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Old 10-14-2009, 12:54 PM   #1
SubieEngineer
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Default STU Suspension Advice

So, I recently bought my STI Limited (IWSTI Journal) and I'm looking to upgrade the suspension to something better for AX (and maybe the track) and the daily grind. I have RCE front and rear sways that I (should) be installing this weekend.

I can't decided between some quality coilovers or sticking with the spring/strut combo. My CO options include the T0 and KW V1/V3 (if the price is right for the V3). I don't know enough about adjusting rebound and compression separately to justify the cost of the T2s, unfortunately.

If I stick with a spring/strut combo, I'm eying either the Ohlins FPS (used from a friend) or the Turn-in Concepts Not Banging Rear End. Along with these will go some RCE Blacks and probably Group N mounts front and rear or maybe front camber plates.

Mainly, I'm curious how, say the TiC rear solution compares to the Ohlins, and how the Ohlins compares to the T0s and KW V1s, both on the street and for AX.

Maybe I'm too vague and need to narrow it down... There's just a lot of quality suspension setups, all geared towards different price points for different levels of performance, and this is something I want to do right the first time. Any help is much appreciated!
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Old 10-14-2009, 06:26 PM   #2
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You do not need to spend a lot of money or over-complicate your setup to be fast. My co-driver in STU proved that theory running non-adjustable H&R coilovers at Nationals and taking third. His car also runs on Rotas.

It is our philosophy to work on the driver more than anything, then when you've got that figured out, start fine tuning your car.
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:59 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Evil STI View Post
It is our philosophy to work on the driver more than anything, then when you've got that figured out, start fine tuning your car.
QFT!
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:09 PM   #4
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Hey ...did you happen to read the sticky's on the top..

Check it out..

STU Setups
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Evil STI View Post
You do not need to spend a lot of money or over-complicate your setup to be fast. My co-driver in STU proved that theory running non-adjustable H&R coilovers at Nationals and taking third. His car also runs on Rotas.

It is our philosophy to work on the driver more than anything, then when you've got that figured out, start fine tuning your car.
I'm not going to lie, the nut behind the wheel of my Limited really needs to be tightened down... I've only got 3 AX's under my belt since the purchase, with #4 coming Sunday. Still experimenting with tire pressures and fighting the urge to act like the STI is FWD (autocrossed an automatic, yes automatic, Maxima for 2 years).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooby South View Post
Hey ...did you happen to read the sticky's on the top..

Check it out..

STU Setups
Duh... I've read bits and pieces of that thread, but somehow missed the setups on Page 1. I was hoping for something a bit more recent than 2006, though... Like within the past year, since that's when the TiC rear solution was released.

Honestly, I'm not trying to spend a lot of $$$ or make my setup insanely complicated. I'd be perfectly happy on stock suspension if I could make 3+ hour trips without feeling like I've been in a paint mixer. Literally bouncing around everywhere I drive is incredibly tiring, and was especially bad when I drove 3.5 hours to Atlanta over Labor Day Weekend.

Regardless, thanks for all the help! Clearly I've got much more reading to do...
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:02 PM   #6
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My car did really well on Ohlins FP struts, RCE yellow springs, Whiteline 27mmf and 24mmr bars. I went higher dollar on DA Konis, stiffer springs, and smaller bars the season after and I am not truly positive the car is any faster than it was.

However, no matter how you choose to limit lean, your front camber will be of critical importance. Nothing you do will make it rotate until the front tires can grip.
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:15 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Splash View Post
My car did really well on Ohlins FP struts, RCE yellow springs, Whiteline 27mmf and 24mmr bars. I went higher dollar on DA Konis, stiffer springs, and smaller bars the season after and I am not truly positive the car is any faster than it was.

