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Old 12-16-2003, 09:06 PM   #1
TheMirror
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Default STi RA springs and Koni inserts installed. Impressions....

SEE BOTTOM OF PAGE FOR UPDATE.
-M


I finally got around to putting this stuff in to my 2003 WRX sedan. The springs are the STi RA, 217/195 rates. The Konis are the single adjustable (rebound) type.

Grip, tossability, precision, transitional response, brake dive, etc. are all greatly improved. I'm running 225/45/17 S-03s on 17X7.5 Enkei RPF-1s. The rear shocks are set at 1/2 turn from full soft, as are the fronts. I then set the fronts to 1/2 turn from full hard, and it really sharpened up the front end on my local tight mountain road. Clearly near full hard will be the choice for autocross, I need to try adjusting the rears in a few days.

Ride is actually improved at low speeds (under 25mph). Not as jiggily, more compliant.
At freeway speeds though, its a fair bit stiffer. Heaves or even just bumps in the pavement have the car doing a fairly pronounced and uncomfortable jounce. This is with the shocks set 1/2 turn from full soft. This is a disappointment. I drive this car a lot, and the roads in the Bay Area, CA suck. I may not be able to live with it.

Car sure handles better though.

-Mirror
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Last edited by TheMirror; 12-18-2003 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 12-16-2003, 09:11 PM   #2
well_armed
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If it is bounciness and not harshness you complain of...

You might want to experiement with some different spring combinations...
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Old 12-16-2003, 09:42 PM   #3
TheMirror
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Yeah, its bounce, not harshness, and definitely spring related. Might end up with Prodrives. We'll see.
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Old 12-16-2003, 09:49 PM   #4
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Is it just a single bounce or a serious of bounces from a single bump in the road? Have you seen if adjusting the rebound has done anything to help it?
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Old 12-16-2003, 09:58 PM   #5
TheMirror
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Single bounce. Adjusting the rebound to firmer makes it worse.

Its just a really firm ride, even with the shocks near full soft.
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Old 12-17-2003, 07:50 AM   #6
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If 217/195 with koni really is to stiff for you, may I suggest shopping HERE .



Phil =)
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Old 12-17-2003, 08:29 AM   #7
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217/195 is too stiff for you


All ball busting aside, you have about the best riding combo you are gonna get short of MAYBE a progressive spring like Eibachs.
Prodrives are linear rate, and almost exactly the same weight as the RA springs you already have. They arent going to help. I have never heard of anyone call a combo like yours "bouncey"
If the combo you already have is too much, try the eibachs, if that isnt soft enought, just go back to stock and do some sway bars or something, run stock springs with the Konis and 22mm sway bars front and rear.
I would hate to see how much you would whine on a real suspension (450lb sprung coilovers) (just kidding with you, but serisously, sell the RA's and try Eibachs)
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Old 12-17-2003, 08:34 AM   #8
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I think you're bouncing out of your seat because the car isn't rebounding up as fast. There is little damping in the seatfoam....

Strange I know....but true.

Jay Storm
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Old 12-17-2003, 10:00 AM   #9
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I wonder whether it is the Konis that may have more rebound than you want. Not being familiar with those specific units but having run Konis on many other cars this was a characteristic I never liked about Konis - they feel very different in that way as for instance compared to Bilsteins that tend to be jiggly at slow speed but are much smoother over freeway cracks and bad roads in general. I wonder how that spring combination would feel with the STI/RA struts? Might be worth asking others on the board who run that combination if they have the same problem.
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Old 12-17-2003, 11:02 AM   #10
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I'll clarify here. The ride is NOT "bouncey". It doesn't go up and down and oscillate wildly. Its well damped. Its just that the springs are stiff and aren't terribly compliant over even small size irregularities on the freeway.

For example, take a bump on a freeway due to uneven ground underneath the pavement. The car will approach the bump, and go over it. The suspension compresses as it hits the bump, then extends once it passes over the bump. Once over the bump, the weight of the car falls back onto the suspension and compresses it again. Oof! THAT is where the low compliance of this setup is getting me. Its on the compression back down off of bumps.

The wrench in the mix here is that I have a bad back and this is very uncomfortable because of it.

That being said, I've owned and driven a lot high performance cars with aftermarket or stout stock suspensions. My WRX at this point stands out as the one with the worst ride.

I am seriously considering the Eibachs, simply because if this setup bothers me, I'd hate to swap it out for Prodrives and only have it be somewhat better. Hmmm.......
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Old 12-17-2003, 11:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Swano
If 217/195 with koni really is to stiff for you, may I suggest shopping HERE .



