Good Suspension Options?

Discussion in 'Mazdaspeed 3 Suspension & Brakes' started by da johnny boy, Jun 1, 2018.

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  1. da johnny boy

    da johnny boy Silver Member

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    My stock suspension on my speed is pretty much dead, so I've been doing a bunch of research trying to find decent suspension for the Mazdaspeed3. Unfortunately most popular options look like junk. I also am trying to decide whether I just want to stay with a soft street setup with shocks or stiffer autocross/street setup with coilovers. I have really only ridden in a speed6 with BC coilovers and a speed3 with some other crap brand, and I wouldn't call either of them good. I also have a NC Miata as my main autocross car so I don't need something as stiff as my Miata. If I drive the speed in autocross, it'll be in STH.

    Options I have considered:
    1. OTS Coilovers
      1. BC Racing, KSports, H&R, etc. - Seem like they are junk with bad spring rates and terrible valving. Not worth the ~$1k+. Budget Coilover Setups
      2. MeisterR CRD+ - I have these on my Miata, and they have gotten pretty good reviews for that application, but no reviews on the Mazdaspeed3 model they just release. No dyno charts, so can't really tell if the valving is junk or not. They have been decent on the Miata, but I don't care about ride quality because it is dedicated to autox.
      3. KW V1/V3, Mazdaspeed Motorsports coilovers - They get decent reviews from the general mazdaspeed users, but spring rates aren't great and they are pricey ($2000) or just unavailable. Also they'd cost a ton overall if I got them revalved.
      4. Feal 441 - These looks to be a new option, but have yet to be any reviews of them on the Mazdaspeed platform. They basically take cheap coilovers and revalve/assemble them in the US. They also use Swift Springs. $1400 for stock 7k/7k rates or $1600 for any spring rates and custom valving. Spring rates look decent, with bounce frequencies of 1.8/1.9 F/R. Feal and Odi have pretty good reviews with some other applications (Subaru), and Good Win Racing likes them enough to carry them for Miata. Biggest issue is there are no shock dynos available. Probably the best option of OTS coilovers
    2. OTS Shocks
      1. Bilsteins + Lowering Springs - Good stock valving but spring rates are still low for autocross. Not sure what spring rates they can handle stock and they are a bit expensive for just a shock ($750+)
      2. Konis + Lowering Springs - Good valving and adjustments, less inexpensive than Bilsteins ($550), and have a lifetime warranty.
      3. I'm not really too sure about lowering springs, but the Swift spec R seem decent with the 4.5k/4.5k setup (bounce frequency of 1.45 hz) and a small amount of drop, or possibly Pro-kit or Corksport springs.
    3. Ground Control Sleeves
      1. Bilsteins - Don't seem to fit correctly, and will probably need to be revalved. Ground control camber plates are junk. Bilsteins are widely revalved ($750+$400 revalve+$400 sleeves+$400 camber plates= ~$2000)
      2. Konis - Ground control has complete setup for $1400. I assume the ground control camber plates are compatible with the Koni shocks unlike the Bilstein shocks. Konis seem to be able to handle up to 8k springs. If I need to revalved, much fewer places revalve Konis, and they look to be $200/shock for revalve. ($1400-2200)
    4. Revalved Junk Coilovers - Looks like the typical monotube junk coilovers are all the same design and piston size so they can be easily revalved by a competent company. Or you can even DIY revalve them with bilstein pistons and parts. Feal revalves them for around $225/corner, not sure what places are good for revalves (~$2000) And atleast I know they won't fall apart like bilsteins/ground control setup.
    Maybe @phate @ConeKiller or @VTMongoose could weigh in?

    Right now I'm leaning towards a couple different ideas
    1. Koni Yellows and see if that is good enough. I can always go ground control with say a 7k/7k setup, maybe revalve them, or just sell them down the road and go with a different setup.
    2. Feal 441, hope they are worth the extra price, and not really need to mess with setup again.
    3. Find a used set of cheap coilovers/bilsteins and revalve them for proper spring rates.
    I appreciate any help and advice!
     
  2. Theoretics

    Theoretics Silver Member

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    Daily driver with occasional autocross? You may also want to look into the JBR coilover kit.

    I have a Koni/Eibach setup with CS Camber Plates on mine. They're pretty reasonable in terms of ride quality, I put about 8k miles a year on the car mostly on our poorly maintained back roads and do one or two Track Night in America a year. Not much time for other events anymore. It's a pretty substantial improvement over stock but I'm not ever likely to be a national level driver.

