Do bigger rims really mean you have to forget about comfort?

The most interesting thing is that skeptics who have drawn a fat minus to this trend and called it a “comfort killer” are not necessarily right. This is evidenced by manufacturers of intelligent engineering solutions, for whom comfort is inseparable from their name. For many years, for example, Citroën has been integrating innovative suspension solutions into its cars (you still remember XM) to ensure comfort, even in everyday models, while maintaining eye-catching design.

Manufacturer’s picture / Citroen XM

Buyers of cars with large rims, and often low-profile tires, praise their choice and believe that such models are truly comfortable. It is convenient to get in and out, to drive on the curb, to overcome more serious irregularities, they are better suppressed. In addition, many point out that such cars simply look more beautiful.

Their words are confirmed by experts. According to experts, innovative car manufacturers are consistently working to ensure that the tribute to appearance does not turn into a funeral.

Sacrifice is what

Engineer and chassis specialist Domas Zinkevičius does not hide – the choice to fit lower profile tires to cars, bigger rims always means that you will have to drive more rigidly.

“By overcoming road bumps, a lower profile tire will always create more force in the car’s body. What does this mean? More noise, bigger shocks and the like. If we compare a lower profile tire with a higher profile tire, we will see that the latter is always more comfortable, ”he explains.

Photo by Vytautas Pilkauskas / Domas Zinkevičius

Photo by Vytautas Pilkauskas / Domas Zinkevičius

The situation is similar with increased rims. Because more material is needed to make a larger rim, which, of course, means the rim will be heavier.

It is not difficult to feel that comfort has been sacrificed for beauty. For example, off-road vehicles with higher ground clearance are considered to be particularly comfortable to drive. However, more than one driver could testify that they do not want to climb back on some city SUVs: the chassis is designed to be extremely rigid, so not only do you have to endure shocks, vibrations and shocks, but a lot of noise. Fortunately, a number of manufacturers have solutions to this problem.

“Anyway, when driving over bumps, a larger mass could create less force on the body, as part of the impact could be absorbed by itself. But when we have a set, when both the rim is bigger and the tire has a lower profile, all this multiplies and comfort is lost, ”says the chassis expert. According to him, this will continue until the road interacts with the wheel and the suspension is not explored.

There is no shortage of solutions

Such solutions make the suspension more durable and do more to ensure comfort in the car. D. Zinkevičius emphasizes that the manufacturers are really working hard so that car buyers would not have to feel that the comfortable features of the car had to be sacrificed for a better look.

“Various solutions are being developed, a lot of attention is being paid to optimizing the whole system in terms of comfort, because the problem is that the wheel force is increasing. This means that both the shock absorber and the upper shock absorber mountings and bodies are optimized to handle this, ”says the interlocutor.

According to him, car bodies are constantly stiffening, shock absorbers and their springs are softening, so other ways to improve the car’s handling are being sought. Mercedes-Benz, for example, has been using adaptive chassis in its cars for many years and is making them “knowledgeable” by introducing technologies that scan the road surface and adapt the chassis.

Manufacturers such as Audi or BMW have, for many years, built-in buttons in the driver’s seat to change the way the chassis feels and feel: electrically adjustable suspension elements ensure that driving in the same car can be extremely rigid, sporty and extremely comfortable. , allowing to sail on the road.

In addition, according to D. Zinkevičius, it should be appreciated that the roads around the world are improving, so the task that car manufacturers have to overcome is a bit easier.

“It’s already the case that we all prefer bigger rims, and when we like something, we somehow justify that choice in our minds. That’s how psychology works, “smiles the engineer.

From premium to economic

Another reason why manufacturers ’decision to create visually more beautiful cars with larger rims and lower tires does not hurt their customers is the rapid development of technology and their consistent cheapening.

“It is absolutely true that with each new generation of model, manufacturers are trying to put more new technology into the car. Technologies are going downhill, in other words, they are first introduced only in the luxury segment, and in the long run they are also appearing in cheaper, economy-class models, ”explains D. Zinkevičius.

We are increasingly seeing everyday cars rolling out on the road with air or electric suspension, the rigidity of which can be adjusted with a few buttons just by sitting behind the wheel. Citroën, which has been focusing on car comfort year after year, developed a hydropneumatic chassis system at the beginning of the company’s existence, which made it possible to enjoy extremely comfortable driving for anyone who bought models for mass consumption.

Modern Citroën models, such as the C4, have hydraulic shock absorbers. The additional valves inside them allow you to change the properties of the shock absorbers depending on how compressed the suspension is.

The performance of such shock absorbers is best revealed when driving through the pits when the car’s chassis is actuated, as they control the rejection of the spring. In other words, when the car jumps and lowers to the speed limiter, Citroën’s hydraulic shock absorber system ensures that the shock absorber gradually hardens to reduce the impact on the chassis.

A similar chassis system is fitted to the new Citroën C5 Aircross. When driving on uneven roads, the hydraulic shock absorbers in its suspension absorb larger and smaller shocks so that the car’s occupants do not feel them. The car manufacturer, which has been most concerned with comfort since the beginning of the company, emphasizes that this technology allows it to drive dynamically and at the same time pleasantly.

“After all, there are supports, rubber with oil inside to dampen the impact of the suspension, and so on,” says Zinkevičius about simpler but no less beneficial solutions that allow drivers to enjoy the view while looking at a car with larger wheels. and not lose comfort while driving.