Looking for Lightweight Track Wheels at a Great Price? The Enkei Racing Series RPF1 is Your Answer

Monday, March 24, 2014 by Zig Ziegler

Autocross and track season are quickly approaching and many racers have already begun to plan for upcoming races and events. As most enthusiasts know, switching out your vehicle's heavy, factory steel or alloy wheels is one of the easiest performance upgrades to your track vehicle. By switching to a lighter weight wheel, your car will instantly feel quicker and respond better compared to your stock wheels. The rotational force to get a lighter weight wheel to move and stop is less, therefore the engine and braking system of the car can respond quicker. Reducing the unsprung weight will also reap benefits when cornering, as the shocks and springs will have less weight to dampen during rebound and compression.

Typically, the answer to a lighter wheel is purchasing a fully forged alloy wheel, however, this option can become expensive for some. There are many highly engineered cast alloy options that are more affordable and provide a great bang for your buck.


Enkei Racing Series RPF1
Black Painted

Enkei Racing Series RPF1
Bright Silver Paint

Enkei Racing Series RPF1
Gold Painted

Enkei Racing Series RPF1
Special Brilliant Coating


Enkei Racing Series' RPF1 uses a revolutionary MAT Process to make lighter weight wheels. MAT is a technology for producing an aluminum wheel by combining Enkei's MAP (Most Advanced Production) and flow-forming forging technology. MAP is a highly automated system. Each process is connected in a single-piece flow system that transports wheels from the melting process, through heat treatment and on to machining. The process of spinning the rim vs. casting it to both shape and elongate it produces a finer, more even aluminum structure and ensures the wheel will remain lightweight and strong. The complete MAT process has a drastic impact on the microstructure of aluminum and results in outstanding improvement of the mechanical property of the material.

As wheels and tires become larger, use of the MAT process to manufacture wheels becomes even more important. In order to reduce weight under a vehicle's suspension, larger wheels must remain light. Enkei Racing Series' new generation of 10% - 15% lighter weight, forged MAT wheels are strong and retain optimum anti-flex properties.

The Enkei Racing Series RPF1 is offered in black painted, bright silver paint, gold painted and special brilliant coating finishes for a wide assortment of vehicles like BMW, Mazda, Subaru and Honda. Shop by vehicle to see if the Enkei Racing Series RPF1 is offered as a performance upgrade for your track car.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Michelin Pilot Super Sport

Monday, February 3, 2014 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Michelin Pilot Super Sport Reviewer's Overall Rating: 9.5
 
 

2008 BMW 335i Sedan
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Miles driven on tires: 17,000
Location: North, VA
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 17,000 Miles on Tires
January 14, 2014

Usually I would have written a review sooner, but I wanted to have a season behind me with these tires. Started the end of March, 2013, and went until the beginning of November.

Except for the OEM Bridgestone RF's, these were the first Summer tires I have had on this car. I had been using Michelin AS Pluses and they were terrible. My fault and another review for this problem. Anyway, I also have the Sport Package on this can and have replaced shocks/struts with Bilstein HD's. I thought I had made a BIG mistake doing this UNTIL I bought the Super Sports mounted on OZ Alleggeritas. HaHa, this combination is perfect for this car.

I recently tested a 2014 335i Sportline, etc., and realized that my 5 year-old handled and rode just as well as the tester. Wow, and this was with 15,000+ miles on the tires (and 120,000 miles on the car). Truly, all is well!

No need to look any further!!!

 

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx DSST RunOnFlat

Monday, February 11, 2013 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Dunlop SP Sport Maxx DSST RunOnFlat Reviewer's Overall Rating: Not Rated
 
 

2012 BMW X5 xDrive35i Sport Activity
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Miles driven on tires: 11,000
Location: Apple Valley, MN
Driving Condition: Average

Initial Review, 11,000 Miles on Tires
February 08, 2013

I purchased my X5 Sport AV in April and i was shocked to see the treat wear on the front tires. If 10-15K is all i can get out of these i will never purchase Dunlops again. My last X5 i installed Breyton 20" with Mich Dimas and they lastest 5 years.