Phil =)

Heh heh, I got a good laugh out of that!
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Old 12-17-2003, 12:28 PM   #12
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I think it is the Koni's vs the springs that cause your harsh freeway ride.
I run Prodrive's at 215/195 with AGX struts. I have the opposite ride quality. The low speed bumps around town are quite harsh, while the highway ride is very smooth. It likely has to do with strut valving and how they react at different velocities.
If you have not swapped the top mounts to something harder, you may find that they actually help. They take the weak link out and allow the strut to do more work in controlling suspension movement.
I would rather have your ride quality as most of my driving is low speed.
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Old 12-17-2003, 01:11 PM   #13
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Heh, that is interesting. I actually avoided the AGX for the very reason you describe, low speed ride quality. The low to medium speed ride quality of my setup is actually quite good.

One thing I will explore before changing springs is seeing how putting my winter set of wheels/tires on the car affects it. I've never come across a car which changes ride quality as much as this one simply by using a different wheel/tire combo. Putting on these 225-45-17 S-03s DRAMATICALLY stiffened up the ride vis a vis my winter setup: 16X7 Racelines with BFG all season hipo radials.

To be continued......
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Old 12-17-2003, 01:27 PM   #14
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Let me take a stab.

I'm guessing that your springs are not progressive. Progressive springs absorb small bumps better but sacrifice your performance some. Initial turn in is a little softer but it stiffens up pretty fast and will still reduce body roll (compared to stock).

Also, the shocks may not be valved soft enough in compression damping for your liking. The compression damping acts like springs. Stiffer comp. damping will act like stiffer springs. You can have those shocks revalved softer.
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Old 12-17-2003, 01:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheMirror
I'll clarify here. The ride is NOT "bouncey". It doesn't go up and down and oscillate wildly. Its well damped. Its just that the springs are stiff and aren't terribly compliant over even small size irregularities on the freeway.

For example, take a bump on a freeway due to uneven ground underneath the pavement. The car will approach the bump, and go over it. The suspension compresses as it hits the bump, then extends once it passes over the bump. Once over the bump, the weight of the car falls back onto the suspension and compresses it again. Oof! THAT is where the low compliance of this setup is getting me. Its on the compression back down off of bumps.
Hmmm. I have the same springs, only with the STi V7 struts sold by Subaru, and those are not at all descriptive of my ride characteristics. What I get when I hit a bump is that the suspension compresses and deals with the bump, then returns to normal. No extra "oof," no nothing. Interesting.

Kevin
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Old 12-17-2003, 02:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheMirror
I'll clarify here. The ride is NOT "bouncey". It doesn't go up and down and oscillate wildly. Its well damped. Its just that the springs are stiff and aren't terribly compliant over even small size irregularities on the freeway.
For example, take a bump on a freeway due to uneven ground underneath the pavement. The car will approach the bump, and go over it. The suspension compresses as it hits the bump, then extends once it passes over the bump. Once over the bump, the weight of the car falls back onto the suspension and compresses it again. Oof! THAT is where the low compliance of this setup is getting me. Its on the compression back down off of bumps.
Just to clarify my point about Konis in general and I don't know if this is the case for your set-up or not but think about it. My experience with Konis - as compared to Bilsteins that have more compression damping that makes them jiggly - that they make ride quality suffer in the way you describe and this appears to be related to excessive rebound dampening as compared to excessive compression dampening. If anything with repeated road irregularities with Konis the car never quite returns to its initial position, effectively shortening the spring each time it hits a bump. Bilstein hi-pressure gas shocks as compared to the usually low pressure Konis will actually make the car rise.
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Old 12-17-2003, 04:24 PM   #17
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Thanks for all the input gang. Its really not a terrible thing, just tiring in certain situations.

I'm going to put on the winter set and see what happens. I'll drag this thread out of the back pages when that happens.

-Mirror
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Old 12-18-2003, 10:20 PM   #18
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UPDATE:

This whole spring/shock issue was really bugging me, so I took the car out for an extended drive yesterday and last night along local freeways. I focused on dissecting each bump, and what the suspension was doing on compression, extension, then compression again. I just couldn't figure out why it felt so nasty.

I started to think of it logically. For the car to ride this crappy on what is only a medium aggressive setup, there has to be a mismatch between springs and shocks. Firming up the rebound on the shocks only makes things worse. Therefore, is it a mismatch between spring rates and compression valving?

