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Old 02-24-2007, 04:55 PM   #1
scottvw13
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Default RCE Tarmac 2 400/500 Review (Long)

Background

First, a little about me to make it easier to understand where this perspective is coming from. I am a 39-year-old accountant, and I use my car for daily driving and auto-x. I’ll occasionally do a track day here or there. The car is first and foremost a daily driver, as I drive approximately 50,000 miles a year around the CT/NY/NJ metro area. Plus, I need to be able to drive the car in ALL weather conditions, including sleet, snow, and ice. The car is otherwise stock.

The main thing to keep in mind here is that I have ABSOLUTELY no experience installing anything on my car. I have plenty of automotive knowledge, but I grew up with my family owning a Chevy dealership, so I never really had to do any of the work myself. I looked for somewhere to have these installed, but I was getting prices of up to $600, and everyone said it is easy. So I figured I would give it a shot.

Setup

I went with the more aggressive 400/500-spring setup, after assurance from Myles that I would still be able to use the car for daily driving. I was a little concerned, considering the amount of driving I do. Further, as many know, the roads around the NY Metro aren’t exactly the best.

As for mounts, I went with the Whiteline Max-C camber plates in the front, and the Group-N RCE modified mounts in the rear. I went with this setup strictly based on cost. I wanted camber plates in the front, and theses were $100+ cheaper that the RCE’s. I considered using my stock mounts for the rear, but I didn’t want to have to deal with the modification (even though it is quite easy).

As for the Coil over setup, I used the RCE recommendations for daily driving, which is compression ¾ turns from full and rebound 3 turns from full.

Installation – Mounts

The Whiteline instructions were adequate, but a little confusing. I was not sure if I was supposed to use the Subaru conical washer. The RCE instructions said to use it, but the Whiteline instructions said not to use it, and supplied a replacement. Considering the replacement, I did not use the conical washer, and it turned out to be the right decision.

The next issue I had was how tight to make the top bolt. I tightened the top bolt to the point where the top of the shaft was at the top of the nut. BIG MISTAKE…more on that later.

The rears did not have instructions, but RCE furnished a nice set of instructions with pictures. The biggest problem I had, again, was the tightening of the top bolt. In this case, the shaft would spin instead of the top bolt tightening. I went for a strap wrench, and was able to tighten a bit more. Since I was told that I that I needed was the strap wrench, I figured once the shaft started turning with the strap wrench applied that is was tight enough. Yet again, I was mistaken..

Installation – Coilovers

Ok, now it was time to get to work. I was fortunate enough to have some fairly detailed installation guides which were posted on IWSTI.com.

This is also where I was SO HAPPY that I ordered from RCE. Each time I was unsure as to how to properly proceed, I just made a quick call the RCE, and Andrew or Mike walked me through. They were always available, and very happy to help. I know there are a lot of great vendors on here, and I am sure many of them would do what RCE does. But through the entire process I felt like I was speaking to someone with DIRECT knowledge of the product, especially concerning installation and setup. I would have had a much more difficult time without their expertise, so for me, this really made a HUGE difference.

I knew that the removal of my stock struts was going to be the biggest issue as they have 70k miles on them, and I was not disappointed. For the strut bolts, I used a breaker bar combined with the handle of the heavy-duty floor jack for leverage. This worked great for the top bolts, but the bottoms were very much an issue as there is VERY little clearance. After some hard work, I was able to get them off.

The T2’s were manufactured so beautifully and close to tolerances that they went in VERY easily. Even the brake line and ABS line mounts were in the perfect place, and the lines mounted without issue.

Driving Impressions

After everything was buttoned up, I eagerly looked to take them out for a ride. I hadn’t even made it out of my driveway when I knew something was wrong. They were clunking like MAD! I immediately brought it back in.

