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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for input from all have used any of the above mentioned shocks except ms coilovers. I want the best performance with the least impact to comfort. I will be using it on the track and a DD. I drive over 20K a year. Longevity is important too.
 

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Re: Decision AWR Bilsteins, Standard Bilsteins or KONI FSD with stock springs?

AWR Bilstein's are custom valved for racing. Impact on comfort? Lots of impact, over every pebble!

Normal Bilstein's are said to work well (though a bit elusive to find since they don't make one specifically for a Mazda3), but ride harder than stock. At least that's what I've heard.

Koni FSD's are made to improve handling with minimal impact on ride comfort. They have a positive impact on ride quality, depending how you define it. Firm when they need to be firm, resilient when they need to be that. Lot's of travel too, so they really keep the tires planted on lumpy, rough roads, without beating you up. It's a higher quality ride feel, with much better body control than stock by far. Supposedly they soften up a bit around 1000 miles and I've only got about 400 on mine. Still, the ride comfort is comparable to OEM, the ride -quality- is much better, and the handling is in a whole different league.

If you really put an emphasis on ride comfort, get some Goodyear GS-D3 tires. They ride better than most touring tires but handle really well (especially in the wet). The RE050A's we have are pretty friendly when new, but after a while they get kinda noisy and harsh. Also, now that I have the FSD's dialed in, the tires just can't keep up with my newly found road speed.

That said, I don't know if my previous experience with the Goodyears will translate over to an MS3. I might go with something else, given how much better my car handles now compared to my last car.

EDIT: I dug deeper into AWR's lousy web site and they do have some regular Bilsteins that apparently work on the Mazda3. They're yellow...and really expensive, that's all they really say. Bilstein's own application guide, a PDF file not the online version, only shows applications for the left side, what's up with that?

Sounds like a phone call to AWR and/or Bilstein would be a very good idea if you're really interested in them, but I think it's safe to assume that the one's AWR sells are the more aggressive ones. I've seen Mazdaspeed coilover kits for the same price they're asking for just 2 front struts and 2 rear dampers. I paid $629 for all 4 corners of the FSD's, including shipping.
 

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Re: Decision AWR Bilsteins, Standard Bilsteins or KONI FSD with stock springs?

I have the AWR bilstein, they are fine for me on the street.
 

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Re: Decision AWR Bilsteins, Standard Bilsteins or KONI FSD with stock springs?

Their custom valved ones, or the yellow ones?

From what I can tell, not very much to be honest, they're very different things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re: Decision AWR Bilsteins, Standard Bilsteins or KONI FSD with stock springs?

I'll be using this also on the track, as well as being a DD. I know there is no perfect solution. Kwsmithphoto, I read and like your write-up on the FSD's. I am a little leary about all the screwing around to get them to work. I am also thinking of MS coilovers too.
 

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Re: Decision AWR Bilsteins, Standard Bilsteins or KONI FSD with stock springs?

How often do you drive in the main part of SF? The roads there are terrible! AWR isn't specific about much, but they do say their re-valved Bilsteins are tuned for track use.

That might be acceptable for you, but that's not what the OP was looking for. Me neither, so I went with FSD's on the stock springs and am very happy with it. The car is much quicker and faster on public back roads yet ride comfort is still very good, often better. Haven't tracked it yet but I expect it to be much quicker than the OEM setup, based on my informal testing so far (holy shit, did I just rail that bumpy corner at 80mph?).

Everyone has their own idea of what acceptable street ride comfort is. But this isn't my first camping trip, and I've learned that softer is not only more comfortable on the boulevard, it's often faster on public roads, and sometimes faster on a proper road course too. Tire choice usually has more to do with everything than dampers do, which is why I brought it up.

As my good friend who owns and races an open wheel Formula Mazda says, who also just bought an Audi S5, it's all about what you want to use the car for. A road car is a road car, enjoy it for that. Easy for him to say, with a $60K road car and electronically adjustable suspension, but his point is well taken - a road car is not a race car, unless you turn it into one. Then it becomes a terrible road car.

And as he also says, which every pro driver will confirm, if you really want to learn how to drive fast, and race wheel to wheel for real, get into karting! It's cheaper and better than anything you can do in a modified road car. Save your road car for getting to the kart track, and getting you to work on time.

That's not to say you can't have fun with your road car too, just keep it simple and don't go nuts with it. Especially on public roads. Always leave a margin, the world is not your race track.

Sorry to pontificate, I just know from experience as a former street racer, and a middle aged hooligan, that there's no good reason to put track tuned parts on a nice little road car you drive every day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
KwSmith,

Thanks for the response! You are getting me to lean towards the FSD's, especially for the cost. Can you remind me of the issues you had installing them? For example, the rears need a washer to take up the slack, the fronts needed the paint to be ground down. You mentioned something not lining up in the front. What about the front height, did it settle?
 

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You can read the whole story here:

http://www.mazda3forums.com/index.php?topic=135975

To answer your other questions, we didn't use washers, I just recommend that you should. Stainless steel ones, so they don't rust. Instead, we just over-torqued the bolts, which is less than ideal. I can only hope the bolt holds up and doesn't snap on me.

Also, when you're grinding the paint off the mounting surface - use a cone shape wire brush drill bit, it's inevitable that some metal will be exposed above the spindle. You might want to brush some clear coat on that once they're mounted. We didn't, but I probably will in the near future. Also, don't forget to use some anti-sieze in the spindle, very important.

The front settled down a little, but not by much, the car still sits just slightly nose high. It's almost level now, but it bugs me enough that I might get some adjustable perches for the rear springs to actually raise it up to level. Sounds crazy, but the look does bother me a bit. But function beats form in my mind any day.

