A Proven Combo: Kosei K1 Racing Wheels and Falken Azenis Tires | Garage Rescue Miata

David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mazda Miata project car
Jan 19, 2021

We’re putting the band back together. 

BSI Racing worked on our 1992 Miata back in the day, and that’s the shop going through the car as we get it back on the road after an eight-year slumber

Ed Senf tuned the Miata some 20 years ago. Let’s just say that we have been chatting lately. 

We used Moss Motors parts in the original build, and we’ve already placed recent orders with them. 

While our Miata has worn a few sets of wheels over the years, the run started with the Kosei K1 Racing—circa April 1999. This wheel was aimed right at our market.

First, there was the simple, effective profile. Nothing protruded past the lip, meaning rubbing doors wouldn’t send spokes knocking. The wheel also featured lots of room around the lugs—great for flying impact guns on pit road—while the open design promoted brake cooling. It worked without a center cap. 

The Kosei K1 Racing featured heat-treated, shot-peened construction, and a range of sizes and competitive pricing made it a popular sight. You saw this wheel on everything back then, and several GRM project cars wore it: our BMW M3, Honda Civic Si, Toyota Celica and more. 

Tire Rack still imports the model, with today’s K1 Racing available in silver or gloss black in 15- and 17-inch sizes—basically for BMWs as well as cars that use a 4x100 bolt pattern. Pricing starts at around $145 each, including the blue valve stems. 

In the 15x7-inch size, a few different Miata-friendly offsets are offered: 25mm, 30mm and 38mm.

We had to order a set. It was the car’s destiny. This time, though, we went with the gloss black. White, even if still available, would have been just a bit too ’90s for us. We ordered the 15x7-inch wheels with the 30mm offset. That allowed us to get the wheel in a hubcentric fit for the Miata, too. It would also widen the track a tick while still keeping us from needing to roll the fender lips. Bonus points, Tire Rack, for the double-boxing. 

We also ordered some lightweight lugs from Tire Rack. As it did back in the day, the Kosei K1 Racing offers a lotta room for an impact socket. 

Those 15x7-inch Kosei K1 Racing wheels are lighter than promised, too, checking in at 12 pounds, 13.60 ounces.  

But what to wrap around the wheels? Again, we looked to the car’s past. 

Two decades ago, the Miata also introduced us to another name: Falken. The Falken Azenis RT215 was new for 2001, and the Miata was wearing a set by March of that year. 

Our tire world looked different back then, with race-ready R-comps dominating the scene. However, the SCCA had just introduced a new autocross class that favored true street tires: Street Touring. (At the time, there was just a single Street Touring class; its mission was to welcome the day’s sport compact crowd.)

What tires were we to run if the rules forbade R-compounds? Everyone scrambled to find an answer, but these new Falkens quickly found favor thanks to their speed and good price.

The Falken Azenis model line has been part of our scene ever since—with upgrades over the years, of course. The latest iteration is the Azenis RT660, and it’s still a streetable model aimed at competition classes that require true 200-treadwear street tires. You can track it, autocross it, or just drive around on it. Today, though, there are just way more classes and programs that require and welcome true street tires. (Dive deeper with our latest test of the Falken Azenis RT660.)

So we ordered a set of the Falken Azenis RT660 in the ever-popular 205/50R15 size. Tire Rack stocks them at about $122 each, a very competitive price for that size and class. 

Like we said, we’re putting the band back together.

 

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DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
1/15/21 7:45 a.m.

Sorry, but the white ones look better.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/15/21 7:56 a.m.

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

Keeping white wheels clean is no fun, Kosei needs to make them in bronze (not gold) 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
1/15/21 8:08 a.m.

In reply to captdownshift (Forum Supporter) :

When I was younger, I used to be all about black wheels, but now that I'm slightly older, I've realized there is something cool about bronze wheels.

I second that white wheels are a pain to keep clean, but maybe that's where the appeal comes from. You see someone with white wheels, and you'll say to yourself "wow, that person spent a lot of time to keep those clean."

jimbob_racing
jimbob_racing Dork
1/15/21 8:22 a.m.