I first checked that everything was tight, including the three bolts that hold the top mount to the firewall. To my dismay, everything was tight. At this point I was thinking I was going to have to take out all four corners and start from scratch. I was not very happy. So, I picked up the phone and called RCE. After about 15 minutes on the phone with Andrew, we figured out that the strut tops were not tight enough. This was probably the best scenario that I could hope for, as I could tighten them without removing the coilovers. The fronts tightened right up, but the rears were a problem. To tighten the rears, I had to use vice grip (with a towel so as not to damage the shaft) AND the strap wrench, all while STILL on the car. It took some work, but I was able to get it done.

So, I took the car out again. My first concern was clunking. My stock struts had the dreaded clunk, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I figured the fronts might make some noise with the camber plates, but I was surprised at the results…completely quiet!! No squeaking, or clunking…just an occasional “whoooosh” (which I happen to kind of like). I couldn’t be more pleased with the noise…or lack thereof.

Ride Quality

As mentioned earlier, I had my reservations about the high spring rates. I read all the time on the forums about people who buy Japanese coilovers with similar spring rates and get rid of them because either they or their wife can’t take the harsh ride.

My initial impression was that of great surprise. These honestly did not feel any harsher than the stock setup. But this was on my local roads that are in very good condition. I wanted to see what happened on my first trip, which was to lovely Secaucus, NJ.

My job in Secaucus forced my to take some of the most chewed up roads I have ever seen, as the Company is in an industrial park which is dominated by large trucks. This suspension soaked up every pothole it could find. Nothing harsh. No noise. Kidneys in tact. In fact, I really think in some ways it is BETTER than the stock struts, especially for smaller and medium size hits. I am just amazed.

As for bouncing, there is definitely less than stock. Sure, when you are on the highway with the concrete joints there is a touch, but not nearly what it is stock.

All in all, my expectations were FAR exceeded in terms of ride quality.

Performance

You know all of the ways improvements from coilovers are described on the boards, so I am not going to say much. Suffice to say, even with stock sway bars, the car handles amazingly. Very flat and predicable. Can’t wait to get out to an auto-x.

Conclusion

These are absolutely incredible. The quality of the manufacturing is second to none, and the ride quality seems to belie all that is assumed with very stiff springs on a coilover.

As happy as I am with the product, I am most happy about the service I continue to receive from RCE. I am not well versed in the installation and adjustment of coilovers, and I certainly don’t have the time or money to spend on dialing these in. RCE’s service and expertise allowed me to save a ton of money by installing them myself, and will continue to help by advising on setup. Thank you RCE!!

I also want to thank the great people on the New England and Tri-State forums. I had many people offer to help me install these, none of which I had ever even met. This is what makes this such a great community!
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Old 02-24-2007, 05:01 PM   #2
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wow, so even with the stiffest spring rate, they still rode as well as stock or better?

incredible.
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Old 02-24-2007, 05:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twiSTies View Post
wow, so even with the stiffest spring rate, they still rode as well as stock or better?

incredible.
Seemed like it me me at least.

I was more surprised than you....
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Old 02-24-2007, 05:16 PM   #4
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you drive 50k a year? so are you going to have to get these rebuilt in 6 months? lol
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Old 02-24-2007, 06:07 PM   #5
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Glad you enjoy them! We are always happy to help!

-Mike
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Old 02-24-2007, 10:54 PM   #6
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Thanks for kind words. I was away this past week and Mike and Drew were on the ball. We had some moments of drama but they were in touch with me and I was roaming like crazy and make sure things went smooth back in the states, but nothing they couldnt handle.

I am glad to see that the standard rates are a reasonable daily driver set up. Notice " reasonable" was used. That word HAS to be used that way, as some might not feel that way, but there is always some trade off with the higher rates. We did our homework in this case.

Myles
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Old 02-24-2007, 10:54 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by carl s. View Post
you drive 50k a year? so are you going to have to get these rebuilt in 6 months? lol
No.

Myles
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Old 02-25-2007, 12:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twiSTies View Post
wow, so even with the stiffest spring rate, they still rode as well as stock or better?

incredible.
This perception is almost universal among people who install new coilovers of any brand. It's not until you drive with them for a couple months and then ride in a stock car that you actually realize how much comfort you've sacrificed. The main loss of comfort comes from a much higher suspension resonance such that your body gets much higher G loading from given bumps and irregular road variations.
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Old 02-25-2007, 12:24 AM   #9
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No.

