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      01-15-2014, 08:34 AM   #1
mimtbr
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AirLift Performance air suspension (PREVIEW)

Ok, first my car was chosen as the first fit check for the E90 kit. I don't work for them and honestly, I've always been air skeptical (except for SUVs), and never installed air on any of my cars, this is the first one.

With ownership of three previous rallycars and one road race car, I know there is a huge difference between race performance and street performance and to be honest, wasn't much interested in the street, except for nice ride.
However, no racecars are in the garage at the moment, kids take up more and more time, so I figured I'd go for a "dual purpose" performance car...enter a 135i.

First, my sport suspension car ended up having aftermarket H&R sport springs (29187) from previous owner. Looked cool, but this much lower (Fr:1.8"/Rr:1.2" lower from website) on stock length dampers = jounce bumper hitting crappy ride on the road, not to mention all the scraping! It was great on the track, however.

The AirLift kit has a shorter front strut, giving more usable compression travel while lowering. This can also be adj., so if you have a big dia. 19" or 20" tire setup, you can keep it out of the fender liner.

Front comes pre assembled with air spring, strut, and very nice Koyo bearing camber plates.




Install, no problem, similar to any other suspension. Just have to route and secure the braided stainless air lines.

Rear is more complicated, but no more difficult to install. It comes with a new lower control arm and toe arm which makes room for a larger air spring. This is key to rear grip performance and means the pressures are lower giving better ride.


Then it comes to routing air lines, mounting the pump, manifold, tank.
Are there more steps than a coil over install? Sure, but the system has been designed so well, it's very easy to figure out.
I still have to permanantly mount my tank, but it fits up on the side of the trunk, leaving full trunk space. No problem.

Key suspension alignment finishes the job. Make sure you do it at your desired ride height setting. In mycase it was the same ride height as the H&R coil setup.

Now for ride height play time.
You adj. ride height with pressure to the corners. 0psi = low, bottomed suspension / 100psi = high, topped out suspension
Sorry, didn't take a picture of the controller, but here's a generic pic

You can put more presets in then you would ever need. I currently have 4: Standard ride height (same as H&R spring), Track, Zero-low, and 111-high.
Below is a pictoral of different ride heights and measurements starting with low (not a setting you would drive on) and ending with high (used for clearing curbs).

My car has 225/45-17 BFG Rival's (25" dia.) on 17x7.5 ET40 wheels with no spacers. When I put the OEM wheels back on with 245/275 Hoosiers, I may have to make some adj....

Now for damper play time.
First at standard ride height I notice huge difference in big motion ride events due to the shorter front damper body.
Finally no more crashing front!!!
I've never understood lowering springs with stock length dampers...fine I guess on smooth roads.
The shocks have one damping adj. knob. It controls both rebound and compression, but has a greater influence over rebound. Huge range. From ridiculously (traction losing) stiff to comfortable street compliant soft.
Since a 135 is lighter than a V8 M3, my guess is the M3 or E90 would ride even better. So, full soft on the street, and we will see come spring how it does on the track. There is plenty of damping range for that.
I also did some measuring on the shock dyno, all the parts were extremely consistent, which indicates good valving and build quality.

So, if you want to easily change ride height and damping on the track and drive home comfortable without scraping curbs, this is the kit for you.

Below is cost compare to electronically adj. damping and coil over kits:
AirLift Performance Kit (BMW E46, very similar kit) http://www.airliftperformance.com/ap...opean/bmw-e46/
2 Front Airsprings / 1-way adj. damping struts (WITH CAMBER PLATES)
2 Rear Airsprings and 1-way adj. dampers
Pump, tank, electronically controlled air manifold, wiring
Jegs $3074
http://www.jegs.com/i/Air+Lift/022/95746/10002/-1

KW DDC coilover kit (BMW E90) http://www.kw-suspension.com/us/kw_ddc.php
2 coil springs and struts with electronically controlled damping (NO CAMBER PLATES!!)
2 coil springs and adjusters, shocks with electronically controlled damping
ECU, wiring
Bavarian Autosport $3850
http://www.bavauto.com/fland.asp?par...Fa4-Mgod4EYAgQ
If you say wanted to add the new hydraulic leveling system
to get up over those curbs...
KW HLS Hydraulic Leveling System generic kit http://www.kw-suspension.com/us/kw_hls.php
Front only 19299299 $3600
All 4 19299499 $4750

