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Old 11-02-2010, 06:30 PM   #1
Scooby921
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Default Suspension Techniques - Speedtech Coilover Review

Suspension Techniques - Speedtech Coilover Review
Made possible by Circuit Motorsports

Disclaimer:
This review is for the ST Speedtech coilover for a Mazda Miata. Coilover build/quality is going to be the same across their line-up, but the spring rates are different.

Background:

Suspension Techniques is based in California. They started in 1979, were purchased by Belltech in 1995, and then purchased by KW in 2005. Customer service is shared with KW and in my test experience they were quite friendly and helpful! It appears to me that KW is using ST as a means to make their products a little more affordable.

The Goods:

The Speedtech coilovers are based off of the KW variant 1. Visually it’s the same damper with a galvanized steel body instead of KW’s “INOX” stainless steel. From the looks of it I’d say it’s some kind of zinc phosphate coating. I’ve used similar stuff at work. It’s not going to be rust free forever, but it’s going to provide ample corrosion resistance for most people. The dampers provide a fixed damping curve. There is no knob to play with, just like the v1. For some people this is a hindrance. Damping adjustments do allow you to fine-tune a setup a little bit as needed. For me, these are great. I’ve done adjustable struts, cheap coilovers, and Koni DA’s on my WRX. I’ve had my fill of tuning. I don’t deny that a double adjustable damper is better for performance, but for a car I just want to drive and enjoy these seem to be perfect. They are also single height adjustable, meaning when you lower the car you lose compression travel. This isn’t new…it’s the same thing KW does with all their coilovers. It’s the same thing you can see with Bilstein, AST, RCE, TiC, and Ohlins. Assuming you run a reasonable ride height its not an issue.



These things arrived boxed up better than any car part I’ve ever received. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Just look at all the straps, tape, and internal packaging they use to insure these things arrive undamaged. ST’s website seems to show the coilover kits having yellow springs. Mine came with green springs. It doesn’t affect the spring rate any, but I find that odd. Oh well…I kinda like the green better anyway.





Being steel the coilovers are not light. However, they are still moderately smaller than the stock shocks and the springs are certainly smaller/lighter than stock, so there is some weight-savings to be had. They use a two spring setup on the Miata. There is a main and a tender. The rates are clearly labeled on the springs so you can verify what you get. I believe the ST Speedtech for the Impreza uses a tender and main in the front and has the same progressive rear spring that KW puts on the variant 1. It’s not ideal for performance, but these aren’t an all-out performance damper. These are geared toward daily comfort with an increase in sport performance.

Beyond the springs there are some nice MCU (urethane) bump stops. For the Miata they are 50mm in length. I don’t know if that’s standard for all applications. There is a little plastic ring/washer under the bump stop. This little washer has slots and is used to vent air out from under the bump stop when compressed so it won’t create pressure above and against the upper seals on the damper. The upper and lower spring perches are some form of polymer material. I would guess they are a glass filled nylon simply because it’s relatively strong and cheap to produce. The lower spring perch/adjustment collar has an over-molded steel insert that makes up the threads. Have no fear that the force of the spring under compression might snap the lower perch. I believe the plastic used to provide a non-metallic surface for the springs to ride on and not make noise. The lower spring perch/collar has a set screw that is used to prevent rotation after you set the height. You also receive a spanner wrench for adjusting the height.

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Last edited by Scooby921; 11-29-2010 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:30 PM   #2
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The Review:

I have had these on the car since October 21st. I haven’t had a lot of time to put miles on them and beat them up though. The weather hasn’t been friendly, and being late in the year track days and autocrosses are done until March/April. I won’t get a chance to review any serious amount of performance handling with these until then. Keep your eye open for updates if you are considering buying a set of these. I intend to continue adding to the review every chance I get.

As far as on-road comfort is concerned, I’m very happy with the dampers. Stock spring rates on the Miata are 165lb/in front and 94lb/in rear. These coilovers ship with 391lb/in front and 335lb/in rear spring rates (from what I've found the WRX coilover kit ships with a 335lb/in front main spring and a progressive rear spring...just like the v1). For most of the driving conditions I’ve put them through thus far they have been as comfortable as or better than the stock shocks and springs. With any increase in spring stiffness you are going to feel a bit more road inputs in the cabin. As I expected the rough roads cause a few more rattles and you can feel the spring stiffness, but it doesn’t act like a pogo stick like most of the cheap/budget brand coilovers seem to do. Driving around the normal roads or cruising down the expressway are quite pleasant. Unless you hit a pothole or some obnoxious bump you don’t notice the stiffness. My girlfriend hated the STi struts and RCE blacks I had on the WRX for awhile. She doesn’t mind these at all and the spring rates are higher. Its amazing what a quality damper can do for a car .

