1st Gen R53 Cooper S Road Feel

Discussion in '1st Generation: 2002–06 R50, R53 & 2004–08 R52' started by krushmoto, Apr 8, 2016.

  1. krushmoto

    krushmoto New Member

    May 17, 2015
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    Hey all,
    I tried searching but can't find anything so if it was previously posted please don't kill me.
    My suspension feels overly stiff to the point I can feel every imperfection in the road. Bumps that any other car can handle feels like the entire wheel and everything w/ it is going to rip out! Not to mention I had to replace the entire right front suspension system for hitting a large bump last year. Control arm, spindle, strut were all bent and destroyed.
    I replaced the struts w/ Bilstein's and poly bushings. Everything else on the suspension is stock. The tires are run flats, which I plan on replacing w/ regular tires so I know that will help a little.
    Is it me or is it the car? My friend tells me it's normal to feel everything, it's German engineering. But I drove a co-workers Jetta that's lowered and has 35 for tires and it was a smooth ride so....
    Any ideas anyone?
    Thanks.
     
  2. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    First we never ever ask people to do a search. Even if the question has been asked 10 times.
    I can't imagine how hard you hit that bump, that must have hurt! This may be normal. With run flats on my Mini I could feel even cracks in the road. You will be surprised how much better the ride is when you ditch the run flats. My Mini has been lowered and has Konis on it so it rides stiff. I can not hit pot holes like other people can, if I did I would rip the front off my car. A first Gen Mini and a Jetta is really not a good comparison. If you could find another first Gen Mini to drive that would be better. The Bilsteins may be a little stiffer then stock.
    Also Poly bushings can make the ride a little stiffer. They tend to transmit bumps through them, where rubber absorbs it.
     
  3. mrntd

    mrntd Well-Known Member
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    Replacing the run flats will make a big difference. But research the tire you want to get to replace them. I had Hankook Ventus tires on last the performance was good and the ride was a little firm. I switched to the Continental DW they stick well but the side wall is softer and took a little while to get use to. The trade off is a much better ride and a lot quieter.

    The Bilsteins will be stiffer than stock but they perform better. My car is lowered with Swift springs. They are progressive so the first amount of movement gives a better ride than stock. Then they stiffen up as they compress more. Pot holes and speed bumps still send a jolt through the car. But it's not real bad. When I first had my WRX I made the suspension way too stiff, to the point where my wife wouldn't ride in the car. I did change it and improved the ride.

    I Jetta is super sift to start with and, I think, has a longer suspension travel. MCS02 is right compare your car against another 1st gen MINI. Then do you research to find what is best for you.
     
  4. Grizld700

    Grizld700 Well-Known Member

    Feb 2, 2016
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    As it has already been said, poly bushings are stiffer. Those Bilsteins are probably stiffer. But the RUNFLATS!!! Drop those runflats and they make the world of difference.
     
  5. quikmni

    quikmni Moderator

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    The R53s do ride pretty stiff on the run flats and you have only done things to make it even ride harsher. You state that you replaced the struts with Bilsteins, was that shocks and springs or just shocks? Which model Bilsteins did you install? If OEM springs are they sport or JCW (red) springs? What bushings have been replaced with poly? Was it just the Lower Control Arm (LCA) bushings or other bushings such as engine mounts? What size tires do you have on the car, especially the sidewall series (such as 45)?
    As most have said, replacing the run flats with a tire with a more compliant sidewall will help. You might also want to switch to Koni FSD shocks instead of the Bilsteins. If the only poly bushings are at the LCA that should be fine.
     
  6. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    All the above and they don't call Run Flats "Run Rocks" for nothing.

    Do nothing to your suspension at all until you dump the Run Rocks first.
     
  7. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
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    With my OEM runflats I could tell if it was heads up or heads down when I ran over a dime...

    Eliminate the runflats and keep your change in your pocket and the drive will be much better...
     
  8. Zapski

    Zapski Well-Known Member

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    I just put Koni FSD and NM lowering springs on mine, and the ride is much better. Can still feel the road but it's not jarring. Big improvement. Also I ditched the run-flats years ago.
     
  9. Eric@Helix

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    Friends don't let friends run flat.
     
  10. Grizld700

    Grizld700 Well-Known Member

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    I was under the impression that lowering springs with FSD's were a no-no
     
  11. Zapski

    Zapski Well-Known Member

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    The research I did suggested the opposite. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ And it's only 1.4" so not drastic.

    Seems to be nice so far, no issues at all. Much better ride.
     