Nevertheless, they do work very well. I've done a lot of city street and freeway driving in the last few days, and they just continue to impress me with their combination of comfort and control. Quite simply, it's a better car now in every respect.

I also recommend searching for the "Koni FSD install" information that is only available at the mazda speed forum (s) organization.

Oh, and if you want the best price, go to shox dot com, look up the part number (I don't have it handy), then CALL the order in. Do not tell them you're looking at their web site, just say a friend of yours gave you the phone number and bought them for $629, shipped.
 

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Forget FSD and Bilsteins for track use and get yourself a set of adjustable Koni Yellows. They are better than stock at every setting, the ride is much more controlled. The floating feeling everybody talks about, GONE! And if you go to the track you can always adjust them. Mine are set 1/3 of the way front and back and it's fine for DD and autocross, I had them set at 1/2 and they were a little harsh for DD, but cornering is awesome. Front ones are adjustable on the car, rear ones you have to remove to adjust, but that takes me like 10 minutes for both side.
 

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[quote author=daniyar79 link=topic=138481.msg2991479#msg2991479 date=1236916119]
Forget FSD and Bilsteins for track use and get yourself a set of adjustable Koni Yellows. They are better than stock at every setting, the ride is much more controlled. The floating feeling everybody talks about, GONE! And if you go to the track you can always adjust them. Mine are set 1/3 of the way front and back and it's fine for DD and autocross, I had them set at 1/2 and they were a little harsh for DD, but cornering is awesome. Front ones are adjustable on the car, rear ones you have to remove to adjust, but that takes me like 10 minutes for both side.
[/quote]

Have you tried the AWR Bilstein? The Koni FSD was used on the 2007 HS National Champ's car.
 

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I had Bilstein on my Benz, so I know what they are like. And as far as FSD on National champs car... Skill > Equipment. Plus, you can't compare 60 seconds of autocross with 2 hours on track. FSDs might be nice, I am not saying they are junk, afterall they are made by the same company, all I am saying is that for daily driver and track you can't beat adjustable suspension. In 15 minutes you can go from nice comfy daily driver to super stiff track car. For the money it's hard to beat.
 

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[quote author=daniyar79 link=topic=138481.msg3005774#msg3005774 date=1237520559]
I had Bilstein on my Benz, so I know what they are like. And as far as FSD on National champs car... Skill > Equipment. Plus, you can't compare 60 seconds of autocross with 2 hours on track. FSDs might be nice, I am not saying they are junk, afterall they are made by the same company, all I am saying is that for daily driver and track you can't beat adjustable suspension. In 15 minutes you can go from nice comfy daily driver to super stiff track car. For the money it's hard to beat.
[/quote]

The AWR Bilstein is not regular off the shelves bilstein.... I agree adjustable is nice, but the shocks are still not valved for the car.
 

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I'm looking at the same kind of options for my regular 3. Everyone seems to say that the Koni Sport (yellows) are brutal even at the softest settings. I've been recommended the Bilstein Sport, but I also read that they increased the ride height on a Speed3 by 1/4 inch. I def don't want to increase the height on my lowered car.
 

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The AWR Bilstein is not regular off the shelves bilstein.... I agree adjustable is nice, but the shocks are still not valved for the car.
What are the AWR Bilsteins valved for, the Vogtland springs they sell? With a 30mm drop I would except a very high spring rate, and a very stiff damper tune to match it. Probably not the most comfortable thing to drive around with, but I bet it's nice on a smooth track!

As for Koni sports (or FSD's) not being valved for the MS3; technically that's true, they're valved for the regular 3. But the adjustment should get you pretty close. My understanding is/was that Koni uses the OEM dampers as their target for their full soft setting, then lets you take it from there with an adjustment that mostly affects rebound. I doubt they do much application-specific testing though. Probably just get a quick baseline from the OEM setup.

FSD's work a bit differently though, they constantly vary themselves. In theory, that should allow a given baseline valving to work with a wider variety of spring rates than, say, Bilstein. Seems to work on my car, anyway!
 

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I've had the Bilstein Sport shocks (since the speed 3 is essentially a lowered mazda 3) for 2 days and have already put 300 miles on it. This is how the car should have performed right out the box. I've have driven BMW's all my life and this is as close to european handling as it's going to get. Very comfortable handling, not jarring or harsh at all. it's tightened up the steering feel where it really tones down the torque steer, and virtually cures this wierd on center wander that I've always had with the car. High speed freeway undulations are completely controlled, with no more pogoing around for several cycles. Chicanes have pretty minimal body roll now, and potholes have a more muffled thud, than with the stock suspension. Over all and excellent buy. I got the for $740 at www.allshocks.com which is also known as Turner Motorsports ( a BMW tuner)
 

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Ya, that's exactly how I feel about the FSD's on stock springs. They let the suspension travel when it really needs to, and there isn't a secondary effect, just one cycle as you're getting. They're particularly good on choppy, rough road surfaces, where they soften up to keep traction on the tires, but bump up the compression and rebound damping over dips and crests. And if you rail through a mixture of high frequency but low amplitude surfaces, with dips and crests too, they act like two different dampers at the same time. Compliant, comfortable, with good body control, and they keep the tires on the ground for good traction.

I'm not knocking the generic Volvo/Mazda3 dampers you like, I'm just saying that the FSD's are a thousand leagues better than what came with the car. Which shipped with a pretty low benchmark as a baseline, so pretty much anything is an improvement. Bilstein makes a very good product, I've run them on a few cars. But these new Koni things are very good too, at least with stock springs and ride height, and a stiffer rear sway bar.

Which are better? I dunno. I do know that Bilstein only has one part number for like 5 different cars based on this platform. And they all have different weights, weight biases, and spring rates. But I'm glad you have a setup you like. So do I.

BTW, what tires are you running now?
 
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