First Impression: RCS Suspension - Velocity Sensitive Dampers

Tom

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Tom

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Assuming you're in the market for a set of suspension to replace the current system in your car, what do you do?. Like most people, they'd be browsing off-the-shelf items that they have either came to trust or big brands that has been heavily marketed for years. It's a safe bet for most, when their desire is simply to improve the stance of their cars or firm things up a little.

Basic lowering springs or springs and damper combos are the most affordable. Adjustable coilovers require more serious thought, backed up by research through peers or the internet forums for the sake of making a wise choice and most importantly, bang for buck. There are even cheaper, used or reconditioned items if you're desperate.

If typical, one-size-fits-all product isn't your option, you should read further. How many times have you bought something so highly recommended by people and yet turns out to be rubbish when you get your hands on it? When feel comes into play, it is as subjective as taste. So are Custom built systems with all the measuring and tailoring fool-proof? Far from yes. To even begin building a set dedicated to your car, substantial amount of engineering expertise is of utmost importance.



Inverted Chrome Tubes manufactured to the highest standards, Used in Rally, Race & Road cars.

While there are only a handful of companies out there locally who offer such services, there is only one, as far as I know who combines years of racing and chassis development expertise to provide the best a man can get. Enter RCS, short for Radical Chassis Solutions.. Headed by Nanda Kumar, he is backed by 15 years in rally driving and is a rare breed in the the field of chassis development. He has been trained by Lotus Engineering and has served as an engineer there for years. If there's anyone who knows the ins and outs of Lotus ride and handling, it's Nanda.



Nanda Kumar applying his knowledge as derived from Lotus Engineering

Then again experience can only get you so far. Where RCS comes in is in the application of real-life chassis data to determine the best setup for a particular car, driver and preference. To gain crucial data of a particular car, RCS employs a corner weighing scale to accurately record the differences in weight distribution for all four corners of a car and further process those numbers through a Kinematic Software developed in-house by Nanda himself, which the software is designed based on years of motorsport data acquisition. The Kinematic Software processes weight, it's distribution, suspension geometry and angles to provide recommended spring rate, bound and rebound figures for various applications such as road, fast road or motorsport purposes.



Velocity Sensitive Damping working pistons Designed and Manufactured in Malaysia by Nanda.

If RCS's race experience and unique tools aren't enough' to convince you, then their house specialty just might. The heart of a well designed coilover is in it's shock absorber. What makes it tick is in the working piston. Other suspension builders take the easy way out by utilizing commonly available suspension designs and internals, be it the twin-tube or stronger inverted monotube to the all-important working piston and shims.



Nanda & Clayton pulling dampers apart for re-valving.

The RCS difference lies in its Velocity Sensitive damper that magically adjusts itself to the ever changing road conditions and speed in which the car is traveling. I shall not go into the detailed science of it but it is mostly in the working piston feature. Other piston designs are mostly passive, meaning a set bound and rebound no matter the scenario.



The shims are like a valve that governs fluid flow amount through the working piston.

Where RCS's velocity sensitive piston comes in is its ability, through fluid dynamics to provide a supple, comfortable glide through harsh terrains and sharp bumps and humps, yet in microseconds, firm up for that anti-roll, 90 degree or high-speed corner. A good example of this similar application is RenaultSport's derived hot hatches. If you had the privilege of driving the latest Renault Megane RS 250, or its recent RenaultSport siblings, you'd know the confidence in speed and road holding it inspires. It almost feels unreal.



RCS Tuned ride and handling

This long RCS review won't be as convincing if I hadn't paid in full and enjoyed the results of my good judgement. Which honestly, was gained through expensive, long and tedious process of trying out the different custom built suspension outfits out there. I have a 1989 BMW E34 5 series that is very special to me. It's my first ever car and it has seen a few transformation throughout my 12years of usage. It has a heavier engine and wheels bigger than it was meant to run on.



A Floating Piston that separates the gas from the oil.

