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
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
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