However, no matter how you choose to limit lean, your front camber will be of critical importance. Nothing you do will make it rotate until the front tires can grip.
Oh, so true... After some reflection at work today, I may be leaning towards the BC BR series coilovers. I'll see how my car handles with front/rear RCE sways Sunday, as well as ride in a 06 STI with Ohlins and stock springs Saturday. I really don't want to go all-out, just something preferably adjustable that I can take on 6+ hour road trips. Regardless, an alignment will be the first investment next season.
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:26 PM   #8
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I would re-think your coilover selection
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:33 AM   #9
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I would re-think your coilover selection
Alright, any reason in particular? They seem to have good reviews... Seriously, though, I'm looking for the pros/cons of all kinds of setups.
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Old 10-16-2009, 02:07 AM   #10
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I would run more events in the car before you go spend big bucks.

Get some camber bolts if you're really dying to do something.
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Old 10-16-2009, 02:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Evil STI View Post
You do not need to spend a lot of money or over-complicate your setup to be fast. My co-driver in STU proved that theory running non-adjustable H&R coilovers at Nationals and taking third. His car also runs on Rotas.

It is our philosophy to work on the driver more than anything, then when you've got that figured out, start fine tuning your car.
Wow, I did not know that. Jake is a very gifted driver.
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:11 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesWilson2 View Post
QFT!
Super +1

...but hopefully common knowledge.

1) Driver - duh

2) Tires - 245mm width, 140 treadwear, pick your poison of the top summer tires available (no wheel limit)

3) Suspension -
any strut options as long as geometry isn't changed, tophats can be changed, perch (ex. GC coil kit), etc.

camber/caster plates can be used(any connection type)

swaybars can be modified in any ways

camber bolts allowed
4) Chassis -
suspension bushings can be replaced, including offset, as long as non-metal, same metal/non-metal content, i.e. GroupN will be your friend

engine, tranny, diff bushings can be replaced with equivalent metal/non-metal ratio, i.e. more GroupN

steering rack bushings can be replaced

strut tower bars can be added, only straight across on top and straight across on bottom, no 3 point, 4 point, partial cage, etc. connection


I highly suggest addressing as many bushings/mounts as you can(EVERYTHING!). It's surprising how much these parts snug down the car, add precision, immediacy, and feel. These parts are largely overlooked by a lot of people, but they are vastly (understatement) beneficial in how you and the car communicates with each other. I know the STI at least doesn't start off as bad as a base Impreza, but it's not perfect either. The upgrades are still very useful to really link you and the car together.

For actual spring/damper choice, well, that's up to you really. I don't know how much you really want to spend. I'll say you will be limited in spring rates being bound to the stock struts. Step to something adjustable, and you gain a lot of spring rate freedom and can really dial in the car towards what you want.

Be careful about sway bars. They can counter independence of the suspension. If your driving surface is rough and uneven, stay small on the sways, or you might start lifting tires off the ground on uneven surfaces. It's nicer to address roll through springs first, then sways to tweak balance and roll.



Stepping back a minute, I also do suggest that you spend a bit of time just driving the car. I say this because I see a LOT of new STI owners auto-xing and rally-xing their cars, and they are not fast. I drive a NA Forester, not stock of course, and I'll match or beat 90% of the STI folks on course. I should be getting smoked by every one of them with their car in stock form. My brother owns a Forester XT that he runs, and he is several seconds faster then me on a typical course just running a mild sport setup. Driving plays a HUGE roll, and while the STI makes driving fast relatively easy, it will not make you fast.

A good approach to this is to first make the STI fast through great driving. You should get to a point of being competent at running the car right at the edge through most of the course. Then start looking at the car and asking, what can be better? What can be different so that it is easier to drive at the limit(less fighting the car)? Start addressing the key points.

Just starting off with mods is a blind approach. Yes, you can build a fast car. Unfortunately, a fast car driven by a slow driver is still a slow car. You still have the requirement to bring the car up to the limit and hold it there through the course.

It doesn't matter so much what you start with. The biggest factor is knowing that it's always up to you to make the car go fast. Start with no mods and beat the tar out of the car. Toss on a pile of mods and drive the car like a granny(relative to car limit). It's your choice. Either way you will still approach the same end point: fast car + fast driver. Consider which route you want to go.

