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vsquaredbyrho New Reader
4/6/21 7:39 a.m.

Compared to Cadillac ATSes and a friend's BMW 135, my '13 FR-S rides very roughly over bad pavement. Over the past few weeks I've been considering lots of used car options. However, making the FR-S more compliant yet still agile would be much cheaper than swapping cars and might satisfy me for a while longer.

Basically, I want to make it ride like a sports sedan (twice as comfortable and 90% as agile in corners). I'm on stock wheels and Pilot Super Sport tires, otherwise stock with 62k miles. I don't want extreme lowering coilovers.

Would Ohlins R&T coilovers do the trick? Bilstein B6 shocks? All the suspension reviews I see mention "streetable" but no mention of "more comfortable than oem". Koni FSD shocks sound perfect, but they don't have an FR-S fit listed.

4/6/21 8:16 a.m.

Trying to make an orange from and apple seems pointless. Whatever you DO like about the FRS is going to be compromised in what I expect to be a compromised result.


Bottom line is that the FRS engineers spent a bazillion dollars to make it what it is, and you want to use some couch change to make it what the Caddy engineers spent a bazillion dollars to develop. If you succeed, you should change professions and go into suspension design!


Why not just buy the Caddy if that is what you want?



Appleseed MegaDork
4/6/21 8:24 a.m.

Is the FR-S on stock springs and dampers? Are they at the point of being worn out? My FR-S doesn't crash over crap pavement.  And there is plenty around here. 

dps214 HalfDork
4/6/21 8:28 a.m.

In reply to NOHOME:

You say that like any of the aftermarket damper manufacturers just cobbled something together and called it good enough. Chances are just as much tuning effort went into them, but with different goals and targets than the oe. And likely the internal parts are better. I work at a damper manufacturer and a while ago we were investigating getting into the aftermarket. One of the vehicles we experimented with was the brz, and we were definitely able to make it ride nicer without substantially ruining the handling. Unfortunately that project got abandoned. I don't know if specifically either of the options will do what op wants, but it's certainly possible.

z31maniac MegaDork
4/6/21 8:32 a.m.

MCS singles with the GT spring rate would probably be pretty good. I doubt you want to spend that kind of money though.

The RCE yellows + whatever shock they recommend get really good reviews and are much more reasonably priced. 


Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/6/21 8:39 a.m.

I'd start with identifying what your problem is with it - lack of travel, poor damping choices, harshness? You can certainly improve on what the factory did because you have a different set of constraints. And if the car is 8 years old, there's a really good chance you're dealing with blown factory shocks. Keep in mind that tire pressure and sidewall stiffness are also factors.

Personally, I'd stay away from Ohlins unless they have some decent travel. I very rarely have been satisfied with the ride from Bilsteins although I've had much better results with Koni. The FSD is basically a blow-off valve that can lead to hard bottoming occasionally, I like the Sport better. It might be worth checking out to see what the 949Racing guys have with their Xidas although they tend to be track focused. 

JAdams New Reader
4/6/21 8:41 a.m.

I'm by no means an expert, but a quick google search shows your car as having a P215/45R17 tire size. Is there any way you could downsize wheels and run a bit more sidewall in the tires? I'm not sure if that'd be enough by itself, but maybe paired with some of the suggested suspension changes above it would be enough to make you happy. 

Aspen HalfDork
4/6/21 8:44 a.m.

Worn shocks can give a pretty poor ride. My mini got much more comfortable with Koni FSD and 16" wheels vs 17" and BFG comp tires.

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) Dork
4/6/21 8:45 a.m.

I think a lot of what you're feeling goes beyond just the shock and spring setups on the car. That BMW or Cadillac has another 500 lbs on your car and a lot of that goes into sound insulation to isolate you from the road and wind, add to that all of the bushings and things like that have been engineered with sports sedan rather than sports car in mind. Even things like the seats can play a big part in how the car rides to you as you drive it.

Appleseed's suggestion of looking at how worn out your stock setup is sounds goods. Another suggestion that could help is to move to 16" wheels with some taller side walls, going to a 215/50R16 (or even 205/55R16 or 225/50R16) tire should help over to bumps without giving up much handling.

