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Old 08-05-2009, 12:30 PM   #1
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Default Best compromise suspension?

I am currently running my stock 91 suspension (all original!) with a couple of the simple braces and front/rear FM sways. I also have a set of four or five year old Victoracers that I bought from a friend and have tracked last season and this season. Given my old age and lack of innate driving skill, the car has done extremely well. But now that I am changing classes and racing with more serious cars and drivers, I really need a suspension. I also have this problem of having to wait until the car settles after an elevation change to turn in otherwise I spin out. And I keep doing that in the same spot at the end of a fast straightaway and thats bad.

I like the stock blown suspension in that I can feel exactly where the car is at any given moment, which is good for a beginning driver, and the r compounds keep me from being an obstruction, but I think I am ready to go fast.

What suspension will give me wife-friendly compliance on the street and great communication at the track, with reliability over time? I like the idea of damping control but I don't want a big drop in ride height, I deal with that enough with my other car. I plan to keep this car forever and I finally have income to afford what I want. Thanks for any advice.
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:44 PM   #2
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I would do a set of KYB AGX adjustable shocks and Tein S.Tech coilovers. You can quickly change the shock setting with the turn of a dial, and the S.Tech's are a very minimal decrease in height (.75 in rear, 1.1 in front). They're not too stiff at all.
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rotaryjunky View Post
What suspension will give me wife-friendly compliance on the street and great communication at the track, with reliability over time? I like the idea of damping control but I don't want a big drop in ride height, I deal with that enough with my other car. I plan to keep this car forever and I finally have income to afford what I want. Thanks for any advice.
You left the door wide open here. What's the budget? Hard to beat the Tein Flex for ride height adjustability, rides slightly firmer than factory at the lowest settings (wife will definitely approve) but still good track-ability when set firm. I didn't want to drop too much due to my roads (gravel at home) so this was an issue for me.

For less money than the Flex, the Illumina's and FM springs is a similar drop as the AGX/springs above.
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:59 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dustinb View Post
I would do a set of KYB AGX adjustable shocks and Tein S.Tech coilovers. You can quickly change the shock setting with the turn of a dial, and the S.Tech's are a very minimal decrease in height (.75 in rear, 1.1 in front). They're not too stiff at all.
AGX's are, at best, mediocre stock replacements.

Tokico Illuminas (<i>not</i>) blues) are in the same price range and Shaikh @ FatCat has had good things to say about them. They are also adjustable.

For springs, Flyin' Miata's springs are well-matched and are reputed to be a very good all-around choice.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:14 PM   #5
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On the cheap.

Step 1. Illuminas or Koni yellows for a significant mid level upgrade. Of the two the Illuminas would likely ride better for the wife. Find someone selling their used FM springs or a set of Ground Control sleeves with Eibachs. Good trackable set up that will get you far better performance than those old stockers. Whatever shocks you get buy new bump stops. Fatcat or similar. The stock stops really limit suspension travel.

Step 2. Find a junk yard 99 or newer and take the shock shock mounts. Get an RB hollow front sway bar and keep the stock rear. The newer shock mounts will give you a little better suspension travel and the Racing Beat hollow bar + stock rear is a popular and well balanced set up.

Not cheap? If you want to spend $1000 - $2000 there are a ton of options obviously. Call Fatcat. They'll build you a custom set up to do exactly what you want. FM, Goodwin and many more all have well sorted systems, can answer questions and get you the right set up for your needs.

The KYB's aren't great shocks. They are adjustable. I replaced my stockers with them + GC coil overs. Worked fine until I went turbo. Stock power at the track with R-comps they were OK. Turbo they simply overpowered them. Replaced them with Tein RA's. I've still got the AGX's with the GC sleeves and springs if you are interested. Cheaper set up that's a significant improvement over stock but not in the same class as the Illuminas or Koni Yellows.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:17 PM   #6
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There's a good chance I'll have my FM springs (2006) up for sale after this weekend.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:33 PM   #7
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My sig other has no complaints on the ride of my '91 with Tein Flex.

I haven't sampled anything from FCM, but would like to.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:37 PM   #8
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I love my Tein Flex's. So smooth, I have them set right in the middle both ride height and stiffness wise. Rides a bunch better than the wife's cooper S. I have a '92 with only the factory bracing, original suspension pieces/rubber. Racing Beat front sway bar, no rear bar. I can hit major potholes and don't get any significant cowl shake.

Before the Flex's I had racing beat street springs with kyb agx's and then illuminas. I like the illuminas better, but the RB springs were junk.
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Old 08-05-2009, 02:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rotaryjunky View Post
...currently running my stock 91 suspension (all original!) with a couple of the simple braces and front/rear FM sways. I also have a set of four or five year old Victoracers that I bought from a friend and have tracked last season and this season. Given my old age and lack of innate driving skill, the car has done extremely well. But now that I am changing classes and racing...
I like the stock blown suspension in that I can feel exactly where the car is at any given moment, which is good for a beginning driver, and the r compounds keep me from being an obstruction, but I think I am ready to go fast.
You're a beginning driver, but you're serious enough to be racing on track in a defined class? You've got blown original shocks but running on R-comps? And you're turboed? I'm not sure what to make of all that but it sounds like your car sucks to drive on track. What exactly do you plan to do with the car? HPDEs, time trials, etc? Serious track use is going to eliminate a certain amount of the car's wifeability.

