Sharka is a little overpowered. I mean, he’s not the craziest Miata ever built by a long shot. There’s more than a few 400+ HP Roadsters that make Sharka’s turbo power seem easy to live with. But those extremely high powered cars usually don’t try to run 14″ wheels and the very limited tire selection that affords.
I love 14s. I’m addicted to 14s.
The Star Sharks came with some Federal crappys installed. FD02 all seasons or something. They were almost new too. But they were woefully inadequate when faced with turbo power levels. I could roll onto the throttle in the top half of 2nd gear and ROAST the tires. That was fun but not really… good. Know what I mean? You can see the tread pattern in the above shot for yourself. Just regular ol’ all seasons. No good.
There are three decent road tires available in 14″ sizes right now. The venerable Falken Azenis has featured at least one 14″ size for the past ten years. Yokohama has their s.drive tire in a 14″ size, if not slightly odd (185/55). And Dunlop bought two 14″ tires to the US market last year with their Direzza Z1 Star Spec. Of these, the stickiest is arguably the Star Spec. That’s the one I chose for Sharka in a 185/60/14.
My buddies over at Apex Automotive (formerly Rent2Race) recently bought a new alignment rack and some tire mounting and balancing stuff. These machines are run by a man who knows how to use them. THE man in town for Miata alignments. This pleased me to no end since I was scared to death of giving my one-set-in-the-country Star Sharks to a part time kid at a big chain tire place.
Not to spoil it or anything, but the tires were mounted perfectly. No scratches on the wheels. Perfect balance. The little dots on the sidewall were even aligned with the valve stem! I was blown away.
I always wondered what an SSR Star Shark weighed. There’s not really any concrete info online. There’s tales of the wheels being very light for their design but… it’s the internet. Can you really believe random message board postings without any photos or any sort of proof?
A 14×6.5 +0 Star Shark (4×100) weighs 11 lbs. Sorry for no photo. I was across the shop talking about something or another before realizing wheels were being weighed.
A 14×7 -6 SSR Star Shark (4×100) weighs 12 lbs. There’s a photo above showing the weight.
This IS very light, considering how much material there is in these wheels. There is just not that much void space in the spokes. I was expecting something like 14 lbs or worse. 11 and 12 lbs is fantastic. That’s on par with the NA6 daisy 14″ wheels and NA8 solid spoke 14s.
Here’s how they fit under my fenders. Tight. Decent. And without very much camber at all. I’m actually maxed out in the positive direction in the rear at about -2.2 degrees.
Ignore the wheel well gap. I shot these immediately after mounting the tires and removing the jack. Sharka’s suspension settles about a half inch after being driven a bit.
And then I decided to start this madness again. After I painted my Toyos, I vowed to never do that again. It takes forever and you feel ridiculous the entire time.
I mean, you’re PAINTING tires. Of all the things a person can do with their time, that has to be one of the silliest. But I love the result. It takes a lot of visual weight out of the 14″ tire sidewall and makes it look a lot less balloon-y. And the vintage look is my bag, baby. I love white tire letters. White walls are even better.
This Icelandic tire paint is pretty crazy. If you google “white tire paint” you’ll find a lot of discussions about this stuff. It’s meant to stay somewhat flexible and not crack immediately upon rolling around like other paint. It’s also somewhat rare in the US. The official website for this paint doesn’t list a US dealer. That stopped me from getting it when I painted my Toyos (I used acrylic model paint.) This time, I had the flash of insight to check ebay. Sure enough, there was a source. A small payment later and a can of paint was shipped my way.
The instructions tell you to apply three coats and let 24 hours pass between coats. And I followed those directions. Every evening for three nights I spent an hour painting tires while Sharka chilled on jack stands.
But they look SO good. Worth it? I donno. Would I do it again? I probably would.
As for the tires themselves… holy crap. The difference between the crappy all seasons is shocking. Actual grip! I love it. I’m a big fan of Dunlop Star Specs. I’ve got a set of 15s mounted on Bucky’s OEM 15×6 wheels. They’re insanely sticky for a street tire. I’d guess they’re stickier than the race tires I was using back in the early 2000s. Better than BFGs for sure.
And, really, how could I go with any other tire? Star Sharks wearing Star Specs? Those are two things that need to go together. They BEG to go together.
How could I say no?