 

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position

Thursday, January 31, 2013 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.


Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole PositionReviewer's Overall Rating: 8.71

2013 BMW 335i Sedan
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Miles driven on tires: 800
Location: Crown Point, IN
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 800 Miles on Tires
December 13, 2012

I've only had this tire on my car for about 1 month/800 miles. I'm exchanging them for a set of Continental DWS instead. The RE970's have great steering response. The DWS have ok steering response, which gets better with higher PSI.
Why the switch? The 970's are quiet, quieter than the stock Bridgestone summer performance S001 that came on the car.
They are a decent tire but they are directional. My 335i has staggered tires so I can't rotate my tires, but with non directional tires, like the DWS, I can at least swap them left to right, and that made a difference when I had them on a previous 135i.
Also, the RE970's make my 335i's rear end HOP on hard standing start launches.
The worst part of the 970's is their ride. On smooth pavement the ride is excellent, and very quite. But, on moderate to larger bumps or road imperfections these tires 'crash' into bumps and the shock is sent into the cars chassis. I hate that. The stock tires were run flats, which are notorious for having a harsher ride on road imperfections impact. These RE970's feel about the same as RFT's except they aren't RFT's.
On impacts these tires feel heavy, and literally their are. Their weight is about as much as the OEM RFT's. I can see why Tire Rack got a 1mpg decrease with these tires, they are heavy, and more unsprung weight can degrade MPG and performance. I'm surprised these tires received the high praise they did. Granted, steering response is excellent for an all season tire, but ride comfort is not that great. Also, I don't see how the tread on the 970's can be good even in light snow. There seems to be no siping at all and moderate tread. We're not seeing snow reviews and it's becoming clearer that Bridgestone did not improve snow capability. Isn't that why we buy all seasons in the first place? I know I do. I'll give up some steering response for better year round performance, and better ride comfort.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Michelin Pilot Super Sport

Thursday, January 31, 2013 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Michelin Pilot Super Sport Reviewer's Overall Rating: 8.75
 
 

2005 Mazda Miata Mazdaspeed
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Miles driven on tires: 8,500
Location: Huntsville, AL
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 8,500 Miles on Tires
January 21, 2013

Great tire. I have had Toyos, Yokohama, and Generals on this car. (Daily Driven)
I have moded this car with suspension change, springs, shocks, sway bar, and alignment. Oh yeah, the power is up another 60+ hp
Previous tires just did not work as well, These Michelin's are wonderful on this car. Grippy, predictable, reasonably quiet, they hold the road. I have tried them, more than once in the mountains of Georgia, Tenn, and the Carolinas. Jan 2013 Here in North Bama we had 7" of rain and 3" of snow. I put on ~250 miles and not a problem, went through some serious standing water and slushy roads. Wear is great, much better than previous tires. If I had to find a fault is the ride comfort is not like your 15 inch tires. But they are pretty darned good for a performance tire.

These are with out a doubt the best tire I have owned. Yes I have had several Cars prior to the MSM, Porsche, BMW, Mazda

 

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Michelin Primacy MXM4

Thursday, October 4, 2012 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Michelin Primacy MXM4 Reviewer's Overall Rating: 9.5
 
 

1993 BMW 525i
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Miles driven on tires: 5,000
Location: Laurel, MD
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 5,000 Miles on Tires
September 19, 2012

Ive always been a fan of Michelin tires. Ive had MXV4's on my Mazda 626 and later on my 98 740i and love them in the rain! When i upgraded to sportier vehicles, i installed a set of pilots...still yhe same quality ride ive been accustomed to. I just installed a set of MXM4 's on my Bimmer and wow! I forgot how uncomprimising they are! I was in complete euphoria (took a Kumho break for a few years!).

they are quiet, awesome in corners, extremely adhesive, and can take a shock well. When driving in the rain, i cant help but feel like a kid again! I grab the keys and take the car for a spin with complete confidence that im going to enjoy the ride!

