Suspension Basics 101: Springs, Shocks, Coilovers, or Bags

Sweet ride brah, but it needs more low…

You’ve probably heard that one too many times. Now the question remains which route to take?

Springs ($200-$400):

Upgrading springs is the most cost effective way to properly lower your vehicle and get improved handling characteristics. Springs have had a bad rep for blowing your OEM shocks prematurely (lol), and there is some truth in that depending on the springs you purchase. Springs that lower 2 or more inches or who have spring rates extremely different from OEM specs fall in this category and should be used with caution (or in conjunction with appropriate shocks).

However, a few brands (Swift, H&R, Eibach, etc) take OEM specifications into account and design springs to work in conjunction with OEM shocks. These springs tend to have mild drops (around 1 inch) and tend to have spring rates near stock. These are great options if you want to lower your vehicle for improved performance without a need to upgrade much else.

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Shocks ($300-$800):

Shocks typically are something we recommend with upgraded springs. On the lower end you typically get slight improvements in dampening to keep up with higher spring rates. You should also not really expect a drop with upgraded shocks (in most cases though there may be a minimal change in ride height).

On the higher end of shocks you can expect greatly improved dampening characteristics even adjustable dampening setting. These high-end shocks are so good that they provide better characteristics than many sub $1500 coilovers. So typically speaking, if you aren’t partial to a fixed ride height and don’t want to have a no worry suspension setup then shocks and springs may be the way to go.

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Coilovers ($600+):

Lets start off with the largest coilover misconception: if you have coilovers you don’t necessary have to lower your vehicle. In most cases, coilovers can actually be set to OEM ride height. So what’s the point? For lower end coilovers, ride height seems to be the desire. In this day and age you can purchase a set of sub $800 coilovers to simply adjust how low you are. Coilovers for lowering sake somewhat defeat their true purpose, but to each his own.

A decent set of street and track coilovers will set you back about $1500. These typically have ride height adjustment separate from dampening. And if used with proper setting will provide greatly improved suspension performance and also give the vehicle a nice adjustable drop. From there on you have track coilovers that can run up thousands of dollars.

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Air Suspension ($2000+):

Air suspension or bags has by far the highest starting price, and for good reason. Bags are just that, bags that are filled with compressed air and serve as the vehicles spring. Generally an air suspension setup comes with compressors and a tank, which allows you to freely change the pressure within those bags to adjust for height or performance needs. If you have the money this is the best setup for lowering your vehicle, as you are able to sit your car on the ground when parked and easily raise it when you need to drive.

This will also provide the most comfortable ride, you’re driving on air. And though not commonly practiced due to all the weight, you can somewhat setup your air suspension for a performance setup for improved handling and performance.

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Tire Basics 101: Selecting Rubbers

For most people, the biggest improvement in performance can be achieved through a simple tire change. That being said here are a few tire basics for our scene.

OEM wheels with wider tires:

If this is the route you’re taking, you are somewhat limited in tire selection. Depending on the width of the wheel, you have a range of tire widths to choose from. The minimum would be the lowest width before you start stretching tire (more about this later). If possible we always recommend the maximum or as close to that in order to maximize tire patch and thus grip.

While that seems simple enough you have to take note of the changes you are making. Where in an ideal world you should be able to change the tire width and maintain the same sidewall, changes in width also affect the sidewall. This means a 55mm sidewall on a 195mm wide tire is not the same as a 55mm on a 205mm tire. If you don’t want to throw off your speedometer then you have to do some further calculations. Luckily there’s an app website for that:

http://tire-size-conversion.com/tire-size-calculator/

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Aftermarket wheels, larger but similar to OEM:

Lets start off with a basic setup with basic fitment. Meaning conservative drop and wheel specs allowing a proper square tire. Use the same method as above, but when using the tire size calculator make sure to account for the change in wheel diameter. This change will affect the tire size sidewall and width you’ll need as to not throw off your speedometer.

As long as your drop and wheel specs are conservative you should be able to fit meaty wide tires without much issue.

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Aftermarket wheels, aggressive fitment:

Depending on the kind of wheel fitment you choose you have a few options. If you plan on running a conservative drop you can usually get away with running a minimally wide tire size. If you want to run wider width tires with an aggressive drop then chances are you’ll have to adjust camber (preferably only about 3 degrees), roll/pull fenders, and possibly adjust coilovers setting. These are again case-by-case, and vary from car to car. If this is the gray area you want to be in we will have more articles/you can give us a call for help!