I'm just in auto-x for fun myself, but I understand the value of good driving. I started auto-xing with a very near stock setup. I tuned up my car over the last few years in ways that make the car drive more effortlessly to the point where I don't fight the car. That has been my eternal goal. I get up to the limit of the car, and I drive it, not fight it. The mods came as a reaction to problems I found though, not as a hope to be faster. I drive the snot out of the car. I say "the car is doing X wrong(working against me). What do I need to do to change it?" Upgrade or change some part to make the car function more towards my liking. Fast comes from being able to drive at the car's limit all the time. Faster comes from increasing the car's limit...and again being able to drive at the limit all the time. This must be understood very, very well. The car will only be as fast as you.

I have a crappy driving friend that I drag out to auto-x and rally-x events to help him get at least mildly competent at driving in adverse conditions(he had serious issues with car control on slippery roads(gravel, snow, ice). He's gotten a bit better now. He drives a pretty much stock Civic, basic car, just stickier tires to take some punishment. He'll drive his car "fast" during a test and tune event, getting better times throughout the day. I'll hop in his car and drive towards the limit of the car and run 10 seconds faster on a <60 second course. He's driving fast for himself, but he's not driving fast for the car. I'm green to his car and drive relatively fast for the car. This isn't a fair comparison. He's a really, really poor driver. But it does make the point that the driver will either be limited by himself or by the car. If you yourself in your STI is not completely limited by the car (running at its limit all the time, then you are the limiting factor. Upgrade once the car starts to become the limit because mods won't make you faster.

Last edited by Back Road Runner; 10-16-2009 at 03:32 AM.
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Old 10-16-2009, 08:48 AM   #13
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Everyone, I appreciate the advice. Seriously. But I think most of you are missing the main goal of my suspension upgrade: To get rid of the bouncy ride the OEM spring/strut combo causes, while at the same time hopefully choosing something that works well for autocross and maybe the track.

I know about tire selection, camber bolts, bushings, how much my driving sucks, etc... I also know of the benefits of getting to know the car more in stock form before I dump money into suspension so I can have a much better idea of judging how effective a part is on-course. I just can't stand the harness of the stock ride and want to remedy that. Now, whether I should buy RCE Blacks and call it a day until I go for quality COs, or do something else is entirely up in the air.
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:14 PM   #14
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I recently tackled this as well with my '06 STi. I was hoping to do a strut/spring set up but Ohlins were out of the question due to price. My application is about 9 auto-x events a year and some spirited driving in a non-daily driver car.

That being said, I read every single sticky about suspension and auto-x setups above and just absorbed as much info as possible. I ended up choosing BC Racing coilovers BR series. I was torn between BR and ER so I called and talked to Tristan at Circuit Motorsports (NASIOC Vendor). He actually talked me down from the ER to the BR due to my requirements. The set up is awesome, inexpensive and feels great. When softened up for street I'd say its about on par with the stock suspension stiffness minus the clucking. I'm quite happy with the set up and it sounds like our tastes were similar. I'm not saying go buy the BC's, just absorb as much info as possible and talk to someone qualified about your application and get some recommendations. Good luck and have fun.

Kevin
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:21 PM   #15
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You have 2 options to get rid of a bumpy ride. Believe it or not...alot of the bumpy (bobble head effect) of the stock STi suspension is in the seats...yes even your fancy Limited seats. Replacing your drivers seat with a different seat will make a world of difference in how the car feels going over bumps.

Your next option is to do suspension work. I cant tell you what shocks or springs to get cause your needs are the hardest to meet. (Smooth over a 6+hr drive yet performs on the track and auto-x) To me doesnt exist. But you can come pretty close with high quality shocks...read Ohlins, AST's, Koni, etc. Speaking from experience, if you decide to change your shocks, spending more money now will save you alot of headaches (and money spent) in the future. Hence my previous comment. The best way to find out what shocks feel best to you is to find someone who has ones that you are interested in and riding in their car.
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:57 PM   #16
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There is a modification to the stock seats to remove the bouncness of the seat. It uses large zip ties under the seat to limit the movement of the soft seat springs. The zip ties can be bought at home depot for about $10 and put on in less then 15 mins. Search in the interior mod section for the how to.