I had silver wheels like that on my red 93 miata. I loved how they looked and how easy it was to clean them with such large openings between the spokes.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/15/21 8:25 a.m.
DeadSkunk (Warren) said:

Sorry, but the white ones look better.

Warren Martin,'99 Miata,'03 CooperS,'91 GTI 16V,06 Scion Xb ,73 Corolla SR5, 2019 GMC Canyon

It's funny, but there was some debate on color. The photo at the bottom--with the hood up--was taken about 30 seconds after I first saw the Miata on the black wheels. I admit, it took my breath away. The stance, the look, the whole thing. 

Put me down as a big, big fan of bronze/gold as well. 

engiekev
engiekev HalfDork
1/15/21 11:19 a.m.

Kosei K1 are by far the coolest light wheels out there!  I have one set for my 1G DSM, and looking for another set for my NA Miata.  

If you need a center cap, look into a 3D printed one to save some money over the hard to find Kosei caps.  RaceTruckRon here helped with printing some in resin for me, and I could also print some up on high temp PLA or PETG.  They will need to be removed before track days, as would any center cap, due to the high heat.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/15/21 11:26 a.m.

Glad to see another K1 fan out there. I was going through some old photos the the other night and came across this one.

Thanks for the tip re. 3D printed center caps, too. 

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 Reader
1/15/21 11:29 a.m.

Why clean wheels when you can just plasti-dip them gunmetal?

Gunmetal/anthracite is just another color code for "brake dust".

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/15/21 11:37 a.m.

In reply to Olemiss540 :

Someone needs to make a wheel that comes in white, black and brake dust. 

engiekev
engiekev HalfDork
1/15/21 12:01 p.m.
Olemiss540 said:

Why clean wheels when you can just plasti-dip them gunmetal?

Gunmetal/anthracite is just another color code for "brake dust".

Where can you order anthracite, other than dipyourcar? Actually their prices are pretty good.  We did our pathfinder in anthracite and they hold up excellent.

https://www.dipyourcar.com/products/anthracite-grey-wheel-kit

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
1/15/21 12:06 p.m.

I love K1s.  I used to have a white set.  They seem a little outdated today because they are only in narrow sizes (correct me if I am wrong here).

IIRC due to the hub design I had to use special lugnuts that required a 17mm wrench instead of the open ended GM style I used on everything else.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
1/15/21 12:12 p.m.
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

Keeping white wheels clean is no fun, Kosei needs to make them in bronze (not gold) 

Kosei needs to make them in 15x9 is what Kosei needs  to do.

Also not a fan of black wheels.  Too dull, hides the detail, and no contrast from the tires.  For that matter, not a fan of black cars.

I do, however, love love love K1s.  I sold my set to my niece for her NB Miata when I went wider.

 

 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
1/15/21 12:13 p.m.
Duke said:

Kosei needs to make them in 15x9 is what Kosei needs to do.

Yep.  8's and 9's.

 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/15/21 2:03 p.m.

In reply to ProDarwin :

I'll pass along that request.  

tester (Forum Supporter)
tester (Forum Supporter) Reader
1/15/21 3:39 p.m.

Great wheels. My preference would be a polished lip with anthracite centers. That is probably too much to ask. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/15/21 4:06 p.m.

Just came across this in the photo archives. Date taken: October 4, 2001.

Followed two frames later by:

 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/15/21 4:14 p.m.
tester (Forum Supporter) said:

Great wheels. My preference would be a polished lip with anthracite centers. That is probably too much to ask. 

That look puts you in a certain age bracket :) I'm there too.

The K1 predates the real introduction of 8" and 9" wheels on Miatas. It's easy to forget just how long it's been around. Well, it was before David started posting pictures of them taken almost two decades ago :) It would be cool to see them in wider sizes.

matt147
matt147 New Reader
1/15/21 5:06 p.m.

K1s have been one of my favorite wheels since I first saw them on a friend's B13 SE-R back in the 90s.  I had 15" on my NA Miata and now I have 17" on my ND Miata:

 

 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) Dork
1/15/21 5:20 p.m.

The K1 is cool....  now bust out with some cans of bronze wheel paint and make them as cool as they look.

22quack
22quack
1/15/21 5:53 p.m.

