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article details
Author Various
Categories Integra Suspension/Chassis
Create Date January 16, 2002 10:12
Last Update June 06, 2002 11:52
Tokico Shocks and Neuspeed Springs

by Benjamin Pohl

When I started modifying my GS-R, I purchased engine bolt-ons first. For all you Integra GS-R owners out there, take my advice: upgrade the suspension first. You already have adequate power. The first logical step is a suspension upgrade. If you don't want to lower the car and/or like the soft ride of the car, but just want a little better handling for those spirited drives, shocks are the first step. Tokico Illuminas were my choice because of their easy installation and the ability to easily adjust the stiffness. If you do lower the car, this will lower the center of gravity, reducing body roll. In addition, aftermarket springs are usually stiffer, hardening the ride but increasing the rate of weight transfer. All this translates to even better handling. My choice for springs were the Neuspeed Sport springs. They give a 2" drop and a noticeable increase in ride stiffness.

[Note: Keep in mind that if stiffer springs are installed on stock shocks the stock shocks will have a hard time compensating for the spring rate and will also wear faster. For this reason, high performance shocks are highly recommended for aftermarket springs]

My setup has been on for three weeks, in which time I have put on considerable street mileage as well as some time at the track. The car is an entirely different car with the new suspension. A warning to you: after your suspension is installed, be sure to test the limits of your car gradually. Try using softer shock settings first (assuming you have adjustable shocks) and work your way up to higher speeds through turns. The Neuspeed springs increase the rear stiffness 88%, making the car oversteer more readily. Go slow at first. Trust me, spinning your car is not the fun way to learn about your new suspension setup.

Installation was very easy. All the parts and instructions were provided, but everything is so straightforward instructions are barely necessary. With a 2" drop the car looks good, but is close to being too low. For moderate street driving, this setup is fine. However, my driving (on the street and track) is anything but moderate, and there are problems with the setup. First, the springs are too soft for this ride height. The car still exhibits excessive body roll--something third generation Integras seem to always be plagued with. The springs are stiffer than stock, but not stiff enough to prevent the roll. Mud flap owners will soon find themselves pulling the flaps off because they'll get torn to bits from scraping.

Some may say that some beefier sway bars are a simple solution, but the car's independent suspension becomes less independent in doing so, and bigger anti-sway bars increase understeer and oversteer depending on size. This can be good, but I recommend waiting to get swaybars until after you have gotten used to your suspension. In addition, swaybars are only supposed to provide 25-50% of the roll resistance, and a huge swaybar on either end might be too stiff for the springs. The bigger the swaybar, the more bumps from one side of the car translate to the other side (a non-desirable situation).

The second problem is that since the car is now lower but still rolls almost as much as stock, the shocks bottom out. The bump stops have been cut in half yet in hard turns and slaloms the shocks bottom out, making the effective spring rate go to infinity, immediately causing understeer. The shocks are not very stiff, even on their stiffest setting, but this would not affect the bottoming out problem. The heart of the problem lies with Neuspeed, whose only set of stiff springs (Race version) leaves you with a 2.5" drop in ride height. This is too low for Integras. The car has a high center of gravity by design, so not only the car appears strange when lowered that much, but with this drop it has a major tendency to scrape the underbody, particularly if it has an aftermarket exhaust or lower suspension braces. Neuspeed Race Springs are great, but Neuspeed or some other spring manufacturer needs to make a race-stiff (400-500 pound/inch) spring that drops the car a reasonable level (1.25 to 1.5 inches ). It is my opinion these "sport" springs were designed to cater to buyers concerned more with aesthetics than performance, so the spring rate was kept below 250lb/in to keep a somewhat compliant ride. To increase resistance to roll and increase the transfer of weight (the faster the better) the springs need to be in the area of 350lb/in for the front and 300lb/in for the back. These are rough estimates done without calculations, but the point is that the "sport" set of springs needs to be stiffer.

For everyday street use, this package is wonderful. It can be used day to day with no major problems. Keep in mind there will be minor problem such as you will end up scraping parts of your car more frequently, including mudguards, your chin spoiler, or oversized exhaust. Stiffer suspension will also cause some more squeaking and rattling throughout the car. Finally, you must keep in mind if you load your lowered car down with people or cargo these problems get even worse.

If you plan on racing your Integra, this setup is inadequate. Start with a stiffer shock [than the Tokicos] such as Koni or GAB and spend the extra $100-$150 to get Carrera or Eibach to fabricate a custom spring with the appropriate stiffness and ride height (suggested above). The Neuspeed rear sway bar is a nice addition as well, slightly reducing body roll and increasing oversteer. Chances are you'll only change your suspension once, so do it right the first time.

Copyright 2002, Temple of VTEC

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