I love to makevthe comparison product-wise to a very popular tech company! With Michelins you cant lose because they just work!!!
To me, they are definitely worth the money! I know i went through a lot of Kumhos beforevi came back to the brand.but now that im back...im lovin it. I will be putting a set on my 2011 hyundai sonata SE very soon!

 

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.


Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110Reviewer's Overall Rating: 6.71

1999 BMW 323is
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Miles driven on tires: 6,000
Location: Omaha, NE
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 6,000 Miles on Tires
September 17, 2010

Prior to this tire, I had Continental ContisportContacts. Those tires were getting to the wear indicators but I didn't notice any drop in performance. I had excellent, very crisp feel with those tires. I have Bilstein Sport shocks & struts and H&R Sport springs. The ContisportContacts are a very good tire for on Bilstein Sports.



Moving to the V12 K110's, it was immediately obvious that responsiveness was not as good. This gave the handling characteristics a "rubbery" feeling. Transitioning in turns really brings out this negative characteristic for this tire, in this size, on this suspension.



That said, the overall dry grip is very good. Wet grip is completely acceptable, but I definitely could feel some hydroplaning in heavy rain. They are more comfortable and much quieter than the Conti's (I don't recall how comfortable/quiet the Conti's were when new).



Due to the rubbery response I now have, I won't get these tires again. Other than that, the price was great, they have great traction, and they're comfortable and quiet.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.


Kumho Ecsta LX PlatinumReviewer's Overall Rating: 8.43

1995 BMW 540i
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Miles driven on tires: 10,000
Location: San Diego, CA
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 10,000 Miles on Tires
September 01, 2012

The car, a 95 BMW 540. It's a 4 liter V-8.
Southern California, no snow, but can be plenty of rain.
The tire, Kumho Exta Platinum.
Shock: Bilstein.

This is now my 3rd set of Kumho's. Last two sets were on an Audi.

These Platinums are nice! I don't race, but am spirited. They corner, they absorb shock, are not noisy.

First time I had to do an emergency maneuver, I was shocked at how well the Platinums turned in and stayed in the corner.

After that, I had a LOT more confidence in the tires. I can tell how much grip I have left by the sound of the tires. The noise on sharp, aggressive turnin is not intrusive or squeaky. It's not going to freak out the wife. But the tires tell you what is going on with the road and where they are at.

Way better than the tires that were on the BMW before. These tires brought out the BMW in this car.

Confidence inspiring, you know what the car is going to do.

On the highway, they soak up the bumps and give a great ride. The Bilsteins help, but noticeable difference.

Probably one of the better tires I bought.

No doubt, when this car needs tires again, it's getting these exact tires.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.


Michelin Pilot Sport A/S PlusReviewer's Overall Rating: 9.29

2009 BMW 750Li
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Miles driven on tires: 5,000
Location: jarrettsville, md
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 5,000 Miles on Tires
August 23, 2012

I bought these to replace my continentals which were wearing great, but the sidewalls rolled, steering response was not good. I actually took my 750Li to a BMW driving school. These tires ROCK! my 5000 lb beast surprised everyone! I was passing all but two of the other cars. It was a shocking performance(mostly to me) These tires held in there through 60 mph 90 degree turns! They were screaming, but held well enough to let me pass Porsches, 3 series, and one of the corvettes that showed up. The fact that this car was even close to the other cars was amazing. The tires held up to dozens of 130mph - 40mph then being thrown into a hard turn. Even the treads held up well, i did not have to replace the tires after two days of racing. On the street, they are very civilized. Almost as quite as the continentals. the ride was tighter than the continentals, but steering response more than makes up for it. I have had these tires on other cars, They are not great in snow. I am very happy with their performance in rain. I am taking them to another track event which will probably finish them off, so i can't talk about wear, that would not be fair.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position

Thursday, July 5, 2012 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position Reviewer's Overall Rating: 9.62
 
 

2010 Mazda Mazda3 5-Door
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Miles driven on tires: 6,000
Location: San Francisco, CA
Driving Condition: Average