I wanted it to ride low, I wanted it to handle. I entrusted the car to Titan Suspension at first and then Hot bits by Speedworks. However, I have never been truly satisfied with either of their works. Don't get me wrong, both Titan and Hot bits do produce some nice products and might suit your needs. But in terms of providing custom suspension solutions for demanding road performance or motorsport purposes, I find them lacking. At least in the in-depth know-how that all clients deserve.

Titan makes great and bullet-proof shock absorbers and can replace your current units in favour of a firmer and well damped ride. Easily surpassing OEM replacements. But that's mostly it. What i got out of it was a set of coilovers that gave me the ability to dial in my desired ride height. The ride remained questionable. I've had better experience with Titan before in my previous BMW E30. Try searching for Titan on google. However, i am most happy with their heavy duty suspension top mounts. Total spent with Titan? Over RM4000 and sold for RM1000.

Next up, i went for Hot Bits, owned by the more established Speedworks, that seemed credible. The stuff they made even looked good. I have heard good reviews of their products for mass produced cars. They understood my concerns and demands so I went ahead. but surprisingly, it came out worse than my first venture and there's no way to try out the different spring rates to salvage the given setup, something Titan would happily oblige to. So you're kind of stuck with what they've decided for you. Of course, company policies differ, so i opted to invest in their heavier spring rates, and then shocks revalved for increased damping and shorter travel plus damping adjustable knobs just to solve the shocks from deteriorating over a short drive and the irritating issue of the suspension bottoming out. It improved just slightly, but from what was a mistake to begin with. It would have been a better experience if the CEO himself actually admits to what he's promised in the first place instead of bulldozing remarks from clients that have put trust and monetary investment into his products. Total spent with Hot Bits? over RM6000 and sold for RM1500.



Tedco Sport's Clientele

I was hitting the wall with my suspension woes. Until I found RCS. Highly recommended by Reuben Wong from Tedco Sport. who apart from building performance cars and serving as a race engineer for race teams, Reuben also races professionally and most recently for the ever successful, but recently retired, Honda Malaysia Racing Team in the MME FD2R.



Corner Weight Scales used to Calculate exact Spring Rate and Damping Values required for each car.

A trip to RCS was made, this time I was extra careful. Nanda was very detailed about his expertise and you can tell where his forte lies. The keywords to my basic ride demands again were stance and handling. It was peanuts for Nanda. There was nothing he couldn't explain well and I was most intrigued with his Velocity sensitive dampers. The Kinematic Software and corner weighing service sealed the deal. In no time, I rode shotgun in their WRX version 8 fitted with their prized product. Clayton Check, business strategist at RCS, who incidentally is an accomplished race and rally driver took the wheel and showed off the abilities of their product.



Clayton Check Business strategist at RCS

First test, going over the speed hump at insane speeds. Though by itself doesn't justify performance as a whole, is a good way of highlighting the ability of the Velocity Sensitive damper. It is a surreal sensation, almost mind-blowing. I expected the top mounts to explode through the bonnet but the Subaru didn't even squeak. It remained almost flat.

Test two, maneuvering through what they call obstacles on regular roads at moderate speeds. The WRX rode on almost stock ride height, is supple on most terrains and yet showed almost no signs of body roll when the steering is jerked as the car swerved through the obstacles repeatedly.

Test three involved the high speed corners where the WRX is put to the test in excess of 150km/h. Again the suspension handled it flawlessly with minimum roll, yet compliant and isn't in rock hard race setting. The car even ran on factory stock anti roll bars.



The recommended figures as provided by RCS's Kinematic Software

I was more than convinced. I had to have it. After all, its been too long a wait for that illusive suspension system that fit my needs. The BMW was left to RCS's care. In the span of 2 weeks for the building process, I was provided with interesting data of the car while waiting like the above.



Partially completed set for the BMW E34

Fast forward to my impression of the RCS custom built velocity senstive coilovers? Well, I shall not bore you with a long report. Here's a summary of my findings. The ride and feel was spot-on right out of the box. There was no immediate need for a re-tune as there weren't any guesswork to begin with. The RCS Kinematic software managed to provide an optimized recommendation based on real-life rally and race data samples, what more for a road car.

There are some teething problems associated with low ride height like subtle hopping on certain terrains and slight inherent knocking from the Hot-Bits pillow-ball camber adjustable top mounts (which are my favourite items of all from Speedworks).

