05-14-2012, 04:22 PM
Location: Fresno, Ca
Join Date: Apr 2009
Mein Auto: 99 M3, 91 325i
Coilover Install & Reveiw - KW Suspensions Clubsports
I'm a little new here but I've been in the BMW world for quite a few years now. I figured since i just registered i might as well post something that may be useful to some...i hope anyway. Anyway, I recently upgraded my coilovers and made a little write up. I figure if it helps one person it was worth it. I've taken my suspension apart and back together so many times now i figured i'd share the knowledge I've gained.
I was pretty excited when the package arrived.
Even though they shipped directly from KW in Germany it only took about a week to arrive after I placed my order, which surprised the heck out of me.
Ze Germans really don't skimp out on their packaging either.
These things were packed solid!
I was pretty excited when i opened them up and found out they came with KW's new easy adjustment knobs and cool little tool kit.
Right off the bat when I went to install them I noticed the build quality was completely different than the ST's I had before.
Even though people tote ST's as "basically a Varient 1" the build quality of the KW's are a lot different.
But don't get me wrong about the ST's they were great and are what really sold me on the KW brand.
The Clubsport pillow ball top mount was also a bit shorter than the OEM ones.
The springs were quite a bit shorter too. I think they went from 170mm to 140mm
KW's had a little beefier mounting points for the spindle made of stainless
ST, which held up great too, looks like a stamped piece of galvanized steel.
It was then on to putting them in.
It was a very easy swap for me because I did not need to swap over my factory top mounts because the Clubsports come with a nice uniball top mount that gives you the ability to adjust the camber.
The fronts have 7 bolts total holding them in place, 3 on the top mount, 3 on the spindle and one for the sway bar end link.
The 3 top mount bolts were 13mm I believe, a 17mm on the sway bar end link, and the 3 on the spindle were 18mm.
I found the easiest way for me to do the front was to loosen the 13mm bolts on the top of the strut towers them raising the front from each side evenly so I could get my Rouge Engineering strut tower brace off of the top mount bolts.
Then I slide the new KW shocks in and secured them without the RE brace for now.
The studs on the Clubsport top mounts were plenty long enough to work with the BMW strut tower reinforcement plates and the RE brace.
MAKE SURE you check for the correct torque setting( 17 ft lbs per KW instructions)on the 4 bolts that hold the camber adjustment in place and the top mount to the rod of the shock( 37 ft lbs if i read the instructions right).
I dont know if they pre-set them at the KW factory but i did it anyway just to be safe.
Here you can see the 3 mounts to the spindle. 18mm for each.
Here it is again with the strut mounted.
It's easiest here if you put a small floor jack under the spindle to help you support it while you reinstall the 3 bolts.
Install the new sway bar end links and thats it for the fronts.
The sway bar end links have a notched area on the joint so you can hold it with a 17mm wrench while tightening the 17mm nut that hold it in place.
That was pretty much it for the front. Obviously make sure everything is torqued and all the brake lines, ABS sensor wire, and brake pad sensor wires are routed correctly so there is no interference while driving.
The rears are super easy, especially if you have the RE rear shock mount reinforcement plates that allow you to remove the shocks without having to go inside the trunk.
I believe the bolts holding the shock in were 13mm, and 18mm holding the shock to the rear hub carrier.
Once the shock is removed the rear spring and height adjuster are easiest to swap.
This was taken after a track day in the rain so excuse the uncleanliness.
When installing the rear make sure to install them so this adjustment window is facing towards the rear of the car.
This became clear to me while I was at the track in pouring rain :eyecrazy and I needed to soften the compression......I had put them in the wrong way. :help
Also make sure you install the new washer that comes with the kit between the bolt and the shock NOT between the shock and the hub carrier.
Do it this way!
With the little cover removed you can see the adjustment knob for the rear compression :buttrock
This is the correct orientation but as you can see it was a little difficult to get to the adjustment window when it was facing this direction, especially in the rain.
I then went through and adjusted everything to the factory recommended setting.
The factory settings all are referenced from Full Stiff or the valves in the Closed Position.
You never want to run you shocks at this setting because you can ruin them.
So following the instructions i closed (clockwise until they can't turn anymore) all the valves and make the necessary adjustments towards open (counterclockwise).
Here are the recommended setting from KW Suspensions for the Clubsports on an E36 M3
Front Rebound- 9 Clicks open/counterclockwise
Front Compression - 3/4 of a turn open / counterclockwise
Rear Rebound - 12 Clicks open / counterclockwise
Rear Compression - 3/4 of a turn open / counterclockwise
Now for my $.02..
I was seriously impressed with the overall quality and finish of these coilovers. The ST coilovers I had before I loved... but these just took things to a new level. I was really surprised with how tight the top mounts are. I have experience with quite a few other brands and many of their top mounts kinda flop around on the shock. These were very stiff but smooth to move, and they would stay where you left them instead of flopping back and fourth.
Another huge plus was the adjustment range these things have! The factory recommended setting were a great starting point. As soon as I hit the rode after installing them, the steering response was so immediate. My car has powerflex bushing and Turner sway bars so it was responsive before, but I think the solid top mounts made a huge difference.
My first track day with the kit was in the rain so I didnt get to see a comparitive difference just yet but even in the wet the car really felt a lot more composed and balanced. It was very predictive and controllable.
I've auto crossed once since installing them and that was a big eye opener. The level of grip the car has now is so much different even though it was done on the same tires with no other changes to the car.
Everyday driving overall I have noticed the car is a lot more responsive and very well composed while cornering. With the racing seats and other mods done to the car you get solid feedback from the car about what is going on. The addition of the Clubsports totally added to it. The feel through the steering wheel is so crisp and precise it so gives you every input you need to feel while driving.
Anyway hope this was helpful to someone. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask.