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      03-30-2009, 10:31 PM   #1
KeithLM
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A thorough Riss Racing review

*UPDATE* April 13 Finally received my refund.

Anybody who has seen some of my recent threads is going to see this and will probably assume I'm just trying to smear Riss Racing because of the problems I've had. It's a reasonable assumption, but the primary reason I'm writing this post is to bring out the numerous problems I encountered. I bought these parts because of the overwhelming praise I've seen on this forum for Riss Racing. I now see that that praise is not at all deserved. They've earned the hype with their first to the market parts and many people love them for that and let them get by with shoddy quality. Yes, at times their service can be great, and it's nice that Daniel will give out his cell phone number to provide support, but the bigger question remains, why is that needed so often? I'll also talk more about shipping issues, and there were many, as well as issues wtih refunds down below. While I may seem to be nitpicking about certain things, it's when you take a sum of all the parts that you begin to see what Riss Racing is all about.

Another thing that I find disconcerting is the reviews I keep seeing on the forum. Most of them lack any substance, they'll have merely one or two sentences about a part, and yet people praise those as "great reviews". I promise you mine are going to be detailed. There's a lot of criticism, but then there's a lot to criticize also. I'll also do my best to point out what I like about the products, but honestly I feel pretty burned by Riss right now.

I've included many photos here, full sized images can also be found in my gallery.

Last edited by KeithLM; 04-13-2009 at 01:55 PM.
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      03-30-2009, 10:31 PM   #2
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Ram Air Intake

Conceptually I like the intake. It's got a single big filter and it feeds into a nice big pipe, which is then divided to the two turbos. The closest competitor on the forums seems to be the Injen, and while the two filters may provide more air, I don't think it's a necessity to feed each turbo individually. The RR intake seems to work well too. Unfortunately the dyno I used for my baseline was recalibrated before I received the plenum so I no longer have a baseline to work with. But with the RR DDV and Intake I got 265HP and 291lbs/ft. It would appear that the full intake package provided a nice boost in torque.

Unfortunately the build quality and fitment of the intake suffer. My biggest gripe is that there is nothing about the intake that indicates you have any of the connections right. No ribs, raised edges, or markings of any kind, nor anything in the DIY that tells you how far back the intake should sit in the engine bay. I struggled to move it back further because I was told (not shown) that I must have it to far forward because of the issues I had with the plenum. As I result I worked the intlet to the turbo loose in the rear, which was a costly repair. The welds on the intake are also of poor quality. While welding aluminum may result in bigger beads, it would appear that the welds on the intake were done by an amateur or made large to cover holes in the joints. Also they use a few straight pieces of pipe welded together at angles instead of some nice curved pieces. Perhaps that doesn't affect air-flow on a turbo-charged car enough to matter, but it could definitely be done better, especially for how much they charge.

Other problems revolved around the steering reservoir bracket. Pictures of installations with the C-clamp bracket are scarce, and Riss Racing was of little help here. I spent a lot of time tweaking the intake and reservoir prior to the plenum being released. At one time the filter was pushing into the bracket enough to do some damage to the filter. There are a lot of variables when you don't have the plenum, and not much to go on to actually get things to fit nicely.
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      03-30-2009, 10:32 PM   #3
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Scoops

Not really much to say about these. I doubt they add much performance, but they definitely won't hurt, and they look kind of cool, especially in red. They're overly expensive for what they are but can be had cheaper in a package deal most of the time. They are a bit of a tight fit, and the tabs may need bending, but then that area wasn't made to have something installed in it to begin with.
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      03-30-2009, 10:32 PM   #4
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Plenum

Cheap, shoddy, poorly built. Those words describe the look of it best. I think it probably does add to the performance, but the fact that it looks to have been cut out of sheet metal with shears then welded together in a high school shop class really takes away from it, especially for the cost. The screw holes are poorly lined up, the top of mine is warped and the RR logo is peeling off, and the coating is chipping in some places.



Fitting it with the intake was another issue. Absolutely no one that I have seen has provided a picture of this mounted with the C-clamp bracket. At various times people at Riss have claimed it fit, but they seem hard pressed to provide a picture, which leads me to believe they are lying about it. I think it's fairly obvious that they did not at any time test fit the plenum with their current intake package, and to me that is inexcusable. They had the designed finalized by the beginning of December and didn't ship until February, but it still took weeks for them to provide a bracket that fit. Really, that's just pathetic. Some people actually complemented them on a job well done when they offered to send out a properly fitting bracket to their customers that needed it (apparently only 3-4 us based on their claims). But that is the very least that should be expected. That is one thing that definitely clued me in on how low the expectations are for Riss on this forum.

Please, look at this full size image and tell me how that looks good. I understand there are limitations to Riss Racing's manufacturing capabilities. However for the price, and considering this is for a BMW, you should expect better. And when I see I people praising the quality of this piece, it makes me wonder. I believe it is effective, I see some advantages to using metal instead of plastic, but the poorly cut lines and shoddy welding show a real lack of quality. It's not a bad design, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. For now I'll keep it in my car until I can find something better.
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      03-30-2009, 10:33 PM   #5
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DDV

First I should say that I may well have caused some of my own problems with this. When installing the DDV it took forever to remove the rear diverter hose from it's fitting. Two friends and myself worked on it for at least an hour, and no, we weren't turning it the wrong way. It just wouldn't budge. Then the bolt that holds the pipe in place stripped, meaning I wasn't able to attach the DDV to that bracket correctly. Also I may have had the front pipe a bit loose, which meant it slipped out on my first drive. As a result I had to do a bunch more work with it, and eventually put another screw in to hold it in place, but it's possible since I didn't have it fit right at first that oil seeped into the hose fitting leading to further failures at those joints.

However I do feel that there are design issues here. The choice to attach the valves to the pipes with hose segments, and the quality of the brackets used shows attempts being made to keep the product cheap, while charging a nice high price. Also the hoses used for connecting the DDV to the intercooler and throttle body are not of the highest quality and don't hold well and the clamps provided had to be bottomed out. A better method needs to be used to secure the hose to the throttle body because of the shape of the throttle body. It is tapered and tightening the clamps can actually force the hose down the throttle body if you aren't careful. Also if the pipe were about an inch longer it would fit between the intercooler and throttle body better. As it was the pipe coming from the intercooler was loose from it's bracket in order to meet the DDV. And there was plenty of room or movement which eventually allowed the DDV
pipe to slip out of the hose on the throttle body. Finally, the ribs on the pipe could be bigger allowing for better grip. There are a number of areas where minor changes to the design could improve installation and reliability.

Finally, the DIY is not very clear on the placement of the diverter valves themselves. These should come attached in their recommended positions. I lined them up best I could based on the pictures, installed the piece, then found the hoses to long and cut them off, but later was told by Daniel that if I rotated them it might have allowed me to use longer lengths without any kinking. Once it's in the car rotating the valves is quite difficult because of the tight fit of the hoses. Although even though I have those extremely tight, there's still signs of leaking oil around the fittings. Exactly how tight should those be?

Having since removed the DDV I can't say that I've missed it. Was my installation so poor that I was leaking boost? Does it just not matter much unless you are on a track? I just don't know. But since the DDV slipped loose on the track and thus wasted a good portion of my day, and my money, I don't trust it.

Since I removed it and had posted this problem in another thread, Anthony contacted me and offered to send out a smaller clamp and different hoses. The clamp looks to be a much better fit. He said they stopped using that one because people complained it was hard to get on. Waaaa! It needs to be tight! The original clamp I had bottomed out and if I pulled on the DDV I could pull it loose. The smaller clamp is a necessity. Now the hoses, they are cheap, cheap, cheap. They remind me of dryer vent hose. It's cloth on a stiff coil of wire. Blech.
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      03-30-2009, 10:33 PM   #6
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Catted Downpipes

There's a long thread about this. Suffice it to say by design or manufacturing problem, mine were situated such that the bung holes for the pre-cat O2 sensors were too close to each other and the sensors made contact with one another. The first shop, COBB Tuning, followed Riss's instructions and also called them. According to Riss they didn't call enough. But guess what, these people charge by the hour. What exactly should they do? Leave it on the lift, keep monkeying with it for hours on end waiting for the guys from Riss to get somewhere to check their e-mail? I can't afford that. When they had the pipes in place they could not insert both O2 sensors. No twisting, rotating, squeezing, etc. was going to make a significant difference in this.





