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Wow, that's a good one, Sparky!  We're only talking about 1/2" difference on radius, so the sidewall exposure would not differ that much.  If the tread is the same and the tire aspect ratio (sidewall height to section width) remains similar, the profile would not be much different.

 

For my multipurpose use on the 1999 Jeep XJ Cherokee, I opted for 16" rims when other size factors were nearly the same.  There is less rubber exposure at the sidewall.  I went over the Gold Lake Trail (Rubicon-esque) with these size tires and use them constantly on the highway.  See my Jeep XJ Cherokee tire and wheel choice details at the magazine.  This setup works very well with the long arm suspension lift.

 

If you air down off-pavement, the squat might be greater with the 15"; however, the sidewall exposure to rocks and obstacles would increase.  The more deflected the sidewall, the more vulnerable.  At lower inflation pressures, this would also be a weaker sidewall.

 

Here are some definitions that might help: http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=46.

 

When a coin toss like this is the test, most of us go with the tire size and wheels that are readily available.  In either case, the 1/2" radius difference is not earthshattering, and if you have one tire or wheel preference over the other, maybe based on price or wider choice options, go for it.

 

Others may want to weigh in here.  Let's hear your viewpoints...

 

Moses

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Another Question-Has anyone used the Novak conversions to install a 5.3 LS into an XJ. The have the whole package including updating the wiring harness and GM computer along with the XJ computer. 

 

[This engine swap subject has been moved to its own topic: http://forums.4wdmechanix.com/topic/267-anyone-done-a-novak-53-ls-v-8-to-xj-cherokee-swap-package/.  Please respond at the new topic...Thanks!]

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