This is WAY overdue, so I apologize, but I wanted to give the STD R3s a real run through and really get over the excitement of a new part so that I can give an honest, and neutral review of a product.
Before I get started, I want to give a special thanks to John Benham because without him I probably never would have heard of or gotten these coilovers, so thanks John!
ok the review...
I got the STD R3 coilovers which comes with front pillowball mounts and camber plates.. in all honesty, one of the biggest selling points for me because we all know about the notorious front J-body strut mount nightmare.. they constantly go bad, and are a bitch to replace.
Another nifty feature is a scale that is printed on the side of the coilover body to allow an easy way to even up the left and right sides.. no more tape measures and headaches, its printed right on the body for you to see, pretty convenient, although I did have one gripe with it (see below).
The only downside to the scaled body is that the scale isn't always visible to you, in otherwords, getting the mark to line up just right may put the bottom mount in the wrong position, requiring you to rotate the whole coilover in order to line up with the suspension properly.. but this makes the scale on a non-visible side of the coilover. Not a major problem but it is annoying at times. One other downside to the R3s is that the damper adjustment knob is too tall in the front and hits the hood. An easy solution is to simply unscrew the adjustment knob, and keep it in the center console when you want to make adjustments (just engage the square drive, you don't have to screw it down everytime) but that is also semi annoying for such an expensive suspension.
The R3s are also double ride height adjustable, which means there are two ways to change the height of your car. You can either drop the spring perch (how most coilovers adjust ride height), or you can shorten the length of the coilover itself, which also lowers the car. The advantage with this is that you're free to set your ride height/ stance however you want it without sacrificing suspension travel and prematurely blowing shocks. Mostly useful if you're corner balancing the car since you can set spring preload and ride height separately.
I had gravana powergrip coilovers, those were my first experience with double ride-height adjustable coilovers. I was a big fan of the design, but disliked the confusing strut mount design (good that it let you use either 95-99 or 00-05 mounts, but bad because 1) no directions 2) complicated and easy to lose/ misplace parts). I also ran into constant problems with the top mount design of the coilover grinding away the metal of the strut mount. I tried both 95-99 and 00-05 mounts, and neither seemed to work better than the other. My gravs would constantly destroy the metal sleeve in the mount, which would then commence clunking, and randomly changing camber in turns making the car a bit unpredictable at times, even in regular driving.
Looking for other options was when I stumbled on the STD threads. I liked what I saw and bought one of the first sets.
The quality of the coilovers are pretty good. I've seen higher quality stuff, but also for twice the price. Compared to Gravana PowerGrips, they're right on par. The bodies are a bright blue, with bright yellow springs.. a bit brighter then what I'd hoped for, but buying a suspension part for its color is sort of silly. The fronts come assembled, but the rears need strut mounts.. the only disadvantage of the R3s. The R5 variant comes with front and rear pillowball mounts, but there is no R5 variant for the J-body currently.
(I'm working on a video of the installation, I'm almost finished... it will be posted on my youtube site and linked later in this thread).
Installation of the fronts is pretty straight forward since they're already assembled. However, I'd make a suggestion for a small modification before installing them. There are so-called "coilover spring bearings" that are sold from SpeedwayMotors.com... they're basically a 2.5" thrust bearing that sits underneath the springs. When turning the wheel for slow speed maneuvers or when standing still, if you ever get a pop-pop-pop-pop-pop sound, its the spring not rotating freely with the rest of the coilover body. By installing the 2.5" thrust washer, you give the spring an easier way to move, and it helps to eliminate that annoying sound. They're inexpensive (around $40) and worth every penny. Other than that, the fronts are simply remove old suspension, install new, set ride height, get aligned, done.
The rears are a little bit easier, but still not a bolt on affair. The R3s have thicker shock rod, so the stock mount has to be drilled out slightly in order to fit. You can get away with 1/2" drill bit, but for a truly snug fit 12mm is the shaft diameter. Other than that it bolts right into place, set ride height, done.