The second shop, Stett Performance, installed them by inserting the O2 sensors in the pipes then placed the pipes in the brackets. This worked and left a few thousands of an inch between the sensors. This was not consistent with prior installations they had done using Riss downpipes. If anybody can explain how my car could be made different such that the pipes could fit in the mounting brackets and line up next to each other as expected, but have the O2 sensors be mounted several degrees off from where they belong, I'd love to hear it.

The end result is one O2 sensor was damaged, and I've spent a lot of money on labor. The downpipes did give me some additional power, and I liked the sound, but dealing with Riss was not worth it, so I finally removed the pipes and sent them back. Riss was willing to spend $400+ and provide a new O2 sensor to have this problem fixed, which tells me that they recognize the problem was on their end, no matter how hard they tried to blame others (and Anthony even called COBB incompetent at one point). Either they very poorly designed these, or something happened in manufacturing. Even if it is their design, they should have blamed the manufacturer, fixed the problem, and offered to send new pipes out ASAP.

***Update 4/9/09***
Turns out both O2 sensors were damaged, quite likely because thermal expansion caused them to push into one another.

Last edited by KeithLM; 04-09-2009 at 10:49 AM. Reason: Update on O2 sensors
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      03-30-2009, 10:34 PM   #7
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Exhaust

Where to begin. First at one time I had discussed with Anthony getting black tips. I thought they were matte, and looked like the catted pipes, from what I'd seen of the earlier pictures of the exhaust. Anthony took the initiate to have them done in a nice black coating. Not as good as stock, but still it looked kind of cool. I appreciated that. Overall the exhaust looked good, except where they tacked on their logo. That left nasty burn marks on the polished surface, however that side would be facing the car, so no big deal.

Sadly, it did not fit. COBB found that it would not match the stock downpipes, the holes in the flanges are farther apart than stock. Why? This has happened to others and they've had to bore out the holes. But they don't tell you beforehand. If you were doing this on your own and then found you had to go to the hardware store and by a titanium bit in the hopes of drilling it out, it'd be a real pain in the ass. Who in their right mind says "Let's make the flange on our downpipes match the stock fittings, but not our exhaust."? They claim that it is to match the wides possible ranges of products that might be on people's cars already. But it doesn't match stock! Either they are incompetent and screwed up when making their jig, or they're just idiots. There is just no logical reason to make this decision.

COBB chose not to modify the flanges, they figured after the issue with the downpipes that there was some sort of problem with the parts I was sent. Riss was adamant that there was none. So I took it to Stett since they are a BMW shop. They got the downpipes on, then bolted on the exhaust. The fitment was so poor it was laughable, or perhaps sickening is the better word since at that point I was in the hole for a lot of money. The exhaust came off the downpipes and shoved up into the underbody and was making contact with the car in several places, including a suspension bracket, and the tips were way out of alignment. Daniel's suggestion was to heat the exhaust with a torch and bend it down. That much heating and bending would have affected the strength of the steel and was not a reasonable option. Stett's expression when told that was interesting to say the least. He estimated it needed a good $300 worth of labor to be cut and rewelded into an appropriate configuration, which Riss was willing to fit the bill for, but was in my opinion completely inappropriate for a bolt on, especially one with an MSRP of $1400.

In the end Riss tried to get away with only giving me $900 plus shipping for the exhaust. I bought the downpipes and exhaust for $2000, which is 80% of MSRP. I shouldn't lose the package pricing because their fitment is so bad. I expected 80% of $1400 plus shipping plus labor. Anything less than that in my mind is completely and totally unacceptable, especially with the other issues I've encountered. This was the primary reason why I gave up and returned the downpipes to Riss.

The tips were pushing the plastic diffuser out of shape.


In all these pictures if it appears to be touching the under body, I assure you it was. And if you grabbed it and tried to pull down, it wouldn't budge.












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      03-30-2009, 10:34 PM   #8
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The Red Intake

I was not going to mention this on the forum until Riss tried to sell it, if they ever do, but then Anthony told me he saw nothing wrong with it after I returned it. He blew off the problems as possible shipping damage, which they clearly are not. They sent this to me as a one-off (I was told it was something they were about to announce as an option but later Anthony claimed they did this just special for me, as if I asked for it or something) when they sent me catless downpipes and after the problems with the plenum and reservoir bracket had surfaced. This had the poorest coating I've ever seen. It was just plain awful. I don't see how anybody could look at that and allow it to leave their shop. This was another big indicator to me as to how poor Riss Racing's quality control is. There's a black stain on the top, or perhaps it's just real thin there. Where a couple of the pipes meet there is no coating at all, and a lot of the welds are thinly coated. Also the red really brings out the poor, clunky welds. And the coating is so thin the original RR logo shows through. To make matters worse, some of the coating is inside and there are pieces of the texture that are hanging loose and could conceivably break off and end up going straight to the turbos.

