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Old 01-02-2015, 05:14 AM   #1
Captain Snooze
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AST 5200 Dampers Updated 25th Feb DYNO CHARTS ADDED

Preamble.
I am going to add to the internet noise.

I ordered the 5200s early December with a due delivery date late January

I had 3 reasons for wanting to upgrade from the existing aftermarket dampers I have fitted. (MCA Reds, locally made, highly regarded in the Aussie forums, I have no idea how they compare to other dampers at their price point.)
1/ I wanted separate rebound and compression adjustment. (The MCAs have combined adjustment.)
2/ I wanted higher rate springs so I could ditch the Eibach sways.
3/ And most importantly, because I had never owned high-ish end dampers before.

In my quest to upgrade the following dampers were considered: JRZ RSPro, MCS 2 Way Remote, Nitron, Tein SRC, AST 5200 and very briefly Penske back when they had a listing for the triplets on their website. I rate all of these dampers equally. I will elaborate on that. I had to make a choice. There would be no on road or track testing before purchase. Regardless of what I bought that is what I'm stuck with. It is irrelevant to me if Randy Pobst can lap 2.5 seconds faster with brand A than brand B because I am not buying more than one set of dampers. Saying that one damper, at this price point, is "better" than another is immaterial.

The most important consideration was local support for the product. Seriously, Australia is a backwater when it comes to performance car parts.
The Australian Tein distributor had never imported SRCs. They were unsure about fitting different spring rates. The user manual is only in Japanese. I was not filled with confidence.
I spoke to the Penske importer. He suggested I would be better off with some re-valved Bilsteins. I do not jest. Ok, thanks, bye.
Nitrons have a listing for the 86/BRZ on their website but are only listed with 1 or 3 way. I was told that they're not actually available as yet because they were waiting get a car in to do the on car measurements! Seriously?
I almost went with MCS. A couple of minuses though. For servicing they had to be sent back overseas. I didn't realise at the time but they were also about $1k more expensive than the ASTs.
After a phone call and 2 emails the JRZ distributor never got back to me. Mmmmm....
It was only on a whim that I got in contact with the AST distributor. Ended up ticking the right boxes. Price was acceptable. Could be serviced here. When I say here I mean in Australia. The distributor is about 3700kms away from me.

I opted for the double digressive valving (because racecar!). They are standard with digressive on compression only. I also opted for Swift springs at 9k/10k. Why those rates? Because everything's a compromise. I was stressing about the front/rear spring choice because I like how the car steers now. I hope it doesn't morph into an under-steering pig or an over-steering monster.

One thing did concern me though. The owner of the suspension shop said the ride in my car was firm. That was on 6k/6k springs. When I mentioned I was getting 9k/10k springs he was a little taken aback. I am wondering if I have gone too high on the rates. Nahhh. The wife can deal with it.

Reviews forthcoming.

(A small confession: I love the looks of inverted struts. Because a thicker, meatier, bigger shaft has to be better. Right?)
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The Drive Home
My phone rings! Yes! It's the suspension shop saying my car is ready to be collected!!! I am then told they have backed off all the damping to max soft. Wtf!!?? I didn't comment but I was filled with trepidation for the drive home. I wasn't going to pull over somewhere to start fiddling with the dampers. I had visions of pogo-ing all over the road. Ummm, nope. I crawed off down the street thinking mmmm...this isn't bad. It felt a little loose but it wasn't as if there was no damping.
There wasn't any float or see-sawing, just a bit more springy than I would have liked. Remember this is on full soft compression and rebound. There were only a couple of times where I thought it was bad but even then it wasn't that bad.

I am very surprised at the ride. That's 9k/10k springs no sways. It is softer than before with the sways. F**k!! I'm thinking I could easily have gone 10k/12k but how was I to know? Anyhoo. At the oft mentioned round-a-bout near home I did 2 laps. I think understeer has increased marginally. I might have to get my rear toe closer to zero. It is on 0.9mm a side atm.OMG! What are they going to be like once I get the dampers set to my liking? What a revelation!! I couldn't try too hard because I had a boot full of coilovers. What is really weird is in a straight line they feel really compliant but then there is so little roll in the bends. I am guessing the roll is about the same as before with the sways.

So, I am finished with the round-a-bout. I am exiting onto a left hand bend. I see the bump which would cause the waggle and upset the composure of the car. My left hand rear wheel goes over the bump and I wondered huh? What happened there? The bump has decreased in size. The was NO waggle. It was totally absent. Wow. I have full inderpendant rear suspension. The car felt so uncorrupted. Ok, I know sways are a compromise and I think as a budget measure they are good value but I didn't appreciate the difference the lack of them could make. Have to remember the Eibach sways are towards the stiffer end of sway bars so they certainly added to the total spring rate on one sided bumps.