Bilstein EDC Coilover (BMW E90)
2 coil springs and struts with electronically controlled damping (NO CAMBER PLATES!!)
2 coil springs and adjusters, shocks with electronically controlled damping
ECU, wiring
Turner $2436
http://www.turnermotorsport.com/p-13...FYlDMgodvk4AlA
add Vorschlag camber plates http://www.turnermotorsport.com/p-21...reettrack.aspx
($474) and your at $2910

And another very nice coilover:
Ohlins Road and Track (BMW E90 M3)
2 coil springs / 1-way adj. damping struts (NO CAMBER PLATES!!)
2 coil springs and adjusters / 1-way adj. damping shocks
GMP $2969
http://gmpperformance.com/index.cfm?...ail&PID=253776

I've considered all of these amazing performance setups. A proper motorsport suspension could be twice those amounts.

Interested?
The kit should be available in a few months.

This is not something you'd put on a trailer'd racecar. But if you use your car everyday, are sick of scraping over small bumps, run it hard on the track, auto-x, and rally-x; it offers great benefits, with less compromises.

I intend to hammer this kit until my car turns into a racecar and continue to review performance, durability, and functionality. This as it relates to the E82/90 chassis. The same components have been well proven on many other chassis. I hope to also review the upcoming bluetooth iphone app.

A strong product. Something to consider for any dual purpose performance car. It's already changed my preconceptions of air suspension. The right engineering can do that.
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      01-16-2014, 08:45 AM   #2
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Off topic but what wheels are those?
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      01-16-2014, 09:18 AM   #3
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Nice write up, loving the low and track set up
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      01-16-2014, 03:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoki06 View Post
Off topic but what wheels are those?
Sport Edition SE-16
http://www.1addicts.com/forums/showt...9#post13105469
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      01-16-2014, 04:30 PM   #5
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very cool. interested to hear how it holds up over time.
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      01-16-2014, 08:29 PM   #6
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This is very interesting to me. I know the air suspensions have come a long long way in the past decade. Bimmer magazine had an article comparing a new air suspension against coilovers a couple months back. They really liked the air kit they installed and talked about how they can now add air to outside wheels when going around turns and making it a dynamic experience. The system they compared could add and remove air to each corner to keep the car flat while going around turns. That is pretty amazing to me. These air kits are not just used for lowering and raising a car anymore.
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      04-25-2014, 11:38 AM   #7
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April 2014 update:
Everything is holding air and working great.
I realize the big difference is that being able to adj. ride height easily, changes the driving experience.
Auto Car wash. Used to have to pick carefully, ones with low guards as to not scrap bumper. Not anymore, hit button, done.
Also like raising it in the manual spray wash to get in the fender wells.
But aside from that, and not being a “show” guy, I lower on the freeway, and notice a little bump in fuel mileage. Probably within measurement error, but maybe 0.3mpg boost. Normal, was 23.7, now lowering, it’s 24mpg.

Snow is gone. Track brakes and slicks back on. Great camber and toe adjustability front and rear. 3 degrees negative, zero out the toe. It’s very easy to adj.

Looks like the kit is still not up the website yet, though I know they have been busy, as the last time there, they were working on a green hell M3.
http://www.airliftperformance.com/ap...ions/european/

Will shoot videos from the track soon.
Here are some of AirLift’s:
http://www.airliftperformance.com/airvscoilover/






Last edited by mimtbr; 04-25-2014 at 11:45 AM..
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      05-16-2014, 07:27 AM   #8
mimtbr
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May 2014
First track test session, Gingerman, MI
Going from the road settings of full soft dampers, low air spring pressures, and MPSS tires to nearly full stiff, +10psi air, and Hoosier slicks makes a huge difference! Way less body roll on the track. Way less compared to Msport shocks + H&R springs.

It's also incredible to drive to the track with a full load of race tires/wheels, tools, jack, and two 5GAL JUGS OF RACE GAS in comfort. No squat. Just put air in the rear with a touch of a button and your away.



