dry traction (tied)
3/4) Noise (tied)
5) Wet traction
6) Price
7) Treadlife

Oh, I forgot to say that I'll need summer tires only (the car will be garaged for snow and ice season). Also, I think I've decided to go with the 15x7.5 Ronal LS rather than the reconditioned OE BBS.

EDIT: Right now my two leading choices are the Toyo T1-R and the Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2. I'll be going with 205/55-15.

Last edited by stevehecht; 05-17-2007 at 01:03 AM.
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Old 05-17-2007, 08:45 PM   #4
Mystikal
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With your priorities, I highly recommend the Pilot Exalto PE2. This is a tire I don't mention to E30 owners too often, mainly because it is usually way out of their budgets.

It is all-around the best 15" tire for our cars, with the only real drawback being price. If you can swing 'em, get 'em. And they will have MUCH better steering response than your SPT's by the way, that is pretty much that tire's one fault (a soft sidewall for hard driving).

Also for the record, I also recommend getting the Exalto's in the 225/50/15 size. The 7.5" wide Ronals will perfectly support the width, and the only extra work will be a minor fender roll in the rear. This setup will provide more dry traction (cornering AND braking) and also better protect the rims from curbs. Ronals with 205 tires always look a little "stretched".

Hope that helped,
-Jay
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Old 05-17-2007, 09:42 PM   #5
stevehecht
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Thanks, Jay, that does help. I am set on the Exaltos, it's just that I've heard so much contradictory advise regarding the 205/55s vs. the 225/50s. Aesthetics aside, I've been told that the 225s are "too much tire for the 325" (not exactly sure what that means) and that the extra weight and width will interfere with steering responsiveness (my #1) and acceleration. It's also my impression that the larger contact patch contributes to more road noise and (maybe?) a rougher ride.

In other words, if I gain steering response (and $50) and lose some dry traction and noise with the 205s I'd go that way. I've heard from several people to go with the 205s for spirited street/road driving and use the 225s if I'm mostly interested in the track. Does all this make sense or would you still recommend the 225s?
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Old 05-18-2007, 10:48 AM   #6
Mystikal
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Everything you hear relates more to 7" wide wheels (which is what most E30 fitment 15" wheels are). With a 7.5" wide wheel, your steering response will still be relatively sharp.

That said, it would still be better with the 205. A 225 is indeed a lot of tire for a 2800lb car that is used exclusively on the street, but many would prefer the increased traction and meaner looks over the very slight change in steering response.

It's your call. But when it's all said and done, you would never notice a difference unless you were somehow lucky enough to drive the setups back to back.

-Jay
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Old 05-18-2007, 05:16 PM   #7
stevehecht
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Thanks Jay. Your feedback is very well stated. I think I'll go with the 205s and watch out for my rims! The 205s will save me two pounds of unsprung weight per wheel so it's like getting the Ronal 15x7.5s at 13.7 lbs. each. That should help with quick turn-in (my favorite thing) and acceleration. Thanks so much for your help!
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Old 05-18-2007, 05:28 PM   #8
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Time to throw a big wrench in your gears: The absolute best turn-in would go to the Falken RT-615. It does have other tradeoffs given your priorities (slightly firmer ride quality, less capable wet traction), and is also undersized at 205/50/15...but they seriously transform a car.

-Jay
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Old 05-18-2007, 11:06 PM   #9
stevehecht
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AAARRRRGHHHH...but hey, that's cool, it's just another tire for me to learn about. May I remind you that at 8:45PM on 5/17/07 you said (referring to the Exaltos): "It is all-around the best 15" tire for our cars, with the only real drawback being price." So putting 2+2 together I guess you're saying that the RT-615s have the most aggressive steering/handling response but that the Exaltos are the best all-around tire when considering noise, ride, treadlife, and (maybe?)traction. Man, the choice did just get harder particularly because my Honda mechanic is a distributor for Falken (he races Hondas) and gets really good prices on them. I'd ask him but I know he'll tell me to get the Falkens, but he can probably get the 615s for $89. That would save me over $100 compared to the Michelins ($116+shipping on TireRack).
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Old 05-18-2007, 11:21 PM   #10
stevehecht
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevehecht
AAARRRRGHHHH...but hey, that's cool, it's just another tire for me to learn about. May I remind you that at 8:45PM on 5/17/07 you said (referring to the Exaltos): "It is all-around the best 15" tire for our cars, with the only real drawback being price." So putting 2+2 together I guess you're saying that the RT-615s have the most aggressive steering/handling response but that the Exaltos are the best all-around tire when considering noise, ride, treadlife, and (maybe?)traction. Man, the choice did just get harder particularly because my Honda mechanic is a distributor for Falken (he races Hondas) and gets really good prices on them. I'd ask him but I know he'll tell me to get the Falkens, but he can probably get the 615s for $89. That would save me over $100 compared to the Michelins ($116+shipping on TireRack).
EDIT: Wow, I just found the Azenis on vulcantire.com for $73 each plus $38 shipping ($330 total). That's almost $200 less than the Exaltos from TireRack. Now THAT is really tempting.
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Old 05-18-2007, 11:51 PM   #11
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Yep. The Exalto is a wonderful all-arounder (like, say an M3), but is still not as sharp as the RT-615 (which is like, say, an Exige S).

