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  • Changing up Suspension - Looking for Advice/Feedback

    I know this topic had been beat to death over the years, but what I've read just has me more undecided. I'm hoping to get some feedback/consensus on a good street suspension for the E36 in 2022. It seems like we have a good group here with a passion for these cars and keeping them in optimal shape, which is a great resource.

    Current setup:
    Car is a '97 M3 with GC track/school kit that have run for almost 15 years(!), so definitely due for a refresh/change. Spring Rates are 425/500, with UUC sway bars (I believe 26mm front, 24mm rear).

    Looking for:
    Car is too stiff - I want a relatively comfortable ride on the street while being able to still lower the car around 1" and control the height - so coil-over preference. Car is only driven occasionally on weekends, but I want to be able to go on extended spirited drives without having a sore back haha.

    Price:
    I'm not young anymore or pinching pennies, so I don't mind shelling out $4-5K for a premium damper setup like MCS, but only if its really worth it in terms of ride quality. But if something half the price gets me 95% there, I will probably lean that way because that last 5% is probably only something a pro-driver would notice.

    Setups I'm currently considering:
    1. TCK S/A or D/A with 300/400 springs - Not a fan of my current Koni's so I'm worried this will be more of the same.

    2. Bilstein PSS9 - Superior monotube dampers, progressive springs for the street. I'm worried these may be too stiff based on spring rates.

    3. MCS 1 or 2 ways with softer spring set up, helper springs/weight jacks/torrington bearings to minimize noise.

    4. Stock style spring strut setup like Dinan - may not get the ride height I want.

    5. FCM Elite - Relatively local shop, really like flat ride and engineering the whole system to work together. For me the aggressive push I've seen online and upfront cost just for a consultation makes me apprehensive. I'm the type of customer that is instantly turned off by this. A good product is a good product and I will pay for it, I don't need to be sold on it (okay getting off my soap box lol).

    Let me know your thoughts/suggestions. I plan on talking to shops like bimmerworld and vorshlag, but I'm not sure if their suggestions will be more track-based than street. I'm hoping to get some input from drivers with similar goals.
    Last edited by AlpineIIIM3; 03-29-2022, 02:40 PM.

  • #2
    None of those are good options except for OE for ultimate stock like feel (pair with Dinan springs) or TCK S/A with the springs rates you selected.

    All Bilstein are TERRIBLE for ride comfort on the E36.

    MSportParts | Braymond141

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    • #3
      Agreed. Get some Sachs stock shocks, Dinan or Eibach springs, maybe H&R if you want slightly lowered.

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      • #4
        Appreciate the feedback, really helpful. Good to know about Bilsteins on the e36, I’ll be taking those off the list. I guess at the end of the day it comes down to how the shocks actually feel on the car vs design advantage on paper.

        Due to being able to fine tune the ride height I’m leaning toward TCK. I’m sure this would be a huge improvement in ride quality just from lower spring rates, and not riding on the 15 year old dampers I have now.

        @Braymond are the TCK D/As worth the extra cost, or do you recommend sticking with the S/As?

        I’m thinking if I still don’t like the ride with the TCKs, I can sell them and switch over to a Sachs/Dinan setup - Man…that does sound nice for my back, and the price is hard to beat.
        Last edited by AlpineIIIM3; 03-29-2022, 09:45 PM.

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        • #5
          Not sure about the kind of roads you drive on, but konis with H&R OE-Sport springs are a pretty compliant package for the Michigan roads I typically drive on the weekends. The setup is stiffer than stock, but offers much better control. I'm on stock roll bars, but I imagine with your setup the car would handle nicely. Only thing you may not like is the ride height (I think the OE-Sport springs only drop the car 0.25-0.5 inches). The springs have the same spring rates as the Sport models, but are taller. Out of curiosity, what is your wheel and tire setup?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cos270 View Post
            Not sure about the kind of roads you drive on, but konis with H&R OE-Sport springs are a pretty compliant package for the Michigan roads I typically drive on the weekends. The setup is stiffer than stock, but offers much better control. I'm on stock roll bars, but I imagine with your setup the car would handle nicely. Only thing you may not like is the ride height (I think the OE-Sport springs only drop the car 0.25-0.5 inches). The springs have the same spring rates as the Sport models, but are taller. Out of curiosity, what is your wheel and tire setup?
            Thanks for the feedback, yeah despite not having the optimal ride height, I am strongly considering an OE-style strut/spring combo setup given the inputs so far. I often drive on pretty bumpy and earthquake cracked SF Bay Area roads. I'm also considering going back to stock bars to help.