The GTR went a little over a second faster on the air.
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      05-28-2014, 11:29 AM   #9
mimtbr
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My footage from the test.
I hear the kit should be available by mid June.

Last edited by mimtbr; 05-28-2014 at 11:37 AM..
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      05-28-2014, 12:41 PM   #10
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Can you post some pictures of the control arms in "track" mode?
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      05-30-2014, 11:27 AM   #11
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This article is just about to convince me to get the kit, but did you swap any front or rear control arms with the M variants? I know this a popular upgrade but not sure if there is any benefit or issue with this kit.
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      05-30-2014, 12:02 PM   #12
mimtbr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSt|G View Post
Can you post some pictures of the control arms in "track" mode?

Front at 33psi (again, with the front strut adj. all the way down):

Rear at 51psi (put a red line in to see the angle better):


It does not feel twitchy or bump steer at this height.


Last edited by mimtbr; 05-30-2014 at 12:17 PM..
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      05-30-2014, 12:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alarcon View Post
This article is just about to convince me to get the kit, but did you swap any front or rear control arms with the M variants? I know this a popular upgrade but not sure if there is any benefit or issue with this kit.
No. Everything else is 135 stock. The kit replaces the rear lower control arm and toe arm.

I wrote this in the F30 forum...
http://f30.bimmerpost.com/forums/sho...5#post16030405
Quote:
Originally Posted by mimtbr View Post
I hear the E8X/E9X kit should be available mid June.

Haters (of which I was one)....Air suspension is just more of an experience...
For instance:
I raise up for for car washes...better than scraping....
I raise up in parking structures or lead in to gas stations.
I raise the rear when I put 4 race tires, tools, jack, and 10gal of race gas in the trunk...
I drop it down on the freeway to get better gas mileage....
Raise it up when there's two feet of snow on the road...
You almost have to experience it to believe it. I adj. WAY more than I thought I would.
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      06-02-2014, 07:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mimtbr View Post
Front at 33psi (again, with the front strut adj. all the way down):

Rear at 51psi (put a red line in to see the angle better):


It does not feel twitchy or bump steer at this height.
That's pretty much what I expected to see. You are faaaar outside the ideal operating range of the control arms there. The 1er should not be dropped that much for ideal cornering to begin with, and that is simply slammed to the point of broken.
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      06-02-2014, 09:12 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSt|G View Post
Can you post some pictures of the control arms in "track" mode?
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSt|G View Post
That's pretty much what I expected to see. You are faaaar outside the ideal operating range of the control arms there. The 1er should not be dropped that much for ideal cornering to begin with, and that is simply slammed to the point of broken.
Total entrapment, total St|g, total LOL
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      06-02-2014, 09:17 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3002 tii View Post
Total entrapment, total St|g, total LOL
I plead the fifth.
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      06-02-2014, 04:25 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3002 tii View Post
Total entrapment, total St|g, total LOL
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      06-03-2014, 06:45 AM   #18
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Unless you change everything (ala racecar) you cannot achieve engineering optimum.
Regardless, I ran a huge test yesterday at a local racetrack (Waterford Hills) and no doubt about it, lower was faster. The shock must be turned up significantly for this to achieve faster lap time.

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      06-03-2014, 09:56 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mimtbr View Post
Unless you change everything (ala racecar) you cannot achieve engineering optimum.
Regardless, I ran a huge test yesterday at a local racetrack (Waterford Hills) and no doubt about it, lower was faster. The shock must be turned up significantly for this to achieve faster lap time.
Just stop before you dig yourself a deeper hole.
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      06-03-2014, 02:58 PM   #20
mimtbr
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Regardless, lower airspring pressure, lower ride height with more damping is the fast lap.

Does air have place on a dedicated racecar? Not sure, but on a streetcar that hits the track every month, it works great.
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      06-18-2014, 06:29 AM   #21
mimtbr
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Made this kit up yesterday. It connects to the water drain shrader valve.
So you can pump up tires, kids toys, etc.



Junk in the trunk

I realized I never posted pics of the pump or tank mounting

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      06-18-2014, 07:21 AM   #22
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So, you show yourself saving 1.5lbs per front, but how much have you added back in with air tanks/compressors/hoses? 40lbs?

Seems pretty disingenuous to advertise a weight loss when it is anything but that.
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