Myles
yeah i was kidding about that but seriously, that's a lot of driving

edit - when will you be getting these to an autox/track?
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Old 02-25-2007, 08:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhluhr View Post
This perception is almost universal among people who install new coilovers of any brand. It's not until you drive with them for a couple months and then ride in a stock car that you actually realize how much comfort you've sacrificed. The main loss of comfort comes from a much higher suspension resonance such that your body gets much higher G loading from given bumps and irregular road variations.
I can absolutely see that being the case. This IS my first set. Also, I admit being very excited about these, and that tends to cloud judgement a bit.

As for a more "unbiased" point of view, my wife and I went out the other day, and it was her first time in the car since the change. I only asked her what was different, and she said "I'm not bouncing around anymore" and "I really like it better". I asked her if it felt harsh, and she said "...not harsh, just tighter".

I think tighter is the best word.

I've had some more experiece on these. They take the small hits, like where the first layer of pavment has been peeled away by a plow, far better then my old set. This could be that my old struts were getting worn, but there is actually an improvement here. Large potholes take a harder hit though. I am guessing its that there is a bit less suspension travel to soak up the bump.
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Old 02-25-2007, 08:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carl s. View Post
yeah i was kidding about that but seriously, that's a lot of driving

edit - when will you be getting these to an autox/track?
Hopefully some time in March...
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Old 02-25-2007, 09:29 AM   #12
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50,000 miles a year is ALOT of driving. Especially for a 05 STi.

I only put about 4000 miles a year on my 05 STi.
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Old 02-25-2007, 10:41 AM   #13
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I sold my STi 2 weeks ago with 68000 on it. I logged 48000 in the first 19 months from tracking it and being a service writer at a dealership before starting RCE. I also had about 12 suspensions on the car in that time with a total of 19-20 before selling it.

Its not the highway miles its the inner city potholes, bouncing off the curbs at the track, the "oops" coming over the hill too fast as you land at 55mph's........THATS what test a suspension.

The GW daily grind in NY will put the T2's thru the test, thats for sure. We spent alot of time on the proto's with abuse and curbing and some jumping. Jumping isnt super realistic as these are not rally shocks by a long shot..but made for track day and smooth tarmac.

There are others running the 350/300 who are impressed also.

Myles
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Old 02-25-2007, 11:14 AM   #14
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nice write up!
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Old 02-25-2007, 01:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhluhr View Post
This perception is almost universal among people who install new coilovers of any brand. It's not until you drive with them for a couple months and then ride in a stock car that you actually realize how much comfort you've sacrificed. The main loss of comfort comes from a much higher suspension resonance such that your body gets much higher G loading from given bumps and irregular road variations.
Gotcha.

I recently rode in a JDM Pinks+Ohlins setup on 13 clicks all around and was dragged back to reality about their ride quality as well. It was a definite improvement over stock in terms of bounciness, but it didn't cover up a lot of the bumps that are encountered up here in PA/NJ/NY.

Last edited by twiSTies; 02-25-2007 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 03-01-2007, 12:33 AM   #16
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good one
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Old 03-15-2007, 09:01 PM   #17
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Got some more impressions a few weeks later?
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Old 04-14-2007, 11:23 PM   #18
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Pictures are always nice too!
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Old 04-18-2007, 03:13 PM   #19
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Pictures Pictures
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Old 05-13-2007, 03:20 AM   #20
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scottvw13 - When you get a moment I'd love to get your impressions of these coilovers with a bit more time & miles on them. Have you AX'd them yet? Inquiring minds want to know!

Thanks!
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Old 05-16-2007, 12:31 PM   #21
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Here's a good review with more track impressions:

http://www.iwsti.com/forums/showthre...ghlight=tarmac



- Andrew
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