P71 SuperDork
Feb. 18, 2010 8:34 p.m.

OK, this is probably rambling and beating a dead horse, but here it goes. We have a 93 Miata B-Package w/ABS now. It's a DD first, and an autocross/fun car/HPDE'er second. It's loaded and staying that way (A/C, cruise, PW/M/S, CD, headreast speakers).

We run in STS and want a locally competitive car. Only mods so far are catching up on maintenance (t-belt, v-belts, fluid changes, etc) and "maintainifying" (Magnecor's, 180* t-stat, synthetics, etc).

I know the biggest spot for improvement will be tires (205/50/15 Ecsta AST's on RoTa RB's now) and shocks (Mazda 157K milers if I'm any judge). The problem is I don't know whether to be cheap or go for it.

I know the car will never be nationally competitive (heavy 1.6 with no VLSD) and I don't care. I would like to do at least as well locally (top half of the field overall and top 10-15 street tired car) as the RX-7.

So do dropping $270 on a set of "old" Azenis (not the new "K's") and $200 on KYB ASX's make sense and deal with the "not as good as it could be" or does dropping some coin on Star Specs/RE11's and a FM2 (Illumina's, Bumpstops, and springs) make sense?

I won't be able to get the car light, a 1.6 will never make power, so do I "give up" on great handling or should I go pretty far to overcome the other 2?

Looking for advice before I drain the checking account and/or melt the CC...

Carson Dork
Feb. 18, 2010 8:43 p.m.

I have the FM1.5 and I think it's pretty awesome. I was in the same situation as you a couple years ago and everything I read said the KYB couldn't touch the performance of the Tokicos. In fact, the FM suspension kit used to come with the KYBs until, IIRC, no one at FM actually used the KYBs because the Tokicos and other brands were better.

I have horrid all seasons on mine right now, so I can't help you there.

Capt Slow HalfDork
Feb. 18, 2010 9:37 p.m.

P71

You and I are in about the same spot. I have been grappling with the same questions. My "car mod" budget, accumulates at a slow rate so I have been pretty darned deliberate in my upgrade path. In fact despite having the car for 6 months its still stock. I just blew a large part of my budget on a traqmate but thats mostly to be used in another car.

After getting a roll bar I plan on adding some "real" wheels and tires (Kumo XS--which I LOVE on the STS MR2), along with this I feel the need to do something with the suspension....

I am thinking that initially I will go with some upgraded sway bars, and then once my mod budget has had a chance to recover I can make the big descion between FM or Fat Cat.

I am reluctant to go with a "cheaper" shock, just becasue I think that eventually I will end up purchasing the good shocks anyways and the purchase of a set of cheapish shocks would just set me back more money in the long run. Besides I think shocks is one of the areas where it really pays off to have the "good stuff"

Unless of course I could find somthing really cheap on craigs list, then all bets are off...

EDIT: so if you indent your first paragraph it uses some wierd font ??? thats strange

P71 SuperDork
Feb. 19, 2010 8:52 a.m.

What about the Koni STR-T?

Soma007
Soma007 New Reader
Feb. 19, 2010 9:35 a.m.

Good tires are the easiest "speed" you'll ever find on an auto-x course. I would absolutely run the best tires you can reasonably afford. The Kuhmo XS or the Dunlop Star specs are the cheapest of the fast street tires.

I have a set of the Koni STR-T's on my E46. They seem like a quality shock. The valving is supposedly like a Koni yellow set to full soft and they will handle most aftermarket springs. Seeing as all Koni stuff is 25% off right now I think they'd be a great choice. None of the top drivers run KYB's, Tokico's, etc. That should tell you somthing.

Don't think the car will hold you back because it won't. You can always add the VLSD later and the B package cars are not dramatically lighter than a base model. My '94 is a C package and I've been competative locally. I won E Stock 2yrs in a row and I'm usually top 10 or top 5 in PAX when I'm on good tires. I'm not a super fast driver by any means and my car setup is pretty basic.

Keith SuperDork
Feb. 19, 2010 10:06 a.m.