Seriously, would any of you provide this to a customer that was already unhappy because of your mistakes and delays?

Here the logo shows through and the coating is thin on the welds.


The joint in the center is very poorly done, it appeared burned and silver in different parts.


This photo gives an impression of the overall thinness of the coating.


Either a stain or they missed a lot.


Check out the full sized images. Keep in mind that it was difficult to properly capture this as the texture and poor coating actually imply a poor photo. Also if your monitor is not set correctly the reds may be overpowering and you might not be able to see the problems. It was bad, very, very bad.
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      03-30-2009, 10:35 PM   #9
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Oil Catch Can

I have not installed this yet. All the other issues I've had have made me leery about doing anything else with the car and especially when that involves Riss Racing. However I can definitely see a need for this, and from what I've found the install can't go horribly wrong and Riss doesn't appear to have screwed this up. So I will be installing it eventually, or paying Stett to put it on. It is the only product of their's that I would recommend to anyone mainly because there isn't a competing product that I'm aware of.
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      03-30-2009, 10:35 PM   #10
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Shipping and Refunds

On 2/6 Anthony told me everything I had on order (plenum, catch can, exhaust, downpipes) would be shipping in the next week. Keep in mind the first batch of plenums was to go out that day (but didn't) so I understand if they were a bit swamped, and I wasn't surprised for there to be some delays. However on 2/9 I received tracking numbers for the exhaust and downpipes. After over a week of hearing nothing I kept pestering them and it wasn't until 2/17 that I finally got good information, and that was the downpipes would be shipping soon and the exhaust a few days later. So 9 days from the shipping label being printed to the downpipes actually being given to Fedex, and 11 days for the exhaust. That's ridiculous. And I went over a week without a legitimate update. If you send out a tracking number you are setting an expectation that shipping will follow in a reasonble time, 24-48 hours at most. Anything else, then you should be making contact with the customer to explain the delays. Not making crap excuses about how many items fit on a truck, or how FedEx doens't always update the tracking.

Then, as it turned out on the 21st I received catless pipes. It took nearly two weeks, including multiple e-mails and phone calls from me, before they shipped out the appropriate pipes. I was told on 3/2 it would go out 3/3, and on 3/4 I asked where they were and was told they would ship on 3/5. Granted, they also took the initiative to include the O2 Sim. I didn't ask for it, but Anthony enjoyed holding that over my head when I complained about the fitment of the downpipes. Also I didn't receive my refund for the shipping on the catless pipes until I sent an e-mail after they received it even though I told them when I shipped it how much it cost.

The intake was another problem. I sent that back and again I had to send multiple e-mails to get my refund for the shipping. And all I was told was "Sorry this didn't meet your expectations".

With the exhaust, again I had to send an e-mail to get my refund. I had already made comments about not liking the fact that I had to wait to get my shipping refunds before and was told it would be refunded the second they received it. Not so.

On 3/20 they announced that they figured out my problem with the downpipes was a bad O2 sensor. They offered to get me one right away. By the time I finally gave up on 3/24 they still hadn't sent it.