But in all, the car has never felt better with the confidence it now inspires, took corners faster with added steering feel and less roll, absorbed harsh roads with ease through active damping and braked better with the, now-optimized suspension travel.

What's the damage? RM5500 for the 4 corners. Granted, it's not a price what many would expect for a locally produced product with little over a year of establishment, the brand or packaging. Heck, it's not even damping adjustable, or attached with fancy anodized knobs for you to play with. Top up just a little and you may even get yourself a fully imported, "branded" set that comes in a box complete with instruction manual and cool stickers.

But to pay for something that works perfect, all the time, every time? There's no need for on-the-fly damping adjustments when you have these. Though "ready-made" sets for common cars like the Evos, WRX, FD2Rs and DC5Rs are cheaper at under RM5K. it's quite a smart investment since it's easily serviceable, tuneable and supported by RCS. There aren't similar products available locally so it's not fair to even compare.

Learn more about RCS, get a quote or arrange for a no-strings preview.




Priming to ensure no air bubbles are left inside.



The Nitrogen is injected into the damper through a 1 way rubber valve.



Gas Pressure is precisely controlled with a pressure gauge and bleed valve.





Aragostas replaced with RCS version says a lot



Clayton explaining how The RCS bumpsteer measurement gauge works.





RCS Honda DC5 Suspension with bump-steer kit, eliminating inherent bump-steer issues with the DC5.





RCS Honda DC5 Inverted Monotube Damper with bump-steer kit.

 

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Tom,

Does Nanda have a price list for his products vs the car makes? I've been meaning to get a proper set of suspension as well since forever.
 

cRazYee

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Good article!
Glad to know malaysia does have someone understand vehicle dynamic properly
 

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RCS and nanda achievement are well known for this awesome product...
 

red_cloud

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Thank you Tom, It's a fantastic article and much appreciated.
Guys give me a call to chat about what your car needs, the price usually depends on what your requirements are.

Nanda

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satako

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i sit and drove in one of their tuning for a prototype electric car.. it was spot on. once i have the money, i will get a system from them too :)
 

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Let the savings begin...
 

Tom

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Tom,

Does Nanda have a price list for his products vs the car makes? I've been meaning to get a proper set of suspension as well since forever.
I'm sure they have a price indication. They're still expanding their reach at the moment. As for those ready to be built, that i know of, are for Top JDMs like the Evo, WRX, DC5, FD2R and some BMWs including the E36 M3, E39 M5, E38 7, E34 5, and most recently the R53 MINI Cooper S.

Nice review Tom

Any indication of service interval time for a daily driven car in malaysia?
This, i'll have to let red_cloud / Nanda answer
 

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Nice... Hopefully they will break into the international markets in few years time.
 

red_cloud

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I'm sure they have a price indication. They're still expanding their reach at the moment. As for those ready to be built, that i know of, are for Top JDMs like the Evo, WRX, DC5, FD2R and some BMWs including the E36 M3, E39 M5, E38 7, E34 5, and most recently the R53 MINI Cooper S.



This, i'll have to let red_cloud / Nanda answer

The recommended service interval is 20,000 km or 1 year for street use, we also have data for a lot of other cars, ie from Protons to Porsches. Like I said feel free to give me a call or drop by for a chat.

Nanda
 
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kimoka

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Nanda boss.
What time are you open tomorrow?

---------- Post added at 06:33 PM ---------- 6 hour anti-bump limit - Previous post was at 06:30 PM ----------

"This long RCS review won't be as convincing if I hadn't paid in full and enjoyed the results of my good judgement." Hats off to Tom. Hard to give an unbiased review when there is conflict of interest.
 

Tom

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Tom

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Nice ride Tom, loving the care you've put into your beemer. What engine is it running on? m50?
thanks ak.101ss, it's a life long hobby thing, just adding stuff to it from time to time and basic upkeeping, not an M50 but an ancient M70.

any for vw golf gti mk6?
any for suvs'?
Hi there, how much would it cost for silvia s15? Thanks
hi just wonder if there's support for toyota seg and how much would it cost..?
guys, if Nanda don't answer you quick enough here, it would be best if you could send your questions directly to RCS. they'd be able to give you a detailed answer
 

boi

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the shop beside N1 racing rite?...
 

