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What width for front tires?
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jakejake870
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:12 pm    Post subject: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

I've been searching around and keep getting conflicting information so I figured it was time I ask a question. Some people say that when they went wide up front, they had no handling problems at all. Others said it would hunt all over and were happy once they went more narrow up front.

I just picked up a 74 bug last month and have already put in an order for the body. Hopefully it'll be done this week and I could go pick it up.

I keep reading that you don't want to go too wide up front because it'll throw off the geometry and make the car track and hunt all over the road and it'll also make steering in a parking lot a lot harder as well.

I guess I settled on 4.5 or 5.5 wide for the front. Any experience good or bad with those two widths? I guess tire size would matter too, but I'm not too sure what size either.

I saw that CIP1 was running their thanksgiving sale for 20% off and I was looking at their Fuchs repop 911 STYLE 5 SPOKE ALUMINUM WHEEL - BLACK WITH POLISHED SPOKES - 4.5 INCH WIDE X 15 INCH DIA. - 5X130MM BOLT PATTERN (4-1/8 INCH BACKSPACE) for the front and maybe the 5.5 in or the 6 in for the rear

http://www2.cip1.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=ACC%2DC10%2D6645

I will be doing the disc brake conversion with drop spindles front and back with the porsche bolt pattern as well. Not exactly sure what bolt pattern would work.

Just trying to figure this out without having to spend money I don't have right now. Thanks in advance for the help.
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GS guy
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:56 pm    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

I think one of the biggest problems with wider wheels on the front is many aftermarket wheels try to create a more aggressive look by moving the centerline of the wheel further out than stock, sometimes dramatically so. This gives more of a "dished" and closer to "flush to fender" look, especially on a skinny wheel, at the expense of increasing scrub radius. This increases the leverage of the wheel/tire vs. what you feel at the steering wheel - more kick-back and tram-lining. The more you can do to minimize this scrub radius increase, the closer to stock it'll feel like going down the road. That said, you're limited in how much back spacing you can use with the beam front end, the upper shock mounts get too close to the inside of the wheel, plus lower ball joint if you're running dropped spindles. I think that limit is somewhere between 4.5 to 5" of backspacing, particularly with 15" or smaller diameter wheels. Recall when VW's were mainstream American vehicles - many aftermarket wheels of the day were 14"! To clear the suspension they typically pushed the wheel further outboard to utilize the desired wider widths. That super "deep-dish" look has its drawbacks! Most cars, especially US built back in those days had horrible scrub radius, but the numb power-steering they came with cancelled out the negative effects, along with any steering feel!

The goal is to at least (try to) maintain the same or slightly more (if it'll fit) backspacing as the stock wheel, and not go super wide. I ran 15x6 with 195/50 tires under stock fenders on a '74 bug, with somewhere around 5" of BS (I had to slightly trim the seam around the BJ beam shock mounts for clearance), handled great with no steering issues. On a buggy, you probably want a little taller tire but a 6" wheel should be fine, IMHO. Just don't use one with 3.5" of BS.

Jeff
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:22 pm    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

I just wanted to add a little more to my lengthy opinion.. Shocked

With the Porsche wheel pattern, you'll have lots of choices with wheels. Porsche and the aftermarket offered many different wheel designs and sizes with that bolt pattern. I think the other consideration is the overall "look" you're going after. An off-road styled car generally uses narrower wheels and taller tires, 3-4" wide up front and 7-8" in the rear. OTOH, the other end of the spectrum is the street/autocross look with wider wheels and lower profile, wider tires. To me, a FGB has to "look" right, even if it sacrifices some of that feather-light steering feel of the Beetle!
For me, that means some kind of mock-up before purchasing any wheels/tires. Lots of offsets, widths, diameters and wheel styles to consider and choose from! For P-car wheels, I'd be looking at trying to find some used OEM wheels that match the look you want. Fuchs are getting a bit too expensive, but there are a few aftermarket versions available at more reasonable prices. Too small of a wheel (and tire) in the rear can look like it's "rattling around" in the wheelwell, at least to my eye. Choose wisely, vs. trying to save a couple $$ just because something's on sale, but you're still not 100% sure what you want (or will fit).
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:37 pm    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

Very Happy
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=2227713

Repo Fuchs usually go pretty cheap cause the real Porsche guys always want the "real" (much lighter) ones. YMMV!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:55 pm    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

If you know how the disc brake kit will effect the front track width you should be able to measure out the look you what by putting the body on and installing the stock front wheels. From them you can measure out where you want your wheels and how wide you want them. Buggies tend to be more about the owners desired look than what handles best. If you push the wheels way out from stock there will be some handling issues but most buggy bodies aren't built for that.