    Item of note with them: When installing, the Koni Adjustment valve prevents you from tightening the top nut in the front to spec. You basically have to use an impact/torque stick to get it down.
     
  3. VTMongoose

    VTMongoose John/MD1032 Platinum Member

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    I don't really like any of those options. The Feal CO option is very intriguing, but I am suspicious of how they can offer a complete custom valved CO with adjustable front camber plates with sphericals for such a low price.

    For any given suspension option, you will be able to find positive reviews by the bucketload, even if that option is borderline worse than stock. I can think of no better example than Koni Yellows. Those shocks are horrifically underdamped on the compression side in the front (the adjusters on those only change rebound as I'm sure you're aware), particularly over high speed bumps. The rears, even on the maximum setting, didn't provide enough rebound in the rear for my pu's setup which was only about 1.9/2.1 Hz. F/R.

    The OTS valving on the Bilstein B6 and B8 shocks (which are identical other than length where the B6 is 1" longer) is superior to the Koni's. Additionally the Bilsteins actually have really long internal bump stops in the front that most people are unaware of and this arrests body roll and improves handling further over the Koni's. The best "cheap" OTS setup I've ever driven was on my Gen1 when I bought it, Cobb springs and B8's. This setup was ridiculously comfy on the street and tossable at the same time. I only drove on it for a month or two before removing it and putting my ground control sleeves and B6's on.

    If you want a cheap autocross option, it pains me to admit this, and take my opinion with a grain of salt because I haven't actually autocrossed a car with these, but I think ISC coilovers might be an option. They are a little overdamped, ride like crap on the street, and don't even necessarily perform that well because I'm pretty sure they just use cheap linear valving, but they are inexpensive, seem to be relatively durable, and they use super high spring rates that would be good for autocross.

    Let's talk about revalving. Good shocks can transform an OK setup into a great setup. Of all the things you can invest money in, in any handling-focused performance car, shocks are at the top of my list. I had my Bilsteins revalved 3-4 times when I had my pu, all by Bilstein, and all for very little money. I was consistently screwed over and returned a terrible product. When I built my current setup for my Gen1, I paid $750 (currently the price is even higher) to have them revalved by Delta Vee Motorsports in Michigan, which included curb blow-off in the front shocks (awesome option BTW), and it was worth every penny. Phate uses FCM in California who are even more expensive (2-3x as much), but their reputation is deserved and you get what you pay for.

    Now let's talk about the practical side of things. The reality is that I have a $2500 suspension on my car which would cost you probably upwards of $2800 to build today, which is nothing more than stock sway bars, ground control sleeves, Bilstein B6's, some fancy camber/caster plates, and a halfway decent alignment. And despite autocrossing for years now, I would say, I still leave 2 seconds on the table every time I run the car because my driving skills are lagging behind my car's abilities by a lot. You can overcome even a bad suspension with good driving. Getting good at driving doesn't require much money, just lots of seat time. A good suspension on the other hand will not make a bad driver faster. Upgrading your car with quality parts is a worthwhile endeavor, and you can, to a degree, grow into a really good setup, but actually, driving a setup with lower limits and learning how to work with those limits will make you a faster driver in less time. Personally if I was a young autocrosser wanna-be, my entire mod list for a car would probably include a good set of tires, a good set of brake pads, B8's with Cobb or Swift OTS lowering springs, a stiff rear sway bar, motor mounts, a test pipe, an intake, fuel pump internals, and a custom tune. Most of that stuff can be bought used and money saved. There is a very reasonable probability that a car set up like this in the hands of phate, xfeejayx, MS3brohanna, or Conekiller, could turn out faster times than me in my super grippy car, because soft setups can be overcome to a degree with good driving.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
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  4. AYOUSTIN

    AYOUSTIN Silver Member

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    Not sure if they make them for speeds but have you considered Fortune Auto 500s? In the past few years FA has gotten pretty impressive in terms of quality and performance. From what I've heard you can spec any spring rate you want for them from FA and they have a number of different valving options depending on what you're trying to use the car for. The best advice I can honestly give is to call them and tell them what you're looking to do and what they recommend. Their techs know what they're talking about and I know a handful of people who have been given some really good guidance from them.
     
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  5. da johnny boy

    da johnny boy Silver Member

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    I think they just buy cheap coilover bodies, then valve them and assemble them in house. They are $1400 for their own spec valving so they only needed to develop that once. How much does a coilover cartidge cost? I would guess maybe $200 for a set of 4, then labor, parts, etc, seems fairly reasonable, especially if they are taking a smaller profit margin than the cheap coilover companies.

