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      03-15-2019, 09:36 PM   #1
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Shopping for Mid-Range Coil-Overs: Ohlins vs. YCW Reference vs. FA500

I've finally found my way into the market for a mid-range suspension setup. My Koni Sport shocks and Eibach springs have lost their luster on me. My 128i is my daily driver (with 185k miles on it). I drive an easy 12k miles a year now, and will track the thing once or twice a month (March through November). Long highway stints will be a thing (going to college soon), so a wide range of adjustment is great. I want a controlled, but not stiff ride. Good body control, well-damped, and forgiving over craggy, pot-holed surfaces. I also want good, neutral balance F/R for easy, selective sliding (heh).

I'm looking to stay below the $2500 mark. So far, I've come up with 3 options that would seem to fit the bill for me (in order).

1. Ohlins Road and Track
$2225
PROS:
-Best-engineered damper on the list
-3DM Motorsport sells with 1M valving and 1M spring rates
-Wide range of adjustment
CONS:
-Possibly short service intervals (up for grabs)
-Possible fitment issues (on the standard kit)

3. YCW Reference Series
$2299.95 (35% off for limited times)
PROS:
-Most affordable (with this 24-hour discount)
-Good reputation
-Include Swift springs (YCW Engineering owns Swift and MFactory)
-Lifetime warranty on non-wear parts
CONS:
-Not Ohlins
-Generic parts
-Absurd price point without discount

3. Fortune Auto 500 Series
$1474
PROS:
-Local facility (VA) for spare parts/rebuilds
-Well-rated and well-used by other car makes/models
-Long-ish warranty (5 years)
CONS:
-Little to no info specific to E8x/E9x
-Generic parts

Edit 03/20/19: Removed KW's from consideration, shuffled YCW's to second place, switched FA 510's for 500's because of ride quality issues with the 510's.

It's a possibility that going with one of the less costly products would allow me to do other things to the car (full 1M front end? exhaust?).

I appreciate any input you can offer. Please no needless bashing of other brands or other people's setups, as everyone wants something different from their cars.
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      03-16-2019, 10:18 PM   #2
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I had KW V3's double adjustables, they felt unsettled to me, hard to describe. I prefer my MCS singles, much more predictable.

I've also heard the Ohlins fitment can be tricky due to the size of the tube, but I have no firsthand experience.

Go for the Fortune Autos. I wouldn't worry too much about caster adjustability.
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      03-17-2019, 08:10 PM   #3
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All 3 are solid options you may want to also consider TCKline they make pretty good stuff as well.

I have the Ohlins using higher rates and narrower Swift springs with Vorschlag camber plates (commonly used allowing you to run a wide tire up front due to a shorter length spring). Setup is great, comfortable ride on the street and allowed me to drop 3s off my lap time on track. Have no complaints with ~2k miles on them.

If you do go with the Ohlins PM me I'll give you the spring rates I run, just need to look it up.
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      03-17-2019, 10:43 PM   #4
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Are you sure that Fortune auto ones are locally built? I thought the design looks very similar to a well known brand from Taiwan.

Personally I'd go with TCK single adjustable, or otherwise KW's if the price is more attractive.
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      03-17-2019, 11:47 PM   #5
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I've run on KWV3, PSS9, MCS 1WNR, ST XTA & finally Fortune Auto 510.

The top 3 IMO we're the MCS, KWV3 & FA510

I started with the KWs and moved to the MCS shocks and immediately gained 1.5 seconds at Buttonwillow CW13 (this is a 1:50-2min a lap) - I then moved to FA510 purely for cost reasons as I can only justify so much from the CFO/wife but was shocked at their performance!

The FA510s performed 100% equally to the MCS 1WNR shocks in terms of lap times and generally seat-of-my-pants adjustment and ability to handle the aggressive curb hopping required at BWRP and T-Hill 2mi.

I'd go FA510 with linear swift spring options, they're the hands down best shocks I've driven for the cost on any car + they come with camber plates.

