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Fact of life : As you get older your requirements change. Whether it be your taste in wine, your spicy chili tolerance levels or even your fashion sense, this will change given enough time. Pretty much the same can be said with your comfort requirements. No longer yearning for the railroad-like cornering characteristics of my old suspension and having a pretty much worn out spinal cord, I finally gave in to my spouses constant nagging about how uncomfortable my car was compared to her Myvi.
Because race car!
Well, not any more. These days I'd rather just waft along in comfort and enjoy a bassy Tiesto CD or the ever haunting voice of Sarah Brightman. I opted to replace my height adjustable Hotbits suspension set with a 'fully adjustable' Improve Hyperflex II suspension. Now it's debatable whether this can be considered 'fully adjustable' or not. You can get loads more adjustability on a very much more expensive set of Ohlins or Aragosta, but for the sake of this review I will refer to it as a fully adjustable since damper rates and ride height were both adjustable.
You might ask : "Why fully adjustable? I thought you wanted comfort?"
Well yeah! I do! But I'm a car nut at heart. If I ever get the chance to go track again, I can't be having stock suspension now can I? Sure, one can go on a track with stock suspension but it just won't be the same. Those with rock hard suspension can attest to this. So why not have the best of both worlds? Performance when I want it and comfort when I don't.
The Improve brand hasn't been around for a very long time and sure, it's a Malaysian brand. But why is that a problem? If the price is right and the quality is good, I wouldn't think twice about buying Malaysian. Having said that however, the Hyperflex II model is fully imported from Taiwan whereas the Hyperflex I is made in Malaysia. The difference between the two? The damper adjustability, with the Hyperflex II being more flexible (more clicks). The Hyperflex II features 30 damper settings with the first 10 clicks being linear dampening, anything above that it's relative to your speed courtesy of a technology called "durable valve control stability". Being fully serviceable is also a plus (both I and II are serviceable) and being sub-RM3,000, it's practically a steal.
The Hyperflex II features this thing called "bodyshift technology". Some of you might know what this is and probably would have noticed it in other brands of suspensions. If you don't know what it is, it basically means the outer shaft of the suspension that holds the spring is moveable at the same time it doesn't compress the spring like conventional height adjustable suspensions. What does that translate to? The cars height can be adjusted without changing the characteristics of the springs. Without bodyshift, you would have to adjust the height of the suspension by compressing the spring since the adjuster gear is supporting the spring. With bodyshift the adjuster gear just adjusts the shaft only (see picture above, the adjuster gear for height adjustment is the lower gear. The spring compressor is the one at the top).
Um... dude, it's too high
Some tuners (as they like to be called) use corner weights to adjust damping rates and height. Others like my friend DrexChan prefer the old school way of measuring tape and good old bump-butt-feel adjustment. Being the old friend he is, he knew I'd be messing with the damper rates so he didn't bother with the damper adjustment too much and focused more on the ride height. After several painstakingly slow (hydraulic) jack-up/jack-down adjustments, we finally got the height at the perfect height plus a little bit. Why plus a little bit? Because brand new suspension will need some time to settle in and once it does, it'll sink a few centimeters/inches. So never forget that when you are DIY-ing your own ride height for new suspensions.
Damper adjustments were quite easy, the knob is right at the top and all you do is either turn left for soft or right for hard. From my own testing, I found the ideal damper clicks for "spirited driving" on windy roads is 23-hard for the front and 18-hard for the rear. If you're completely not in the mood and want to just drive slow and steady, 7-hard front and 5-hard rear. For my humble Wira Aeroback, the soft-mushy setting is as comfortable as stock suspension - I kid you not! Even with 6k front springs and 4k rear, the car drives like it's on stock suspension. You can just waft along and go over uneven surfaces without breaking your bones, and the car will roll like a magic carpet - very comfortable! With the I-wanna-drive-like-a-madman setting the suspension firms up and provides so much road feedback it's scary. Turns are instant, any response from the steering is almost immediately translated onto the road.
Note : It must be mentioned however I have the Racetech chassis alignment kit installed so that probably amplified the steering response.
Braking and acceleration response improved quite significantly since there was no rear sagging (when accelerating) or nose diving (when braking). And body roll - what body roll? I need a more supportive seat. That's all I need to say for body roll. What's interesting however is how it wasn't bone jarring even at this setting. Sure I could feel every nook and cranny of the road and bumps were directly translated into me jumping out of my seat if I went over one too fast, but none of this was harsh. With some of the earlier height adjustable suspensions I've tried the car vibrated like it was going to fall to pieces and going over bumpy roads made the car sound like it had no suspension. The ride was just unbearable! But I was younger and my bones were made of jello. With this Hyperflex II, even though now my bones are made of glass and have cracks in them, I was quite comfortable even with the hardest setting that I cared to try. Then again, comfort is relative. My comfy might be your bone jarring.
The Improve Hyperflex II totally took the cake when I ferried my wife around with the softest settings :
"Eh? You changed back to original? Good lah."
Product : Improve Hyperflex II "fully adjustable" suspension
Price & seller : Sub RM3,000 - Drexchan from EA Autoworks
Rating : 9/10
Wife approvability : 10/10