            I'm running an 18" square ARC-8 setup with 245 Bridgestone S04s, but I am going to go back to my OE staggered Style 24s with the suspension change, so take that into account. I only drive it in dry and warm weather, so I'll be putting on a pretty aggressive street tire like the RT660s. I think the bigger sidewall from the 17s and softer tire compound will help my situation a lot as well.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Braymond141 View Post
              None of those are good options except for OE for ultimate stock like feel (pair with Dinan springs) or TCK S/A with the springs rates you selected.

              All Bilstein are TERRIBLE for ride comfort on the E36.
              I thought Dinan springs had to be paired with their custom valved koni's shock/struts. Were they designed for the factory struts/shocks to begin with?

              Comment


              • #8
                Just some feedback on Shaikh at FatCat- I talked with him about building the set of base dampers I'd use on a certain spec of builds and he was nothing short of forthcoming. I know his site is all about him getting paid, but I can't help but feel that's due to him being a consulting service first and a damper builder second. It was a soft sell on the phone. I am going to have him build the dampers for any future builds I do because he and I seemed to be on the same page regarding the ride/handling compromise I was after.

                I drive my car on nothing but bumpy and cracked roads because they're often less traveled and best in terms of technicality. When I bought my car, it had 53k miles, was completely stock, and was revelatory compared to my 180k-mile, modified coupe (H&R OE Sport, Konis, UUC sways). It rotated better on- and off-throttle, it felt more composed, it stayed off the bump stops most of the time. It was on Michelin Pilot Super Sports, which IMO are the stickiest street tire I'd ever run on a stock car. If you go up to any of the modern ultra-high-performance rubber, you lose playfulness and start exposing weakness that doesn't exist otherwise.

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                • #9
                  I feel like double adjustable shocks are not necessary for you, because I'm just going out on a limb and assuming you don't really know the best way to set them up. So you'll probably always be annoyed at them not being "right." And TBH, instead of trying to learn how to tune shocks, just get something simple and be happy with it. TC Klein or KWs with stock or close to stock spring rates, stock or close to stock bushings everywhere, and stock bars is what I would suggest. Maybe for OEM+ street friendly ride there are some specific places where you still don't want stock rubber (like the trailing arm bushings) but someone like Brett can comment better on that.
                  Last edited by Nate047; 03-30-2022, 12:37 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Boston Green M3.4.5 View Post
                    Just some feedback on Shaikh at FatCat- I talked with him about building the set of base dampers I'd use on a certain spec of builds and he was nothing short of forthcoming. I know his site is all about him getting paid, but I can't help but feel that's due to him being a consulting service first and a damper builder second. It was a soft sell on the phone. I am going to have him build the dampers for any future builds I do because he and I seemed to be on the same page regarding the ride/handling compromise I was after.

                    I drive my car on nothing but bumpy and cracked roads because they're often less traveled and best in terms of technicality. When I bought my car, it had 53k miles, was completely stock, and was revelatory compared to my 180k-mile, modified coupe (H&R OE Sport, Konis, UUC sways). It rotated better on- and off-throttle, it felt more composed, it stayed off the bump stops most of the time. It was on Michelin Pilot Super Sports, which IMO are the stickiest street tire I'd ever run on a stock car. If you go up to any of the modern ultra-high-performance rubber, you lose playfulness and start exposing weakness that doesn't exist otherwise.
                    You will love the FCM suspension.

                    I am running one of the first kits Shaikh created for the E36 M3 and the car handles unlike anything I have ever driven. His flat ride spiel is not nonsense, once you drive over expansion joints or large bumps on the road at high speeds, you instantly realize how his suspension setup is far superior to anything else off the shelf.