Initial Review, 6,000 Miles on Tires
July 05, 2012

I replaced a NEW set of Continental DWS tires as I had the feeling that they were just a bit to soft for the suspension set-up on the Mazda3 GT which for anybody out there that dosent know Mazda -this suspension is very very firm .in 2010 it was revised to be more ameniable to regular driving yet still has its roots in a performance setup .
Given that the DWS are great tires but fro the right car/ and proabably Truck/ Minivan even better . They were all-around dry-wet-snow hence DWS so I saw that Bridgestone had a new tire the S-04 and the metamorphisis was immediatly noticeable and I cringed while waiting to hit my first road imperfection or pothole because the car is unforgiving with performance tires , alas --I hit road damage and it ate it up without a jarring hit as if I had rolled over a small grenade . My pervious experience with some Yokos that were very hard gave me to blowouts from pothole hits while relatively new ......but these S-04s have been prerforming far beyond my expectations ---gripping like a cat in panic mode and forgiving enough to let you drive in urban enviroments without constant fear of that imminent pothole from -------- that leaves you wondering how much damage that did to the bushings , alignment or tires? These hold like glue and make me pine to get out and just drive even to work ---It makes the car handle like I believe it was engineered to by the Mazda techs . Many may laugh that have thier "bmws" or audis or other cars that people just assume are the best handling cars out there , but those that know Mazda know what I talking about .
I had a chase thru a nasty set of chacanes near the ocean with a Lambo G and the guy could not shake me as he clearly forced me to yield and let him pass as I did --but he never got away from me til we hit the straights where the extra 450hp made the diffirence ,,,but in the twistys he was sweating bullets in amazment or shock ? great tires.

 

My Experience with H&R Coil-Overs

Thursday, June 21, 2012 by Gary Stanley

There are many ways to upgrade your vehicle's suspension. You can simply replace the existing shocks (or struts) and springs to lower your vehicle. Sway bars (sometimes called anti-roll bars) can also improve handling and reduce body roll. However, many enthusiasts feel that the pinnacle of complete suspension upgrades is to install a set of coil-overs

What is a coil-over? While many think that a coil-over is simply a shock and spring put together, there's more to it than that. A typical coil-over set-up, such as the H&R Street-Performance Coil-Over (pictured above), is specifically tuned and designed for each vehicle application. It features a threaded body so the spring perch can be adjusted up or down to change the vehicle's ride height. This kit uses progressive rate springs that assure an acceptable ride on the street while dramatically improving handling, reducing body roll and brake dive. For more information take a look at "A Look at Lowering."

For all their benefits, one would think they would be much more common. However, two main stumbling blocks come between most enthusiasts and coil-overs. The first is price. Coil-overs are more expensive than simply replacing the springs on a vehicle. The second hesitation many have is a concern about ride stiffness.

I personally used an H&R coil-over kit on my E36 BMW M3 for the last seven years I owned the car. The increase in handling and cosmetic appearance was quite dramatic. Myself and others who drove the car found that the ride wasn't as stiff as expected from a coil-over kit. In fact, the ride was comparable to a standard performance shock and lowering spring set-up. 

Shop by vehicle to see which suspension options work best for your vehicle.

 

Suspension Shopping for my BMW 740i Part II

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 by Ben Rooney

Having already chosen the Eibach Pro-Kit Spring Set for my 1997 740i, it's time to turn my attention to the the shocks and struts, known collectively as dampers. The available options include the Bilstein Touring Class, Bilstein Sport and KYB GR-2. 
 

The Touring Class and GR-2 are similar to one another in that they're both premium quality replacements for the stock dampers. They are valved about 10% firmer than the originals to account for the wear that accumulates in other suspension components over time and their goal is to provide ride and handling that equals or exceeds the Original Equipment.
 

The Bilstein Sport is a high-performance shock absorber designed for use with lowering springs. The mono-tube design, while more expensive to produce, has advantages for heat dissipation, longevity and consistent performance. 
 

Do I spend the money on the Bilstein shocks or save some cash and go back with a factory-equivalent part? The Bilstein Sports are the only replacement shock absorbers that are officially recommended to use with the Pro-Kit springs. Using the Touring Class or GR-2 with lowering springs would void their warranties. While this wouldn't be the first warranty I've ever voided when modifying a vehicle, I think that if I'm going to go through the trouble and expense of replacing them, it's worth doing it right. The Bilstein Sport was the winner and will make a great addition to my BMW 740i.