I thought about that and took some bumps. Even smallish bumps were annoying. As I analyzed bump after bump, I began to realize that the shocks always seemed a click or two behind the springs. They didn't seem to do their part of the job damping the bumps. It felt like the springs went up, came back down and bounced, without the shocks damping that motion. I remembered what gtguy said in the thread, about him having no such ride problems with the same springs and STi struts.

I came to the conclusion: These springs have rates too stiff for the Koni compression valving settings.


Here's what happened next:

I woke up this morning and beelined straight for Auto Innovations in Milpitas.

STi RA springs out.

Prodrive Springs in.



Problems solved.

NOW I have the setup I was looking for. Doing the good 'ol "press the springs against the garage floor with your hands" test, I confirmed that the Prodrives are indeed softer than the STi RAs, especially in the front. Prodrive doesn't give out rates, but I'll guess the front rates are in the low to mid 190s. Hard to tell with the rears, but they felt marginally softer than the RAs.

It took me all of 200 yards down the road to realise that this was the better combo. On the crucial freeway test, the small to medium bumps that had so irritated me before were now beautifully absorbed. No jounce, no gut compressing harshness. The Konis match the softer Prodrive rates so much better its hard to describe. Only a handful of the big bumps now give me a good oof. This is with the shocks set at full soft all around, the same as they had been on my prievious day and night's science experiment ride. I can't express how delighted (and relieved!) I am.

The penalties of this swap seem relatively small. The front is dropped a significant amount more, probably close to an inch. Its definitely as far down as I would want to go. Brake dive doesn't seem to be much increased, transitionals seem a touch less sharp. That's OK with me. I'll make up for that playing with the rebound settings and sway bars.

With the nose that much lower, the front roll center is lower too. A double edged sword here: this might be somewhat preferable for autocross, where loading the fronts on turn in and rotating the rear are mightily important. With high speed track stuff, it will probably be a disadvantage with the bigger difference in roll center points. The STi RA springs felt beautifully balanced in the medium to high speed stuff on the road. I will probably be giving some of that up with the Prodrives. Tomorrow I firm up the shocks and go canyon running again, so I'll report back with those impressions.

On a final note, the STi RA and Koni setup has been successful for other owners. For some reason, whatever that may be, it just didn't work on my particular car. Hmmm......

I like my car again. Joy.

-Mirror
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Old 12-18-2003, 11:06 PM   #19
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Thats interesting considering that people running 280 lb/in or higher ground controls haven't complained about the Konis being too soft on compression.
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Old 12-19-2003, 12:12 AM   #20
TheMirror
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Lightbulb

Hey, could be wrong. Still waiting to apply to Penske's racing shock school. If someone can tell me why I got the results I did better than I postulated, believe me I'm ALL ears.
Just armchair science from a consumer I suppose. Ideas? Testimony? Life's all about learning.
-Mirror
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Old 12-19-2003, 09:42 AM   #21
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Hey mirror- thanks for the wirtupe, found it interesting (somewhat surprised) the ra springs are in your mind stiffer than the prodrives.

I have the prodrives and konis, i think its a great combo. Normal day to day driving I have them set at 50percent firm.
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Old 12-19-2003, 10:42 AM   #22
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Its a very great combo. I'm going to do my first canyon hacking on them in a couple of hours. Time to play with rebound!
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Old 12-19-2003, 10:45 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by driggity
Thats interesting considering that people running 280 lb/in or higher ground controls haven't complained about the Konis being too soft on compression.
I've been turning this over in the old noggin. I did a search and found a few folks running this combo. One admitted cranking the rebound all the way up so it would "work with the springs properly" which makes me wonder if its the relationship of compression AND rebound per a given spring rate, vs. just compression vs. spring rate.

Anyway, I went to the best source I know and posted the question on Cobb's website for input. Cobb has Konis custom valved for various applications, so if anyone will know, its them!
Stay tuned.....
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Old 12-19-2003, 07:17 PM   #24
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Default And Josh's reply...

It is not an apples to apples comparison. Our inserts are done with larger valves so the damping is controlled a bit better. The Koni offering is likely set-up for softer springs, but I do not know since we have not tried the off the shelf Koni insert. We do tend to be a bit on the conservative side with spring rates, so I would not be surprised if Koni favors that as well.

--------------------
Cheers,
Josh
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Old 12-19-2003, 10:00 PM   #25
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Straight from the source. Thanks Josh!
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