For reference, these shocks are VERY popular in time attack. Will Au-Yeung just set the FWD lap record at the Japanese Tsukuba Circuit on a set of 2-way adjustable Fortune Auto coilovers.
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      03-18-2019, 06:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajsmithvmi View Post
I had KW V3's double adjustables, they felt unsettled to me, hard to describe. I prefer my MCS singles, much more predictable.

I've also heard the Ohlins fitment can be tricky due to the size of the tube, but I have no firsthand experience.

Go for the Fortune Autos. I wouldn't worry too much about caster adjustability.
I've heard that the twin-tube damping of the KW's can be harder to tune nicely, and that their progressive springs are very noisy. And, yes, the Ohlins fitment (as that wonderful fe1rx thread illustrated) can be tricky. However, I'm not running a particularly aggressive wheel fitment (17x7.5 ET40). Tires are a tad aggressive, though, at 245/45-17.

EDIT/UPDATE: I've been looking back at fe1rx's awesome Ohlins installation/set-up thread. He didn't look to have clearance issues with 225/40-18 tires on Style 261 wheels (18x7.5 ET49), which have far less (almost a centimeter less) strut clearance than my 17x7.5 ET40 wheels, which makes up for the extra width of my 245/45-17 tires. If I need anything to make the clearance work, it'll be a tiny spacer up front.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beattiecj View Post
All 3 are solid options you may want to also consider TCKline they make pretty good stuff as well.
I was considering the TC Klines for a while, but I'm already having corrosion issues with my Koni's after just two winters, and the TC Kline's are simply custom-valved Koni Sports with adjustable ride height/preload. Nothing wrong with that, but it is an old platform.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John_01 View Post
Are you sure that Fortune auto ones are locally built? I thought the design looks very similar to a well known brand from Taiwan.

Personally I'd go with TCK single adjustable, or otherwise KW's if the price is more attractive.
Fortune Auto's are 100% assembled just down the road in Richmond. Where they get the parts they use for assembly is another question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by spxxx View Post
I've run on KWV3, PSS9, MCS 1WNR, ST XTA & finally Fortune Auto 510.

The top 3 IMO we're the MCS, KWV3 & FA510

I started with the KWs and moved to the MCS shocks and immediately gained 1.5 seconds at Buttonwillow CW13 (this is a 1:50-2min a lap) - I then moved to FA510 purely for cost reasons as I can only justify so much from the CFO/wife but was shocked at their performance!

For reference, these shocks are VERY popular in time attack. Will Au-Yeung just set the FWD lap record at the Japanese Tsukuba Circuit on a set of 2-way adjustable Fortune Auto coilovers.
That Civic is absolutely ridiculous! I truly appreciate you sharing experience with both the KW's and FA's. Since my car is my daily more than anything, how did the ride quality compare between the two? I already know that the Ohlins are the better damper for the street, but the CFD piston in the FA510's functions much the same as the DFV in the Ohlins, which shows potential to be similar.
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      03-18-2019, 12:07 PM   #7
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I'd check out YCW as well. Been pretty happy with their dampers paired with swift springs. Skip TCK. Unless youre gonna go for clubsport, do ST XTA instead of KW. Ohlins are great if you want to fiddle with their setup which isn't as straight forward as install and go. Don't know anything about FA coils so won't comment.
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      03-18-2019, 02:11 PM   #8
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one other consideration: upgrading to m3 style rear spring arms. they use a clevis style bottom shock mount as opposed to the lower rubber shock perch on the non m cars. it's hard to say how much of the improvement comes from this component but combined with the mcs shocks, I like it a lot more.
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      03-18-2019, 06:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShocknAwe View Post
I'd check out YCW as well. Been pretty happy with their dampers paired with swift springs. Skip TCK. Unless youre gonna go for clubsport, do ST XTA instead of KW. Ohlins are great if you want to fiddle with their setup which isn't as straight forward as install and go. Don't know anything about FA coils so won't comment.
YCW looks very nice. I'm surprised I've never heard of them. They also seem to be owned by (or own) MFactory who makes my LSD that I'm very happy with. One of those messenger pop-ups offered a 35% discount on their Reference series (a $2300 coilover). I'll have to do more research, but they do look much like what I'm looking for. How are they for a daily, and how have they held up?