I would disagree that a Koni yellow set to full soft will handle most aftermarket springs. The super-soft ones, maybe. But not a set of performance springs. I suspect the reason the top guys are running Konis is because they can be custom-valved for autocross applications. Makes them a much more expensive shock, but that's how you win races :) Although if you're going to spend that much, why not get a proper race shock like a double-adjustable AFCO? Probably due to some class restriction.

It is true that FM used to sell KYBs. Here's how the timeframe went:

  • FM sold Tokicos, KYB was not available
  • KYB AGX introduced, it was $10 cheaper and had more numbers, so everyone wanted it
  • sales of the Tokico dropped off
  • nobody at FM actually wanted to run the KYB on their own cars, so we made it known that you could get the Tokico as an option. When asked, everyone at FM recommended the Tokico because they work so much better
  • when the FM springs were redesigned, the Tokico was the "reference shock"
  • we finally realized that since we weren't willing to recommend KYBs, we should just remove them from our product catalog. And so we did.

During all this time, we never removed a set of Tokicos from a car to install KYBs. We've gone the other way a number of times. Generally speaking, we've had a lot of very happy customers on the Tokicos and they are rarely removed to be replaced with other shocks.

edited for formatting. Tim, love the forum, but why is the formatting such a PITA?

petegossett SuperDork
Feb. 19, 2010 10:51 a.m.

Even though my 96 will never be nationally competitive at anything, I'm still planning to(eventually) go for the FM Afco setup. I figure if they held up for Keith at the Targa, they should work great for our pothole-laden roads, and bumpy USAF concrete autox venue.

I know they aren't cheap, but whenever I do get the $$ to order them I plan on keeping my current AGX/Racing Beat shock assemblies around(which BTW I do really like). Then I can swap them back on whenever it's finally time to overhaul the Afcos.

kreb Dork
Feb. 19, 2010 11:02 a.m.

I wonder what sort of difference one would see between using a set of "old" Azenis (really cheap right now) and a modern design like the Pilots or RE11s. Other than the tendency of Azenis to get greasy when hot, is the better tire worth a second on a 50 second course? or??

billy3esq SuperDork
Feb. 19, 2010 11:38 a.m.

According to the collective wisdom on miata.net, the STR.T is valved less aggressively than even the stock shock. There have been shock dynos posted that indicate less damping than a sport on full soft.

That being the case, I don't think I'd run the STR.T with anything other than stock springs. YMMV.

To P71: I think I posted this in your other thread, but I'd get the FM Stage 2 kit and a set of RE11s, or, if your budget won't allow that the Dunlop Z1, or, if you need to be cheaper still, the Azenis. Any of those should be a fine local ST2 setup.

Capt Slow HalfDork
Feb. 19, 2010 1:40 p.m.
Soma007 said: Good tires are the easiest "speed" you'll ever find on an auto-x course. I would absolutely run the best tires you can reasonably afford. The Kuhmo XS or the Dunlop Star specs are the cheapest of the fast street tires.

As much as I love the Kumo XS's down here in sunny California, they don't seem to like the cold and wet all that much, I don't know if they will work that well up there in WA.

Keith SuperDork
Feb. 19, 2010 1:45 p.m.

We have a car here with XSs on it. It's comically bad in the cold.

moxnix New Reader
Feb. 19, 2010 3:00 p.m.
Keith wrote: I suspect the reason the top guys are running Konis is because they can be custom-valved for autocross applications. Makes them a much more expensive shock, but that's how you win races :) Although if you're going to spend that much, why not get a proper race shock like a double-adjustable AFCO? Probably due to some class restriction.

That is one reason. One of the others is the Koni is at nationals every year supporting the sport.
No class restrictions on shocks in ST classes.

I think the reason you see so many on Koni is that stock Koni shocks work well for standard aftermarket spring rates and if you later upgrade to coilover sleeves on the Koni's you can get them revalved to support those rates and still be cheaper than the $2000 you are going to pay for the AFCO. If this is a long term build project you can spread the cost of the Koni's over a longer term (Buy one year, revalve the next year)

If you are planning on keeping the car for a while I would say I would spend more to get a good suspension under the car now and if you need to cut money do it on the tires. Tires are always going to change so whatever you buy now you are going to need to replace next year anyway while the suspension is going to last a good bit longer.