Suspension Shopping for my BMW 740i

Friday, April 6, 2012 by Ben Rooney

My 1997 BMW 740 is likely overdue for a suspension overhaul. The potholed and broken pavement that is typical of this time of year has highlighted that fact. With over 180,000 miles on the vehicle (only about 20,000 are from my driving), I have not replaced the BMW shocks or springs and do not know whether the original owner did either. The existing components could very well be the ones that came from the factory! 
 

The decline in handling from sloppy, worn-out suspension components is taking a toll on my enjoyment of the car. Therefore, it's time to start plotting my replacements. Springs are easy to replace and relatively affordable. I have narrowed my choices between the Eibach Pro-Kit Spring Set and H&R Sport Spring Set. Both brands are excellent and well priced. For a car like mine that may see some fast driving but is generally a daily driver, the Pro-Kit offers an excellent combination of comfort and handling. 
 

Shocks are a little tougher choice and more expensive. Check back next week to see what option I've chosen. 

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Michelin LTX M/S2

Thursday, March 1, 2012 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Michelin LTX M/S2 Reviewer's Overall Rating: 9.64
 
 

2004 GMC Canyon SLE Extended Cab
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Buy/More Info
Miles driven on tires: 80,000
Location: Abingdon, VA
Driving Condition: Average

Initial Review, 80,000 Miles on Tires
February 26, 2012

Gmc Canyon 4x4, S-10 4x4, Honda Ridgeline, Toyota 4Runner, All 4 wear LTX M/S. My Canyon just got 3rd set of LTX's, second set got 80,000 miles. S-10 is on its 4th set, it's pushing 200,000. 4Runner is still on 2nd set at 55,000 miles, truck has 130,000. Michelin was very acommoidating to warranty replace all 4 on my Ridgeline at 35,000 miles 7/32 tread left for cracking tread and sidewall. I worked in the tire industry several years back and found through experience that Michelin makes a superior product in most of their product lines. My BMW has stock 18" PS2's and My 09 V6 Accord has 18" stock Michelins. The Max performance Michelin's I have used are unprecedented for traction & handling, 25,000 for wear is common for me. Over 30 years of personal tire buying my advice is to pay a small amount more up front and in the end you will be better served for the life of your tires. I have used Goodrich, Uniroyal, Firestone, Yokohama, Goodyear,& Bridgestone, all fall short in long range performance. Only the Yokahama and Bridgestone were close in long life ride comfort, as well as tread wear. Please take my comments seriously, I have had literally hundreds of personal and business tires and Michelin as a company has serviced me better than the other manufactures. If you regularly maintain the alignment and shocks on a vehicle & check your air pressure, The Michelin will in general wear more evenly and maintain a better ride longer, not to mention service you more mileage on most of their product line.

 

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Pirelli Winter 240 Sottozero Serie II RFT

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Pirelli Winter 240 Sottozero Serie II RFTReviewer's Overall Rating: 9.1

2009 BMW 135i Coupe
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Miles driven on tires: 1000
Location: MAPLE GLEN, PA
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 1000 Miles on Tires
January 30, 2012

While the winter has been mild with only one snowfall I have had the opportunity to test them in snow and freezing conditions. Simply a great tire - but you get what you pay for with these - run flat snows are not inexpensive. Most shocking was how quite the tire is in normal conditions, far less noise than the OEM run flats. I have not driven them long enough to comment on tread wear. This was one of the only size options available for the car. Handling is very good. Some slight slippage on really icy conditions, but nothing that is major. With traction control and a modest pedal they seemed to pull or push the car through the snow with ease. Backing up is very good with this tire - some snows have an issue in reverse-these do not. I would buy them again-they are impressive beyond expectation for a snow tire.

Great Handling with KONI FSD Damper Set

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 by Cy Chowattukunnel
Have you started to notice a little wallow in curves? Maybe a little squat on hard acceleration or dive under hard braking? Well, if your vehicle has the aforementioned symptoms, then your shocks and/or struts (dampers) are worn out and it's time for a change.