You might want to try this first as it is cheap and pretty effective at removing the bobble head effect before you mess with suspension.
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Old 10-16-2009, 01:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by boyracer_05 View Post
There is a modification to the stock seats to remove the bouncness of the seat. It uses large zip ties under the seat to limit the movement of the soft seat springs. The zip ties can be bought at home depot for about $10 and put on in less then 15 mins. Search in the interior mod section for the how to.

You might want to try this first as it is cheap and pretty effective at removing the bobble head effect before you mess with suspension.
Already did it... I did the "bend the springs away from the seat bottom" version.

Edit: Didn't bother with the zip ties, as I didn't see it doing much good after bending the springs.

Last edited by SubieEngineer; 10-16-2009 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 10-16-2009, 02:45 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by SubieEngineer View Post
But I think most of you are missing the main goal of my suspension upgrade: To get rid of the bouncy ride the OEM spring/strut combo causes
Improper damping?

The Prodrive STI springs were made to address this, a hair softer then stock plus progressive. It's for people who think the stock setup is too harsh. The downside is the springs are not ideal for sport use, a bit soft and non-linear.

The non-bangin' rear end from TiC will help a bit. It'll at least upgrade the rear to a D-Spec strut and allow for adjustment and spring freedom and take out the head bobble issue with correct springs and damper setting. The downside is the D-Spec strut is not available for the front end of the STIs (except 04 which still had the 5x100 bolt pattern). Well, there's Ohlins fixed perch struts for the front. Yep, but they're $2k themselves.

About the only thing is if you want to get competitve, you should be firmer then stock. Stock isn't terrible, but there's plenty of room to gain without actually ending up too stiff even on relatively poor surfaces. An obvious choice is TiC's SST coilovers. You'll be around 30% stiff and on a lot better, adjustable damper. The only problem is you're plopping down $2400, but you're plopping down +$2k in a very good way.

If you don't want to waive bye bye to $2500, then I don't think there's a good total package for your. If you want something cheap, the best option really does seem to be TiC's D-Spec clunk fix rear strut.
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Old 10-16-2009, 04:45 PM   #19
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I skimmed this thread, so maybe this was mentioned, but it didn't jump out at me.

A quite inexpensive alternative is to install Koni inserts:
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show....php?t=1276865


yes, for 05+ STi's, it is possible... I've done it (heck, the pics of my install are probably still in that thread)
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Old 10-16-2009, 05:11 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by bdi View Post
But you can come pretty close with high quality shocks...read Ohlins, AST's, Koni, etc. Speaking from experience, if you decide to change your shocks, spending more money now will save you alot of headaches (and money spent) in the future. Hence my previous comment. The best way to find out what shocks feel best to you is to find someone who has ones that you are interested in and riding in their car.
I agree, a good shock with subtle high-speed compression damping has a lot more to do with a good ride than spring rate.

I like my single adjustable Bilstein PSS9s, can drive 18 hrs round trip for an event no problem.

Rick
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Old 10-16-2009, 09:04 PM   #21
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I am a little biased since I am trying to sell you my Ohlins fixed perch struts but they seem to be perfect for what you are wanting. I can't comment on the BC coilovers since I haven't driven on them. But, the Ohlins are agressive enough for autox and the adjustability is great for the street. You will have a better idea of them tomorrow after you take my car for a spin. Be sure to drive the thing like you stole it. I sure do.

Good thing about them is they will be cheaper than the 2k price new. I can't remember how much the BC's were.

Or if you want you can drive my car once I get the Flag Series installed. You may then really like your stock struts.
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Old 10-17-2009, 04:31 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Splash View Post
My car did really well on Ohlins FP struts, RCE yellow springs, Whiteline 27mmf and 24mmr bars. I went higher dollar on DA Konis, stiffer springs, and smaller bars the season after and I am not truly positive the car is any faster than it was.

However, no matter how you choose to limit lean, your front camber will be of critical importance. Nothing you do will make it rotate until the front tires can grip.
I agree. Personally, I feel with the Ohlins and RCE springs, that'd be a worthwile combo, but of course it's on par price-wise with coilovers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Batty View Post
I recently tackled this as well with my '06 STi. I was hoping to do a strut/spring set up but Ohlins were out of the question due to price. My application is about 9 auto-x events a year and some spirited driving in a non-daily driver car.