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Super Saiyin Stance, Make-it-fit wheels:

If this is the route you are taking then chances are that all convention and rules will be thrown out. While not recommended, you will probably be selecting tire widths bellow the minimum, this will stretch out the tire to slope the sidewall and give more clearance. Camber will be a game you play like a master and stiff coilovers or air will be your life. In cases like this theory is not enough, and fitment usually ends up being a trial and error process. Good Luck.

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Wheel Basics 101: Wheels Specs

So you want to upgrade your wheels and tires but don’t have the slightest idea of what wheel specs you need. Well don’t fear Kami Speed is here to help. While each car is different and requiring their own specs here are the general basics to wheel specs.

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So what are the wheel basics?

When purchasing a set of wheels there are 4 specs that you need to look at: diameter (size), width, offset, and PCD, which are usually in the following format.

[Diameter] x [Width] [+/- Offset] [P.C.D.]

i.e. 18 x 10.5 +22 5×114.3

Diameter (size) is just that, the diameter of the wheel. This number is purely preference, but generally speaking the larger your wheel diameter the smaller your tire sidewall. A smaller sidewall means less tire to absorb impacts and generally a less comfortable ride.

Width is how wide you want your wheel to be. Typically speaking the OEM wheel wells leave about 1 inches worth of wiggle room, so if you car comes with a 7-inch wide wheel, you can typically run a 8-inch wheel without much issue (of course depends on other factors).

Offset is the distance from the inside wheel face (where it touches the hub) to an imaginary line at the center of the wheel. This basically means that a positive offset puts more of the wheel into the wheel well, where as a lower or negative offset pushes the wheel further out. This is measured in millimeters. This number is very important, as it ensures your wheels sits in that sweet spot that doesn’t hit the inner suspension or pokes too far out past the fenders. Generally speaking you want to stay around the same offset as your OEM wheels, with big changes requiring more work to fit (more about offset in upcoming articles).

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P.C.D. stands for pitch circle diameter which is basically the number of studs and the diameter size circle the studs make. This number does not change so you have to make sure that the wheels you purchase have the same PCD as your vehicle. In some cases you “can” fit slightly different PCD wheels onto your hub, but this requires special lug nuts and is not recommended.

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Beatrush Aluminum Underpanel for the BRZ/FRS is coming soon!

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As the title states, Laile is in the works of releasing their iconic underpanel for the BRZ / FRS. Few details have been released, but using previous knowledge, the panel will be made of 2mm Air-Craft Aluminum with huge emphasis on functionality. Most notably keeping engine temps cool and creating a relatively flat bottom for downforce. Stay tuned for more pictures and information!

J Unit Atenza / Mazda 6 on Leon Hardiritt Gemut

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If you’ve never heard of J-Unit don’t feel stupid, they mostly produce VIPish parts for JDM only saloons. So when they came out with this kit for the Mazda 6 they made some waves. The kit is mostly add on but completely transforms the car. That with a deep dish set of Leon Hardiritt Gemut (which we have on sale, just saying) makes this a truly beautiful and unique build. You’re welcome, enjoy!

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The Stance Creators

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With the growth of VIP {bippu} culture in Japan, it was only obvious that the gangster fad would expand and grow (for a brief origin check out our previous article). Not only has it expanded across the board in Japan, but stylistic features have crossed the Pacific to the good ol’ US of A.

Stance. Stance? Stance! Stance… Stance

Yes, that retched word that ranges from a set of coilovers to how your car sits and in some cases is being used as an adjective. Stance polarizes the car scene with automotive fundamentalists criticizing the lack of function and fans loving how stanced their cars are, usually exalting “form over function!”

So how do we describe stance? Typically my description to non-car people starts off long, complicated, and confusing but ends up summing up to the following: slamming the car, taking a low offset set of wheels with aggressive specs, and “making it fit.” As innovative as we think we are (at least in this case), we have to tip our hats to the Bippu O.G. creators in Japan, who have been slamming, stretching, tucking, and stancing cars since the 90’s.

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So you’re welcome to the fans and to the haters, keep hating.

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