2013 Toyota 86 Part 8: The Wheels

Our 86 gets a whole new look with outrageously light new rims
By Imthishan Giado

Toyota 86 Wheels

I couldn’t take it any more. Not one more second of staring it in my driveway. Quite simply, it had to go.

No, not the 86. That’s still brilliant. I’m talking about the horrible, horrible spidery imitation-Watanabe stock rims that have been an eyesore since I bought the car last year.  There’s an old saying in the motor trade: the wheels are the shop window of a good car.

By that reckoning, these wheels made my 86 look like a thrift shop. All of a weedy 16 inches in diameter, they look better suited to a base model Camry than a purpose built sports car. Fitted with fat 205/55 Yokohama rubber they at least give a relatively plush ride, but traction from the taxi-spec Decibel E70s is average at best. Some prefer that for drifting; it’s an easily available size and replacement tyres are cheap. Me – I like grip, and lots of it.

The next decision – what wheels to buy – is anything but an easy one. There are literally hundreds of wheel manufacturers across the world and thousands of wheels to choose from with pitfalls a plenty. Choose too wide a wheel, and you’ll lose the fun-to-drive nature of the car. Go too big – 19” will fit easily under the fenders – and you’ll actually lose acceleration as the larger, heavier rim has the effect of regearing the car to make the gears taller – not great news with a car as short on torque as the 86.

Changing the wheels affects the gearing and the axle ratio, but the brand and type of tyre themselves can also have a huge effect on your vehicle. Most cars here use all-season tyres like the Decibels – changing to a summer tyre can massively improve your on-track traction at the cost of wet-weather grip and overall tyre life. Did I say tyre life – summer tyres wear out much faster than all season tyres. A good rule of thumb is that a summer tyre driven in a sufficiently exuberant manner will last about half as long as a regular all-season tyre. Drive it on track and you’re looking at two to three sessions at most. And then of course, there’s noise levels…no-compromise summer tyres are far noisier than their all-season counterparts.

With that many variables, the choice was far from easy. I turned to my favourite local garage, Sharjah-based LAP 57 for advice. They know their stuff – and most importantly, they know how to build a damn quick naturally-aspirated car, winning the Dubai 24 Hours earlier this year and then securing the UAE Touring Car Championship as well. Through their suppliers, they also have access to the entire catalogue of Japanese wheels. Hmm…..

Toyota 86 Wheels

On the advice of shop manager (and all-round genius) Rizvi Mansoor, I settled on a set of Advan RS 10-spoke wheels finished in lurid Bright Chrome, sized at 17×7.5”. Bigger they may be but the RSs are super-light at 6.7kg, lighter even than the 16s (7.2kg) which incidentally are made Enkei, no slouch in the weight loss department. The sizing is nearly the same as the stock 17s (17×7) so if anything, the car should handle even better. The only, only flaw is the absolutely bonkers price, but I’ll save that until the end so you can be amazed at how mad I was….

Turns out I was actually quite lucky – the Bright Chrome finish is quite rare (probably for a good reason!) and this particular set was the last ones in stock at the factory. Two weeks after I had mortgaged my house to make the downpayment and sold my firstborn to the devil at a Georgia crossroads, the Advans finally arrive.

Toyota 86 Wheels

Words simply cannot express how gorgeous they were in person. Feather light, you could literally pick them up with two fingers. BC shouldn’t have worked. Too bling, my friends said. Mad, said Shahzad. But the key thing to remember when buying parts is that the car should suit your tastes and no one else’s – and in this case, my mad gamble absolutely paid off. And if you disagree – well feel free to say so in the comments section.


Before the wheels could go on, they needed some rubber. With the wheels costing me a kidney, I had to go relatively economical with the tyres, picking a set of Dunlop Direzza DZ101s in 215/45 – same as a stock OEM 17” tyre for a bargain Dh345 for a total of Dh1380. Another gamble – the Dunlops are cheap and commonly available but there’s a very good reason for that – they are known for getting obscenely noisy as they age and having truly atrocious wet weather grip. Still, beggars can’t be choosers. For reference, a set of Michelin Primacy HPs would easily come to Dh1000 per corner! Too rich for my blood.

Off we go to LAP 57 to put it all together.

Toyota 86 Wheels

Changing wheels doesn’t require putting the car on a lift, just a good man with a trolley jack. First off – out come the old wheels. Getting a closer look reveal that they are manufactured by Enkei and feel very light and very strong.  16×6.5”, if any of you are curious towards the sizing.

Toyota 86 Wheels

The new wheels slip on. The man from LAP 57 doesn’t tighten the bolts straightaway – he does a test fit to make sure everything is as it should. The bolts themselves are also metal Advan items, as is the tyre valve cap – a nice touch.

Toyota 86 Wheels

Looking at those standard rubber hoses for the brake lines makes me wonder if there’s an opportunity here to improve on the somewhat mushy pedal feel. And while we’re at it, surely a set of better pads wouldn’t hurt either…

Toyota 86 Wheels

Check complete, all four wheels are quickly bolted on. Of course, they’ve been balanced as well – and with a finish this shiny, you want some extra special care with mounting the tyres.