The price advantage isn't as huge once you consider the fact that the RT-615s won't last as long. If you really want a sporty feeling tire though, it's the best choice.

-Jay
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Old 05-19-2007, 12:52 AM   #12
stevehecht
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The treadwear rating on the Exaltos is 240 and it's 200 for the 615s. That doesn't seem like that much of a difference. Also, regarding wear, I will not be driving like a total maniac on the street and will be doing a minimal amount of autoXing in the first year or so (while I'm learning to drive with BMWCCA). My real concern with the 615s is wet traction, **especially when they're worn** past 50%. Sounds like it could be dangerous. I've read everything from the 615s can be instant death if hitting standing water at over 60mph to "they do great on wet roads". I don't know what to believe. I would trust Consumer Reports on this question--do you know how they rated these in the wet (or even the 215s)? Here's the take from TireTrends.com:

"Initially introduced just over a decade ago in Japan, the Falken RT215 was at the forefront of tire design, with an asymmetrical tread pattern that enhanced grip under hard cornering, while simultaneously offering acceptable wet traction. It arrived on our shores at the very end of its product life span, and has since been replaced by the excellent RT615. Essentially the same idea, this Road and Track tire has an asymmetrical tread pattern that places more rubber, and thusly a larger contact patch on the outboard shoulder of the tire, increasing grip under heavy cornering. The average street tire, with its numerous sipes and grooves for water drainage suffer "feathering" under high cornering loads due to the significantly smaller contact patch. This feathering effect leads to reduced traction, as well as a reduced tire life. In the case of the Falken RT615, the increased amount of rubber on the shoulder distributes the loads placed on the tire over a larger area, essentially negating any and all feathering effects. Interestingly enough, this larger contact patch also allows Falken to use their standard highway-tire rubber compound (instead of a softer, sticker compound that would wear much faster), which means the tire lasts for a very long time, even when subjected to track punishment. But how is it off the track? While if the outboard side of the Falken tire could be thought of as the "track" portion, incorporating less water drainage grooves and sipes in an effort to maintain high adhesion during cornering, the inboard side could be thought of as the "road" portion of the tire. With more grooves and generally less rubber, the inboard portion of the tire is the portion that maintains wet traction, and it does a pretty good job of it too, getting the tire an "A" rating in that area.

"Onlookers will instantly spot a difference between the Falken and the Hankook, and these two tires' differences aren't just skin deep. The Hankook R-S2 achieves the same sort of adhesion levels, but in a totally different manner. Utilizing Hankook's Ventus Ultra High performance compound (among their softest), the Hankook tire can achieve the same amount of dry grip without the use of an asymmetrical tread pattern (like the Falken's). The biggest benefit here is one we Canadians can really relate to, and that's wet traction. While both these tires achieved an "A" grade for Wet Traction, the Hankook RS-2's more open tread pattern will channel water out from under the tire more efficiently, especially when there is a larger buildup of standing water on the road. And it's that softer rubber that allows the RS-2 to effectively reduce the contact patch (giving water room to drain away) without diminishing their tire's level of grip. But, of course like anything else, there's always a trade off. The bottom line is that the Falken's harder compound will take more days worth of track thrashing than softer Hankook. On the other hand, the Hankook could be a better tire for everyday driving, especially if you live somewhere where rain is a constant possibility. So which is right for you? Well, it really depends on your needs. But both offer incredible performance for the money, and both will give you an added edge both on the track and on the street. Isn't technology lovely?"
http://www.tiretrends.com/TTreportP2.php

So now I'm also considering the Hankook RS-2 if they provide nearly as much response with a little more insurance for stability on wet roads (I live in rainy Massachusetts). Do you think the 615s really deserve their 'A' rating for wet traction? I just get real nervous about their safety on wet roads when they're lower on tread. I think the RS2 also gives a better ride because of the softer compound used.
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Old 05-19-2007, 12:37 PM   #13
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Considering its my first 'real set' of tires, the RT615s do an awesome job in the wet... when they are a bit worn down, it starts to become a bit of an issue at 100+mph. But when they were new for me last year, I drove them in the rain at Mosport at the driving school and was really impressed with their roadholding abilities. And for the price who could argue? I will be buying them again, thats for sure...
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Old 05-22-2007, 08:33 PM   #14
Mystikal
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Being 205s on a 2800lb car, hydroplaning really isn't a big issue. Just don't go past the speed limit during torrential downpours, and you'll be fine. I drove on 225 ZE-512's that were past the wear bars, as long as it's below 45mph there's no issue at all (and they have tiny water channels). RT-615's have very good wet traction, so your braking distances and such will be fine.

I have R-S2's right now, and they can't touch the precise feel of the RT-615 (which is what you're interested in). For your needs, I wouldn't recommend them.

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Old 05-23-2007, 02:27 PM   #15
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I've driven 225 RA-1's with not much tread left in the rain (got caught in a torrential downpour on the 401). It was not fun, but 99% of hydroplaning incidents occur due to driving far too fast for the tires, and being overconfident in your abilites. It's very hard to save it at 160 kph (100mph) if the ass snaps out and you're in top gear.

That said, 205 RT-615's have no problems on a 2400 lb civic in the rain, and they are almost at the wear bars (AKA the "sweet spot")
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