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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A Question for those using Hal or Koni adjustable shocks. And anyone else with an opinion. That's just about EVERYONE.


Over the last year I have read with considerable interest a variety of threads on adjustable shocks. First Konis, but now it seems Hals are becoming much more widespread. Of considerable interest to me is the relative ease of adjustability of the Hals (at will, on the car) versus the Konis. Can these expensive, quality, works of art deliver so much versatility and possibiliy save you money over time?

Observations:

1.) Some members are using adjustables with NO front sway bar. Clearance for Rammit air systems and other mods were the first reported benefits but more notably for drag racing setups. Superior individual wheel/weight transfer adjustability. Added advantage - loss of bar weight.
2.) Some have eliminated rear bar as well, and managed right/left torque adjustability via adjustable shocks and suspension. Also, drop 30+ lbs.
3.) Others rave the merits of adjustables in combo with their lowered rides.
4.) Autocrossers and road racers also are touting their ability to adjust to road conditions and compensate for suspension wear over time.
5.) I shouldn't leave out those that have improved the setup of their trailering/tow B cars with adjustables.

Adjustables SEEM to do it ALL!

Don't get me wrong, I know suspension is a Package deal; that when you change one thing you gotta adjust other things if not the whole package. Which brings me to my question.

My question is this: 1.) With a fairly common suspension setup of extended rear arms (Hotchkis), stock springs, stock rims with either stock size tires or 275-285/40s; Can I add my HO rear bar, add Hals (or Konis) on all four corners and use them to adjust as needed to compensate for the stock front bar? Not having to spend $175-250 for a front bar setup justifies the shock expense almost by itself.

2.) Are the Hals as easy to adjust as reported? Stiffness and bounce rate? I would like to hear more from those that use adjustables in everyday driving situations.

3.) What's the optimal suspension setup with adjustables for an everyday driver used for ocassional drag or autocross?
 
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My personal opinion?

Using the Shocks to compensate for other things is a bad choice. It is like treating the symptoms instead of treating the disease.

If it is a temporary thing then it will likely be OK...

I currently have the Stock springs and front shocks on my '94 9C1. On the rear I have put the HAL adjustable shocks that Air Ride sells for their Air Bag system. This has a wierd symptom of preloading the rear springs and compressing them by ATLEAST a half inch. (I have a reverse rake at the moment.)
Probably will be good for Autocross and such.. But is hard riding. And it is something that adjusting the shocks does NOT take out. I plan to do the same to the front and then after the Dreamapalooza get the air bags...

Are they easy to adjust? Sure are.. The Rears are as simple as laying on my back and reaching around the front of the rear tire, grasp the knob on the shock and turn it until it clicks... Works REAL well. Not sure how the fronts will work yet but I am sure it will be simular.

Other suspension mods include HO bars front and rear, and J&M extended arms with Adjustable uppers.

I am running Potenza RE730's on the front and the BFG Comp T/A's on the rear. I JUST bought the RE730's and the ride is MUCH improved just having those two tires changed. I told them to put the BFG's on the rear because I would rather burn up my old tires as opposed to the new ones.. ;)

The very first thing I noticed was no more following cracks in the expressway..

Oh yea, back to the shocks..
Why did I get the HAL shocks?
I figured with them I can do BETTER at the track, adjust them to the lowest setting and they should REALLY allow weight transfer. At the highest setting it should work well with Autocrossing and for normal driving I can adjust them accordingly. They are rebuildable shocks as well so the initial cost is high but you rebuild them when they wear out. Plus I like having them adjustable because unless they completly blow out you can make up for them wearing by adjusting them. My shocks needed about a week to soften up when they were new. Now they are pretty good although with the shorter shocks and stiff 9C1 springs the ride is harse... I am sure the poly bushings on the rear dont help any either.