    Exactly why I made this thread, since everyone is like yeah my megan racing/BC/H&R/etc coilovers are great, they help me get dirt nasty low, while the ride like complete junk. And yeah, the Yellows only adjust rebound, which I'd guess is so you can crank up rebound damping and get the shocks to jack down for stock class autocross. I didn't really know they are undercamped on compression in the front for stock springs.

    I took a look at them, and they are cheap, but I think they would definitely need a high spring rate in the rear because of the 10k/6k rates. I would expect few of the cheap coilovers use digressive valving. Also, I am more concerned about ride quality on the street than having stiff/lowered suspension. If I was going for cheap and stiff, I'd probably just go with BCs with 10k/10k rates since they also have cheap linear valving but they actually seem pretty consistent from left to right based on the shock dyno's I have seen.

    I've noticed revalving prices have greatly increased in the last couple years. I can't find much below $800 for a set of 4 to be rebuilt and revalved. Bilstein is the cheapest I have seen at ~$150/shock, but saving $200 for crappy service doesn't seem worth it. At this price, I've tempted to rebuild them myself using one of the DIY guides. And yeah, FCM is pretty absurd and I get a weird vibe from the company. $1600 for revalved Spec Miata bilsteins seems way high, and also getting charged per hour for communication/emailing/etc.

    I'm not really looking to spend that much since my car isn't really even fully prepped. This suspension will mostly be used on the road, while my Miata is my main autocross car with a stiff suspension (2 hz bounce frequencies) and almost completely prepped for STR (just need a header/midpipe/tune). I enjoy taking the Mazdaspeed3 out to autox a couple times a year to have an opportunity to drive it at the limit and to experience a FWD turbo car at autox. Currently my Mazdaspeed3 has stock springs, stock front struts, blown rear struts, Hotchkis rear sway bar, HPFP, intake, DIY e43 tune (I know, not ST legal), 17x9 rpf1s, 245/40/17 re-71rs, and a rear motor mount which puts it in STH. And yeah, drive mod is more important than your setup, especially locally, but there is only so much you can do with a stock or close to stock suspension FWD car with way too much understeer.

    I'm trying to keep it on a budget since I already have the Miata, and if it is really worth spending more money, then I will just save some money until I can get the proper setup. I prioritize ride quality since I will drive the Mazdaspeed on the street much more often. B8's with Cobb or Swift springs seem like a good setup, with the option to do coilover sleeves and revalve if I get more serious. What about corksport springs? I found a used set for ~$100, and they are about 235 F/214 R (25% stiffer accord to CS), compared to 251 F/251 R for the Swift Springs and about 216 F/214 R (15% front/25% stiff rear according to Cobb) for the Cobb springs. Also I saw a set of Koni Yellows with ground control sleeves and 525 F/600 R spring rates for $580. They could be a good candidate to be revalved, but would probably be crappy until then. And they would have the possibility of exploding with the higher damping for stiffer springs (though I have no idea what the limit is for Konis).

    I've heard good things about Fortune Auto, but they eliminated their Mazdaspeed3 product because no one was buying them. They are a pretty similar concept to Feal, where they buy inexpensive coilovers and then assemble them in the US with higher quality valving and internals.
     
  6. VashEXE

    VashEXE Silver Member

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  7. VTMongoose

    VTMongoose John/MD1032 Platinum Member

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    Yep, those would work. All of the generic lowering springs on this platform are about the same, except I think Eibachs which drop the car lower and are softer.

    That's not the best deal in the world but not the worst either. The good thing is that the shock condition (being used, who knows) won't really matter if you are going to revalve the Koni's, which would be totally fine in my opinion. There are plenty of people out there who can do them, and I would expect them to perform just as well as the Bilsteins for our purposes. I don't know where you get the idea that they would "explode".

    BTW, I have driven the Koni's on stock and near-stock springs. It is the same story. The vaguest hint of a bump will have the fronts bottoming out, violently. You really ought to drive a local car with Koni's and see just how bad they are. I put Gabriels in the front and KYB's in the rear (~$60 a corner) on a Gen2 last year and they were much more comfortable and cornered totally fine for my taste.

    So you're on a budget because you already have the Miata, you want the car to perform better, and you want it to be comfortable on the street. You are asking a lot, and this whole thread is pretty pointless, honestly. You can't game the system here. There's no amount of research you can do that will magically give you a $3000 setup for a $2000 price. You shouldn't even consider custom valving or coilovers at all. I would stick to B8's with some kind of lowering springs and call it a day. A lot of people underestimate how much of an upgrade just the B8's are. Once you are talking custom valved shocks, if you don't put the time and money into upgrading everything else around the shocks, including getting a good alignment dialed in (which requires plates for the front and arms for the rear), and putting some halfway decent wider tires and wheels on the car, you are throwing your money away. There's no point in having the Cadillac of shocks on a street car with nothing else in place.
     