Thanks for that. Now I have another option...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajsmithvmi View Post
one other consideration: upgrading to m3 style rear spring arms. they use a clevis style bottom shock mount as opposed to the lower rubber shock perch on the non m cars. it's hard to say how much of the improvement comes from this component but combined with the mcs shocks, I like it a lot more.
I've considered doing that, but I don't think it's worth the effort/cost. Though, doing those is about the same cost as doing upgraded upper and lower shock mounts...
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      03-19-2019, 04:09 PM   #10
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Not sure where the short service interval on the Ohlins R&T came from but we have been selling Ohlins since 2009 and only had a couple of requests for service work. A bunch of regulars at our shop have Ohlins on their autocross and track 135 and 335 for years and none of them needed service yet. Not to knock on KW, but we have seen more KW V-series dampers blown out or simply lost damping than Ohlins, TCKR(Koni), MCS and JRZ combined. That said, all dampers will eventually need servicing and to keep the dampers within the performance window intended from the factory you would likely want to service them every 2-3 years, but who does that on a street car?

Not including camber plates could be a con only if you track the car. There is really no need for camber plates on a street car. On a lowered car with 1M/M3 front lower arms and strut mount alignment pin removed you will get around -1.5 of camber which is plenty for street duty.

What TC Kline Racing SA or DA has that few others can offer is you can have a few spring rate options to choose from. You can also run a none M front with the M rear if you have the M rear lower camber links. For the none M SA, at $2324 with camber plates or $1885 without it's the best value out there.
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      03-20-2019, 12:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShocknAwe View Post
I'd check out YCW as well. Been pretty happy with their dampers paired with swift springs. Skip TCK. Unless youre gonna go for clubsport, do ST XTA instead of KW. Ohlins are great if you want to fiddle with their setup which isn't as straight forward as install and go. Don't know anything about FA coils so won't comment.
YCW looks very nice. I'm surprised I've never heard of them. They also seem to be owned by (or own) MFactory who makes my LSD that I'm very happy with. One of those messenger pop-ups offered a 35% discount on their Reference series (a $2300 coilover). I'll have to do more research, but they do look much like what I'm looking for. How are they for a daily, and how have they held up?

Thanks for that. Now I have another option...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajsmithvmi View Post
one other consideration: upgrading to m3 style rear spring arms. they use a clevis style bottom shock mount as opposed to the lower rubber shock perch on the non m cars. it's hard to say how much of the improvement comes from this component but combined with the mcs shocks, I like it a lot more.
I've considered doing that, but I don't think it's worth the effort/cost. Though, doing those is about the same cost as doing upgraded upper and lower shock mounts...
They're only $130ish on eBay usually. Most shock companies will sell you E82 front shocks and M3 rear shocks with the clevis mount rest setup
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      03-20-2019, 08:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HP Autosport View Post
Not sure where the short service interval on the Ohlins R&T came from but we have been selling Ohlins since 2009 and only had a couple of requests for service work. A bunch of regulars at our shop have Ohlins on their autocross and track 135 and 335 for years and none of them needed service yet. Not to knock on KW, but we have seen more KW V-series dampers blown out or simply lost damping than Ohlins, TCKR(Koni), MCS and JRZ combined. That said, all dampers will eventually need servicing and to keep the dampers within the performance window intended from the factory you would likely want to service them every 2-3 years, but who does that on a street car?

Not including camber plates could be a con only if you track the car. There is really no need for camber plates on a street car. On a lowered car with 1M/M3 front lower arms and strut mount alignment pin removed you will get around -1.5 of camber which is plenty for street duty.
I was running -3.5 degrees with M arms and Dinan camber plates for an easy 10-15k miles with no tire wear issues. I definitely like the extra camber; not only does it help fit more aggressive wheels and tires, but it drastically reduces understeer, and makes the car feel more exciting. I'm not even considering TC Klines at this point, I've had issues with corrosion on my Koni Sports, and don't want to deal with that again. I said supposedly, and it's good to know that it isn't true. I also read that that service is simply a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion, and a cleaning.