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thanks ak.101ss, it's a life long hobby thing, just adding stuff to it from time to time and basic upkeeping, not an M50 but an ancient M70.
Oh my god, a 5.0 v12 in a e34? That's what I call THE Ultimate Driving Machine. How'd you get it in? Bet it takes off like a rocket. :adore: :adore:
 

xtremeleo

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a very good question there, and the answer is no, not all are velocity sensitive sir
 
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In theory damper is suppose to be velocity sensitive, but in real world, a lot of factor comes into play. Like used for what application, the design of the main piston, costing, etc...
 

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thanks ak.101ss, it's a life long hobby thing, just adding stuff to it from time to time and basic upkeeping, not an M50 but an ancient M70.









guys, if Nanda don't answer you quick enough here, it would be best if you could send your questions directly to RCS. they'd be able to give you a detailed answer
Hi again, I'm sorry for not responding earlier. Like I said earlier, please drop me a line to discuss what you would like for your car.

Cheers again

Nanda

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---------- Post added at 04:34 PM ---------- 6 hour anti-bump limit - Previous post was at 03:37 PM ----------

I'm sorry, but aren't ALL suspensions sensitive to velocity???

Good question Midship, and yes, all dampers are 'velocity sensitive' ie damping force is proportionate to velocity ie piston rod speed.

With conventional dampers, the damping force is directly proportional to the velocity, ie the higher the velocity, the higher the damping force & if you plot a Force-Velocity graph, it is linear.

different applications saw this curve being manipulated to produce digressive or progressive curves.

'Velocity sensitive' is a label generically used to distinguish a certain type of commercially available damping force curve.( just like linear, progressive or digressive)

Another way to simplify this curve is to say that it has progressive, digressive and linear sections in the same curve.

What it is, is a mechanical system tuned to give you comfort and traction but firms up when you turn into a corner, allows the wheel to move up fast when you hit a bump or drop down when you hit a pot hole, take jumps at high speed, etc etc etc.

So by being able to tailor the force curve or isolate the various points in the curve, it becomes 'velocity sensitive' instead of having a fixed type of curve that is either linear, progressive or digressive.

Cheers

Nanda
 

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red_cloud/Mr. Nanda,

With all the technology, knowledge and theory,
Are there any possibilities with your expertise to refurbish other brand of suspension?
Thinking to use your product in future if refurbish my existing are wasting time.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Hola!
Nice review Tom.

Nanda,
I wish u can put Honda FRV/Edix into your consideration too.
This rare Honda's mini mpv do seriously need attention -

err...i know a lot of edix/frv owners out there still searching for an aftermarket
suspension set up for their rides.

As for me, I will start saving bro...iskk!!

p/s:- one good review, i really appreciate to know that Nanda and his team exist in Malaysia...yeayy!!
 

red_cloud

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We do re-build certain dampers which we have the parts for. But these are mostly servicable dampers like, proflex, ohlins DFVs, some bilsteins, drummonds etc.

and we haven't done any Edix's yet, but customizing a set shouldn't be a problem


Nanda
 

MD777

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i would like to know how much to rebuild alphard ohlins dfv?
It squeeks when turning steering and clonks
what's the cost?
 
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droll

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so let me see if i understand this. i am not a suspension expert but i know what i feel when i drive the car and i'm sensitive to that.

with this system, i have the best of both words - comfort + improved traction without having to suffer from bone jarring rides of firm suspension setups. is that correct?

only issue now is comfort and stiff means different things to different people..
 

Tom

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droll: you can specify the sort of feel you want, say a known car model you've recently tested to help them help you

g4i8y0t: yes they must
 

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Firstly congrats to yet another homegrown full on talent backed with r & d. Up to this point i was giving up hope thinking such breed of ppl exsist no more in bolehland. Perhaps its also a wake up call for everyone else to start having more research backed into the products they sell. Its all well and fine to judge a product based on price alone but living in malaysia, we know that the price often does not rack up to the quality.