  8. da johnny boy

    da johnny boy Silver Member

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    Fair enough. I like to make sure I do enough research so I know that I'm making the best decision for my requirements. If we had an option like the Xida ($2000) for the NA/NB that is well documented with shock dynos and great reviews, then I'd definitely consider those since they are pretty much a $3000+ setup for $2000.

    I've heard people with Miatas complaining about revalved Konis having issues after revalving them and on Autocross to Win says,

    I'm not sure the exact spring rates those shocks that explode are valved to but I'm guessing something close to 1000+ lb/in springs, so it probably isn't a concern to my spring rates and damping forces I'd need for say 400 lb/in springs.

    I think mr_mazda was tagged about the Scale Coilovers he purchased and has a post about, but Scale's website really has no information about valving or shock dynos so it doens't really seem worth the $1800 for a set, and I'd rather pick up Feals for that price as they seem more reputable.

    I'm leaning greatly towards the Bilsteins with your recommendation and DG/Autocross to Win. Though while I'm waiting for them to come back in stock, I am also going to try and see if Feal and maybe Fortune Auto will send shock dynos of their OTS valving for the Mazdaspeed application so I can compare it to the calculator from Autocross to Win. Or ask them if they can match the shock dynos for their custom built setups, but I don't really expect anything positive to come from it.

    I appreciate your help VTMongoose. As much as this thread hasn't found the magic $2000 coilovers with perfect valving that I hoped, I think it has been helpful. And down the line if I want a stiffer setup with appropriate valving, I can get the B8s revalved in conjunction with adding camber plates and coilovers sleeves, which I'd expect to cost another ~$1600 and have a top quality suspension setup. I'm also thinking about continuing to look around for a cheap used set of coilovers to play around with and revalve, like this guide.
     
  9. PadreDave

    PadreDave The happy and free Christian Platinum Member

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    I bought the CorkSport package deal with springs and shocks/struts that come assembled. I like the stance, and they are adjustable!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    PadreDave, via an iPhone, Jun 8, 2018
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  10. Raider

    Raider Administraider Administrator Platinum Member

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    I had CS springs and Koni FSD for 60k or so, until the struts blew apart and corroded out. Now on CS adjustable and their springs and its great for daily and can be adjusted for stiffness
     
    Raider, via a mobile device, Jun 10, 2018
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  11. da johnny boy

    da johnny boy Silver Member

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    As an update, I picked up some low mileage Koni Yellows, Corksport Camber Plates, and Eibach Pro-kits from a local for very cheap. As crappy as the Koni's stock valving may be, they are still a huge step up from blown suspension. I wanted to put them on before another road trip, as I was getting cupping from the blown rear shocks. These should hold me over until I decide what direction to go. Bilsteins are still out of stock everywhere. Only thing I don't like is that the front suspension is still a much bigger fender gap than the rear, but it seems to be the gen1 design and not necessarily a problem with the suspension.
     
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  12. SharksInSpace

    SharksInSpace Planets and shit. Silver Member

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    You can get Bilsteins on ebay from a UK source for a good price and quick shipping. I paid less, shipping from England included, for B8s than I would have to buy them domestically, and received them in like 4 or 5 days.
     
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  13. ToyCop

    ToyCop Greenie Member

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    I got mine from the U.K. source and am quite happy. Not a squeak or pop anywhere. I surprised myself. The Eibacha made a huge difference too.
     
    ToyCop, via an iPhone, Jul 25, 2018
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  14. OSN

    OSN Greenie N00B Member

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    I have a set of Bilstein B8s coming from the UK also. Even with shipping costs it was a score. I've been looking for used Corksport springs but have been striking out, may have to go new.
     
  15. Youngwonder

    Youngwonder Silver Member

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    I know a while ago the Koni yellow struts with H&R Springs was the go to setup. That's what I have been running for 5 years now. It gives 1.5-2in drop. I've done autox, drag racing, road racing, street racing, and Dragon runs. I have about 80k miles on them. I do a lot of driving. On edge autosport they pair the Koni's with Eibach Springs. Koni customer service is wonderful. On one of the great VA roads I hit a huge pothole and shattered my front driver side suspension. Koni sent another strut and I believe I only paid for shipping.
     
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