Normally you'll start to notice damper wear approximately between 75,000-125,000 miles. The exact point when changes occur varies based on how you drive and the conditions of the roads you encounter. Damper wear happens gradually, therefore it can be difficult for a driver to sense it. It may be helpful to have someone else drive and evaluate your vehicle as another driver would have more of a "tabula rasa" perspective.

When the time comes to replace shock absorbers, you should get a damper that gives you proper control in the curves and smooth ride on bumps, tar strips and different road conditions. Proper handling, however, requires a higher rebound setting. A higher rebound setting means a firmer ride on bumps as the vehicle chassis will slam back down as its springs expand.

With older damper technology, most shock absorbers were designed to offer a good ride or good handling. What if you want both? KONI's FSD (Frequency Selective Damping) Damper Set provides lower rebound forces on higher-frequency piston movements (bumps) but higher rebound forces on lower-frequency movements (turns). KONI originally engineered FSD technology for the Lamborghini Murcielago and FIAT is using it on the new North American FIAT 500 Abarth. In our testing we found the KONI shocks with FSD technology provided our E46 test cars with an amazing balance between ride on our rough northern Indiana roads and proper handling on our autocross track. Although the FSD worked well for us as BMW shocks, they're also compatible with a variety of vehicles including, an Audi A3, MINI Coopers (both R53 and R56), the Mazda 3, Volvo S40, VW Jetta and VW Rabbit.

Thinking about lowering your vehicle when you replace dampers? Take a good look at KONI FSD Damper Set & Springs which combines FSD's with Eibach Pro-Kit Springs.

Koni FSD Damper Set
KONI FSD Damper Set
Koni FSD Damper Set & Springs
KONI FSD Damper Set & Springs

For more assistance in picking the proper damper set, take a look at "Choosing the Optimum Damper for Your Vehicle."

Project STR Competes in 4 Events in 3 Weeks

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 by Tire Rack Motorsports
It's been a busy few weeks for Project STR as the summer race season has finally made its way to the Midwest with three back-to-back weekends of competition.

First up was an outing to the Tri-State Sports Car Club event at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, IL for a shake down on the installation of our new KW Clubsport suspension. Coil Spring rubs against the shock body creating a bind in the suspensio ntravel.Installation went well, but during the event driver Chris Harvey noticed some unusual handling characteristics. Investigation revealed that machining on one of the prototype rear shock mounts allowed the spring coils to come in contact with the shock body, creating a significant bind. Once back home, shimming the angle of the top mount canted the spring enough to clear the shock body, and solved the problem. We’re using the first prototype, so the final production piece will be corrected to prevent this from happening.

The KW Clubsport suspension was put to the ultimate test over the Memorial Day weekend as Harvey and co-driver John Rogers drove the car 600 miles to Lincoln, NE for the Tire Rack SCCA Spring Double Nationals with back-to-back Pro Solo and National Tour events. At the Pro, Rogers was quick early on, but faded on day two, slipping back to 7th, one out of the trophies. Harvey was able to capitalize on his day-two runs, jumping up to the 3rd spot, right behind the S2000s of Robert Thorne and James Yom.

Here’s a video look at the right side course on day two.     

Chris Harvey makes a rear shock adjustment on our new KW Clubsport Coil-Over suspensionAt the National Tour event, rain was the story on day one, as the first two heats were run in soaked to just wet conditions. A drying course for our heat meant it would come down to the third and final run to get it done. Adding to the challenge was the sheer size of the course, lasting 75 seconds per run and covering the entire area normally devoted to two courses. Rogers struggled to find his rhythm in several of the four long slaloms on the course, slotting into the 16th spot out of 26 drivers. Harvey fared better, posting the 7th fastest time in the class, and the quickest for a 3rd gen Mazda MX-5 as the field tried to chase down the gaggle of Honda S2000s that lead the pack. Hot temperatures and high winds greeted our drivers on day two. In the end, our team wasn’t able to find enough speed to catch the leaders, with Harvey taking the 8th and final trophy spot and Rogers moving up one to 15th overall.