Interesting too to see aragostas and the exquisite rana springs ditched for RCS. The point to note here is that everything bought from japan does not work well on malaysian roads. In the case of absorber valving, i have only found 1 which can stand up to the harsh brutal malaysian roads. And pls stop kidding ourselves with national pride saying our roads are good. They are quite simply not. With potholes and gaps and uneven surfaces. A shock absorber has to be built and valved properly for what its about to encounter. Springs also matter, with most of the jap manufacturers offering 'out-of-the-box' rates in excess of 5kg-mm...its never going to work for a road car. Hopefully ppl can be realistic about what they are putting their tyres on. Give local TALENT a fair chance. They deserve it.
 

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In this case, this local talent comes with a foreign price.. ;) hope Tom's ride is better than ever.. but i can't blame Tom... he like his stuff low... his under wear he wears it so low that it's like his nuts are visible from the top.. his gals .. he only buy low cut jeans.. showing all the tips of their pubes.. (i said gals ah.. not his girlfriend.. girlfriend ada satu.. gals ada banyak..dare not offend future mrs. goh)... when he piss and shit.. he squats... really one of a kind of dude.. that's y he wants his suspension low with VERY LITTLE TRAVEL.. good to see his positive review of a local bred talent in suspension making.. if only the price is local as well.. oh well, i guess u pay for what u get... good to give old farts local talents who has been around for ages a good run for their money... competition is always healthy..at least for consumers like us
 

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I didn't know i was being stalked right up into the toilet
 

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Hi Nanda and team,

remember seeing from another thread that you guys have one "ready made" for Impreza.

What is the spring rate and how much?

I have an 2006 STI, running stock suspension now, I find the stock is a bit "soft", as in "floating" when doing high speed, i.e. 160 and above, also it doesn't give me much "confident in attacking corners.

Love to know your suggestion, I like to keep the height at the moment, so I can still drive her around town without worrying too much on speed bump and car parks. In the same time, want it to be stiffer for high speed and corners.

Please PM also, thank you
 

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Yesterday, I did my maiden visit to RCS. Met Nanda and Tom ( finally, after years being a member of ZTH, oh yah, this ain't my 1st nick in ZTH as I forgot the e-mail password that I used to sign in lolz )!

Had quite a chat with both of 'em, and then viola! Tom's Meanie Greenie was ready for a test run and I ride shotgun with Nanda driving it.

He drove at speeds which was easily double the allowed speeds for a 2 - lane street around a factory area @ Sunway @ Horsepower St. I was gigling from the get - go....

Initially, every time the car drives over a speedbreaker at 20 - 30kph, Nanda would smile at me, and yes, I smiled back, giggling ( not in a gay - way, mind you! Lolz! ). The car, although low and firm, simply absorbed it and stayed firm, none of those aftershock - rumpin' feel with stiff suspension setups.

Slight oversteers, pin - sharp steering!

Next up, DSC... Off!

Now we're talking!

Even faster speeds ( I'd swear a minimum of 120 - 140kph easy ), and yet the car still absorbed the rutted roads around Horsepower St without losing composure or requiring more steering input from Nanda!

Around some 45 degree turns, we went at 80 - 90kph minimum with cars coming from the other side of the same corner, and again, not requiring extra steering input from Nanda and the car still kept it's composure!

Final fun... as rally drivers often do : handbrake u - turn, and the Greenie Meanie just took it in it's stride with an evil smirk! Result : a pedestrian nearby almost jumped! We waved our sorry hands towards the fella ( whom I swear still had that " Damn it u mau kill me ah? " look ) with both of us, giggling!

To surmise : I am genuinely surprised that there is a suspension, that's not only low, but firm, and yet absorbs what our " nice " rutted, potholed, undulated local roads offer, and yet, the car still doesn't lose it's composure, doesn't crash around, doesn't give that in mama kangaroo's pocket... that's way better than those really big - brand suspensions ( no, I didn't meant Tein lower end offerings, but brands like Aragosta, Bilstein, Ohlins etc lolz ), and handmade in Malaysia!

