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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was thinking that the next step for my JCW was to hone the suspension a bit - am hoping for a much flatter and tighter response when I attack the mountain curves and hopefully a bit more feel/speed on steering response. The Mini dealer near my house is doing a 20% off campaign on all Bilstein parts and have the B12/14/16 for the F56. Not sure, but I am leaning towards adding the B14 kit, as well as the NM rear sway bar to control understeer and them maybe add some wheel spacers to improve the looks a bit.

Has anyone fitted any of these parts on their F56 JCW? Impressions, feedback and suggestions all appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
There seems to be next to no reviews or independent info on the B14 kit, and even the self-serving info from Bilstein's homepage says nothing more than it offers adjustable lowering of ride height and has good anti-rust coating. Though I was quite pleased with the improvement in handling offered by Bilstein BTS kits I fitted to various BMWs I was driving 10-15 years ago, the uninspiring information offered here is clearly not enough info for me to part with $2500 of my hard-earned cash on.

I am FAR less interested in lowering the ride height (If thats all I wanted I can just buy a $300 set of N&M coils down the street) than I am in trying to improve the handling, steering feel, understeer and roll in the car.

Is there anybody here who spent time and money on trying to improve the handling of their F56 JCW?

My Mini dealer also sells the JCW Pro suspension kit (supposedly much softer than the B14 which I probably wouldn't like) as well as a Mini shop special that has K&W internals.
 

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Vetsvette has the NM sway bar and a lot of other modifications and he has posted a lot of information on this forum and the NAM one as well. I know he is very pleased with the sway bar. Try a search for his threads and it may answer some of your questions. I think I am leaving the JCW as is for now as I am happy with it. I am lusting after the GP if they offer it in a color I want. Otherwise, I may go over to the dark side and for the Subaru WRX STI, they are about the same price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Vetsvette has the NM sway bar and a lot of other modifications and he has posted a lot of information on this forum and the NAM one as well. I know he is very pleased with the sway bar. Try a search for his threads and it may answer some of your questions. I think I am leaving the JCW as is for now as I am happy with it. I am lusting after the GP if they offer it in a color I want. Otherwise, I may go over to the dark side and for the Subaru WRX STI, they are about the same price.
Thanks Dan - as always, extremely helpful!

I had already settled on the idea of adding the NM anti sway bar - question is whether the NM springs would bring enough improvement to handling or if not, which coilover setup would be best. I had good experience with Bilstein in the past but with next to no relevant info on the B12/14/16 setups (even from Bilstein!), I am thinking to try either the JCW Pro setup (at least there are a number of reviews by users on this) or K&W. Will let you know what I decide.

Has there been any update on if they will build the GP - that would definitely get me rethinking the suspension upgrades as I would almost immediately want to trade up for that crazy beautiful car!!!

As for the Sti - back in the old days it wasn't the dark side at all, my first Sti was a 1997 Sti Type R (I have owned two) - a 2-door, 1200kg full-on rally car that had been barely changed to make it street legal. It was raw, had a very hard and flat suspension, 7800 redline, adjustable mechanical diff, a distinct turbo lag (and thus insane boost on the other side of the lag), and that loud and super distinctive boxster burble. Today's Sits are too heavy, too soft, too quiet and seemingly experiencing a personality crisis, not knowing if it wants to be a rally car, a GT type sports car, a boy racer or a BMW wannabe. They used to be such great cars and I hope they will someday return to their roots but right now I think there are far better choices. I can't say exactly why I feel this but in some ways I think that my Megane RS Trophy felt like a spiritual successor to the old Sti - perhaps its the very analog feel to the car along with the the superbly sorted out race suspension and instant response of the turbo. To be honest, I think that if Mini actually built the next GP even close to the 2017 concept they were showing around, putting the car on a serious weight-saving diet, and pushing output to about 300hp, THEY would own this space!..
 