ZOO Dork
Feb. 19, 2010 6:14 p.m.
Keith wrote: It is true that FM used to sell KYBs. Here's how the timeframe went: - FM sold Tokicos, KYB was not available - KYB AGX introduced, it was $10 cheaper and had more numbers, so everyone wanted it - sales of the Tokico dropped off - nobody at FM actually wanted to run the KYB on their own cars, so we made it known that you could get the Tokico as an option. When asked, everyone at FM recommended the Tokico because they work so much better - when the FM springs were redesigned, the Tokico was the "reference shock" - we finally realized that since we weren't willing to recommend KYBs, we should just remove them from our product catalog. And so we did. During all this time, we never removed a set of Tokicos from a car to install KYBs. We've gone the other way a number of times. Generally speaking, we've had a lot of very happy customers on the Tokicos and they are rarely removed to be replaced with other shocks.

I have the old FM Stage 2 suspension (with KYBs). There was an awful lot of bad press about the Tokicos at the time on the Intraweb, and the KYBs were supposed to be much better -- I wish I knew about the above when I ordered six or seven years ago.

Regardless, I love the set-up on my car, and I have been pleased with the AGXs. If I were doing it again I may go a different direction, but I can't complain about what they've offered me for both autox and lapping days.

Keith SuperDork
Feb. 19, 2010 7:34 p.m.

I left out the part where the Tokico HP (aka the Tokico Blue) was failing left and right, and sullying the reputation of the Illumina. Over the years, we've found the failure rate of the Illumina to be the same as the KYB and in a completely different category from the HP.

Six or seven years ago, FM wasn't selling the Tokico due to a lack of demand. Most people couldn't get past the price difference and the perceived reliability problems. But we were still using them on our own cars. The market has changed in the past few years, people are more willing to pay for quality.

P71 SuperDork
Feb. 19, 2010 7:57 p.m.

So what I hear is buy the stupid-cheap Azenis now and save my pennies for a "proper" suspension and get whatever is the "hot" tire next year when the Azenis are dead?

Roger roger!

Soma007
Soma007 New Reader
Feb. 19, 2010 9:21 p.m.
Keith wrote: I would disagree that a Koni yellow set to full soft will handle most aftermarket springs. The super-soft ones, maybe. But not a set of performance springs. I suspect the reason the top guys are running Konis is because they can be custom-valved for autocross applications. Makes them a much more expensive shock, but that's how you win races :) Although if you're going to spend that much, why not get a proper race shock like a double-adjustable AFCO? Probably due to some class restriction.

Most aftermarket springs lowering springs are super soft :) The Racing Beat street springs are only 196/120 lb/in (stock is 154/94 most years). The ubiquitous Eibach Prokit is even softer than that. You guys should know that better than anyone seeing as you make about the only set of springs that aren't marshmallow soft.

Obviously if you want to run a 700 lb/in spring then the STR.T's are going to cut it but they're going to work well for most street driven applications. The OP did say this was a street car first. Lee Grimes from Koni says the same thing.

http://www.roadraceautox.com/showpost.php?p=674966&postcount=3

Basically the STR.Ts are going to be valved like a KONI Sport adjusted to the full soft setting. They should be fine for stock springs and most normal aftermarket lowering springs. They should be a better option an the other non-adjustables like the Tokico Blue, KYB GR2s, etc. generally now at or below their pricing. If you are using aggressively low height springs or aggressive spring rates, the adjustable Sports would probably be your better bet. You'll be finding Sports for about $115 each.

There are many reasons the top drivers run Koni's. First they make a good shock for just about every car out there. Second, they can be revalved as you mentioned. Third, they support our sport. But the biggest reason is they just plain work. It's no stretch to say more autox championships have been won on Koni's than anything else.

Also I have no idea why you brought up the AFCO's when the OP is obviously on a budget. $2,000 is a pretty far cry from the $230 STR.T's I suggested. I'm sure they're great but total overkill for most. If a performance shock is what's needed then a $500 set of Koni yellows would do just fine in most stock or street touring classes.

