Monday, February 21, 2011

The Wheel Deal

Tires and wheels are a big deal for any vehicle but even more so for a Suzuki Samurai.  Sammi's came stock with 205/70/15's.  Over the ensuing years, all manner of giant tires have been fitted onto the Zuks.  The largest size tire that can comfortably be used on a stock Zuk without any lift is a 215/75/15.  Anything larger than that is going to rub on the wheel wells up front.  Our Idaho Zuk has wheels that rub and we're gonna have to do something about that this summer.

Stock tires are OK for general highway usage and they can be used with caution and prudence in Class I runs.  Highway tires have little sidewall strength--they don't really need sidewall strength.  We've learned up in Idaho that highway tires can get eaten alive by the sharp rocks of back country roads there.  It's not a pretty sight.  So, even though we've been on three short runs here so far, we've been keenly aware of the need to get some better tires.

Our first goal was to get a second spare tire for SuziQ.  Sam from Dewey (AKA: yjzuk @ ZOA) helped used get our first extra spare wheel.  We met him at ZOR February 5th and picked up a hood prop road and a white spoke wheel.  We took the wheel to various tire shops and really couldn't find much of a deal anyplace.  We finally washed ashore at D&N Tire in Camp Verde and got a scruffy spare mounted for $20.  We felt considerably more comfortable traveling with two spares.  We've modified our personal rigging to fit well with the second spare.

Our next quest was to begin to set the stage for better tires.  First we needed some more wheels.  We went onto the ZOA members-only forum and posted a note about our desire for wheels.  As chance would have it, one of ZOA's founding members Bobby from Anthem (AKA: zukicidal @ ZOA) sold us five wheels with casings on them for $20.  It was sad but great to see the last remnant of Bobby's famous rig in his awesome garage. THANKS, Bobby! One of the casings is bad for sure but the others might make OK spares.  We've already have one of them checked out and it became out 2nd spare for SuziQ.  The wheel matches SuziQ's pattern.  So, Sam's wheel and the D&N tire and now a 3rd stringer spare.

Meanwhile, we started "doing the math" and realized we still needed two more wheels before we went tire shopping for a second set of six wheels and tires.  Once again we turned to the ZOA Forum and posted a note.  Right away Steve from Surprise (AKA: gassports @ ZOA) replied and said he had four wheels and tires for $150.  Well, by great and happy coincidence, it turned out they were the exact size and tread type that we were looking for in the first place!  We went down the same day (February 20) and bought them.  It was great visiting with Steve about his Zuk.  THANKS, STEVE! Now, we will take two of Bobby's tires over to Big O and have them checked out.  They might make spare and they might not.  And then we will try to get one or both of the other wheels and tires to Steve so he can have another spare for his rig.  The big wheels keep on spinnin' as The Steve Miller Band once said.

If and when we get two spares checked out in the 215/75/15 size, we will swap out the highway tires and stack them in our shed.  We won't put them back on until we're towing SuziQ to Idaho.  That will keep the extra wear off the A/T tires and help us get a little better tow gas mileage, too.

We are finally getting close to getting our "wheel deal" figgered out thanks to Sam, Bobby and Steve.  It's been a fun process and we've learned a lot.  Cheers, jp

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