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I will most likely stick with mini as the smiles per mile are unparalleled for me. I do love this JCW and I probably will keep it and add the GP to the stable. Thanks for the update on the Subaru, I have not checked into them in quite some time. They used to be fun and as you said, "raw". The projected dates I have gleaned from chasing the GP around the web are as early as 2018 and as late as 2020. I have to have something with a back seat other than the truck. That's why I was considering the Subaru if the GP doesn't happen or is only available in gray with the red. I never cared for the look and that is the main reason I didn't go for the R series GP. Performance and appearance are both important to me and I like the personalization mini offers on most of their models. I have seen reports on the concept that indicate it will be somewhere between 250-300 HP. That is a considerable difference, I hope for 300 and at least 280. I am going to dyno the JCW at the MOTD and see what it does on the high setting with 100 octane, I may boost it to 105 just for laughs. I am hoping for at least 280! The concept really caught my eye. I realize the bolt ons won't work, but the spoiler with red is pretty awesome.
 

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My Mini dealer also sells the JCW Pro suspension kit (supposedly much softer than the B14 which I probably wouldn't like) as well as a Mini shop special that has K&W internals.
You should find a JCW with Pro Suspension and drive it. It made a really big difference to my car. The car now turns in quite well, without the hesitation that was so noticeable with the “sport” suspension. The ride is firm, but still quite acceptable, better than my 2004 R53 JCW and I’d say on par with my Elise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You should find a JCW with Pro Suspension and drive it. It made a really big difference to my car. The car now turns in quite well, without the hesitation that was so noticeable with the “sport” suspension. The ride is firm, but still quite acceptable, better than my 2004 R53 JCW and I’d say on par with my Elise.
Thanks - I was leaning away from the JCW because my dealer described it as the softest of the 4 choices he had available for me in that price range (Bilstein B12/14, K&W internals on a Mini Japan produced sports setup and the JCW Pro). Sounds like your experience is is very different and I'd love to hear more. "On par with your Elise" is a very bold claim (one of my favorite cars which I would have bought in a second if I was born about 15cm shorter than I am now!), and if true would definitely push me towards getting that set up instead.

Though 90% of my driving is on the streets of Tokyo, the real joy I get out of driving is on my many trips to the Hakone peninsula about 90 minutes out of town. I love attacking those mountain roads with dozens and dozens of uninterrupted tight turns. My hope with the suspension upgrades is to (1) decrease roll and understeer on the JCW OEM setup (I have the non-adjustable sports suspension), (2) enhance the go-cart feel aspect of the mini with a flatter and tighter setup and (3) doing 1 and 2 without creating a situation where my passengers lose their fillings when I drive over bumps or less than perfect surfaces...
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just had a long conversation with the distributor for NM Engineering (he added the NM Power Module for me). After hearing what I was trying to achieve, he said he thought the B14 would be too hard and suggested:

1) Bilstein short stroke shocks
2) NM RSa sport spring kit
3) NM rear sway bar
4) spacers and extended bolts (10/12.5/15mm available)
5) alignment

Seemed a pretty decent price - about $2500 USD including labor and tax.

Does this sound good? Also any advice on the spacers? Will need to keep the standards 18" JCW Cup alloys for now. Was thinking 10mm in front and 12.5 in back.
 
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That sounds like a decent setup, but a little expensive for what you get IMO. For that price you should be able to get a set of KW Variant 2 and a rear sway bar + end links installed. Installation shouldn't be more than $100 per corner.
I have been watching a less expensive alternative and am waiting for a few more reviews before making a decision. This set doesn't have the fancy coating, but is fully adjustable and comes with camber plates. The rears can be adjusted by jacking up the corner vs removing the wheel to do so. Sounds too good to be true for <$1K. You can also order them with Swift springs, which is the route I might take.

www.sneed4speed.com/bc-racing-br-coilover-kit-for-f56/

Sooo many options and directions you can go with these mods. At present I'm still happy with my Sport shocks and NM springs. These with the RSB and end links improved handling and ride considerably over the Sport suspension. I think this setup lowered it just the right amount.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That sounds like a decent setup, but a little expensive for what you get IMO. For that price you should be able to get a set of KW Variant 2 and a rear sway bar + end links installed. Installation shouldn't be more than $100 per corner.
I have been watching a less expensive alternative and am waiting for a few more reviews before making a decision. This set doesn't have the fancy coating, but is fully adjustable and comes with camber plates. The rears can be adjusted by jacking up the corner vs removing the wheel to do so. Sounds too good to be true for <$1K. You can also order them with Swift springs, which is the route I might take.

www.sneed4speed.com/bc-racing-br-coilover-kit-for-f56/

Sooo many options and directions you can go with these mods. At present I'm still happy with my Sport shocks and NM springs. These with the RSB and end links improved handling and ride considerably over the Sport suspension. I think this setup lowered it just the right amount.
Thanks for the info my friend! Your post on the other forum about your setup was also very informative and helpful.