STM317 UberDork
4/6/21 8:49 a.m.

The ATS had fancy electro-magnetic shocks as an option, (the 1 Series may have too, but not certain) which may not be a fair fight with a more conventional setup in the FRS.

Snrub Dork
4/6/21 9:08 a.m.

I wonder if your use case will not be represented in the market?  For this application I imagine "Better than oem" usually refers to handling performace, not comfort. I wonder if you need to look at a custom shock valve/suspension setup. I was reading about a FD RX-7 guy who wanted to make the car more comfortable on the street and hired fat cat motorsports and was very pleased with the results.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
4/6/21 9:28 a.m.

I'll second Aspen's experience with a MINI. I did exactly the same thing to mine. If  the Koni FSD shocks aren't available look at the least sporty Koni that is available. I'd also research spring rates for the FRS vs BRZ and see if there are any differences, then go with the softer option. My MINI experience says you can improve ride noticeably, but it still won't be a Cadillac. The OEM shocks are likely well done by now and anything fresher will feel better. You also have the possibility of buying a shock that wasn't compromised by the accounting department the way OEM components can sometimes be.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/6/21 9:36 a.m.

Extrapolating from the Miata market, I'm going to say there is a market for a Frisbee suspension option with a quality ride. The problem is that it's hard to do well and easy to make claims and you're competing with both the super-cheap slammo suspensions and the pure race setups. But it can be done. The most important first step is to identify what's not working, which is why I was asking about the current characteristics.

For all those who are recommending moar sidewall: in my experience, the sidewall construction is a lot more important. I used to have two sets of wheels for a Miata - a set of 17s with Kumho 711s and a set of 14s with Azenis RT215. The 17s rode far better because those Azenis had sidewalls made of solid concrete. That's why autocrossers loved them but they rode like crap despite having an extra 1.5" of sidewall height.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
4/6/21 9:44 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

To your sidewall point, on my MINI the change was from 17" runflats to conventional Continentals. The sidewall construction certainly had more to do with the ride improvement than a slight increase in sidewall height. I'll hazard a guess and suggest the OP would notice a ride improvement if he did nothing but install fresh shocks from almost any manufacturer and retain the current tires. If it were my car, I'd start with shocks and see if that was enough, if not , then look to a tire model or size change.

4/6/21 9:49 a.m.

If your FRS is eight years old the suspension bushings are shot.  Replace that and I bet you get a significant improvement right there.

4/6/21 9:57 a.m.

In reply to dps214 :

Sorry, did not mean to sound rude, but yes, after 17 years in a product development environment, ) automotive and medical device) I do consider all aftermarket parts to be of lesser quality and narrower focus than OEM. Not a fault of the aftermarket engineers but rather they just do not have the resources for product verification and validation that the OEM and Tier 2 suppliers do.  Few aftermarket parts fail to disappoint me. 

Also drive an FRS and agreed that it does drive like a sportscar. Personally I have that in the feature, not flaw, column. Wife does not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter)
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/6/21 10:10 a.m.

Probably depends on the miles as well, but given my experience with my '13 BRZ and the funny noises I can get out of the suspension pretty much by jacking it up and/or trying to lift one of the rear suspension arms by hand, I'm also in the "shocks deader than a dodo" camp.

dps214 HalfDork
4/6/21 10:13 a.m.
NOHOME said:

In reply to dps214 :

Sorry, did not mean to sound rude, but yes, after 17 years in a product development environment, ) automotive and medical device) I do consider all aftermarket parts to be of lesser quality and narrower focus than OEM. Not a fault of the aftermarket engineers but rather they just do not have the resources for product verification and validation that the OEM and Tier 2 suppliers do.  Few aftermarket parts fail to disappoint me. 

Also drive an FRS and agreed that it does drive like a sportscar. Personally I have that in the feature, not flaw, column. Wife does not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Lesser quality is definitely not necessarily true. Narrower in focus probably...but if that narrower focus is more in line with what the consumer wants, that's a positive. Like I said I don't know that anything on the market definitely does what the op want, but I've experienced first hand that it's very much possible.

red_stapler SuperDork
4/6/21 10:30 a.m.

