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Discussion Starter #1
Title says it all! I'm looking for the best options in coilovers for autocross racing. I'm in modified class, so no worries about staying with stock stuff. Right height adjustability is a must-have. I would also like to find a constant spring diameter (because they're more easily changed, and won't interfere with high offset wheels/tires). I've been poking around on Good-Win-Racing.com and elsewhere, and the Cusco and Bilstein seem to be good choices. Any other serious autocrossrs out there? What are you running?
 

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Travis, I think these cars are still so new, and suspension mods are so subjective that it's going to hard to list a definitive "best" in this case.

Greg
 

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Hmm, nobody fast on Bilstein that I can think of (unless we are talking custom valved set by Guy Ankeny or one of the other custom builders). We tested some of the Cusco choices, Steve Lepper has done some nice development work on their setup in STR trim. We will be testing latest Bilstein choice on our non-racing Miata RF because the spring rates suggest not intended for serious autocross competition.

Look at our Ohlins...at THIS LINK.
Also consider XIDA from our race buddies at 949 Racing. We sell their famous 6UL race wheels and I have been racing with these guys for decades, it's always really close on results (down to the driver).
Another choice fast guys are using, JRZ from Karcepts, we carry their racing sways setup which many of the fastest guys use (because one of the few setups where you can realistically change front and rear sway bar settings on the fly in the few minutes BETWEEN your competition runs).

Beyond these choices you are looking at Penske, but I could buy another used Miata for the money!
 

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I'm running Cusco Zero 3R on road courses, and it's working out quite well. However, I'm not sure how they would do in AutoX. I'd suspect they'd be good there too with the right adjustments of course.

Those Ohlins Brian mentioned look good too though. ;)
 

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I installed a set of STA XTA Coil overs on the Auto Ricambi 124 Spider Abarth and was very pleased with the results. Our first Spider (a Lusso) had upgraded springs and with the STAs, I can notice an improvement in handling. There is the added benefit of height adjustability and ride dampening adjustability as well.

If you want to save a few $$, opt for the ST X Coil Over Assemblies. They are just as good but you don't get the adjustable shock dampening of the XTAs.



 

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Discussion Starter #6
Brett67, those look great! That's a good pic, too, and reminds me - whichever ones I get, I'd like to cross off the list any that don't have easily swappable springs (in other words, proprietary diameter and seats). 2.25" or 2.5" springs, not some weird tapered diameter. Those yellow springs look like an option I'd be good with. Are there any of the other ones that DON'T have a consistent diameter? I think I'd be okay with a twin-spring (like the yellow ones pictured above) if it allows easier swapping than the guesswork associated with a single variable spring rate, like drop-in Eibach springs.
 

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Our OHLINS in Race Spec are offered with Swift Race Springs....constant diameter and more stroke, increased traction and handling, less un-sprung weight, more consistent rate than other choices. The fast guys on other choice are often spending extra money to update/upgrade the springs to Swift, we can include them up front.
Read more about why Swift Metric Race Springs are better at THIS LINK.

With the Ohlins there is no secondary 'helper' springs...because not needed with higher spec three piece construction wherein spring tension is independent of height. Hand notes below might help understand this point:



OHLINS DUAL FLOW VALVING....which you will not find on lesser setups.




If bumpy surface, the Ohlins does not care. Result is that I can run the rumble strips and curbs at track with abandon and bumpy autocross surfaces do not upset the chassis. Grab this much curb with lesser setups and you might be in the wall after. Our "NC LIGHT" below making the track record for Miata at Chuckwalla SIX YEARS ago...which it still holds! The Ohlins DFV advantage lets me cut the curbs with abandon because that secondary valving opens and the car keeps it's line.


Results include walls full of trophies over decades of competition, including showing up to a Viper weekend and taking top time against 600 hp beasts. This is the choice of legends including a dozen MotoGP champs, open wheel champs like Juan Pablo Montoya, etc. Unlike many competitors, Ohlins never sponsors, the best from moto to open wheel use Ohlins because it works and despite the fact they too have to buy this setup.


 

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More on DFV.

The DFV Technology Advantage. So what is DFV? It is Dual Flow Valve technology and it sets Ohlins apart from competitors. Only Ohlins has DFV technology on its road and track products. With DFV, the dual flow valve gives the same characteristics on rebound as it does on compression, thanks the damper fluid having a consistent path of flow in both directions. This means that the wheel and tire can quickly and effectively resume their important position back on the ground, providing grip and traction. The new Ohlins Road and Track range uses DFV technology on every single fitment, making it the perfect upgrade for the enthusiast that needs comfort and agility in the one unit.