I can't feel the road as well as I would like at the moment which is not surprising but for 9k/10k springs I can't get over how soft they are. Tonight's activity will be setting the dampers to the factory default click position and seeing what they are like with some proper damper resistance.

I am thinking that these dampers on softer springs would make for a dangerous vehicle; the car would be so comfortable it would lull you to sleep. On 6k/6k springs it would be such a dream ride. A waste of money but it would be a thing of beauty. *sigh*

Thanks to Michael at RavenTechRacing in Perth for answering all my bride-before-the-wedding-night questions.


I still can't get over those numbers! They are way too comfortable.
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A Week On
I have started playing with the damper settings. This is going to be a work in progress for some time but I enjoy the adjust, test, repeat process. More testing (and note taking) to be done. The nice thing is every click of adjustment has a tangible effect. (Oh no!! I must have been ripped off!! Why don't I have 47 clicks of adjustment like those $700 dampers?) I am finding out where the dampers become useless at street speeds so that when I get to the track I don't have to muck around with settings that are not applicable. Adjust, test, repeat.

I can't get over how comfortable they are.
The ride is like a feather doona atop of a steel sprung bed. A tender caress with a sledge hammer. The wheels feel like they have sunk into the bitumen they are that planted. There is this sort of velvety glide across the road. It is triple whipped cream with added cement. It creeps along like high speed slime. A hovercraft on rails. Am I impressed? Yes, yes I am.

I have had another wheel alignment. I didn't realise at the time but the suspension shop had set my car to generic/oem settings; I hadn't given them the specs I wanted. I had assumed that they would set them to the settings I requested last time. The increased understeer has disappeared.

The way in which the suspension now works is a revelation. The increased independence is almost worth the investment cost alone.


Front 5200.pdf
Rear 5200.pdf
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Last edited by Captain Snooze; 03-14-2015 at 10:22 PM. Reason: Dyno charts added
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Old 01-02-2015, 06:52 AM   #2
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ahhhh you should have gotten the penske's then ft86 admins would give you a button that entitles you to most money blown...erm i mean invested in suspension
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Old 01-02-2015, 07:04 AM   #3
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Yeah, the Penskes weren't on my list for very long. My wallet is still bruised as it is.
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Old 01-04-2015, 09:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Snooze View Post
Preamble.
I am going to add to the internet noise.

I ordered the 5200s early December with a due delivery date late January

I had 3 reasons for wanting to upgrade from the existing aftermarket dampers I have fitted. (MCA Reds, locally made, highly regarded in the Aussie forums, I have no idea how they compare to other dampers at their price point.)
1/ I wanted separate rebound and compression adjustment. (The MCAs have combined adjustment.)
2/ I wanted higher rate springs so I could ditch the Eibach sways.
3/ And most importantly, because I had never owned high-ish end dampers before.

In my quest to upgrade the following dampers were considered: JRZ RSPro, MCS 2 Way Remote, Nitron, Tein SRC, AST 5200 and very briefly Penske back when they had a listing for the triplets on their website. I rate all of these dampers equally. I will elaborate on that. I had to make a choice. There would be no on road or track testing before purchase. Regardless of what I bought that is what I'm stuck with. It is irrelevant to me if Randy Pobst can lap 2.5 seconds faster with brand A than brand B because I am not buying more than one set of dampers. Saying that one damper, at this price point, is "better" than another is immaterial.

The most important consideration was local support for the product. Seriously, Australia is a backwater when it comes to performance car parts.
The Australian Tein distributor had never imported SRCs. They were unsure about fitting different spring rates. The user manual is only in Japanese. I was not filled with confidence.
I spoke to the Penske importer. He suggested I would be better off with some re-valved Bilsteins. I do not jest. Ok, thanks, bye.
Nitrons have a listing for the 86/BRZ on their website but are only listed with 1 or 3 way. I was told that they're not actually available as yet because they were waiting get a car in to do the on car measurements! Seriously?
I almost went with MCS. A couple of minuses though. For servicing they had to be sent back overseas. I didn't realise at the time but they were also about $1k more expensive than the ASTs.
After a phone call and 2 emails the JRZ distributor never got back to me. Mmmmm....
It was only on a whim that I got in contact with the AST distributor. Ended up ticking the right boxes. Price was acceptable. Could be serviced here. When I say here I mean in Australia. The distributor is about 3700kms away from me.