Anywho, I'm still leaning towards the Ohlins...
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      03-20-2019, 12:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
I was running -3.5 degrees with M arms and Dinan camber plates for an easy 10-15k miles with no tire wear issues. I definitely like the extra camber; not only does it help fit more aggressive wheels and tires, but it drastically reduces understeer, and makes the car feel more exciting. I'm not even considering TC Klines at this point, I've had issues with corrosion on my Koni Sports, and don't want to deal with that again. I said supposedly, and it's good to know that it isn't true. I also read that that service is simply a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion, and a cleaning.

Anywho, I'm still leaning towards the Ohlins...
How'd you get -3.5° camber with M arms and Dinan plates? I have the same set-up and am maxed out at somewhere around 2.3°-2.5°.
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      03-20-2019, 12:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suprgnat View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
I was running -3.5 degrees with M arms and Dinan camber plates for an easy 10-15k miles with no tire wear issues. I definitely like the extra camber; not only does it help fit more aggressive wheels and tires, but it drastically reduces understeer, and makes the car feel more exciting. I'm not even considering TC Klines at this point, I've had issues with corrosion on my Koni Sports, and don't want to deal with that again. I said supposedly, and it's good to know that it isn't true. I also read that that service is simply a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion, and a cleaning.

Anywho, I'm still leaning towards the Ohlins...
How'd you get -3.5° camber with M arms and Dinan plates? I have the same set-up and am maxed out at somewhere around 2.3°-2.5°.
I honestly have no idea. I did an alignment two days ago, and the left front had -3.5 degrees. The right front was maxed at -2.5 degrees. I set the left to match the right to fix the handling imbalance that I've noticed, but never investigated. It's fixed now...
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      03-20-2019, 02:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
I was running -3.5 degrees with M arms and Dinan camber plates for an easy 10-15k miles with no tire wear issues. I definitely like the extra camber; not only does it help fit more aggressive wheels and tires, but it drastically reduces understeer, and makes the car feel more exciting. I'm not even considering TC Klines at this point, I've had issues with corrosion on my Koni Sports, and don't want to deal with that again. I said supposedly, and it's good to know that it isn't true. I also read that that service is simply a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion, and a cleaning.

Anywho, I'm still leaning towards the Ohlins...
If you do very minimum commuting on the highway, you can get away with -3.5 of camber.

Anytime you have painted damper bodies you will run into corrosion issues if the paint wears away or chips off. You want something like Ohlins or KW for corrosion protection.

You Dinan plates will transfer right over to the Ohlins so there is no additional cost for you having to buy camber plates.
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      03-20-2019, 05:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
Anywho, I'm still leaning towards the Ohlins...
I am an Ohlins user, and like them, but you should note that the front springs that come with the kit (60 N/mm x 200 mm long) will likely force you to run wheel spacers. They are not really appropriate for the 1-series as the kit is actually intended for the 3-series. You should budget for a set of Swift (60 N/mm x 178 mm long - AKA 342 lb/in x 7") front springs. Also a caution that you will have very little range of usable height adjustment up front and the front may end up too low for your liking. This is because simply adding spring preload to raise the front quickly gets you into coil bind territory. These springs need to be installed with minimal preload on this strut.

While you are at it, the rear springs that come with the kit are really too soft too. They are 70 N/mm in the kit but really should be 120 - 140 N/mm (686 - 800 lb/in) assuming you have upgraded your RSFBs.

I suggest a thorough discussion with someone like HP Autosport to make sure you get all the right pieces to suit your needs. Make sure you have a clear idea of what wheels/tires/camber/ride height you want to run so that they can advise you if the stuff you are buying can actually give you this.
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      03-20-2019, 07:40 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by fe1rx View Post
I am an Ohlins user, and like them, but you should note that the front springs that come with the kit (60 N/mm x 200 mm long) will likely force you to run wheel spacers. They are not really appropriate for the 1-series as the kit is actually intended for the 3-series. You should budget for a set of Swift (60 N/mm x 178 mm long - AKA 342 lb/in x 7") front springs. Also a caution that you will have very little range of usable height adjustment up front and the front may end up too low for your liking. This is because simply adding spring preload to raise the front quickly gets you into coil bind territory. These springs need to be installed with minimal preload on this strut.