Sounds like I'm a Koni fanboy but I'm really not. They do some really dumb things with their designs too like the "remove shock, compress, and turn to adjust" models.

Soma007
Soma007 New Reader
Feb. 19, 2010 9:32 p.m.

In reply to P71:

If you want to be super cheap then the Azenis are fine but not my first choice. I'd go for the Star Spec's instead.

If you do go with them be aware they will get greasy when hot and if you have a co-driver you can pretty much count on that happening unless its cold out. Bring a garden sprayer with you and spray them down if they start to feel much warmer than body temperature. Contrary to most tires they seem to work best when cold.

FYI we just had this discussion on Miata.net

http://forum.miata.net/vb/showthread.php?t=365293

P71 SuperDork
Feb. 19, 2010 9:44 p.m.

Soma007,

I ran the last 2 seasons (and won the 09 Championship in STS) on the original Rt615's. I kinda like them Up here it's always "cold" as far as a tire is concerned.

Also a full set of 4 is going to run ~$250 shipped right now. Same size Star Specs are ~$470. Basically I can get a set of STR.T shocks AND the Falkens for the price of just the Star Specs.

Being a street car on stock springs, that's sounding pretty good

Keith SuperDork
Feb. 19, 2010 9:48 p.m.

I know most lowering springs are too soft. That's why I specified performance springs The RB and Eibach ones are too soft for their ride height and will acquaint the driver well with the bumpstops. The Konis might work for those, but not real springs. I've always felt the Konis worked best on a stock spring, even the Sports.

I mentioned the AFCOs because, by the time you've paid for a coilover conversion, had the Konis revalved, changed the upper hats and bought springs - all stuff included with a full race setup - you might find that the price difference between your $230 shocks and the $2000 suspension isn't as much as you think. But it was only an example, it wasn't meant to offend. And of course, sometimes the rules make you take a different route.

The E39 M5 community was pretty excited about the STR.T when it first came out, but anyone who tried them is now recommending the Sport. It's tough to generalize from one platform to another of course, but it's the only data point I have.

Soma007
Soma007 New Reader
Feb. 21, 2010 7:42 p.m.

Keith,

No offense taken. You're right in that if you have $2k to spend on shocks a high end setup is the way to go. But I still think you can build a decent coilover setup based on Koni sports for about half of that depending on what you want for top hats. I'm told they'll work adequately with a ~500lb/in spring before they need revalving. At that point I would step up to something like an AFCO, Moton, Koni 28 series, etc too.

FWIW I like my STR.T's on my E46. I did 20 runs with it at a local autocross school yesterday and I was happy with how it transitioned and reacted to brake application & release. For the money I think they're great, at least on a stock car. Now if I could only get my Miata to stop like my E46 I'd be ecstatic.

P71,

The Azenis are a smoking deal right now. If they stay cool enough, or if you can keep them cool enough, im sure they'll work for you. On a side note I'm impressed with the way my Star Specs held up on my E46 yesterday. Even though we were doing sets of 6 runs back to back the times never fell off as the tires got hot. It's not a light car (3100lbs) and it hardly has any camber in it either (-0.9 degrees).

Jason

amg_rx7 Reader
Feb. 21, 2010 11:54 p.m.
Soma007 wrote: But I still think you can build a decent coilover setup based on Koni sports for about half of that depending on what you want for top hats. I'm told they'll work adequately with a ~500lb/in spring before they need revalving.

Yep.

I confirmed as much with Koni for both the model they make for the FD RX7 and NA Miata. 500lb spring is the max. I've been running Koni and GC on my FD for years. I revalved them at Pro Parts last year after 5 years of HPDE track and street usage.

archebald23
archebald23 New Reader
May 27, 2010 8:42 p.m.
P71 wrote: I know the biggest spot for improvement will be tires (205/50/15 Ecsta AST on RoTa RB's now) and shocks (Mazda 157K milers if I'm any judge). The problem is I don't know whether to be cheap or go for it.

i suggest you go for it, the shocks and tires will be your primary determinant here. give it a boos with performance shocks, not the ordinary shocks cause they're kinda soft.

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