There is probably a certain amount of unnecessary "This should ride like a sports car" dialed into the damper tuning.

dps214 HalfDork
4/6/21 10:44 a.m.
red_stapler said:

There is probably a certain amount of unnecessary "This should ride like a sports car" dialed into the damper tuning.

Certainly anyone that's driven a ford ST product knows that's true.

Our tuning group has literally had the OEs tell them things along the lines of "the customer won't know it's sporty if the ride is this smooth." A competent tuner working with decent parts can make a car that handles well and rides decently, that's just rarely what the people in charge of the project actually want.

racerdave600 UltraDork
4/6/21 10:53 a.m.

It will never ride as smoothly as the BMW (I had a '15 BRZ), but changing to a good shock with more rebound than compression will help.  I have always liked Konis for this.  More than not, heavy compression is a band aid and leads to nervous at the limit handling.  We always valved our shocks more towards rebound on our race cars and it made for a very fast, controllable set up.  Keith can probably expand more technically on this, but there is an art to matching shocks and springs.  At least for me, Koni Sports made a big difference.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/6/21 10:57 a.m.

Mazda made that mistake with the original ND Miata Club (read "sport") suspension. They overdamped the hell out of it to give it that sporty jiggle. They realized their error and fixed it and never told a soul, but there are two very distinct sets of Bilstein valving out there and you have to approach upgrades differently.

Nohome, there are definitely some aftermarket products that have OEM levels of quality and durability. They may be built by OEMs, such as Fox shocks. The quality of the internals can be a lot higher than is seen in cost-constrained mass production as well. But you definitely have to watch it with shocks, because there are a lot of race-bred parts that expect race car levels of maintenance and rebuilding. 

BA5 Reader
4/6/21 10:59 a.m.

I had a friend who put some high end Motons onto his S2000 CR.  I was surprised at just how much it improved the ride in addition to the handling.  

But it can still only do so much since a lot of the ride comes from the chassis and other suspension components in addition to the spring/shock combo.

Driven5 UltraDork
4/6/21 11:32 a.m.

Sounds like you're basically looking at Koni Yellows, or something custom valved like Fat Cat.  As to whether either (or both) would give enough of the feel you're looking for is a bit of a gamble.

Fat Cat are more expensive, and are more likely to give you more of what you're looking for. But there is no guarantee it would still be enough. 

Yellows are less expensive, and very well might be good enough. But if not, then it becomes a false savings.

How close to your 'ideal' do you need to get to be happy, and how much is is worth to you?

vsquaredbyrho New Reader
4/6/21 12:08 p.m.

Thanks everyone for the rapid input. I knew GRM would have useful opinions. The FR-S is my daily driver, grocery getter, kid transporter, backroad carver, year-round car. My fundamental decision is between spending a little money to replace the suspension vs. much more money for a totally different platform with other (very useful) benefits and tradeoffs. The other platform discussion involves significantly more factors that would take this off-topic.

@NOHOME: I actually did buy an ATS that should have had the FE3 magnetic suspension based on the trim level. But after a few days I could never tell the difference between "tour" and "sport" mode. Some more research with the VIN and production code sticker in the trunk told me that it did not have the FE3 option. So I returned it to CarMax. My unicorn would be a manual RWD ATS with the FE3 suspension. There just aren't many out there for sale unless I include the ATS-V which is too much engine for my needs.

@Appleseed: Yes, stock suspension setup. It's almost certainly worn out by now. I'm weighing OEM replacements vs. a potential upgrade for more cost.

@KeithTanner: I would call it a harshness problem. The ride reminds me of my 240SX with the stock springs and Koni yellows set to full stiff. I want something like Koni yellows on full soft. A full set would be around $1000.

On wheel/tire choice: I have a set of 16" wheels and 205/55/16 tires for the winter months. The ride is a little better with those, but not a big difference. That points to degraded shocks or suspension bushings, it seems.

@red_stapler, @dps214: You said it well. I'm impressed by agile handling in the corners, not a harsh ride over broken pavement. I wondered if there is a little-known company out there that caters to my end of the market instead of the "because racecar" crowd.

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