Lions, tigers, and bears… Oh my! What do we have here?!
I’ve been playing with the idea of doing a suspension overhaul for a while. When I purchased my Miata it came equipped with Koni sport adjustable shocks w/ unknown miles paired with OEM springs. While it was neat in its own right, I wasn’t really too thrilled with them as it stood. As some of you know, I tried to improve the ride quality a bit with H&R race springs to give it a firmer ride and a more aggressive drop along with a set of bumpstops made by Fat Cat Motorsports specifically for Koni adjustables. While I enjoyed the setup for a little under a year, the lowering springs were too soft for the amount of drop it gave you; even with the Koni shock perches set to the highest setting. This ended up causing the rears to have very little shock travel along with a very low/aggressive ride height after the spring settled. While it gave the car a nice drop, this setup left much to be desired in the backroads after I switched to RPF1s on 195/60/14 Falken Azenis. On 70% effort, I would rub the top of the wheel well and that’s no fun at all. After the shocks began to show signs of failure, I decided to upgrade to a set of coilovers instead of rebuilding all four shocks.
While looking around, I had a few coilover brands/models in mind; Tein Type Flex, Tein Street Flex, Stance Super Sport, BC Racing BR Series Coilovers, or Koni Race Shocks w/ a Ground Control Coilover Kit. As I originally wanted, my goal for my suspension setup is to have functional suspension travel with decent spring rates along with a .5-1″ wheel gap.After weighing the pros and cons between models based on reviews and even the brand, I decided to splurge and go with the Tein Type Flex. Yes, you read that right and it goes against my post title, but more on that in a second. After comparing prices between different online authorized dealers. I decided to order out of state to save on tax and went with THmotorsports out of Illinois. Unfortunately this turned out to be the wrong choice.
The following week, I received a text from FedEx that my package arrived. Once I got home, I grabbed the box from in front of my door, opened the garage, and grabbed my box cutters. After unpacking, I inspected my coilovers and came to a VERY disappointing discovery. It turns out that I was sent the WRONG model coilovers. Instead of receiving the Type Flex model, I received the Street Flex model. While the spring rates are similar, the two models differed in terms of the valving, type of metals used in constructing the coilover, and an obvious price difference of $200.00. At this point, I wished I picked up a set from a local vendor so I wouldn’t have run into this issue. Shortly after realizing their mistake, I decided that I didn’t want to deal with the return. So, instead I opted to receive a refund for the difference. It was not all bad since I had my eye on this set already and it put money back in my pocket, but it is dissapointing for a vender I previously had good impressions with to make a high dollar mistake. I will no longer be purchasing parts from THmotorsports.
With that anecdote aside, the coilovers themselves are absolutely brilliant for the price range. In the past, I have owned/or worked on cars with Stance, Megan Racing, Apex’i, and Powered By MAX coilovers system and while they were fun for budget coilovers, Tein’s budget coilover model makes them pale in comparison. Documentation is top notch, the coilover wrench design is amazing, and the overall build quality left me with a positive impression. Obviously, these are no high end Bilsteins, KW, or HKS coilovers, but I’d say that I got what I paid for in coilover tier I purchased.
The coilover install went as smooth as I can expect from a Miata. While it’s fairly simple, the double wishbone suspension makes installs a bit more time consuming when compared to a macpherson strut suspension setup. On top of that, I needed to install the suspension w/o inadvertently adding pre-load to my Racing Beat sway bars. To start, I set both the front and rear coilovers to 8/16 for my initial dampening setting for the street on the included 7k springs at front and 6k in the rear.
With this setup, I decided to go to my favorite road for testing my suspension setups. The road includes long windy, high speed sections, technical and tight slow sections, smooth roads, and poor, wavy roads. While I enjoyed the firmness of 8f/8r, this generated a slight jackhammering effect on the wavy section of the highway, but a smooth ride on the high speed turns. On my way back, I opted to go to 6f/4r. At this setting, I felt like I started hitting the bumpstops in the rear, but there was definitely less jackhammering on the wavy road; some further tweaking may be needed. With both settings, the car felt planted and stuck to the pavement like glue on the technical section. There was a bit of an oversteer feel, but I attribute that to my current alignment and maybe the rear sway bar. I may go back to 8f and then go 6/f or even bump up the settings higher than eight.
Overall, I’m enjoying these coilovers so far. All I have left to do is fine tune the dampening for the types of roads I frequent and then get an alignment for my new ride height.