That being said, I read every single sticky about suspension and auto-x setups above and just absorbed as much info as possible. I ended up choosing BC Racing coilovers BR series. I was torn between BR and ER so I called and talked to Tristan at Circuit Motorsports (NASIOC Vendor). He actually talked me down from the ER to the BR due to my requirements. The set up is awesome, inexpensive and feels great. When softened up for street I'd say its about on par with the stock suspension stiffness minus the clucking. I'm quite happy with the set up and it sounds like our tastes were similar. I'm not saying go buy the BC's, just absorb as much info as possible and talk to someone qualified about your application and get some recommendations. Good luck and have fun.

Kevin
Funny you should mention the BCs! I actually sent them an e-mail a few days ago about the BR series versus RM (inverted) series, and they said the RM is known to blow quite easily if daily driven. The representative recommended the BC series with the rear extendors, and even gave me a price quote.

Mainly, I'm trying to do exactly what you did... Read and absorb as much suspension info as possible to make the most informed decision you can. It's going to be a challenge, and clearly this is something I'm not going to just jump into, whether I spend $250 or $2500. But, I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying your BCs! How do you like the ride compared to stock and over smooth and uneven roads?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdi View Post
You have 2 options to get rid of a bumpy ride. Believe it or not...alot of the bumpy (bobble head effect) of the stock STi suspension is in the seats...yes even your fancy Limited seats. Replacing your drivers seat with a different seat will make a world of difference in how the car feels going over bumps.

Your next option is to do suspension work. I cant tell you what shocks or springs to get cause your needs are the hardest to meet. (Smooth over a 6+hr drive yet performs on the track and auto-x) To me doesnt exist. But you can come pretty close with high quality shocks...read Ohlins, AST's, Koni, etc. Speaking from experience, if you decide to change your shocks, spending more money now will save you alot of headaches (and money spent) in the future. Hence my previous comment. The best way to find out what shocks feel best to you is to find someone who has ones that you are interested in and riding in their car.
If I didn't have heated seats, I probably would've already repalced at least the driver's seat to see how that feels. But, as I mentioned earlier, I've already adjusted the seat springs for the bottom cushion and that helped some, but no as much as I would've like (after having ridden that way for a few weeks).

As for quality suspension, I don't expect a buttery smooth ride that is "just right" everywhere on the road and can tear up the corners/turns at a track/AX, just something firm that can hug the road. I had the chance to drive a STI on Ohlins this morning and those gave me a good idea of what they can do, at least on various road surfaces (no attacking the corners).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Back Road Runner View Post
Improper damping?

The Prodrive STI springs were made to address this, a hair softer then stock plus progressive. It's for people who think the stock setup is too harsh. The downside is the springs are not ideal for sport use, a bit soft and non-linear.

The non-bangin' rear end from TiC will help a bit. It'll at least upgrade the rear to a D-Spec strut and allow for adjustment and spring freedom and take out the head bobble issue with correct springs and damper setting. The downside is the D-Spec strut is not available for the front end of the STIs (except 04 which still had the 5x100 bolt pattern). Well, there's Ohlins fixed perch struts for the front. Yep, but they're $2k themselves.

About the only thing is if you want to get competitve, you should be firmer then stock. Stock isn't terrible, but there's plenty of room to gain without actually ending up too stiff even on relatively poor surfaces. An obvious choice is TiC's SST coilovers. You'll be around 30% stiff and on a lot better, adjustable damper. The only problem is you're plopping down $2400, but you're plopping down +$2k in a very good way.

If you don't want to waive bye bye to $2500, then I don't think there's a good total package for your. If you want something cheap, the best option really does seem to be TiC's D-Spec clunk fix rear strut.
Another opinion I agree with... See, it's not the firmness of the stock suspension, but the way it makes you bounce over everything. I like firm, and my last car was a 2000 Maxima with Tokico Illuminas and Eibach springs. It was firm everywhere with the Illuminas on 3/5 with 5 being the stiffest setting. I drove that car everywhere, Virginia, Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, DC (Dear God, why!?!?!?), Maryland... The only issues I had was the occassional road hazard, and of course we all know DC roads...

My only issue with the TiC solution is that *knock on wood* my rear sturts aren't making any noise. But this would cure what I believe is the bad valving on the factory rear struts at least...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesohoh7 View Post
I skimmed this thread, so maybe this was mentioned, but it didn't jump out at me.

A quite inexpensive alternative is to install Koni inserts:
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show....php?t=1276865


yes, for 05+ STi's, it is possible... I've done it (heck, the pics of my install are probably still in that thread)
I'll have to look into that, thanks! Not a fan of hacking up struts, but it's good to know other options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoracer View Post
I agree, a good shock with subtle high-speed compression damping has a lot more to do with a good ride than spring rate.

I like my single adjustable Bilstein PSS9s, can drive 18 hrs round trip for an event no problem.

Rick
Alright! A vote for the PSS9s! I was hoping somebody would chime in with their experience with those. I've read they're very comfortable for street use and can perform well on the course, comparable to T0s, except you get height AND damping adjustability. I'm a fan of coilovers with those options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbwrx View Post
I am a little biased since I am trying to sell you my Ohlins fixed perch struts but they seem to be perfect for what you are wanting. I can't comment on the BC coilovers since I haven't driven on them. But, the Ohlins are agressive enough for autox and the adjustability is great for the street. You will have a better idea of them tomorrow after you take my car for a spin. Be sure to drive the thing like you stole it. I sure do.

Good thing about them is they will be cheaper than the 2k price new. I can't remember how much the BC's were.

Or if you want you can drive my car once I get the Flag Series installed. You may then really like your stock struts.
And finally, the Ohlins test drive... Man, the Ohlins felt good. Just like my Maxima... Just as firm, and nicely controlled over road imperfections. No bounce over the "hills" on a few roads I take to work daily, either. I can only image what they'd feel like paired with non-OEM springs... It's tempting, I must say! And had them nearly at full stiff... They must be much more compliant when set to less stiff.

The BCs are around $1000, depending on the vendor and whether or not you pick up the rear adjustment extenders.

I do want a ride when you get the Flags installed. I want to know what it feels like riding/driving on baller coilovers. And you're going to love Stage 2... If you want a preview, give me a shout! I'll return the favor.
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Old 10-18-2009, 08:54 PM   #23
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Old 10-18-2009, 11:21 PM   #24
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Not sure about head bobbling. It might be the RE070 tires, if you're still on those rocks. Otherwise, the seat thing is worth looking into.

For STU performance camber plates will save you $hundreds$ in tire money and give you car the front traction needed for autox.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boyracer_05 View Post
There is a modification to the stock seats to remove the bouncness of the seat. It uses large zip ties under the seat to limit the movement of the soft seat springs. The zip ties can be bought at home depot for about $10 and put on in less then 15 mins. Search in the interior mod section for the how to.

You might want to try this first as it is cheap and pretty effective at removing the bobble head effect before you mess with suspension.
Link please. I'm still on stockers and think they are horrible. I keep my ass clamped down with a CG Lock every time I drive. Otherwise I come out of my seat over the NYC bumps.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:57 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S1MPSONS View Post
Not sure about head bobbling. It might be the RE070 tires, if you're still on those rocks. Otherwise, the seat thing is worth looking into.

For STU performance camber plates will save you $hundreds$ in tire money and give you car the front traction needed for autox.



Link please. I'm still on stockers and think they are horrible. I keep my ass clamped down with a CG Lock every time I drive. Otherwise I come out of my seat over the NYC bumps.
My car was a CPO vehicle, so they installed new General Exclaim UHPs on it right before I bought it. Not the greatest tire (had them on my last car), but they are decent for budget UHPs.

Here's some how-to's off IWSTI and here on NASIOC:

Foam with Zip-Ties
Bending Springs with Foam

I'm going to look at the foam and zipties this week...
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