I opted for the double digressive valving (because racecar!). They are standard with digressive on compression only. I also opted for Swift springs at 9k/10k. Why those rates? Because everything's a compromise. I was stressing about the front/rear spring choice because I like how the car steers now. I hope it doesn't morph into an under-steering pig or an over-steering monster.

One thing did concern me though. The owner of the suspension shop said the ride in my car was firm. That was on 6k/6k springs. When I mentioned I was getting 9k/10k springs he was a little taken aback. I am wondering if I have gone too high on the rates. Nahhh. The wife can deal with it.

Reviews forthcoming.

(A small confession: I love the looks of inverted struts. Because a thicker, meatier, bigger shaft has to be better. Right?)

Quite a bit of research here, thanks.
Curious, is this your daily driver and referencing note 2 above, why do you want to remove the Eibach sways, in favor of what? Higher spring rate with stock bars ?

Vorschlag reps AST and MCS here in the states but there hasn't been much more talk about AST on this platform, as opposed to Tein, Ohlins and Tarmac 2's for track duty.

Last edited by Jetbill; 01-04-2015 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 01-04-2015, 09:40 PM   #5
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Those spring rates are incredibly high, why did you chose them?
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Old 01-04-2015, 10:14 PM   #6
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Those spring rates are incredibly high, why did you chose them?
This quote is from a review for Tein SRCs running 10k/12k springs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CounterSpace Garage View Post
Street impressions
The high spring rates come with an expectation of a harsh ride, and this is understandable given that the majority of enthusiasts have never experienced a truly well damped suspension. The SRCs can be adjusted to offer a firm, but refined ride that hugs the ground without disturbing the occupants of the vehicle. There is neither excessive harshness, nor bounciness.

We gathered feedback from enthusiasts at meets, driving on any and all roads and conditions that we ran across, and even performed "the girl test". Most people asked if we were on lowering springs since the car sits lower than stock, but nobody had any idea that they were riding on spring rates roughly FOUR TIMES stiffer than a stock BRZ until we told them!
It has been said many times in this forum that damper quality is the main criteria for comfort. I am not as hardcore as @CSG Mike so I took the wimp option of going one step down on rates.
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Old 01-04-2015, 10:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Quite a bit of research here, thanks.
Curious, is this your daily driver and referencing note 2 above, why do you want to remove the Eibach sways, in favor of what? Higher spring rate with stock bars ?
Yeah, this is my daily driver.
I'm on 6k/6k springs atm. I can feel cross talk at the front with the Eibachs. That is, when I hit a bump on one side I can feel an effect on the other side. Strangely I don't notice this at the rear. It is my intention to start off without any sway bars at all. It remains to be seen how the steering ends up; I will make a decision on sways once I have had a chance to give the car a good flogging at the track. I am hoping that the chosen spring rates (9k/10k) will yield similar steering to what I have now but it remains to be seen.
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Old 01-04-2015, 10:57 PM   #8
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In for reviews!
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Old 01-04-2015, 11:23 PM   #9
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Looks like you lost options due to the standard horrible customer service that is so commonly seen in the aftermarket industry.

Nonetheless, should be interesting to see your findings...
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Old 01-04-2015, 11:38 PM   #10
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Nice to read more about AST in this forum. Not very popular but they sound great and there's a shop near me that sells them.

Can't wait for your impressions.
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Old 01-05-2015, 03:30 PM   #11
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I'm highly interested in the tuned ASTs that Mann engineering sells here in the states.
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Old 01-08-2015, 05:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Snooze View Post
This quote is from a review for Tein SRCs running 10k/12k springs.


It has been said many times in this forum that damper quality is the main criteria for comfort. I am not as hardcore as @CSG Mike so I took the wimp option of going one step down on rates.
Strictly speaking, lower spring rates will always ride *softer* than higher spring rates, but if the low spring rates are badly damped, the ride will still be harsh.

Likewise, high spring rates that are well damped will be firm, but not harsh. In other words, you'll feel exactly what is going on with the road, but it's not going to knock your teeth out and cause back pain.

If you're going over dips and potholes, then you won't like high spring rates, but typically if performance is the main motivator behind coilovers, then you'll be avoiding the dips/potholes, or just accept it anyways.


9k/10k is actually the "comfort" spring rate we offer for the Tein SRCs, and we have damper settings to match those rates for both comfort and performance. Great choice!
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Old 01-08-2015, 05:08 PM   #13
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you'll feel exactly what is going on with the road,
I love that!!
Quote:
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or just accept it anyways...
Yep. It's part of the deal although I don't think the wife is going to have the same opinion.
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Old 01-08-2015, 05:44 PM   #14
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