In reply to ProDarwin :

Yea, I reeeeally wanted these wheels, but 15x8 is definitely the way to go for 205 tires.  205 RE71Rs and 205 A052s both performed 0.3-0.5 seconds faster on my 15x7.5 6ULs compared to my 15x7 SSR Type Cs in nearly identical conditions (back to back HPDE sessions).  I haven't had a chance to test on 15x8 yet, but Miata forums are saying it's even faster, so I'm looking forward to it.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/15/21 6:29 p.m.

In reply to tester (Forum Supporter) :

I hear ya but I'm afraid here it would look weird since the spoke goes almost all the way to the rim. And, you know, I can't recall ever seeing two-tone K1s. Anyone?

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 Reader
1/15/21 6:49 p.m.
engiekev said:
Olemiss540 said:

Why clean wheels when you can just plasti-dip them gunmetal?

Gunmetal/anthracite is just another color code for "brake dust".

Where can you order anthracite, other than dipyourcar? Actually their prices are pretty good.  We did our pathfinder in anthracite and they hold up excellent.

https://www.dipyourcar.com/products/anthracite-grey-wheel-kit

Yup. I dipped my car brake dust anthracite. Merely to reduce the number of washes necessary per season....

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Reader
1/15/21 7:00 p.m.

They look great in plain silver too. I should really wash them though. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
1/15/21 7:21 p.m.
matt147 said:

K1s have been one of my favorite wheels since I first saw them on a friend's B13 SE-R back in the 90s.  I had 15" on my NA Miata and now I have 17" on my ND Miata:

 

 

Very nice.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/15/21 7:25 p.m.

Thanks for sharing the pics. Yes, very nice. The 17s on the ND look perfect. 

To me, at least, it's one of our icons, right there with the TE37. 

DWNSHFT
DWNSHFT Dork
1/15/21 8:34 p.m.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
1/15/21 8:45 p.m.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/15/21 11:02 p.m.

 

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
1/16/21 9:32 a.m.

I'm not a fan of black wheels except as snow wheels.  That way they can hide the dirt better.

Tyler H (Forum Supporter)
Tyler H (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/18/21 3:48 p.m.

These wheels look good on anything from 1990~2005. 

Picture from today...

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/18/21 3:53 p.m.

oooo, they look GOOD on an E36.

 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
1/18/21 4:05 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

oooo, they look GOOD on an E36.

K1s look good on any car, and also make any car look better.

Those are not the same thing.

 

AaronT
AaronT Reader
1/18/21 4:33 p.m.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/18/21 4:37 p.m.
Duke said:
Keith Tanner said:

oooo, they look GOOD on an E36.

K1s look good on any car, and also make any car look better.

Those are not the same thing.

But they suit some cars more than others. The styling of the E36 and the styling of the K1 are really complimentary, so the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/20/21 3:16 p.m.

The E36/K1 combo is strong. 

pimpm3 (Forum Supporter)
pimpm3 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/20/21 4:05 p.m.

They work on mr2's as well!

Duke
Duke MegaDork
1/20/21 6:01 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
Duke said:
Keith Tanner said:

oooo, they look GOOD on an E36.

K1s look good on any car, and also make any car look better.

Those are not the same thing.

But they suit some cars more than others. The styling of the E36 and the styling of the K1 are really complimentary, so the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Fair enough. 
 

car39
car39 Dork
1/21/21 8:26 a.m.

1995 NA autocrossing in Hartford CT  The rear wheels are silver, I wanted a second set of whites, and couldn't get them.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
1/21/21 8:46 a.m.

If I remember come spring time, I'll post a photo of my white K1s on my son's blood orange Fiat 500. I expect it will look pretty good.

jr02518
jr02518 HalfDork
1/21/21 8:53 a.m.

This is what they look like on my E30. 

They are 15x7. No, I will not cut the fenders for wider anything.   

jr02518
jr02518 HalfDork
1/21/21 9:05 a.m.

And how they look on an E21.

Again, 15x7 but the offset required for this car makes them hard to find.  

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/21/21 9:40 a.m.

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

That should look really cool. 

psteav (Forum Supporter)
psteav (Forum Supporter) Dork
1/21/21 12:55 p.m.

K1's are deservedly in the Wheel Design Hall of Fame next to Torq-Thrusts and Panasport/Minilites.

