STi RA Springs/Koni Strut Insert initial review.
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This is a discussion on STi RA Springs/Koni Strut Insert initial review. within the Suspension & Wheels forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I installed my STi RA springs a couple of days ago along with Koni strut inserts. This is a bargain-basement ...

  1. #1
    Moderator GV27's Avatar
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    STi RA Springs/Koni Strut Insert initial review.

    I installed my STi RA springs a couple of days ago along with Koni strut inserts. This is a bargain-basement setup - I only spent $720 plus shipping. My other mods are the Whiteline ALK and Rear Swaybar.

    Handling is still a question mark as I still have my snow tires on the car. That being said, pitch and roll is dramatically reduced and the front end feels very planted with a dead-neutral balance with struts at 50% adjustment. I'll let you know more about handling when my Yokohamas arrive.

    Install was straight-forward but time consuming. For me (I'm slow) the hacking and drilling required to fit the new dampers to the OE strut housings probably added close to 2 hours to the job. The cool thing about the Koni design is that it leaves a great deal of room for error in the install.

    The ride quality is absolutely spectacular. I'd rate it MUCH better than stock. My wife absolutely loves it. While people who like to be isolated from the road completely might not like it, it is incredibly smooth. You feel all the little bumps, cracks, undulations, etc but the struts just soak them up really smoothly. I was fully prepared to trade ride quality for handling but this has not happened. Every other car I've done this sort of upgrade to suffered in the ride department. I think I have the Imprezas stiff chassis to thank for this. I'm glad I didn't opt for softer springs (e.g. STi Lowering, Eibach or Prodrive).

    I'm now convinced that Subaru got the valving wrong on the stock struts. I'd get jarred by pavement seams and cracks, but it would wallow around in the corners. Koni got it right. I feel cracks and seams (wouldn't want it any other way) but it rides really smooth over them while staying rock-steady in the corners.

    If anything, the improved ride reminds me of an Burly old V8 CJ-5 I had once, nicknamed "The Blue Meanie" by the previous owner. A CJ-5?!?! Well obviously that CJ was never going to handle or ride well on the pavement, but that's not why I bought it - it was a 'wheelin' beast! I put a set of heavy-duty leaf springs on it with adjustable Rancho RS9000 shocks. When going off road you could crank the RS9000s all the way to full stiff and the ride would become incredibly smooth. It would ride like a Cadillac while haullin' ass down rocky rutted out trails and catch good air over yumps and charge confidently through deep rocky water crossings. I ain't talkin' about the smooth dirt ROADS that people on ClubWRX call "off-road" - I'm talking about serious world-class jeep-trails. The kind that break those wimpy SUVs in less than a mile!

    The Subaru now reminds me of that. Very little pitch and roll and incredible confidence. I live in a subdivision built on the side of a mountain and we have these deep drainage troughs crossing every intersection. I used to crawl through them but now I can charge through them confident that the nose won't dip way down and crash into the other side of the trough. Same for speed bumps. I can see why Rallispec rates the full STi RA setup as a great rally-cross setup.

    There is no noise, vibration, or harshness. No reason at all for a passenger to think it runs anything other than stock suspension.

    This combo on my Wagon lowered me more than most people report with the full STi setup. A little more than 1/2 inch front and rear.

    More to come when I get real rubber on the car.

    Chris
    Last edited by GV27; 04-21-2003 at 01:02 PM.
    "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me." -Jesus

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    Registered User JRod's Avatar
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    Nice review, this is probably my next mod. Good to know the Koni's can handle the higher spring rate. I think my struts are shot just from the way I drive (jumping railroad tracks doesnt help either ) even with stock springs.
    2002 WRX Sedan-Silver
    Turbo XS UTEC Stage IV (VF34)+TMIC, STI RA gears, Exedy clutch/flywheel

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    Awesome man You gotta take some pics of the slight drop when you get the chance. I REALLY like how your combo sounds, but you know me...gotta get rid of enough of that fender gap with my 18s
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    Re: STi RA Springs/Koni Strut Insert initial review.

    Originally posted by GV27
    There is no noise, vibration, or harshness. No reason at all for a passenger to think it runs anything other than stock suspension.
    Sound perfect. Can't wait for a track/autocross review as well.