You will likely want a set of caster wedges under the bottom of the front beam and adjusters in the beam so you can lower it. The weight loss up front pretty much tops out the front suspension. It also keeps the steering from being too heavy, almost no matter what you choose for wheels and tires.

BTW - the wheel you linked to is pretty close to stock in width and offset. Depending on the disc brake kit chosen there may be very little change to measure and visualize compared to stock parts.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:23 am    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

I wouldn't run a skinny tire with disc brakes on the front of a buggy. I run a 6" wheel currently with a 205/70 on the front, and with stock drum brakes I can lock them up without much effort. Shocked
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:00 am    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

I have 205s on the front too with too much offset, a small steering wheel. The steering is brutal in parking lots and every wave and rut on the highway leaves me wondering which direction I will be going after it's all over!

Wider is not necessarily better for braking. There is an optimum pounds/square inch for road adhesion depending on the rubber compound.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:53 am    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

GS guy, thanks for taking the time to respond. This will be my daily driver so I'm trying to find something that will look good, but also give me decent handling. I'll try to find some time to reference what I have on their now and do some measurements so I can get something mocked up to get a better idea.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:58 am    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

EVfun wrote:
If you know how the disc brake kit will effect the front track width you should be able to measure out the look you what by putting the body on and installing the stock front wheels. From them you can measure out where you want your wheels and how wide you want them. Buggies tend to be more about the owners desired look than what handles best. If you push the wheels way out from stock there will be some handling issues but most buggy bodies aren't built for that.

You will likely want a set of caster wedges under the bottom of the front beam and adjusters in the beam so you can lower it. The weight loss up front pretty much tops out the front suspension. It also keeps the steering from being too heavy, almost no matter what you choose for wheels and tires.

BTW - the wheel you linked to is pretty close to stock in width and offset. Depending on the disc brake kit chosen there may be very little change to measure and visualize compared to stock parts.


EVfun, that's the plan for when I get the body. Hopefully it's ready soon so I can get started.

I was just hoping to get some parts ordered while I wait, but realize that's not the best idea if I don't know have any references to go off of yet.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:59 am    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

oprn wrote:
I have 205s on the front too with too much offset, a small steering wheel. The steering is brutal in parking lots and every wave and rut on the highway leaves me wondering which direction I will be going after it's all over!

Wider is not necessarily better for braking. There is an optimum pounds/square inch for road adhesion depending on the rubber compound.


This is what I'm afraid of and is why I'm trying to stay away from going too wide up front.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:45 pm    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

I have the 2 1/2" dropped spindles and four wheel disc brakes. I run 175/65 front tires on 5" wide wheels. Same height as stock and just a tad bit wider. Works well with non power steering. Brakes work great. I can lock them up. Using 225/60 on 7" wheels for the rear.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:13 pm    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

FGB's look good with Fuchs! Check out the classified here - LOTS of wheels to choose from.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 3:15 pm    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

I had 205 60-15s on my last Manx type buggy, and it handled and braked well. I wanted 195s, but BFG temporarily halted production of them. They seem to be stocked now, and would be the narrowest tire I'd run on a street buggy.

My current Manxter has big Porche 912 wheels and really wide tires (235s?) in the front. It handles well on good pavement, but hunts a little bit on really rough road. Parking lots are tough, and the turning radius is not that good because of wheel scrub. Braking is excellent, even with front disc and rear drum.

On most buggies, anything narrower than 245 on the back looks funny to me. I think the minimum rim width to really look good is 8". Just my opinion, but to my eye, the skinny back tire buggies are lacking, and take away from the good looks of the fiberglass body. Most of the typical aftermarket wide 5 or late 4 lug VW wheels are too narrow, because they are made for Beetles and have to fit under the fenders. There are a few wider ones out there, but to really open up your choices, go with a Chevy/GM pattern. Easy to do with a disc brake conversion, they all can be had drilled and studded that way. If you stick with drum brakes, you can get Chevy studded rear drums from SoCal auto parts, and blank front drums (ball joint anyway) from Cip1. Adapters work for many, but I always think it's better to do it the right way.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:40 pm    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

Digging up pics of various tires on my buggies:
Dec '69
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Rear street:
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Front street:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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Off road:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Both buggies:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

New wheels and tires:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I switch the fronts every year (for inspection) from the front streets Manx signature wheels with 185x60 to stock wheels 165SR and it definitely easier to drive with the stock wheels and tires.

It really messes with turning radius as well.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:33 pm    Post subject: Re: What width for front tires? Reply with quote

Don't forget that most disc brake kits will push the wheel out at least a half inch on each side.
My Empi front and rear discs did.

I run Weld Draglites with as much backspace as possible.
The 8 inch rears are nice and tucked but the front 4.5 inch wheels still show some of the caliper inside.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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