Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"Dubs" ... Why?

I do not understand the cultural attraction to "Dubs". Perhaps it is my 6 years working in tire factories, maintaining, designing, building, installing, and modifying the world's best tire making machinery. The sidewall of the tire is an essential part of the spring-mass damper system that all vehicles that need tires rely upon. Reducing that sidewall down to something with a very small aspect ratio
  • makes the ride more harsh,
  • vibrates the vehicle and its contents (passengers) severely,
  • transmits more force into the vehicle (not dissipated as heat, by the side wall flexing, since the sidewall is nearly non-existent)
  • adversely affects the handling (suspension, steering, balance, responsiveness) of the vehicle from what the original designers and modelers intended
  • it rubs the wheel wells, leading to excessive tire wear and unsafe operation
  • it leads to ruined rims, from dents, cracks, and deformation when encountering severe road hazards
I just don't "get it". Yes, huge white walls look corny - and are actually weak spots in the critical construction of the side wall. I Can understand going to slightly smaller aspect ratios to incrementally increase larger tread contact areas, but these 2 inch high sidewalls I see all around Phoenix, are ridiculous. It would be better if they just vulcanized some tread rubber directly onto the rims, and didn't bother with any inflation whatsoever.

If anyone knows of ANY reason, other than cultural aesthetic preference, why putting "Dubs" on a vehicle is a good idea, in regards to performance, handling, efficiency, safety, cost, maintenance, comfort, or any other reason, please enlighten me. I'd really like to know.


  1. i think there's a perception of better handling, though i reckon the looks (which don't appeal to me at all) are the main reason.

    the trend 'round here is for those giant SUVs to run such tires (if not bigger). might as well "go all the way", as it were, and get tires that don't need air -- just a slab of rubber wrapped around a wheel.

  2. maybe the suspension is so soft and mushy on these cars that going to extreme harshness from the tires feels like an improvement

  3. It is fashion - plain and simple. No different that spoilers which are rarely functional (even OEM ones). When I was in high school it was fashionable to take a muscle car and put big tires on the jacked-up rear and little tires on the front to give it the drag racer look. In the nineties it was lowered mini pick-up trucks and neon lighting on the undercarriage. Today it is dubs and/or the import "ricer look".

    Now I know some guys who put 18's or 20's on their cars for real reasons. Heavy cars like the WRX/STi need big brakes for the track. In order to put 14" brakes on there it needs 18" wheels to clear the calipers.

  4. "Heavy cars like the WRX/STi" ?

    What are 2 or 3 examples of "light cars"?

    I understand the geometric spatial limitations on calipers - ok. The larger rear wheels on 80s muscle cars actually DID provide more traction, and had some practical application, albeit minimally effective.

    Fa Fa Fa Fa Fashion! - I don't get.

  5. The RS and WRX before 2001 were light - <2800lbs for the 2-door version. The newer safer, stronger ones only come in 4-door and are more like 3400lbs. With 400-600hp these cars are very hard on brakes. Mazda Miata, Honda S2000, Mini Cooper, Datsun 240Z - all lightweight cars. A mod'd Miata is a awesome handling car at the track.

  6. Thank you, I did not know that.

    Perhaps, this is also why BMW no longer makes the Z3, and went to the Z4. When I used to do consulting work at the Spartanburg BMW plant, seeing the semi-assembled shells of the Z3s, they appeared remarkably light, structurally non-confidence building (Robert Tyler instilled engineering practice from US3). The Z4 cross sections and explosions I have seen look much more beefy, substantial / heavier / safer.

    You are the first adult male, who I have respect for, who has spoken highly and praised the Miata (modified, yes... qualification). I've shifted my paradigm.

  7. I was at Thunder Hill Raceway all last weekend riding/tuning in a 2005 STi with 450awhp (at the wheels!), race compound tires, and 14" brakes under 18" rims. Miatas with 200hp would just pass us by in the turns and we would overtake them on the straights (140mph on the front straight).

    1000lbs in weight makes a huge difference. It helps/hurts turning, braking, and acceleration.

    Anybody that knows anything about real racing (ya know - with turns - both left *&* right) knows that the Miata is a killer cheap platform for a race car.

  8. "Racing Fast 'n' Cheap: Spec Miata
    The ideal race car for rookie or expert"

  9. perhaps the lightness of being, is why my 95 Civic EX garnered $6.5k used, with 160 miles on it, from Geico, when Christopher wrapped it around a tree on Neely Ferry Road in 2003 (at 15, with no lisc). I was expecting 2 or $3K, but my insurance adjuster stated that nope, even with all those miles, the rated value was $6.5K. 90s made lighter cars, then safety kicked in, in most places?

  10. ...and the Taiwanese I worked with, in 99-03, stated (while trying to suppress their laughter) that the '88 Civic EX I used to drive, would only be owned by teenagers in Taiwan, who would tune & race it. They were more than a little amused that a 30 something man would own such a vehicle - and this was a whole office of 2 dozen educated aerospace engineers, ages 25 to 50, who all had a resounding laugh when they heard Joe drove a Civic.

  11. Crash worthiness, structural stiffness for handling, airbags, ABS, heavy-duty drive train to handle more power - these all have been on the increase since 1990 and these all add weight.

  12. i was eyeing the Miata this time last year, after I asked my Austrian, VW/Audi/Porsche-repairing mechanic about TT's and Boxsters.

    he told me to get a Miata.

    also, my word to submit this comment is "pingism". good word.


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