Missed dates and poor estimates are a problem with Riss. If you look back over the plenum thread in the commercial section you'll see it slipped a lot. As did the replacement bracket, and the new DIY, which was supposed to be out weeks ago and hasn't shown up yet. If over the weekend you say you are going to do something on Monday, do it, or follow up on it. Don't leave people hanging until Wednesday. But apparently that is the Riss way.
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      03-30-2009, 10:57 PM   #11
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I too am not a fan of Riss Racing products. What I don't understand is why you bought so many of their products? It seems like you realized that there were issues, yet you keep purchasing? I stopped after the OCC myself...
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      03-30-2009, 11:04 PM   #12
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Hi KeithLM.. I can second the products that I own that you have reviewed and many are true... and they refunded your catted DP? should I be asking for mine too? I have all my private messages I sent them and got tired of all this crap and gave up..
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      03-30-2009, 11:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saikelol View Post
I too am not a fan of Riss Racing products. What I don't understand is why you bought so many of their products? It seems like you realized that there were issues, yet you keep purchasing? I stopped after the OCC myself...
I think like KeithLM we bought alot of their products at once.. and because of all the praised reviews it seemed like the way to go.
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      03-30-2009, 11:09 PM   #14
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My exhaust would also not align properly with my Catted downpipes. And was rubbin in several spots like yours. I ended up selling it. just left the downpipes on until I feel like switching them out.
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      03-30-2009, 11:21 PM   #15
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commence slow clap coupled with silent weeping. beautifully done.
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      03-30-2009, 11:33 PM   #16
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Lots of horror stories lately about riss racing. Buyer Beware...

BMW Performance parts FTW, the 135i for me is not a car I have the heart for aftermarket headaches.
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      03-31-2009, 12:11 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saikelol View Post
I too am not a fan of Riss Racing products. What I don't understand is why you bought so many of their products? It seems like you realized that there were issues, yet you keep purchasing? I stopped after the OCC myself...
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1LazyBmw View Post
I think like KeithLM we bought alot of their products at once.. and because of all the praised reviews it seemed like the way to go.
I bought the intake and DDV late last year. At the time I figured the installation issues were all on me. And frankly I hadn't seen enough to judge the quality. The exhaust, downpipes, plenum and catch can I ordered later, and they all arrived in February.
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      03-31-2009, 12:12 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1LazyBmw View Post
Hi KeithLM.. I can second the products that I own that you have reviewed and many are true... and they refunded your catted DP? should I be asking for mine too? I have all my private messages I sent them and got tired of all this crap and gave up..
Still on their way back to Riss. I'm expecting a refund when they arrive and will update this thread accordingly.
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      03-31-2009, 12:13 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeekendWarrior View Post
commence slow clap coupled with silent weeping. beautifully done.
Thanks.
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      03-31-2009, 12:27 AM   #20
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I don't imagine a lot of time or money are spent on R&D based on their low quality products.

If you don't get a full refund I would contact the BBB and possibly take them to small claims. That is ridiculous you were forced to pay so much money for labor to try and fix their problems. RR should be throwing 100% of your money back without complaints.

Didn't they try to pass off your used exhaust as a new one to another customer?
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      03-31-2009, 12:27 AM   #21
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There's something else I forgot to mention. In many of my conversations with Anthony and Daniel I heard the following over and over again:
  • We installed these parts on Terry Burger's car personally.
  • All the record setting cars are running our parts.
  • We've sent out hundreds of these and you are the only one to report such problems.
  • Daniel has installed this with the car on jack stands without much trouble.

You know what? None of that matters. The problems with some of my parts are significant and the proof is right there in the pictures. Also, the only reason their parts are on some of those cars is because they were first, not because they are the best. Frivolous ad copy doesn't fix the problems with poor design and manufacturing, and it's certainly not going to help an upset customer.
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      03-31-2009, 12:28 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 993 911 View Post
If you don't get a full refund I would contact the BBB and possibly take them to small claims. That is ridiculous you were forced to pay so much money for labor to try and fix their problems. RR should be throwing 100% of your money back without complaints.

Didn't they try to pass off your used exhaust as a new one to another customer?
With regards to the exhaust, no, not at all. That was merely a joke by Elite. My exhaust had not made it back to them by the time that guy received the used exhaust.

As for the labor, I believe that the right thing for them to do is reimburse me and COBB (who gave me a partial refund) for the labor on the downpipes. They were willing to spend $400+ for Stett to move the bung and they said they were sending me a new O2 sensor to replace the one damaged by using their downpipes. Also, they were willing to spend $300+ to have that fitted to my car. Why would they offer to pay for that if they weren't acknowledging the problem was on their end? But on the exhaust when I returned it they refused to give me a fair price or pay for the $160 in labor. They paid the shipping, but that's the least to be expected.
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Stett Performance Charge Pipe with DDV, Cold-Air Intake, Front Mounted Intercooler, and Stage 1 Oil Cooler.

I've recently moved my photos to Google's web albums. Photos can be found here, here, and here.

Last edited by KeithLM; 03-31-2009 at 12:43 AM.
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