Figure 1: (Compression flow) At low shaft speeds, oil flows mostly through the shaft jet bleed (lower dotted arrow). At higher shaft speeds, oil flows mostly through the compression ports in the piston (upper dotted arrow). At very high shaft speeds, or during sudden shaft accelerations, oil can also escape through the compression ports in the DFV, increasing comfort. Figure 2: (Rebound flow) At low shaft speeds, oil flows mostly through the shaft jet bleed (lower dotted arrow). At higher shaft speeds, oil flows mostly through the rebound ports in the piston (upper dotted arrow). At very high shaft speeds, or during sudden shaft accelerations, oil can also escape through the rebound ports in the DFV, maintaining tire contact with the road. Because DFV opens more quickly and easily on minor road imperfections, ride comfort is surprisingly supple and more akin to an OEM shocks than a coilover set-up. Over undulating surfaces, the compliance of the Road and Track units allows your Miata to crest bumps and potholes, whilst still keep stable and in control. Traction is always maintained at its optimum level. When comparing suspension, why settle for second best?

Figure 3: (Vehicle no DFV) Without DFV the oil can not flow through the piston quickly enough on the rebound stroke after hitting a bump, so the tire is not able to stay in contact with the road.

Figure 4: (Vehicle DFV technique) The DFV valve opens, letting the oil flow quicker through the piston on the rebound stroke after hitting a bump, enabling the tire to stay in contact with the road. When adjusting ride height on coilover units, it is worth comparing how it is done. On many inferior designs, height is adjusted by raising or lowering the lower spring platform. This has the effect of compressing or extending the spring, which can limit the suspension travel that may cause topping out. The Ohlins method is to leave the spring seat in its perfect position, whilst the lower flange spins easily on the threaded body, to allow you to adjust with absolute precision whilst maintaining the perfect characteristics that we took so long to design in! Once you have set it all up, the adjuster simply locks off to maintain your exact settings.
Dampers will get hot. That is one thing that you can be sure of. As the piston moves within the damper, it generates friction and therefore, heat. Although we cannot stop heat, we can deal with it, and this is yet another way that Ohlins differs from the competition. As the heat increases, the viscosity of the damper fluid can change, altering the car handling characteristics. Our unique needle bleed valve expands with temperature, closing the gap that the fluid travels through, maintaining a consistent damping rate. What you will feel is that the car responds consistently, lap after lap, turn after turn. Allowing you to concentrate on braking points and apexes whilst the Ohlins technology takes care of the damping.
Figure 5: Thermal Expansion Design Advantages.

These kits are amazing out of the box , but there is still plenty of adjustment for you to set things your way. You like stiff and reactive? Or soft and forgiving? It is all there. Too much low speed rebound damping can have an adverse effect on grip, so the easily accessible adjuster at the top of the Ohlins units allows small, but positive increments of fine tuning, so you can take into account every single parameter. Sounds complicated? It is actually very easy to adjust a few clicks either way to find the settings that work for you.
Autocross and Track Tested by our entire team in both our ND Miata and our Fiat 124. Currently running 9/5 kg combo in our Fiat on the race spec damper, which we can offer on request.
 

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Great data on the Ohlins DFV, Brian! Thanks for posting it. :D

...umm... I sense a disturbance in my bank account...:|
 

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I own the ST-X Coilovers - I would say they are a comfort-supension for road use.

but Oehlins with 7/4springs = suspension porn for road and track.
 

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Not gonna lie, the Ohlins do look nice. If you have that kind of budget, it might be a good choice to track use. I am happy with the STAs for what I do, spirited street and occasional track use.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Great data on the Ohlins DFV, Brian! Thanks for posting it. :D

...umm... I sense a disturbance in my bank account...:|
^ ^ ^ ^
uh yea, exactly!

Great write-up. I'm pretty tempted to get those. I've made the mistake of buying twice with my Neon, first getting Carerra and then another brand to finally get what I wanted in terms of handling. I wanna do it right the first time (with the possible exception of springs, because that can change as other aspects of the car change)... as long as I can find different force replacements easily.

I just finished road testing something to make sure I won't need a big brake kit, and had great success with it. Now I know I can get the smaller lightweight brakes Good-Win has, and then move to suspension next, and then wheels. My co-driver is itching to get better tires, but he's got more learning to do on street tires, so he's just gonna have to suffer for a bit ;)
 

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Ohlins get my vote for sure....just switched out the factory Bilsteins for these. They have the remote adjustable valve controls so you can set it up 'stiffer' or 'softer' depending on the situation. The feel is night and day with these Ohlins. I don't know a lot about shock technology...but the race shop that installed these for me at Sonoma Raceway use these in all their Mazda race cars. Now I have a brand new set of Bilsteins from the factory with about 2000 miles on them in my garage.
 

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All out racing? Penske or Moton shocks with one of dozens of brands of springs. Penske makes some with regressive shock valving, too.
 

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I think Slavisa has his KWs up for sale for about 1000 less than new. That's what I would buy.


Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Holy thread resurrection, Batman!

I actually decided to go with Cusco Sport Zero-3S, with 450lb front and 225lb rear springs. The car can still be driven on the street, it sits lower (but not atom-splitting low). and steadily moved up the raw times index in comparison to local competition from around 60th percentile at the beginning of the year (coilovers were put on in May, and we started racing in April) to around 30th percentile at the end. I'm really happy with the performance of the coilovers I got, and their front and rear sway bars aren't bad, either. I wasn't familiar with them until buying the 124 (they do Miata stuff, and I'm more of a Mopar guy). They've earned my respect.
 
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