The Cragar SS is the building's janitor.  He's there, but no one goes looking for him.  

DWNSHFT
DWNSHFT Dork
1/21/21 8:07 p.m.
jr02518 said:

That's an amazing backdrop.  Where was this photo taken?

jr02518
jr02518 HalfDork
1/21/21 9:27 p.m.

The picture is from the Lone Pine Time Trials event held at the retired air strip, Manzanar Interment Camp.  The site is just north of town on High Way 395.  The view from the event is of the base of the Eastern Sierras and it's snowing in the mountains. In May.

The Mt Whitney Portal is back in town and to the left in the picture. 

Driving at this event is a very sobering thing when you take into account the location and the long history of the Owens Valley. This is a shot facing north.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/21/21 11:12 p.m.

My Miata track wheels were K1s for a long time:

And a friend of mine had them on his SW20 that I helped him rescue:

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/25/21 1:12 p.m.

In reply to codrus (Forum Supporter) :

Dang, hard top SW20, too? 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/19/21 5:32 p.m.

When was the K1 first manufactured.  I'm seriously considering a set for the MR2 I'm about to acquire.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/19/21 6:34 p.m.

Sounds like 1998 according to this thread which jibes with my memory. We got our first set--for this Miata, in fact--in April 1999. I remember the wheel being pretty new to the scene. 

chandler
chandler UltimaDork
8/19/21 6:47 p.m.
DeadSkunk (Warren) said:

If I remember come spring time, I'll post a photo of my white K1s on my son's blood orange Fiat 500. I expect it will look pretty good.

You have a pretty good shot of them on your GTI as well.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/20/21 10:05 a.m.

The K1 just looks so good on so many cars. Just wish they made them for the E46 M3....

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/4/21 9:23 p.m.

Look what we have here.


 

I'm really happy I'm not entering this years challenge as only 3 of 4 arrived.  I'm sure UPS will find the other one or Tire Rack will make it right.  

Vracer111
Vracer111 HalfDork
9/5/21 12:09 a.m.

Partial to the K1s as well... really like their functional look and fairly light weight for their size... ran them on my Tacoma, mainly with the Hankook RS2/RS3s, but also tried a set of Azenis RT-215 as well... silver K1s went well with it:

 

If I kept the MR2, I was planning to put black K1s on it... AnthonyGS has same idea as well and looking forward to seeing how it looks on it.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
9/5/21 11:49 a.m.

White K1s on my son's Fiat. He commutes 110 miles daily and keeps them clean with minimal effort. The product he uses is pictured.

The same wheels on the GTI I used to have

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/5/21 12:32 p.m.

Hey, they look good on Miatas, too, in case no one noticed...

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/7/21 1:33 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) :

Nice and congrats. 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/7/21 1:40 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Thanks the 4th one says out for delivery now.  My son is excited to get them on Mister Two.  With any luck you can see them at the 2022 challenge.

update:  4th wheel and tire arrived one long weekend after the first three.  Shipping is really weird right now.

therieldeal
therieldeal Reader
9/7/21 3:19 p.m.

They also look good on Escort station wagons, in case anyone was wondering :)

No photo description available.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/8/21 12:00 a.m.

In reply to therieldeal :

They do look good--same with all of the photos above. 

car39
car39 Dork
9/8/21 10:50 a.m.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/8/21 1:07 p.m.
car39 said:

YES!  My first Miata was a 92 with a hardtop and I put white K1s on it.  

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/9/21 2:52 p.m.

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

You know, not sure I have seen K1s on a Fiat 500. Looks good. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/10/21 3:08 p.m.

So, a K1 story that I recently remembered. 

Several years ago--like 15 or so--I noticed a car parked one street over wearing K1s. Mental note taken. 

Soon after I'd learn that the parents of someone who autocrossed at the national level lived there. 

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
9/10/21 4:15 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

You know, not sure I have seen K1s on a Fiat 500. Looks good. 

It won't be very common as they're not available in a 4x98 pattern. He's using wobble bolts, which many people are uncomfortable with. The contrast between the white and the blood orange is striking. Ralph Gilles has talked to him more than once about the interior and exterior colour combination of the car.

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