Wheels mounted and we’re done. Check the tyre pressure – 17” tyres are a standard 35psi, although in subsequent visits to the dealer, I notice that they set the pressures at 32psi. Interesting – a measure perhaps to soften the ride, or to compensate for the latent high road temperatures?

Either way, there’s only one more thing to do – get out there and enjoy the ride! Oh wait, I still have to pay the bill. Oh yes, the bill. Wait for the bit – the Advans, beautiful as they are, cost an eye-watering Dh12,350. Tack on the Dh1380 for the tyres and this entire exercise in style cost me Dh13,730.

Toyota 86 Wheels

Madness, you’re thinking and shaking your head. I can’t disagree. And yet…aren’t they gorgeous?

Driving Impressions
Six months and 10,000kms later the long-term results are a bit of a mixed bag. Going to a bigger rim and summer tyre meant an immediate massive increase in lateral grip, with a slight and somewhat inexplicable lightening of the electric power steering as well. The car is definitely far more agile in the bends and cornering speeds are far higher. Another benefit of the stickier rubber is shorter stopping distances and the ride is only marginally bumpier as well. As an added benefit, the lighter wheels mean the car feels noticeably quicker off the line as well – though to be clear, we actually haven’t added any power, just reduced the natural losses through a lower unsprung mass.

Toyota 86 Wheels

But…but, I really shouldn’t have cheaped out on the tyres. The Dunlops are wearing quite well but they get painfully loud over 100kph, a dull drone adding to the cacophony of noises already echoing around my barely-insulated cabin. What’s more, their wet-weather prowess is virtually non-existent. In the two occasions when I’ve been caught in the rain this year, the Dunlops feel like they’re on black ice, tail sliding with even the slightest hint of throttle – and that’s with ESP on. Honestly, they’re bordering on dangerous in wet conditions.

Toyota 86 Wheels

Would I do it again? Probably not, even with a better tyre – these Advans were murderously expensive. Having said that, what this exercise has made me appreciate is just how good the stock wheel/tyre combo is and how talented the engineers are who built this fabulous machine; it’s a great compromise between agility, comfort, noise and speed.

My advice? See if you can find someone selling the stock 17s on Dubizzle – in all honesty, they’re all the wheel you’ll ever need. A smarter solution would be to simply fit better summer tyres – that’ll give you most of the benefit of my expensive upgrade with none of the wallet-based heartache.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy the fact that my car looks like no other 86 on the road. What price can you put on exclusivity?

Costs to date
Previous costs: Dh2259
Wheel costs (incl. fitting): Dh12,350
Tyres : Dh1360
Total running costs: Dh15969

Read more here!

Part 1: The Deal

Part 2: The Checklist

Part 3: The Workshop

Part 4: The Delivery

Part 5: First Service

Part 6: Clever Vs Dumb

Part 7: Service and a Scrape

Part 8: The Wheels

6 responses to “2013 Toyota 86 Part 8: The Wheels”

  1. Jay says:

    You better put some wheel bolt locks on before I steal them…

  2. Roshan says:

    well after all the rims doesn’t suites the car. The modification what you have done isnt that great.

  3. Dhruve says:

    I think 1000 a wheel is not much…its gnna last you quite a bit..

    if you go buy shoes…you would really spend whatever it takes to get good shoes ryt?
    same way
    just saying

  4. Mohamed Humaid says:

    I agree to the merits of changing the wheels. It doesn’t only change the way the car looks, but from experience, can also change the way the car takes off and handles. I recently changed the ridiculously heavy stock wheels on my Charger RT with gorgeous (in my eyes) matte black TSW Donnington wheels. These wheels are way lighter than the originals. I believe the originals aren’t even aluminum considering how heavy they are. They could be made from steel and then covered with shiny plastic (yes, plastic!) to mimic chrome effect. I’m in Love with the way the car looks now. Unfortunately, there is a downside. In a car weighing 2 tons going with light wheels isn’t that good of an idea. I am not sure what it was, but that was something so big and so sharp that was laying on Sheikh MBZ road and struck my tyre causing it to puncture, and the wheel to damage. This caused vibration to my steering wheel at speed. Even after changing the tyres, repairing the wheels, and getting a dozen of wheel balancing trials didn’t cure the problem.
    Yes, the smile on my face from the new beautiful light wheels has now been washed of.
    Wonder if anybody had a similar problem. Maybe you should be more careful with these lighties now, Imthishan….

  5. Ash says:

    Sorry i dont think those wheels suit that car. You need some nicer 18s.

  6. M.Logan says:

    Imthi’s right, those wheels are some of the best available for road or track use, ultralight, strong, racing pedigree, and they look the part too. Anyone claiming 18’s would be better is missing the point of this modification and the general point of the 86 in the first place. It’s not supposed to have mega wheels with mega grip, that isn’t fun for people who like to feel the car moving (sliding) a bit under them at anything below triple digit speeds. If you want better “looks” at the expense of driving fun and perfectly engineered balance, I’d suggest another type of car, the 86 is not for those who care about looks, unless those looks are in response to hearing some squealing tires coming around the corner behind you 🙂
    And the mistake you made (you know obviously) was going cheap on the tire, you some bought the best wheels you could find so you only set yourself back going with ancient tech tires. Try the HP’s before you make a final judgement.

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