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Old 07-15-2015, 03:31 PM   #1
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Default Advice me on shock purchase (probably bilsteins)

I already did a lot of searching of this forum and also of the google.

Current situation is that:
-my woman won't let me spend 2k on xidas
-I have an NA with FM springs/sways/kybagx that I installed a million years ago, give or take. I'm running the FM rear mounts.
-I have long been unhappy with the kybs and want to replace them with something better
-I don't really care about adjustability, I just want good handling.
-this is primarily a street car with sometimes track duty. Some of the roads around here suck bad.
-I am not going to be running slicks, but I sway back and forth between max perf summer and r-compound.

I am thinking bilsteins but I am confused by the many bilstein options between the various OE ones and the ones you can buy online for about 100 bucks a corner.

Are there any bilstein options out there that would work well with FM spring/sways without revalving?

I thought fatcat did revalving and shock sales, but all I see is a high dollar coilover package on his site now.
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Old 07-15-2015, 03:45 PM   #2
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Search is your friend. There's a huge thread here (and over on CR) about how to make a budget Bilstein adjustable coil-over setup.

You'll get lots of gains for about $1000. Not Xida level, mind you, but a bit more adjust-ability and longevity over say... the FM VMAXX setup.

Go search. The answers you seek will be there.
PS. The springs can't be reused. The sway bars can. Along with your rear mounts.
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Old 07-15-2015, 04:05 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'm about halfway through the bilsteins coilover thread.
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Old 07-15-2015, 04:31 PM   #4
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<p>I'm sure others will chime in, but it sounds like you'd be pretty happy with MSM bilsteins and ground control coils. Have you read the Better Bilstein coilover thread here?</p>
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Old 07-15-2015, 04:32 PM   #5
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<p>herp derp should have hit refresh before posting.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>$1000 seems very generous though. I was under the impression that you can get it done for considerably less.</p>
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Old 07-15-2015, 05:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbofan View Post
<p>herp derp should have hit refresh before posting.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>$1000 seems very generous though. I was under the impression that you can get it done for considerably less.</p>
If everything needs to be purchased new...

$480 shocks.
$260 springs.
$300 top hats, sleeves, bump stops/etc.

Used pricing helps quite a bit. But if it's all brand new off the shelf... it's about $1040 delivered for the basics these days. The Bilsteins have gone up about $80 a set in the last few years, even with the Mazda Motorsports pricing.
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Old 07-15-2015, 05:34 PM   #7
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Where do I buy MSM Bilsteins? They seem to come from MSM miatas from what I've seen googling. I didn't see anything like that on summit. If it's a mazda comp part, I can't join the mazda competition program as my car is currently not running.

Also, dumb question- what to the FM rear perches count as? I assumed they gave an extra inch of travel but I was still going to be buying NA suspension components.
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Old 07-15-2015, 05:38 PM   #8
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Why MSM billies, all they are is taller?

FM perches are fancy pillowball extended tophats.
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Old 07-15-2015, 05:46 PM   #9
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<p>Most aggressive OEM valving</p>
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Old 07-15-2015, 06:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysBroken View Post
-my woman won't let me spend 2k on xidas
-I have an NA with FM springs/sways/kybagx that I installed a million years ago, give or take. I'm running the FM rear mounts.
-I have long been unhappy with the kybs and want to replace them with something better
-Some of the roads around here suck bad.
(...)
I am thinking bilsteins but I am confused by the many bilstein options between the various OE ones and the ones you can buy online for about 100 bucks a corner.
IMO, a large part of your problem is the combination of NA bumpstops, relatively low springrate, and the lower-than-stock static ride height associated with FM springs. While I can't recall having ever seen a dyno plot of stock NB Bilsteins as compared to KYB AGX, I can't imagine that there's a tremendous difference. Remember that the very first thing a lot of folks do after obtaining said Bilsteins is to send them to FatCat for a revalve, which you've indicated is outside of your budget.

Also, know if that you use NB shocks, you'll also have to buy NB springs.

I've seen a few people speak very highly of the Tokico Illumina as a budget shock. I have no personal experiance here, but 18psi (who, admittedly, is trying to sell a set of them right now) speaks highly of them. They're $160 each here: Miata Suspension - Shocks - Mazda Performance Parts

If you go that route, I'd highly recommend stripping out the stock bumpstop, and installing something a tad newer and more compliant. It's been a long time since I've looked at options for the NA, but Goodwin has several different units from FCM (FatCat Motorsports, a highly reputable shop) listed on the same page as the link above. Here's FCMs application guide for them: Fat Cat Motorsports - Tokico products - Miata - 90-97


All that being said, you don't have to spend $2k to get a reasonable street coilover setup. At least consider something like one of the lesser Tein packages: Miata Suspension - Coilovers - Mazda Performance Parts This will buy you ride-height adjustability along with slightly higher spring rates.


No matter what you choose, installing a set of NB upper shock mounts on all four corners will buy you some additional suspension travel: https://www.flyinmiata.com/nb-shock-conversion-kit.html (does not apply to coilover packages which include their own upper mounts, which is none of them in your proce range.) Note that with these mounts, you will lose some ride height if used with NA-style springs such as the ones you already have. This applies more to if you elect to buy a coilover package from Tein or similar.




Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysBroken View Post
Where do I buy MSM Bilsteins? They seem to come from MSM miatas from what I've seen googling. I didn't see anything like that on summit. If it's a mazda comp part, I can't join the mazda competition program as my car is currently not running.
The fancy Bilsteins were available on all later-model NBs with the "Sport" suspension, not just the MSMs. There were a few different part numbers, but they're all similar.

But, seriously, consider other options beyond Bilstein. They're nice, but they're not made of unicorn horns nor are they considerably less expensive than other available options.



Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysBroken View Post
Also, dumb question- what to the FM rear perches count as? I assumed they gave an extra inch of travel but I was still going to be buying NA suspension components.
Forget the fancy purple ones they sell. Buy the NB ones from the link I gave above.

Last edited by Joe Perez; 07-15-2015 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 07-15-2015, 07:34 PM   #11
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I actually used to run tokico illuminas on my old autox civic and i loved them.

What is the story with the FM vmaxx coilovers (found them from your NB mount link)? They seem suspiciously low priced for a coilover with decent rate springs. I don't recognize that manufacturer name. Are the shocks any good?

Also, is Tein considered good now? My impression of Tein (quite a few years back, admittedly), was that they were pretty harsh without particularly great performance. I think the guy who had them might have been running a crap tire with really high spring rates, but my recollection is hazy.

I'm grateful for the spoonfeeding, thanks again everyone.

The money thing isn't actually that huge of a deal but I kind of feel I am peering over the edge of an abyss. I realize that if I go for an utterly ***** out track suspension, I'll soon be going beyond the limits of 205/50/15 tires.... so why not upgrade to 15x9 and 245 width tires... ok, let's throw in some brakes too... and next thing you know I've spent like 4 grand on handling and my ball joints are now a wear item. I want to fix what sucks about my current setup without embarking on a long money-spending and part-installing quest.
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Old 07-15-2015, 07:41 PM   #12
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<p>I've always thought these looked pretty solid. I don't know how to read shock dynos though. Even so, seem good quality and V8R is also known for good quality stuff.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>DSD Coilover - V8 Roadsters</p>
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Old 07-15-2015, 07:47 PM   #13
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Interesting. I have no idea how to read shock dynos either.
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Old 07-15-2015, 08:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
but 18psi speaks highly of them.
I do.
Having owned agx, raceland, tein basic, tein flex, bilstein, VMAXX, and being incredibly picky about daily driving comfort, my tokico/fm setup was the only one I kept long term. I even used it on both the 01 and the MSM.

If I get the chance to try something more comfy, I'll be sure to post about it. Until then, I stand by my words.
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Old 07-15-2015, 08:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
The fancy Bilsteins were available on all later-model NBs with the "Sport" suspension, not just the MSMs. There were a few different part numbers, but they're all similar.
The MSM Bilsteins are unique units with the longest shock body of any Bilstein for Miatas. This may or may not matter depending on how one intends to use them.
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Old 07-15-2015, 08:47 PM   #16
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Vlad, you need to drive my Miata next time I'm up in Sacramento. Revalved Bilsteins and 750lb front springs... And they ride incredibly smooth on the streets.

Bilstein in Poway did an incredible job with them. They actually ride better than they did with 600lbs up front.
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:05 AM   #17
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I haven't sampled suspensions the way Vlad has, but am quite pleased with the comfort-performance-price compromise of my Illuminas. If you've ever driven up here among the French Canadians, you know that I know bad roads. If there's something comparably priced which rides better, I'd also be interested to hear about it.

FYI for those who don't know: NB Illuminas are discontinued, so if you want them, get them while the getting is good. (Or, in OP's case, stick to your NA mounts and profit from the NA Illumina's availability.
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:12 AM   #18
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If you're looking for performance you're crazy if you go with $760 just for the shocks on illuminas instead of going with Billies. Ride is another story, but even then the Billies are good shocks.
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Old 07-16-2015, 09:29 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbofan View Post
Huh...

I didn't realize that V8R had put together their own coilover package. No idea as to which shocks they're using, but the dyno plots look reasonable, the springrates are good, and they include tophats.

This interests me. Not gonna buy a set just yet, but they would appear well poised to compete in the budget coilover category.




Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeoffriau View Post
The MSM Bilsteins are unique units with the longest shock body of any Bilstein for Miatas. This may or may not matter depending on how one intends to use them.
I've never seen any comparisons (so much good data was lost from the FCM website when Shaikh locked it all down), but wouldn't having the longest shock body of any Miata Bilstein be a *bad* thing in terms of compression travel, particularly when coupled with NA upper mounts?
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Old 07-16-2015, 10:24 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
I've never seen any comparisons (so much good data was lost from the FCM website when Shaikh locked it all down), but wouldn't having the longest shock body of any Miata Bilstein be a *bad* thing in terms of compression travel, particularly when coupled with NA upper mounts?
Yes. Typically, if MSM Bilsteins are to be re-used as adjustable coilovers, it is recommended to use ISC extended tophats (or similar) in the rear in order to regain some compression travel. NB tophats in the front are sufficient.

I had a setup like this for a while and it worked quite well.
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