Damn u Nanda, I am sold!

My wish : I really hope RCS can be a true, one - stop, custom chassis setup shop. Not only offering suspension and spherical bearings, but perhaps custom : bushes, tie rod ends, steering racks ( Quaife racks anyone? Yummy! ), anything and everything that's connected to the lower part of a car's chassis and wheels.

P.s Nanda if you confirm wanna bring in those funky rubber - padded 4" Intercomp tire pressure gauge, do bring in padded hard cases to keep the gauge in it, and let me know as soon as you made up your mind about it as I want one. Malas mau bring in myself 'cause if buy in bulk at least will be slightly cheaper kan? ƗƗɐƗƗɐƗƗɐƗƗɐƗƗɐƗƗ>=)ƗƗɐƗƗɐƗƗɐƗƗɐƗƗɐƗƗ!!!!
 

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Nice review! The chassis for the Mini is already considered pretty good so paired with good suspension it's probably amazing to drive.

But what about slushy chassis like a old Wira A/B? How would these RCS fare with a car this old? Wish I had the moolah to find out.
 

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Damn it. Typed so bloody long reply but the silly  OS6 native browser auto - close pulak.

My personal answer : worth it. But maybe u gotta check + replace any bushes + tie rod ends + lower arms + driveshaft related parts, and only then, get your Wira RCS'ed. Why? So that you yourself are ensured that the Wira's chassis is working perfectly in harmony with the RCS setup , and you get to fully extract the RCS setup's potential with your Wira.

Taking myself as an example : my monthly salary is 2/3 from RCS's asking price for the package + extras that I wanted for my sekon - han Neo. But damn it I'll try my frickin' best to get it done before the end of this year! RCS setup is just way too good to me!
 

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i actually rode in an E38 730i done by Nanda and the ride and handling was absolutely serene and mind boggling...the car was actually riding low but i was suprised with the amount of suspension travel it had...

it not only handled well in corners, but to be honest, the ride was very comfortable...no floaty feeling at all in high speeds...

there was this time when the owner of the car was testing the new suspension, there was E46 330Ci that was trying to out accelerate us...the E38 was cool and composed, where as the E46 was bouncing all over the the undulating surface...the E38 just coolly overtook the E46 without breaking a sweat because the E46 just could not handle the undulating surface...it is at this point where i could really see and realise the difference between RCS and other suspension...

i was sold instantly!
 
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Firstly congrats to yet another homegrown full on talent backed with r & d. Up to this point i was giving up hope thinking such breed of ppl exsist no more in bolehland. Perhaps its also a wake up call for everyone else to start having more research backed into the products they sell. Its all well and fine to judge a product based on price alone but living in malaysia, we know that the price often does not rack up to the quality.

Interesting too to see aragostas and the exquisite rana springs ditched for RCS. The point to note here is that everything bought from japan does not work well on malaysian roads. In the case of absorber valving, i have only found 1 which can stand up to the harsh brutal malaysian roads. And pls stop kidding ourselves with national pride saying our roads are good. They are quite simply not. With potholes and gaps and uneven surfaces. A shock absorber has to be built and valved properly for what its about to encounter. Springs also matter, with most of the jap manufacturers offering 'out-of-the-box' rates in excess of 5kg-mm...its never going to work for a road car. Hopefully ppl can be realistic about what they are putting their tyres on. Give local TALENT a fair chance. They deserve it.
Aragosta isn't a Japanese company though.

But anyway, your point regarding Japanese suspension like HKS, etc being too hard for local roads is very much true. Even with adjustable damper there is only so much you can do to offset the harshness.

I might head down to RCS but just to have a look. This is a bit out of my price range :(
 

NoelE34

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NoelE34

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Feb 16, 2012
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Kudo's for local talent! However, I dont agree what what some people say regarding 'local product should have local price'. A good product deserves what it deserves, regardless of its country of origin.

Back on topic,
Would be nice to try them out after my Koni's have expired. Local (means they would know what our roads are like) + customisable + serviceable and the fact is that RCS has hardware and software (Kinematics Software stated and shown by Tom) is definitely a plus in my book. Explanation back up by numbers +1!