Review: The Raceseng Slammer Shift Knob

Discussion in 'Feedback, Reviews & Comments' started by Zillon, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. Zillon

    Zillon Well-Known Member

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    To me, the 2013 JCW GP is as close as you can get to perfection in a MINI without getting your eyes wet. I do realize that I may be in the minority here, as not everyone can handle a daily driving experience with what is essentially a Mini Cooper crossed with a GT3 RS… but with its razor-sharp handling, quick reflexes, no back seat, and raucous exhaust note, this car is basically tailor-made for yours truly.

    However, in the 5 months of GP ownership, I have realized that there is but one imperfection: The stock shift knob. While attractive in form, particularly with the Chili Red insert and stitched leather finish, the stock knob tips the scales at a paltry 6.4 ounces, or 181 grams, or… only 0.4 pounds. This lack of mass makes the stock shifter feel unmotivated and overly notchy at times, which can be a little discouraging when spiritedly charging through the gears.

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    Luckily for me, one path I had managed to cross in my automotive adventures was that of Jarrett Seng. You may not know Jarrett, but perhaps you’ve heard of his company: Raceseng. Since 2005, Jarrett and his father, Glen, have designed and manufactured a wide variety of race car components under the Raceseng name, though the passion for motorsports that drives this company can be traced all the way back to 1957 (read more about the Raceseng legacy, right here). Lately, the FR-S/BRZ/GT86 platform has been on the receiving end of Raceseng’s razor-sharp focus, and their products have proven to be extremely popular and well received by enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. Of particular note is Raceseng’s participation as a featured sponsor for the Speedhunters.com FR-S that won the 2014 Scion Tuner Challenge at SEMA this year (more info on the build, here).

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    Why all this talk about the FR-S? Okay, okay. I’ll cut to the chase.

    Way back in April, long before the thought of jumping into the GP had even crossed my mind, I happened to see a post pop up on the Raceseng Facebook page: They were in search of an R56 MINI with a manual transmission for development purposes. Even though I still had my GTI at that time, my girlfriend (now fiancee) happened to pilot a row-your-own R56 MINI Cooper, as seen below.

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    So, I did the logical thing: I reached out to Jarrett to see what exactly was needed. After some discussion, I found that he had developed an adapter to fit the Raceseng line of shift knobs to the R50 and R53 MINIs, and he was curious to see whether the same adapter would fit the R56 MINI as well. Since I’m not exactly right in Raceseng’s backyard, but I happened to have the car he needed and a digital caliper, I offered to save him some time and money and record the measurements he needed. Ultimately, what we discovered, is that the R56 platform would need its own adapter.

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    Fast forward to September: After a few months of GP ownership, I decided it was time to do something about my featherweight shift knob woes, and by this time, Jarrett had wrapped up development on the R56 adapter. Given my previous involvement with the development of the adapter, it was only natural that I fit a Raceseng knob on the GP. The only problem was, which one? After discussing my plans with Jarrett, he mentioned it would probably be best to take a day and stop in and sample the goods and see the manufacturing facilities in person. How could I say no? So, I fired up the GP, and off to Macungie, PA I went!

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    Between the Apex R, Ashiko, Slammer, Creatür, Signatür, Slammologi, and Topologi designs, Raceseng offers 54 different options for the R56 platform alone. Needless to say, I really had my work cut out for me when it came to picking the exact knob I wanted. With so many options, the Raceseng brand is truly a perfect fit for the neverending aftermarket MINI marketplace.

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    Since I desired a powdercoated finish, though, I was able to narrow down my choices a bit: I could choose the 735 gram Ashiko (pictured below, on the left) or the slightly slimmer, 615 gram Slammer (on the right). (The other knobs are no slouch either, the Creatür, Signatür, Slammologi, and Topologi knobs weigh in at 500+ grams!)

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    After spending some time getting intimate with both the Ashiko and Slammer knobs, my mind was made. Slammer it was! The rounded profile felt better in my palm, and with all the curves, circles, and rounded edges the R56 MINI interior has to offer, I thought that the profile of the Slammer would jive better with the slightly whimsical MINI school of design. In regards to color, I knew I wanted red... but which red did I want, exactly? To clarify, Raceseng offers three different shades of red: Translucent, Wrinkle, and Mirror.

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    It was a hard decision to make, but in the end, I decided it was best to tie the shift knob in with the trademark ‘Chili Red’ accents scattered throughout the interior and exterior of the GP. Thus, it was the mirror red finish that ultimately won the Battle of the Reds. And of course, to put the figurative cherry on top of this bright red knob, I opted to have the 6-speed shift pattern, complete with the signature Raceseng R, engraved right into the mirror red finish. Perfection.

    On to the install.

    Installation on the R56 MINI is very straightforward. Pick your favorite plastic trim tool (don’t use a screwdriver), and pry out the shift boot retaining ring from the center console. Then pull up on the shift knob, and voila. Out comes the whole kit and kaboodle.

    If you turn the shift boot inside out, you’ll find a plastic retaining ring glued to the stock shift boot, this holds the shift knob and boot together. You’ll need to remove this ring to install the threaded Raceseng shift knob adapter and shift boot retainer.