A word on preloading springs:
Don't do it. Preloading is basically when you use the spring perches to squeeze the spring with no load on it. When you preload the springs you will make them stiffer in their first few moments of travel.. in other words, preloading springs = higher INITIAL spring rate, which means a much harsher ride, especially over sudden bumps. If you drive on the street, this is a definite no-no. If your car is track raced, you can use preload to help even the weight on your tires but this can only be set during corner balancing and otherwise should not be messed with.
ALWAYS get your car aligned after dropping it. The front suspension camber/toe settings change during the travel of the suspension, so lowering the car will mess up those settings. Be sure to call ahead to the alignement shop you choose, some will give you crap for having a lowered car, and others won't touch your car at all if they know its lowered. When setting the camber plates, just set both sides to the same markings and let the alignment shop figure the rest out. They don't need to be super duper tight either, but make sure they're tight.
Also, for the camber mounts, use the screws in the holes closest to the outside of the car, and the holes immediately adjacent to them. DO NOT use the inside holes for those screws... it'll run into the body of the car and most likely break.
showing the bolt holes you should use for the 4 camber screws
Short term review:
Once I got them setup and I fixed my toe settings, I fell in love with these coilovers. The install was pretty simple, and the front pillowball mounts are really a load off my mind. I only did a VERY mild drop on my 04 because I drive it everyday, but I have an base model sway bar in the front and no sway bar in the back, so when 'wiggling' the steering wheel small amounts, I still notice a tiny bit of body roll. I think with upgraded sway bars (I'd suggest addco front at the least) I bet the car would be a lot tighter even with very small user inputs.
When doing quick lane changes the car is very responsive, of course this is true with most upgraded suspensions so this is pretty much a given. When pushing the car through corners the grip seems never ending. With better sway bars I'm positive my car would have handled even better.
The bad? They ride a little rough. Even after dialing the dampers down to try and soften the ride up a bit, the car still does not like sudden bumps or potholes, and I have a theory regarding this. Springrates/ shock dynos are not given with the suspension. But I believe the springrates may be chosen based on the weight of the vehicle.. Z24s and LS Sports are about 200-300lbs heavier than their basemodel counterparts.. which I believe is why the ride is quite rough.. but without numbers regarding the springs and ESPECIALLY the shocks, this is only a theory.
Long term review:
Please bear in mind, I was using run flat tires on 16" rims, and I have read that run flats tend to ride a lot rougher than their regular counterparts, so that may attribute to a lot of the harshness in the ride I feel.
These ride ROUGH. I drive over a lot of bumpy roads on my way to work everyday, and the ride does get rather annoying after a while. I'm beginning to wonder if my tiny tiny bit of preload (roughly 1/16") is enough to make the initial spring rate hard enough to feel so mean on small bumps.
When the car is settled on smooth road or going around turns however, it feels fantastic. I love the handling aspect, but the comfort is definitely not there. It sometimes feels like its skipping across the road.. I'm confident that if I spent more time messing with settings I could get it to ride much better, but on a daily its rather difficult.
The hardware that comes with the STDs are a bit lacking, I noticed some rusting, and when I tried to take the coilovers off to install on the skwirl, one of the studs broke. I've replaced the hardware with class 10.9 metric nuts and bolts, but just a warning to anyone who wants to use it on a DD, you may need some paint on the bolts to keep them protected, or anti-seize.
I will be getting another set of these for my daily driver (when money allows) and I'll be giving another go to make them a bit more plushy for street duty. I have a feeling its a problem with my settings. I'll be touching back on this thread when I do more investigation into the matter.
Overall, I think these are the best coilovers available for the jbody performance wise.. but in terms of comfort, these may not be the best option without some very careful setup and possibly some extra parts purchased for it.. although the ride quality may be a bit better on a heavier vehicle.
I'm sad that there is no data on the shock, which would allow you to possibly better match a spring rate to it, but 2.5" springs can be found easily so I will be experimenting with different rates to see if I can match the valving better.
-Camber plates with pillow ball mounts
-Double ride height adjustable
-Scale on side for easier adjustment
-Feels great in cornering
-Need to modify rear strut mounts to fit shock rod
-Ride is rough
-Adjustment knobs in front hit hood
-Scale isn't always in a visible spot
Edited 1 time(s). Last edited Tuesday, December 15, 2009 10:29 PM