Back home in Indiana, Chris Harvey took some time to compete in the 19th annual Yokohama/Tire Rack/Windy City BMW Club Charity Challenge held at the Tire Rack test track. All non-BMWs are lumped together in the “everything else” class competing heads up with no index factor. Harvey put his local track knowledge to good use as he drove his way through the tight and tricky course set-up by the Windy City crew. When the dust settled Chris had the 3rd fastest non-BMW and the 4th fastest time of the event. Not too bad considering the cars ahead of him were rolling on sticky Hoosier R-compound tires, versus the Hankook Ventus R-S3 street tires currently on our MX-5.
Project STR takes a moments rest during a busy race weekend
Next up will be the Tire Rack SCCA National Tour in Toledo, OH over the July 4th weekend.

Coil-Over Kit Basics

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 by Logan Woodworth
Bilstein PSS10 Coil-Over KitCoil-Over: an automotive suspension device which refers to a spring or "coil" mounted over the damper (shock or strut).

There are advantages to the coil-over versus a conventional spring and damper system that include ease of installation and simplified height and stiffness adjustment. Many coil-overs offer easy fine-tuning that's not available from conventional suspension systems.

Coil-Over Kits are available for many German vehicles such as Porsche, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. There are also many domestic and Japanese fitments for cars such as Corvette, Mazda Miata and RX7, Nissan GT-R, 350/370Z, and many others.

Project STR scores at the Peru National Tour

Monday, July 12, 2010 by Tire Rack Motorsports
Chris Harvey drives to the finish at the Peru
 National TourThe blog has been a little quiet while we were hard at work installing and testing “go-fast parts” on the Project STR MX-5. In addition to the KW Variant 3 Coil-Overs and Hotchkis Sport Anti-Roll Bars, we’ve been experimenting with different sizes of Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec tires to find out what makes our MX-5 faster. A full tire test report will be appearing in the next issue of Grassroots Motorsports magazine on newsstands in a few weeks.

To put our efforts to the test, we competed in the Tire Rack SCCA National Tour autocross in Peru, Indiana. 15 drivers showed up in an array of vehicles – Honda S2000s, Pontiac Solstice, BMW Z3 and our Mazda MX-5. Day One saw Mike Lillejord jump out to a half-second lead in his Pontiac Solstice over Matt Glagola in his S2000. Our MX-5 was less than 2/10ths further back with Chris Harvey at the wheel, while John Rogers was just another 1/10th of a second behind in 4th place.

Sunday dawned a new day with a revised course layout that featured a six-cone slalom and several fast, decreasing radius turns. Chris and John changed tire pressure and shock settings to help the MX-5 put down more power when driving off the corners. Our drivers used this to their advantage, posting the two quickest times of the day in the STR class. When the dust settled, the margin Mike and Matt gained on Day One was too much for our MX-5 to overcome, leaving Chris and John in 3rd and 4th respectively, about 0.4 seconds behind the winner.

As a reference point for how the project is progressing, this weekend 2nd place finisher Matt Glagola was driving the Honda S2000 that won the Dixie Tour earlier in the year where we were over eight seconds behind in our bone-stock MX-5. At least on this day, on this course, we’ve closed the gap to his car down to a scant 0.015 second margin. We still need to figure out how to chase down Mike and his Solstice. I guess we have a little more work to do.

<Click on the photo for a video of Chris Harvey's FTD run>

BMW M Roadster Suspension Upgrade

Friday, May 21, 2010 by Brandon Lorenc
1999 BMW M Roadster

Take a look at the BMW Shock Absorber and overall suspension upgrade I did on my 1999 BMW M Roadster before I traded it a couple years back. I do miss it, and was verry happy with the suspension upgrade I did on the car.

First I installed the KONI Sport Shocks. They offered great performance and rebound adjustability so the ride didn't suffer any more then I wanted. At the same time, I lowered the vehicle with some H&R Sport Springs with a very mild drop of 1.3 inches. Here is a picture of the finished product!