I think if the car handles better with the shocks or the upgraded sway bars it can only get better with BOTH. Seems to be that way so far. My front shocks have 170,000 miles on them and are a little soft. The Sway bar currently is helping stabalize the front with these weak shocks. With the HALs up front should make my car handle a little better yet and I am AMAZED at the difference between today and a year ago...

The extended arms probably stabalize the car slightly as well.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good Info Elixir! Thanks for the driving experience feedback.

Would you say your car is neutral, some oversteer or some understeer in its present setup? I'm guessing slight oversteer??

With your 170,000 mile "soft" shocks in the front, you could use some new ones.
Depending on the answer above, you could move it to more neutral with adjustables. But, you obviously need a fairly soft setting to maintain a neutral steer.

If I had same suspension setup except with stock (smaller) front bar, could I compensate with a "stiffer" setting on the shocks?
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I put both the Sway bars and the Control arms on at the same time. When I did mine I noticed I had more control through turns, could go through them faster and my turns were much quicker then with the stock bars and standard length control arms. (I did not have to turn the wheel as far to turn the same.) My first 35 mph turn onto a side street about threw me out the window...
That all was BEFORE the HAL shocks were put on.And before I tore up one of my BFG's by driving on it while it was flat.


I am not an expert on suspensions by any means...

If you look at the function of each component I can not see how a shock can do the job of a sway bar... My Sway bar is slighly spreading the shock force to both shocks making my soft shocks seem better but it doesn't become a shock..

I can see where a stiff shock can help for quick turns and such but I think NOTHING works as well for long high speed turns as a sway bar. I can take 45 mph on ramps about 10mph faster then I was able to before.. Maybe faster but I haven't pushed it that hard.

The Biggest thing I have noticed since adding the shocks in the rear is that the cars rear end stays in contact with the road. I do not get bounced towards other lanes or have to modify my turning radius due to rough roads. I can pretty much keep the car turning the same and it follows through. And that was with JUST the rears. The fronts are a little soft too...

Note, WHen I say the shocks were soft they still were/are better then those $19 specials you can get. Just that they are not as stiff as they were when they were new. The car still passed the 3 bounce test etc. The shocks were worn but not completly dead yet.

I can only guess how much my poly rear bushings and the 3/4" moving back of the rear axle helped stabalize its turning and stability.

Personally Get the items you can afford, don't worry about the rest of it.
If you are going to be autocrossing or such you will be cheating yourself by doing anything less then the HO/HA rear bar and the HO/Fbody front bar and the better shocks. The Adjustables are only good if you want to be able to tune your ride...

If you get dropped springs you may also want to consider getting shorter shocks. My current setup is a perfect example of why you should make sure you match your shock length to your coil height. It rides poorly but will be good for autocrossing. Will be a much better ride when I get my air bags.

I do not even know why people are bothering with the RAMMIT system with the SRI system out. Not sure how many "I sucked up water into my intake and killed the motor" stories we need to hear before they stop selling it.
Will be interesting to see what happens when the first person sues them for not warning them about injesting water and they kill their motor and need a $2000+ rebuild...

Realize I changed my components out not because I want to make an awesome autocross car or anything.. Well I bought the Sway bars for that... :D But the control arms and such I bought because the rear end of my car was loose and I wanted to tighten it up and that I did.

Fun cars aren't they? And it is nice that we have options...
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Elixir:

Everything you say and have experienced with the changes you have made, makes sense to me. And I can't creditably disagree with your observations and advice. Thanks for taking time to give me your first hand experiences.

I guess I am trying to rationalize $500 for shocks!! :eek: If I could adjust for the predictable oversteer with the HO rear/stock front setup, even if not quite optimum, I could be more psyched about the GP on the Hals.

Elixir, I still can't believe you are doing so well riding around on 170,000 mile front shocks. Are they the 9C1 original stiff Bilsteins? Obviously, great shocks!! Getting new fronts on would give you a big improvement it seems to me.
You also are going to be AMAZED when you get Potenzas on the back as well as the front. But, who knows, sounds like your car is handling well and predictably now. Thanks again for the info. Maybe someone else has some insights on the adjustables.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Get the expensive shocks if you must (there's certainly worse places to spend money), but I'd recommend spreading the cash over a set of Konis or Bilsteins and a set of upgraded swaybars. I think you'll get better performance.