Quote:
I also have this problem of having to wait until the car settles after an elevation change to turn in otherwise I spin out.
Regardless of what suspension you have, it's a good idea to let the car settle before you make any drastic inputs. All drivers deal with this. The problem is, the stock suspension takes forever and a day to settle even when the shocks aren't blown. With my current suspension and tires I can stay flat out at VIR all the way from turn 5 through the top of the uphill esses at about 100 mph (stock power, mind you). However, riding in a car with a much better chassis than mine (RX-8) I realized that my car still doesn't settle through transitions as quickly as I'd like. If I was more serious about tracking it, I'd have 700# or stiffer front springs, more rear spring, and definitely some better shocks. Which brings us to...

Quote:
What suspension will give me wife-friendly compliance on the street and great communication at the track
And I'd like a toilet made out of solid gold, but it's just not in the cards. Stiffer springs are pretty much a necessity for track, but can get unpleasant on bumpy roads. I find 450/300 rates to be streetable enough and trackable enough with stock power and RS2s. Roads in NoVA are pretty smooth and minor bumps don't annoy me, plus my wife doesn't ride in the car enough for her bitching to bother me. I'd like to get a ride in a 700/450-ish sprung car around here to see what it's like, but then I'd have to upgrade my front shocks too. You might want to stick with FM springs, but realize they are not that stiff either. Or go up to something like 450/300 depending on your roads and wife. With reasonable damping control the ride is actually pretty good by my standards.

Quote:
I finally have income to afford what I want.
If I had enough spare dough to get a really nice suspension, I would probably start by calling up Shaikh at FCM and see what he recommends based on my intended use.
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Old 08-05-2009, 02:47 PM   #10
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Spend the money...call Shaikh [/thread]

Screw the intermediate steps, I'm on my 3rd setup I hate, and could have bought some badass coilovers by now. I'm to the point of making my own parts to rectify the shortcomings of off-the-shelf springs and shock combos.
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:32 PM   #11
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My head is spinning. Thanks everyone for the great advice. I know my current setup is crap, but I was also trying to buy an nsx these past many years. I can buy the Teins at a nice discount, but am I still better off buying a custom setup when it seems like my needs (occasional track weekend and great street car) should be reasonably common?
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:41 PM   #12
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Illumina's or R package Bilstein's on FM springs. I'm on Fm springs and Bilstein's and like it more than factory suspension by a long shot on the street. I'm sure it would be great on the track as well.
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:00 PM   #13
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As for class, Its just different groups at the track days, nothing official at all, but I found myself with mostly race prepped hondas, sti's and evos this year. I actually followed a modified evo for a lap, a testiment to r compounds. The car is amazingly neutral. The only really problem I had was when the tires heated up and gained pressure. Keeping them at 25psi felt great. I also had to start topping out at 90mph instead of 98 because I would lose brakes over time, but I just ordered all of the 1.8 stuff and corrado adapters.
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:14 PM   #14
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I like my Tein Flex with 9/6 rates. The car sits only a hair lower than stock (at the high end of the height adjustment) as I didn't want to compromise ground clearance for daily use. I have the EDFC controller on mine as well (electronic damping force controller), which is a huge timesaver in trying different settings on the shocks. I've settled on having the fronts 2 settings softer than the rears for daily use. I keep that delta between front / rear and then go overall softer or firmer depending on the road.

I still have the stock sways.
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:30 PM   #15
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These have been sitting on my shelf, can anyone identify them? They are older. The short ones are 9 inches tall and the tall ones are 10.25 inches tall.

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Old 08-05-2009, 04:34 PM   #16
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Also, does anyone know the spring rates of the springs that come with the illuminas as part of a package from Tokico?
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:37 PM   #17
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look like stock springs. use the 100lbs weight method to determine rates.
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:59 PM   #18
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FCM

I have flex on my car and I'm pretty happy with them, and agree with Tim. Nice and smooth, and stiff enough for the track.
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Old 08-05-2009, 05:37 PM   #19
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If your going to go with a shock and spring combo, be aware that pretty much every aftermarket spring (aside from coilover springs) are progressive rate. Flyin Miata are the only linear rate springs that I was ever able to find for the Miata. That being said, FM spings on Tokico Illuminas with proper sway bars makes a great setup that can be easily driven. Don't waste your money on AGX's. I have them on my 91 and the valving on them is pretty bad IMO. However, the Tokico and FM may be a little soft for track days with R-comps, however if your running stock suspension on R-comps and are happy with that, than you will probably love Tokico and FM combo.
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:35 PM   #20
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Quinn, If all you could find was progressive you weren't looking too hard. Eibach, Bilstein, Tein and many other manufacturers along with most of the Miata oriented part suppliers have linear rate springs. It is generally the cheaper all in one prefabbed sets that have progressive. Tein s-tech, bilstein ps9, etc.
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