335lb/in on the front of an Impreza is a pretty good option IMO. Its around double the stock spring stiffness, but still softer than most of the budget-priced coilovers out there. People will argue about the usefulness of the progressive rear spring. It serves in purpose on a daily driver. If you were going to do more auto-x or track days you might want to swap it out for a stiffer, linear spring.

In terms of daily driver performance, turn in response is quicker and sharper than the stock suspension. Due to some personal concerns with the spring rates (noted at the end of this review) I haven’t pushed the car really hard around fast corners and highway interchanges. I’ve pitched it around some 90* corners around town at 25-30mph and was pleased with the result. I intend to fix my spring issue over the winter and get the car on an autocross course and out to a few track days next spring so I can properly review high speed handling as well as quick transition response. At this point I'm very satisfied with the improvement in handling for the change in ride quality. I honestly can't wait for winter to blow through so I can get the car back on the road and see what kind of trouble I can get into with these things.


My Opinion:
For the money I have not experienced a better coilover, and my list is rather long. In the $1000-1200 price range you have a lot of the Asian manufactured brands offering aluminum bodies, camber plates, and 30000-way adjustable damping. The Speedtechs are going to provide better ride quality, better longevity, and better overall handling over a wide variety of surfaces. You don’t get damping adjustment, but these are good enough not to need it. You don’t get camber plates, but there are other ways of adding negative camber and this way you don’t have to deal with a pillowball mount wearing out. If you’re looking for the best drop-in coilover for the money this is what you buy.



Many thanks the people at Circuit Motorsports. They've kinda been flying under my radar for suspension vendors on NASIOC and I really don't know how. With a product lineup that includes top-notch coilovers like KW and TiC I'm embarrassed I hadn't even talked with them before. They had the product I was looking for, gave me a great deal, and the customer service was top notch. If any of you are contemplating these I recommend you shoot them a PM or look up the group buy thread I saw they had started in the classifieds.



**My spring issue**
I have a 1st gen “NA” Miata. I ordered the coilovers for the 2nd gen “NB” Miata. I get more suspension travel out of the swap, but the rear spring rate is too stiff for my car and screws up the front roll couple. It promotes oversteer which isn’t safe. I need to get a softer rear spring to fix this before I am comfortable taking the car to the track or attempting to take a high-speed turn at higher than normal speeds.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:31 PM   #3
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Auto-x Review:

Wow! I only made it to 3 autocrosses with the Miata on these coilovers. They and the car were fantastic. I must admit some of the fun was simply in the Miata being a Miata and having no weight to throw around, but the suspension did wonders. The main lot we use in the Detroit region is not smooth by any stretch of the imagination and the softer valving of these coilovers helped soak up the bumps very well. I was running the car in STS against some better prepared vehicles and managed to win one event and place third in another. My only "mod" was the suspension. I was running on 185/60R14 all-season tires and beating cars with 15" and 16" 225 width summers. I will take credit for some amount of driver skill , but a lot was in the suspension and the ability to hold through a bumpy corner instead of hopping and bouncing because the springs or damping were too stiff. For comparison sake, before replacing the suspension and adding a reasonable alignment I was 6 seconds behind 1st place in the first event I ran. Picking up 5-6 seconds off a suspension and alignment change is HUGE. I only picked up 2 seconds when I added the Koni DA's and Ground Control sleeves to my WRX when I ran it in STX. That was enough to be competitive at the top, but still not as significant a change.

I think in the Miata the front to rear balance was still a bit too rear-biased as the car would very easily and very often get loose in the rear. Even after softening the rear spring rates, adding a lot of rear negative camber, and a good deal of toe in it was still "free". I think wider and stickier tires would have helped mask the behavior, but the tendency would still be there when pushed to the new limit. In any case, I was thrilled to have owned these coilovers. Absolutely amazing what they can do for just over $1000. Leaps and bounds better than another brand of coilover I have used which retailed for $1200. I won't put a name on them, but they were valved rather stiff and shipped with 8k/6k front/rear spring rates just like every other Japanese brand product.

Last edited by Scooby921; 06-25-2013 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:31 PM   #4
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Never made it to the track with this setup. Miata needed a roll bar, padding, and racing seat for me to fit properly with a helmet on and be legal for a track day. More money than I wanted to put into the car.