What Elixir said was pretty much right on. Shocks can only affect the suspension under dynamic conditions (as you get when you're quickly snapping the car into a corner). Once the suspension has taken its set (and assuming there's no mid-corner bumps), the springs and the sway bars are the only items providing roll resistance.

Here's a breakdown of what I've spent on my suspension:

$140 for Global West front springs
$90 for GM wagon rear springs
$120 for HA rear bar
$60 for GM F-body front bar
$30 for front end links and bushings
$360 for Koni shocks

That's "only" $800, and the car handles absolutely perfectly with the Bridgestone RE730s. Given a limited budget, I'd maybe spend the $250 or so that it'll take to get the Bilsteins, put the next $250 towards some sway bars, and then finish off the suspension with some stiffer springs when the budget allows.

In my opinion, the SS suspension geometry is absolutely horrible. Therefore, it seems that the best way to get these cars to handle is to limit the suspension movement with stiff springs and bars. Unfortunately, this doesn't really leave much opportunity for finely-tuned damping to play much of a role. I think things are radically different when you have something like any modern-era Honda, which controls the camber well enough to allow one to use much more wheel travel. In this situation, damping plays a much larger role.

Sorry for the long post!
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Eric:

What did the GW/Wagon setup put you in terms of ride height? I am thinking of going that route along w/ the Bilsteins. I allready have the HA/F bar setup, but at 86k I think the stockers are SHOT.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by gbelli:
[QB]Eric:

What did the GW/Wagon setup put you in terms of ride height? I am thinking of going that route along w/ the Bilsteins.[QB]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The GW front springs dropped my car about a half-inch compared to the stock springs. If you want more drop, GW can help determine how much spring to cut.

Out back, the wagon springs are just a touch higher than stock if we're comparing them with an empty trunk and gas tank. There's a big difference between the ride heights once you start adding weight to the rear, and the greatly-reduced sag of the wagon springs really makes them worthwhile if you run around with 4 people and a trunkfull of stuff.

I'll try to shoot a couple pics of my car the next time it's clean.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Also have to realize what you are asking of your shocks. Are you going to JUST drive the car? If so get the sway bars, the much cheaper non adjustable shocks and be more then happy about the setup.

I am installing air bags and will be towing with my car. Due to the air bags changing dynamics due to how much air is in them I wanted to be able to adjust my ride quality to match my ride height. More air, soften the shocks, less air, stiffen the shocks.

I also do a bit of drag racing at the track to try tuning my car right and see what improvements I have made. Adjusting the shocks will let me get better weight transfer.

Personally I look at what a car is supposed to do and try helping it do that. I try not to get too out of wack with the normal car setups. Which is why I say NO to the rammit system... No to pulling off the front sway bar...

UP front the only thing I have done at this point is to Moog the steering stuff...

I planned on starting in the rear and working my way forward. Seemed to me to be logical. With the mechanics of the engine being the LAST thing I plan to address...

Currently my rear has the J&M's, HO bars, HAL shocks... I have yet to add the air bags, the new axle and safety loop.

I am about to put super stop pads on the rear with my new calipers and powerslot rotors. Waiting on the power slots and ceramic front pads now before I do the swap..
UP front I am just adding the ceramic pads and not touching my current brakes.
I AM changing the MC to be safe as well.

Reason I am not doing much to the front is because I basically will be replacing the front by next year.

TCE brakes, upgraded ball joints and those "Del a dum" bushings...

Should make things even more fun...
Maybe by then I will have these BFG's burned off a little and will need another set of RE730's. :D
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Eric. I have AL heads and that'll bring the car up just a hair. I dont really want to affect ride height as I allready did w/ the 40 series tires :D
 
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