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                    • #11
                      A vote for Dinan. I was going to go with H&R OE and Konis but Dinan set was on sale and not much more. I put about 60,000 miles between street (my daily until last year) and track around the DC metro area. It is comfortable enough and performs well at HPDE events. I've had adjustable coil overs in other cars but never touched them after setting them up in the beginning, and I like keeping things simple. I would need proper seats and harness before I can drive beyond the suspensions on the car (I do not have any other upgrade, aside from the suspension and Stromung exhaust)
                      Last edited by jbse39; 03-30-2022, 01:48 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Boston Green M3.4.5 View Post
                        Just some feedback on Shaikh at FatCat- I talked with him about building the set of base dampers I'd use on a certain spec of builds and he was nothing short of forthcoming. I know his site is all about him getting paid, but I can't help but feel that's due to him being a consulting service first and a damper builder second. It was a soft sell on the phone. I am going to have him build the dampers for any future builds I do because he and I seemed to be on the same page regarding the ride/handling compromise I was after.

                        I drive my car on nothing but bumpy and cracked roads because they're often less traveled and best in terms of technicality. When I bought my car, it had 53k miles, was completely stock, and was revelatory compared to my 180k-mile, modified coupe (H&R OE Sport, Konis, UUC sways). It rotated better on- and off-throttle, it felt more composed, it stayed off the bump stops most of the time. It was on Michelin Pilot Super Sports, which IMO are the stickiest street tire I'd ever run on a stock car. If you go up to any of the modern ultra-high-performance rubber, you lose playfulness and start exposing weakness that doesn't exist otherwise.
                        Originally posted by Johal E32 View Post

                        You will love the FCM suspension.

                        I am running one of the first kits Shaikh created for the E36 M3 and the car handles unlike anything I have ever driven. His flat ride spiel is not nonsense, once you drive over expansion joints or large bumps on the road at high speeds, you instantly realize how his suspension setup is far superior to anything else off the shelf.
                        Thank you, really appreciate the feedback on FCM and that it really seems worth it, will definitely keep it as an option. I'll plan to give Shaikh a call to chat about what I'm looking for.

                        I guess I'm a bit confused at the process - it seems that he does provide a consulting service where I do understand the cost, but the solutions he offers an only be implemented if you buy his setup because you can't buy it off the shelf. So the consulting fee kind of seems unnecessary. At the end of the day not too big of a deal if I get the ride I'm looking for.
                        Last edited by AlpineIIIM3; 03-31-2022, 02:23 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nate047 View Post
                          I feel like double adjustable shocks are not necessary for you, because I'm just going out on a limb and assuming you don't really know the best way to set them up. So you'll probably always be annoyed at them not being "right." And TBH, instead of trying to learn how to tune shocks, just get something simple and be happy with it. TC Klein or KWs with stock or close to stock spring rates, stock or close to stock bushings everywhere, and stock bars is what I would suggest. Maybe for OEM+ street friendly ride there are some specific places where you still don't want stock rubber (like the trailing arm bushings) but someone like Brett can comment better on that.
                          Thank you for the feedback. Yep, you hit the nail on the head. I definitely want simplicity, and at this point in my life I don't have the time to running in circles trying to tune my shocks. I just want to enjoy driving the car.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jbse39 View Post
                            A vote for Dinan. I was going to go with H&R OE and Konis nut Dina set was on sale and not much more. I put about 60,000 miles between street (my daily until last year) and track around the DC metro area. It is comfortable enough and performs well at HPDE events. I've had adjustable coil overs in other cars but never touched them after setting them up in the beginning, and I like keeping things simple. I would need proper seats and harness before I can drive beyond the suspensions on the car (I do not have any other upgrade, aside from the suspension and Stromung exhaust)
                            Thank you for the feedback, yeah I'm a big fan of Dinan. I really like the idea of keeping things simple. I just want to put something on that works and not have to worry about rebuilding or fine tuning in the future.

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                            • #15
                              If you aren't happy with a Koni based setup, a Bilstein and moreso MCS will feel miserable. Stock style setup is best for outright comfort, but pairing it with aggressive tires will do your goal a little bit of a disservice. 17's are better than 18's though. Dinan and H&R OE sport springs won't give you the drop you desire.

                              TCK 300/400 are the most comfortable coilover setup, but it sounds like you'd be a prime candidate for Shaikh's services especially since you're local. I've met him and ridden in his car - he is everything the guys above have said, very helpful guy and knows how to make suspension work the way you want it to. I'd spend my money at Fatcat over a premium damper (been there, done that, hated them for street use/longevity).

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