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    Now, insert the adapter into the knob-less and retainer-less boot, and cinch the included zip-tie down over the boot to keep the boot from slipping down over the shifter.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Then, flip the boot right-side-out, slip the adapter over the shifter, and proceed to tighten the 4 grub screws to hold the shift knob adapter to the shifter.

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    And finally, thread the knob onto the adapter, align the knob, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

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    The verdict.

    I’ve logged a thousand miles or so with the Slammer so far, and this knob has delivered exactly the kind of sweet shifter action I was dreaming of, with no regrets. I consider this case closed.

    Questions? Comments? For additional photos, click here.
     
  2. Savvy

    Savvy Well-Known Member
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    #2 Savvy, Dec 8, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
    Glad to see my original blueprint for the R53 shifter stalk made the write-up!
     
  3. Zillon

    Zillon Well-Known Member

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    Ha! Small world! :Thumbsup:
     
  4. Savvy

    Savvy Well-Known Member
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  5. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

    Jun 4, 2009
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    Very nice looking piece. I'll keep my Whalen shift machine. My shift knob money has already been spent.
     
  6. TheModFather

    TheModFather Well-Known Member

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    Great looking piece, and a really good in depth write up! I miss the days where this was the norm on the boards. :D
     
  7. N2MINI

    N2MINI MINI of the Month

    Dec 4, 2009
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    Nice to see another vendor get in the game even if it's not something I want to spend my money on... I'm sure others will..
     
  8. GokartPilot

    GokartPilot Well-Known Member

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    Great write up. Very impressive work, I especially like the Ashiko but I have become attached to my Whalen, and so has GIR. If these had been around a year a so ago there is a good chance GIR would be sporting a Red Ashiko. Powder coating is an intresting idea though.
     
  9. Zillon

    Zillon Well-Known Member

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    #9 Zillon, Dec 9, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014
    :Thumbsup:

    Hey, never said you had to get rid of it - just letting fellow MINI owners know there's another quality option out there. :wink:

    Thanks!

    Also, agreed. I've been following the MINI communities for years, because I always wanted one when they first came out. It seems that things have died off a bit amongst the online communities, which is a shame.

    Always nice to see new vendors.

    The powdercoating option is great - cuts down on the heat a little, and adds some durability to the finish, not to mention some flavor.

    I really wish the GP had orange accents, because the mirror orange finish is gorgeous.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

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    Hope I didn't imply you did. Not my intention. If I didn't have such a great shift knob with my Whalen shift machine I'd have bought one. Changing from one great shift knob to another just doesn't make sense for me. If you want to send me a blu one with the shift pattern engraved I'd gladly beta test it for you. :wink:
     
  11. Zillon

    Zillon Well-Known Member

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    No worries! No hostility intended. :cool:
     
  12. quikmni

    quikmni Moderator

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    With the Helix deal, I have to now decide between the Ashiko or Slammer shift knob without actually feeling the knob in my hand. Since the stock knob is pretty much a round sphere I would lean towards the Slammer knob because I am used to that shape but I see that Helix had first offered the Ashiko, with its flatter sides so that made me think they liked the feel of the Ashiko better. I know Zillon picked the Slammer after feeling both styles. Has anyone else felt these two knobs and have an opinion on which feels better?
     
  13. Savvy

    Savvy Well-Known Member
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    Dug through some of my old emails... found a rendering for their threadless adapter.

    One thing worth noting, he stragically picked the recessed diameter for the set-screw engagement point. Should they ever loosen up from you jammin' gears, you have a little bit of a lip to potentially bite on and keep the knob from completely coming off until you can retighten them.

    [​IMG]

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    It's these kinds of details that make quality parts worth every penny.
     
  14. Zillon

    Zillon Well-Known Member

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    In addition to that, the set screws are captured by the knob itself, so even if they do loosen, they won't fall out while the knob is physically threaded onto the adapter. :Thumbsup:
     
  15. Savvy

    Savvy Well-Known Member
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    Got home from my vacation and got to install my engraved, translucent blue, slammer. I think it is going to work just fine to go with the custom dash that will be installed this spring.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Zillon

    Zillon Well-Known Member

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    Love the translucent finish!
     
  17. Avro

    Avro New Member

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    Just got my Slammer the other day and the difference it makes is unbelievable. Shifting is much smoother with the extra weight. I got the plain stainless and am in the process of filling the lines, numbers, and logo with enamel paint to go with my Mini (why are there no accessories that go with BRG?). I'll add pics when done. The downside is the cost. If it were just the price listed there would be no issue but I'm from Canada and our dollar isn't doing so well against the greenback and getting dinged for duty and tax at the border hurt a lot!

    BTW great write-up. It sure helped me make up my mind.

    Avro
     
  18. Zillon

    Zillon Well-Known Member

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    Glad you're enjoying the knob! I'd love to see some finished photos of the BRG accents in the engraving.

    I've thought about painting the engraving on mine black, but the raw engraving is just so pretty.
     
  19. Avro

    Avro New Member

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    All done with the colouring. It turned out pretty good but I'm not sure it will last as I just used Testor enamel paint (cheap in case it didn't work). It's hard to get a good picture due to the shine.

    Avro
     

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  20. cristo

    cristo Well-Known Member

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    I'm fancying the Topologi with its Delrin sheath. Not quite as heavy as the others
    at 475 g, but will be more comfortable in the hand at extreme temperatures compared
    to bare metal.
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