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    Registered User RexMobbin''s Avatar
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    told you you'd like them

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    Moderator aussieinstlouis's Avatar
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    well - here I was thinking about what I might do to my car for the summer - I guess I have an answer!!

    I was very interested in what you said about ditches and speed humps. I was always shocked at how my wagon thumps over speed humps and I always found myself dodging even small potholes in the pavement. The koni's sound like the ticket.
    Last edited by aussieinstlouis; 04-21-2003 at 05:45 PM.

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    Moderator GV27's Avatar
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    Re: Re: STi RA Springs/Koni Strut Insert initial review.

    Originally posted by bedabi
    Sound perfect. Can't wait for a track/autocross review as well.
    That'll have to be a Canyon review......lessee Dear Creek Canyon, Bear Creek Canyon, Turkey Creek Canyon, Golden Gate Canyon, Coal Creek Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Sunshine Canyon, Left-Hand Canyon.......we're pretty canyon rich here! I'll throw in Magnolia Road, Sugarloaf Mountain Road and Gold Hill Road - all at least partially dirt/gravel.
    "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me." -Jesus

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    Moderator GV27's Avatar
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    Originally posted by aussieinstlouis
    well - here I was thinking about what I might do to my car for the summer - I guess I have an answer!!

    I was very interested in what you said about ditches and speed humps. I was always shocked at how my wagon thumps over speed humps and I always found myself dodging even small potholes in the pavement. The koni's sound like the ticket.
    I haven't tied them on narrow (a foot or less) speed bumps yet where the stock suspension did really struggle - just the fairly wide (like 4 feet maybe?) and tall ones we have on the neighborhood streets around here. The stock suspension actually didn't do too bad over them - but now they've become "yumps"!

    I did see a post about pics (did somebody edit that out?) - they'll have to wait until the car is presentable. We've been having a lot of rain and I haven't kept up. Plus it's due for a good spring cleaning. When I was going skiing twice a week the car really got plastered and I didn't have time to keep it up. It really needs "the full treatment". Especially the wheels!

    I'm not sure how it will look in pictures. If you just look at the fender gaps it isn't immediately evident that it's a little lower. It's much more subtle than that. The car just has a lower and smaller "feeling" when you look at it.

    Chris
    Last edited by GV27; 04-21-2003 at 07:59 PM.
    "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me." -Jesus

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    Registered User thechickencow's Avatar
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    Can you elaborate on the process to fit in the inserts?

    Also, how would you rate this vs. just the RA springs (or did you not try that). Thats my current setup.

    What is the price for the inserts, and are you running STi top hats?

    tcc

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    Moderating on the run! Big Sky WRX's Avatar
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    Good review Chris. Sounds like a good combo.

    Mike

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    Moderator GV27's Avatar
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    Originally posted by thechickencow
    Can you elaborate on the process to fit in the inserts?

    Also, how would you rate this vs. just the RA springs (or did you not try that). Thats my current setup.

    What is the price for the inserts, and are you running STi top hats?

    tcc
    Here's instructions:

    http://www.vfaq.com/mods/Konis.html

    Those are for an Eclipse but the only WRX difference is that instead of cutting the strut at that weld (which doesn't exist on the WRX) you cut about 1-1/2" from the top of the housing. The Koni instructions show you (if you're good at reading pictographs!) how to calculate that, but you end up with 1/4" leeway on either side. The big pipe cutter used in those instructions is ideal but I used a hacksaw and sawsall ([caveman] uhg! Grog Cut!![/caveman]) and I believe RexMobbin used a dremel w/ cutting blade. Like I said, all sorts of "wiggle" room. It's important to center the hole but you have a bit of wiggle there too. The guts of the stock strut are shown below (sorry - I should've used a simpler background).

    I didn't try the springs with just the stock struts.

    Right now I'm using stock top-hats, but that'll be my next mod. Possibly Big Sky's Noltec buy but otherwise STi Grp N probably. Definitely in the rear. There is a slight bit of bounce at slow speeds - like in a parking lot - over rough pavement. Probably from the top mounts and my soft-walled snows. You can grab the car and rock it back and forth but the suspension doesn't really move - the tires just flex a whole bunch!

    edit: oh, the inserts were just over $600 + shipping from the TireRack. I scored the RA springs for just $120 from RalliSpec.

    Chris
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails strutgut.jpg  
    Last edited by GV27; 04-21-2003 at 09:10 PM.
    "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me." -Jesus

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    Are the bump/rebound rates of the Konis much more different that the STi shocks?

    I have heard from people on this website how potent the STP setup with RA springs is on a wrx for rally-cross, and GV27 also mentions it.

    Whats strange is that there was an article published by Sport Compact Car Magazine about their WRX project car. They upgrated the suspension to the STP setup and this is what they had to say about it on their website:

    "On smooth roads, the WRX's manners were vastly improved. Gone was the lazy body roll of the old suspension, replaced by quicker turn in and better overall balance and control. However, Subarus aren't made for smooth roads, are they? The control gained at the limit on smooth roads comes with several compromises. First, our WRX feels lowered. It isn't. It just feels that way because of its ride quality. Railroad tracks that used to be ignored at full throttle now require serious slowing and hopes of not breaking a filling as the car crawls over them at half the speed. The SPT kit doesn't offer the compliance we were hoping for, which is odd considering it offers the same travel as the stock suspension. Little information is available on the dampers or spring rates, but our butts tell worlds about the combination.

    We're not sure if the lack of compliance is a product of very high spring rates or ridiculous compression damping, but either way, the result isn't good. The WRX now bounces down roads it would have blasted across with the stock suspension. Bumps that used to be ignored now require attention. It's frustrating. We have extremely high standards for Subaru suspension and we want the best of both worlds--excellent road manners and the ability to swallow uneven terrain at stupid speeds. And we've driven Subarus in the past that manage both. Still, the SPT suspension showed an improvement in the slalom where the WRX posted 70.8 mph, up from 69.9 the last time we tested it.

    But the SPT kit can't do both. It's a very cost effective solution if you're willing to live with some compromise over rough roads. But if you're looking for the perfect world, we suggest you look elsewhere. So we're moving on. We'll test another suspension soon in hopes of finding one that meets all our needs. "

    This review is probably the reason I started thinking about matching up the STi adjustable struts with STi Sedan or STi Lowering springs rather than RAs. Are the guys at Sport Compact Car onto something or are they just whiney?

    Thanks.

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    Moderator GV27's Avatar
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    I'm not sure. Koni wouldn't give me the damping rates.

    Here's a link to that SportCompact article:

    http://www.sportcompactcarweb.com/pr...scc_projectwrx

    One thing is that they have aftermarket wheels on that car. They don't say what they are, but knowing SportCOmpact I would guess they're 18s. That's gonna give you a rougher ride than smaller wheels for sure.

    C
    "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me." -Jesus

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    Moderating on the run! Big Sky WRX's Avatar
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    The oe ride is cushy, no way around it. It is very nice on gravel, no doubt about it. It leaves much to be desired on tarmac, especially anything w/ turns in it.

    The STi RA setup is slightly harsher, it has to be w/ 30% higher rates in the front and almost 50% higher rates in the rear. Yes it does have much firmer damping to go w/ these rates. That being said, it also is able to soak up bumps very well- particualrily at speed. If they would have floored over the railroad tracks, they may have reported different results.

    They also installed the full metal cross member bushings, I've elected to forego these for now, they will add significant NVH. No suprise when replacing a rubber bushing w/ a metal one, particularily one that is in direct contact w/ the chassis.

    Suspension mods (actually all mods) are a function of compromising. It is relatively easy (maybe expensive) when a vehicle is soley dedicated to one endeavor (rally/track/whatever). It becomes harder (more compromises) when setting a vehicle that will be multi-tasking. If the only competitive arena I was going to be in was rally-x, I might look to a slightly "softer" setup than the RA. If I was only going to the track I'd be looking for a "firmer" setup than the RA. But if I'm a autox/rallyx/track/grocery getting son of a gun, then the RA setup is going to tough to beat IMO.

    I still think that the "regular" STi springs, combined w/ the STi adjsutable will make for a very verstile setup, it will be a little softer, but the adjustable damping can make up some of that ground when firmer is called for.

    Big Sky

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    Registered User Carl AMG's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Big Sky WRX

    I still think that the "regular" STi springs, combined w/ the STi adjsutable will make for a very verstile setup, it will be a little softer, but the adjustable damping can make up some of that ground when firmer is called for.

    Big Sky
    Are you speaking of the "all pink" set up with the adjustable struts and lowering springs?
    2003 Subaru WRX Sedan 5 spd.
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