The Ksport Guide to Maximizing Suspension Performance
Regardless of if you’re building a show car to cruise the streets or a high powered track car, suspension upgrades are probably nothing new to you. However, you should be well aware that there are certain building blocks that are critical for unleashing the maximum potential from your suspension upgrades. Below we explain our top suspension tips for deciding how to properly modify your vehicles suspension for performance, appearance and handling.
Suspension Set Up: Springs vs. Coilovers
Whether you’re upgrading your suspension to achieve a more appealing look, or you’re aiming to enhance your vehicle’s performance, there are two options outside of an air ride system to consider. Of the suspension tips listed in this piece of writing, this will be the foremost to consider.
Your first option is springs. These helical shaped bars absorb the shock forces you encounter when driving over a bump, allowing you to experience a smoother drive. The springs compress and recoil back and forth while we drive. If we feel little movement, it’s because the springs are doing their job. Additionally, we’ve found that many customers enjoy the feel of an agile drive (not on the track) provided by springs. Furthermore, you can lower your car without sacrificing a soft suspension feel.
Although there are many reasons to consider installing springs, the option is not flawless. A gradual decline in the ride results when the shock wear accelerates. The ride may begin to feel “bouncy” or “soft”. Suspensions work best when the components are matched. Many aftermarket springs work well with shock dampers (for some period of time) but many, particularly ones with more lowering, are too stiff for factory struts. Finally, they lack the adjustability range to lower or raise your suspension when needed. Keep in mind that you are limited to the lowering springs you installed if you decide to increase your tire or wheel size and raise your car. This predicament will lead you to reevaluate additional methods to work around them in the future.
Your second option is coilovers. People often assume that choosing coilovers suggests you’ve sacrificed ride quality for performance. The choice implies your drive will be harsh. However, this assumption is false. Certain coilovers, such as our Kontrol Pro kit, are geared toward street comfort. Though the ride is about 10-15% firmer, the well matched dampening will result in minimal differences in comfort while ensuring the car feels significantly better and providing you, the driver, a refined experience with every move.
By default, almost all factory cars are tuned with an understeer bias. This makes them both easier and safer to drive at their limit. For example, a stock Mitsubishi EVO 8 (AWD Turbo) comes from the factory with a 24mm front sway bar, and a 22mm rear. While there are many upgrades the EVO might need out of the box, the point is that upgrading the rear bar should be one of the first mods you do to bring the car to a neutral state. On our EVO 8 we upgraded the rear bar to a 25mm bar and noticed that the bar itself nearly corrected all understeering issues with the car itself. A bar and its size can make the world of difference in handling.
Stiffer Front = More predictable, more understeer.
Stiffer Rear = More rotation, more oversteer.
A tried and true brand that we recommend is Voodoo13 – you can check out their Sway Bars End Links and other suspension components here.
A bad alignment or poorly set up coilover can make good hardware feel cheap. That being said, it doesn’t take much to get things figured out. First off, get an alignment. The analogy, ‘A hair toe in or toe out’ represents the precise measurement to search for an alignment. This means you want the margin of error on that side of things. Camber wear on our cars seems to be borderline non-existent up to -2 camber. Furthermore, camber doesn’t typically cause wear, bad toe does. Camber extenuates wear caused by bad toe. The more you know!
The goal of a good alignment is to maximize the contact patch of the tire to the ground. In street driving, we’re spending most of our time going straight. So, we put minimal camber because most of the time the car is standing straight up. Inversely, on track we’re spending most of our time in a corner. By adding x-amount of degrees of camber, we’re maximizing the contact patch during the cornering. Adding toe-out up-front changes the slip angles, often maximizing mid corner grip. Adding toe-in increases stability. This distills a great deal of information to make it digestible.
Camber= Maximum contact with tires in corners
Toe Out= Maximizing mid corner grip
Toe In= Maximizing Stability
Adjusting Shock Damping
All Ksport coilovers are 36 levels damping adjustable. For inverted shocks (GT Pro, certain Rally and Slide Kontrol applications), the damping is adjusted from the bottom. On non-inverted shocks (Kontrol Pro, Version RR, Circuit Pro, and certain Rally and Slide Kontrol applications) damping adjustments are made from the top of the coilover. Simply insert your damping knob, and turn. Each click is 1 step of the 36-way adjustability. For a baseline setting, turn the knob until it stops and then turn it back 18 clicks. This is your baseline setting. Use this as a starting point when adjusting your coilovers.
I recommend starting neutral, then adjust in no more than 10% increments. If you have 30 clicks, 3 clicks up or down can be a big shift. When you put your car in the corner, you will be surprised how big the difference is.
When in doubt, start at the baseline setting. A few clicks can mean a big difference.
There are a lot of different suspension options on the market, oftentimes making this type of upgrade overwhelming or intimidating. Consider the suspension tips in this article to help you maximize your car’s potential in regards to handling, performance and aesthetics.
Suspension upgrades and performance ultimately come down to what you plan on doing with your car and your level of comfort in that type of driving condition. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our team – we’re a staff of enthusiasts that would be more than happy to help answer any questions you might have.