  12. BlimeyCabrio

    BlimeyCabrio Oscar Goldman of MINIs
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    Yeah... those FSD's will die eventually with that much drop, if you really meant 1.4"
     
  13. fishmonger

    fishmonger Well-Known Member

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    broke my mini front left spring perch going over a railroad track. wasn't any harder than any other track crossing or bridge seam. That suspension (Alta lowering springs and Koni FSDs) was virtually useless before that happened, no travel, sounded like my front struts were blowing out the top of the shock towers every time the car crossed a 0.5" type seam in the road. Oh, no runflat tires here, and and a rear spring was broken for thousands of miles, clunking like a tire iron bouncing around in the back with every bump. Previous owner said it was the ARB bushings, but closer inspection showed that I had two parts to a single spring in the right rear... Poly bushings probably will make it ever stiffer, but mine are worn OEM, so who knows, maybe they are so gone that things will get smoother when I replace them.


    The FSDs never leaked, probably are still fine. Now, they may not work well if used in a lowered car, but they certainly seem to be fine. not sure, don't care. They aren't going back into my car.

    Last summer I replaced everything with Colin's BC coilovers, and things have become more comfortable, but the car still feels every imperfection in the road, which is fine. I like to feel the road. This isn't a Rolls Royce
     
  14. krushmoto

    krushmoto New Member

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    Thanks for the great insight everyone.
    I plan on switching to the Continental DWS06 215/45 17 within the week. Never realized run flats were that horrendous but then again this is my first car w/ run flats.
    Also can anyone give me some wheel alignment specs I can take to the shop? I'm a daily driver that occasionally hits 90 on a straight away at 330AM on the way home from work so no track driving.
    Other than the Bilstein strut carts everything is stock OEM except the LCA which is poly.
    Thanks again everyone! :beer
     
  15. fishmonger

    fishmonger Well-Known Member

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    I can, but you may a) not be able to get those settings to work without buying adjustable rear control arms, especially if lowered, and b) everyone likes something slightly different.

    For fast straightline driving, to have the car track nice and straight, you wouldn't want my settings, as I have the car set up to rotate very easily and handle in the corners better than when going straight.

    More toe-on will make it track straight better, but it won't want to change direction as willingly. Stock settings are a good compromise there,

    Camber - more camber generally is better for handling in the corners (you are setting the outside tire up so that when the car leans on it, its contact patch is more perpendicular to the road surface). The drawback is increased wear on the inside edges, and actually less road contact when going straight. Acceleration on wet roads may spin tires out more easily.

    After installing coilovers and rear adjustable control arms, I had my alignment set to 0.05 degree front toe and close to -0.15 degree rear toe, much less than stock. If you want more straightline stability you want these two cloer to 0.15 front, 0.2 rear. Camber in front is a reasonable -1.8 degrees now, can't go any higher apparently with my new coilovers and the camber plates that came with them. In the rear I have it set to -1.5. Autocross folks want more than that (I bought the car with -2.5 and -2.2 front/rear, tires were all chewed up on the inside edge). I want my tires to last more than 10,000 miles and I don't track the car nor do I like my wheels to look like my suspension is "stanced" (i.e. "broken") so that all the kids in their Honda Civics want to race me at stop lights.

    Then there's caster, which unless you want to spend some good money on a custom suspension setup, you cannot adjust on these cars. Doesn't have much impact on how the car handles on a straight run anyway, just affects the amount of caster you can get away with.

    Still, if you have $3000 itching in your pocket, people here will spend it for you very willingly on a performance setup. Not sure if anything will be more comfortable than stock, though :)

    And don't forget about unsprung weight when looking at suspension performance - mostly the combined weight of tires and wheels. If you're running 17 inch wheels, especially the OEM type, these are heavy. Heavy wheels don't want to work the suspension travel as willingly as a lighter wheel setup. A 16" wheel can be several pounds lighter than the same style 17" wheel, plus you get that slightly higher sidewall in the tire that will make a difference in road comfort.

    You can push the unsprung weight reduction even further with aftermarket brakes (e.g. the small 11.75 or 12.2 inch Wilwood brakes) which will replace full cast iron rotors with aluminum center "hat" rotors. Spend even more custom work time and money and replace the rear control arms with R56 aluminum rear control arms for 12 pounds less on each rear corner that needs to be controlled by shocks and springs.

    Now that we've spent $5k of your money, you will probably have a fine machine, but comfortable? An outsider who doesn't know anything about performance and why these things matter won't ever know these things were actually done. The tires are far more important than any of these suspension upgrades. In general, the OEM suspension is pretty comfortable, otherwise they wouldn't have sold these cars to many people who took a test drive in the first place, even with runflats.

    And when you do get the runflats, make sure you have small compressor, tire patch kit and the slime stuff in the car. Cheap insurance. I just had a sheet metal screw in my new Bridgestones. No leak, but it easily could have been a big problem if it had been just a little longer.
     
  16. krushmoto

    krushmoto New Member

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    Thanks, looks like I'll stick w/ stock alignment specs. LOL
     

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