Last edited by Scooby921; 06-25-2013 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:35 PM   #5
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Interesting, very interesting.
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:41 PM   #6
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Tristan at Circuit is good stuff. Great guy to work with.
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Old 11-03-2010, 12:10 AM   #7
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Brad thanks for the review, as always lengthy and informative!

Clint- Thanks man!
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Old 11-10-2010, 04:34 PM   #8
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Very interesting, good lookin stuff.
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Old 11-10-2010, 04:49 PM   #9
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Is that a tender or helper spring? if its a tender, I'm curious what rate it is.
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Old 11-10-2010, 05:26 PM   #10
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Nice to read that Suspension Technics are still around. I bought my '71 BMW 2002 because when I looked underneath that it had their bars, springs, and Bilstein Sport struts/shocks. If you ran over a cigarette butt you could tell if it was filtered, or not.
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:29 PM   #11
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Thesea are all over the bmw boards lately. People seem to be pretty happy with them.

Tony
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:41 PM   #12
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so realistically that isnt the intention of these coils, but how low do these go before they start getting all wonky on you?
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:22 AM   #13
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i may try and find a set of these for the e30 track car i building, but do they come with dust boots or did you have to reuse the stock ones?
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Old 11-11-2010, 01:26 AM   #14
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I'll be very interested for someone who knows what they're doing to get a set of these on an Impreza.
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:18 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnie View Post
Is that a tender or helper spring? if its a tender, I'm curious what rate it is.
Its stiffer than a helper, but not really stiff enough to be a true tender. The part number on them is 20-60-80 which I believe is 2kg/mm, 60mm ID, 80mm length. I looked at the KW product spec...same tender/helper is used on the WRX version of the Speedtech/V1 (front only as the rear is progressive).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bio248 View Post
so realistically that isnt the intention of these coils, but how low do these go before they start getting all wonky on you?
Product spec says they'll lower as much as 2". I'm not sure how much travel that leaves in the damper before you contact the bump stops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdmboy View Post
i may try and find a set of these for the e30 track car i building, but do they come with dust boots or did you have to reuse the stock ones?
They do not come with dust boots and the stock boots are going to be too large in diameter. You would need to source a new, smaller diameter boot if you want/need one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by williaty View Post
I'll be very interested for someone who knows what they're doing to get a set of these on an Impreza.
Ask Myles if he's put a set of KW v1's on an Impreza before? I helped a friend put a set of v1's on his WRX wagon a couple years ago. I won't use that as a comparative example though. The ride quality was decent, but it would have been better he wasn't part of the stretched tire, aggressive fit, slam it to the ground crowd.
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Old 11-11-2010, 05:46 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by williaty View Post
I'll be very interested for someone who knows what they're doing to get a set of these on an Impreza.
They are essentially a KW V1 with a galvanized steel body as the main difference. All KW internals and workings. So if you have read a review on a set of KW V1s or rode in one, you'll have the same results

And just so everyone knows, we can get these for ANY car, not just Subarus.
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Circuit Motorsports View Post
They are essentially a KW V1 with a galvanized steel body as the main difference. All KW internals and workings. So if you have read a review on a set of KW V1s or rode in one, you'll have the same results

And just so everyone knows, we can get these for ANY car, not just Subarus.
There's a big potential difference between "essentially" and "didn't change the valve stack at all".
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:53 PM   #18
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Thanks for the review. I've always been leary of cheap, around $1k priced coilovers. But it sounds like these might finally be a solid option?
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:49 AM   #19
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i'd consider selling my ohlins for a set of these but there's no 05-07 sti fitment...
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Old 11-12-2010, 12:17 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by williaty View Post
There's a big potential difference between "essentially" and "didn't change the valve stack at all".
i have been researching these for awhile. they are the SAME. contact KW and find out for your self.
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:25 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhat View Post
i'd consider selling my ohlins for a set of these but there's no 05-07 sti fitment...
Boooo!
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Old 11-12-2010, 03:34 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by williaty View Post
There's a big potential difference between "essentially" and "didn't change the valve stack at all".

OK I'll make it clear for you. They are THE SAME as a KW V1, with the exception of the galvanized steel body. That's it. KW makes these for ST, it is basically a rebadge.

And you are all correct, ONLY 02-07 WRX fitment at this time. I talked to KW out at SEMA and they said they will be looking at expanding the ST line in the future, but they want to move some current ST products first and see how they sell.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:36 PM   #23
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some good info here, im looking for a coilover upgrade soon, so interested in this review.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:12 AM   #24
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Let me know when they offer 08 STI fitment...
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:04 PM   #25
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KW said they may be doing other Subaru applications, but they weren't sure on what yet. We'll keep you guys posted
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