While you are at it, the rear springs that come with the kit are really too soft too. They are 70 N/mm in the kit but really should be 120 - 140 N/mm (686 - 800 lb/in) assuming you have upgraded your RSFBs.

I suggest a thorough discussion with someone like HP Autosport to make sure you get all the right pieces to suit your needs. Make sure you have a clear idea of what wheels/tires/camber/ride height you want to run so that they can advise you if the stuff you are buying can actually give you this.
I'm very happy you chimed-in. Your Ohlins write-up is amazing, BTW.

3DM Motorsport actually has me hooked-up very nicely right now. They'd ship pre-assembled with new OEM top mounts, along with 1M valving (tighter low-speed damping) and 110N/mm 1M-spec rear springs. All for the not-exactly-small sum of $2395. Considering what I'm getting, that ain't bad.

You do bring up an excellent (?) concern regarding front end clearance. I imagine it'd be a bit tight with my 245/45-17 tires on 17x7.5 ET40 wheels. Ohlins do make 7" (180mm) 60N/mm springs that would work perfectly. I'll reach out to them and see about using those instead. Height-wise, BMW Performance spring-like height would be ideal for me. Anything more usable than my Eibach Pro-Kits is a step in the right direction! I do have solid subframe bushings (they are absolutely amazing).

Nothing against HPA, by the way; their bushing tool was a fantastic help. 3DMM just got back to me first when I initially started shopping around, and is offering the most for the money.

Thanks!
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      03-21-2019, 01:55 AM   #18
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Gotta notch those front upper shock mounts to get over -3* in most cases... Hope my upper shock mounts don't blow through like the new P-cars haha

The ohlins are a great option for dual duty but you'll probably want linear springs and camber plates on track so you're getting close to $3k in which case I'd 100% go MCS... Or save $1k and just go FA510.
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      03-21-2019, 06:21 AM   #19
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Gotta notch those front upper shock mounts to get over -3* in most cases... Hope my upper shock mounts don't blow through like the new P-cars haha

The ohlins are a great option for dual duty but you'll probably want linear springs and camber plates on track so you're getting close to $3k in which case I'd 100% go MCS... Or save $1k and just go FA510.
My strut towers are completely stock, so IDK how the heck I got -3.5, but I did, and now I've reduced to a replicable -2.5 to match the right. The Ohlins do actually come with linear springs, unlike KW or Sachs Performance. Yeah, if I did drop a price bracket I'd go for the 500's (better ride) or the YCW Reference Series and maybe put that $1500 into a 1M front end...
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      03-21-2019, 10:47 AM   #20
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Update: 3DMM said I can do the shorter front springs and Swift rear springs for no extra charge, on top of the 1M valving and complete assembly with OEM top mounts for $2395. Barry is the man! I'm almost decided at this point.
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      03-21-2019, 11:18 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
Update: 3DMM said I can do the shorter front springs and Swift rear springs for no extra charge, on top of the 1M valving and complete assembly with OEM top mounts for $2395. Barry is the man! I'm almost decided at this point.
If the dampers are really re-valved to 1M specs, you have yourself a really good kit. However, re-valving isn't cheap and to do it all with different springs front and rear along with top mounts for $2395 seems too good to be true.
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      03-21-2019, 11:27 AM   #22
chris_flies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
Update: 3DMM said I can do the shorter front springs and Swift rear springs for no extra charge, on top of the 1M valving and complete assembly with OEM top mounts for $2395. Barry is the man! I'm almost decided at this point.
If the dampers are really re-valved to 1M specs, you have yourself a really good kit. However, re-valving isn't cheap and to do it all with different springs front and rear along with top mounts for $2395 seems too good to be true.
It does seem a little too good to be true, but I'm not dead-set on anything until it's in my hands to be installed...
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