When it comes to modding cars (as well as the crazy jacked up prices they charge us for the cars themselves - my JCW was over $50,000 USD with just 7-8 options!), prices are substantially higher in Japan so $2500 is on the cheap side of what I could get done.

That said, when you say you are happy with your sports shocks and NM springs do you mean the standard JCW shocks? That route would obviously be MUCH cheaper for me. Are you happy with it? I heard that just changing springs only can sometimes have a negative effect on ride quality. Were the end links you used NM also? Anyhow, thanks again for the great input!
 

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Yeah, I forgot where you are. Things were a little less expensive when I lived over there.
In 2015 the Sport Suspension was an option on the S. Same suspension that comes standard on the JCW. I am very happy with the combination on my car. I've been told that it would be better if I trimmed my bump stops, but I think it handles and rides great the way it is. It also drops the ride height about 1.5 inches all around, which makes it look a lot better. I installed the NM end links. Never really trusted those plastic ones that come with the car. I also installed adjustable rear control arms because I thought I would need them to correct the camber after installing the springs, but that ended up a waste of money because the camber remained within specs.
It lets the wheels/tires fill the wheel wells much better than the stock ride height.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yeah, I forgot where you are. Things were a little less expensive when I lived over there.
In 2015 the Sport Suspension was an option on the S. Same suspension that comes standard on the JCW. I am very happy with the combination on my car. I've been told that it would be better if I trimmed my bump stops, but I think it handles and rides great the way it is. It also drops the ride height about 1.5 inches all around, which makes it look a lot better. I installed the NM end links. Never really trusted those plastic ones that come with the car. I also installed adjustable rear control arms because I thought I would need them to correct the camber after installing the springs, but that ended up a waste of money because the camber remained within specs.
It lets the wheels/tires fill the wheel wells much better than the stock ride height.
Thanks a lot - very helpful! Will discuss this scenario with my dealer as one of the parts from the setup I was leaning towards (the B8 damper for the front end of the car) is out of stock and the parts won't be arriving until end of March early April.

My choices seem to be:

1) B14 kit with NM anti-roll bar, NM end links, spacers and alignment
2) NM Springs (keeping stock JCW dampers), NM anti-roll bar, NM end links, spacers and alignment
3) wait till April to do setup 2 but with Bilstein B8 dampers replacing the stock JCW ones
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Finally placed my order - things aren't cheap in Japan - that said, my order through the NM dealer was about $800 less than if I did either the B14 or JCW Pro kit at my dealer during their 20% off sale. Will be a few weeks before all the parts arrive but to give you an idea of prices here, what I will get for for 290,000 yen ($2700) is:

1) NM RSα Performance Spring Kit
2) NM Rear Sway Bar
3) NM End Links
4) Bilstein B8 short stroke shocks
5) Wheel spacers (and necessary long bolts)
6) Alignment
7) Labor and tax inclusive

Will probably be end of March or early April before I can get this fitted but I am expecting a real improvement on the twisties (right now the response feels a bit too "floaty" when pushed hard through multiple turns for my taste - bit too much roll as well) - will post impressions later...
 

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Hi Charlie, I know a loooong time has passed since you have written on this thread. I was just curious to know what you thought of the B8 short stroke shocks. I have seen in your Current Hatch section your Mini now mounts Koni Sport shocks, so I am assuming you didn't like the B8s.

I am asking you for some feedback and any tips you have with regard to suspensions since I busted the right stock shock absorber on my mini f56 Jcw. So now I could upgrade the rear shocks to Bilstein B8s or buy the stock ones and save up for a better set-up. My philosophy is to do things well and do them once, so the choice of what to do largely depends on what I read about the Bilstein B8s.

I appreciate any and all advice/feedback! :)
 
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