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Old 11-03-2008, 01:59 AM   #1
wlmmn
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Post Review of Koni FSDs and Hotchkis sway bars with stock ride height

Alright everyone, thanks to everyone's advice in my “Suspension upgrade WITHOUT lowering?” thread, I have installed the following on my 2002 330ci:

Koni FSDs
Hotchkis Swaybars
Meyle HD Rear Shock Mounts
.....keeping my original, stock ZSP springs (don't want this lowered; not in hilly Colorado)


...and since these were installed in increments, I can give you guys a review of the swaybars with and without the shocks/struts/shock mounts. I consider this a pretty rare review on this forum, being that I did NOT want to lower my car at all, and simply wanted to upgrade the handling, and ride if possible as a secondary priority, whereas just about every review here deals with lowering the car.


First off, the Hotchkis swaybars arrived. After about an hour of install, the shop told me there was a problem: the rear bar wasn't fitting. After they called Hotchkis about this, Hothckis said they wanted a picture of the rear bar e-mailed to them. It was then that Hotchkis verified they had sent the WRONG bar in a correctly-labeled box. So, the shop left the massive Hotchkis front bar on and my stock rear bar on. UNDERSTEED LIKE CRAZY until Hotchkis sent the shop the correct bar, like they should have done in the first place. Considering this was my first, fun, non-repair/maintenance trip to the shop, I was bummed out that things had turned out this way.

When the two bars had been installed though, wow, what a difference. Taking corners at usual running-errands-in-traffic speed, it was barely noticeable, but at higher speeds and closer to the limit, a world of difference—like some other people have said, it felt like I was cornering on rails. One thing though: the ride had felt noticeably firmer and bumps and expansion joints in the road were definitely harsher. This was on my stock ZSP suspension with 70,000 miles on it.

A week later, my Meyle HD Rear Shock Mounts arrived in the mail. Again, another problem—the invoice amounted to $64.44, but for some reason the small stapled-on receipt stated $65.44. *sigh* come on, aftermarket parts companies! Details, details, details! After a quick call, the matter was resolved, but after dealing with the Hotchkis nightmare, I was in no mood for screwups.

The Rear Shock Mounts did look noticeably stronger and better made.

Another week later, after numerous delays, delays, and more delays from Koni (one of which meant canceling a service appointment to change out the shocks and struts) the FSDs arrived. This was after Koni had assured the shop that the FSDs would arrive on time, then after several days after the expected arrival time, my shop called to see what the hell was going on and that Koni had backordered them, something they mentioned nothing about when the FSDs were first ordered. After this, my shop canceled the order and ordered them from Tirerack via Second Day Air on a Wednesday. They didn't arrive that Friday, but instead showed up very late Monday. Finally, the shop installed them and I was on my way.

My first impressions?

I thought it was too soft. The FSDs soak up bumps so well that my mind immediately associated the suspension with not being able to take a corner. My first hard, high-speed turn seemed not as agile as with the worn, ZSP suspension. I called the shop and they assured me that the suspension is firmer than what I had on, and that perhaps the old suspension seemed firmer since the attitude of the car dipped so much in corners on the stock suspension. Oh, well. On the freeway, the ride was buttery smooth. I could still feel the tiny irregularities in the pavement in the steering wheel, but the steering feedback has been reduced somewhat. Mind you, only somewhat, and it still feels like a BMW. During longer trips, the smoothness of the suspension really gains appreciation for how smooth and road-trip friendly the ride is. I had to keep telling myself that the suspension hadn't compromised the handling simply because the ride was smooth. I just got done riding the car through the twisty roads up in the Rocky Mountains slightly west of Boulder, CO and it handles the twisties just fine, I'm sure helped by those massive swaybars.

Overall, I'd have to say it's the perfect suspension for someone who likes a lively-handling car that also does a lot of freeway driving and wants to still have a spine when they get out. If I had this strictly for a “fun” car and not also for daily commute I'd have picked some firmer shocks/struts, but for the average two-faced driving of “fun” and “gotta go to work,” it's perfect. Just know what your needs/wants are going into your purchase of a suspension and you'll be fine.


Hope this helped everyone.


Bottom line: Hotchkis- great!

Meyle HD- probably helped

Koni FSD- great if you want smoothness along with agility, but not if you only want agility

All three companies' attention to detail and not screwing up-
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Old 11-03-2008, 03:36 AM   #2
Dannyncc
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this is what i am looking for .. where u did the installation ?
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Old 11-03-2008, 03:48 AM   #3
ssm1991
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Thanks for the feedback. I too ordered the same combination of Koni FSD and Hotchkis sway bars. My needs are similar. It's a daily driver in not so good roads but want the agility on weekend trips. In my case, I'll install the FSD first to see what difference it makes, then install the Hotchkis sway bars after a month. Will update this thread too when the time comes.
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Old 11-03-2008, 08:44 AM   #4
wlmmn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dannyncc View Post
this is what i am looking for .. where u did the installation ?
The Hotchkis I ordered and installed at Autosport Werks, everything else at Bimmerhaus, both in Broomfield.

I know people on here around the Rocky Mountain area cream their shorts over Bimmerhaus, and........they're okay. They're competent, but it's like they don't want to talk to you on any personal level or really show you anything. You walk in and it's 5 minutes of waiting for the flood of calls to briefly cease for the front desk guy to finally pay attention to someone who showed up in person, and then any maintenance question is met with a raised eyebrow like you're an f-king idiot......I feel like I walked into a dealership when I'm there.

Yes, they're good, but it seems like Autosport Werks gets severely underrepresented on this forum. Cal Parker there does an amazing job, will give you helpful advice on a DIY project or anything to watch out for (like valve cover gasket leak spots), and it's like he really cares about your car. He's a much more personal guy, has some personality, which makes the garage much more likable, and the labor is cheaper. Not to mention they're the only independent Dinan dealer in the state. A pretty glowing review of Autosport Werks, but frankly they deserve it.
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Old 11-03-2008, 11:55 AM   #5
n2Bimmer
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This is by far the best review ive seen. Nice job.
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Old 01-04-2010, 03:59 PM   #6
wlmmn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssm1991 View Post
...I'll install the FSD first to see what difference it makes, then install the Hotchkis sway bars after a month. Will update this thread too when the time comes.
Did you ever get those installed?
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