Apologies to those who’ve read my post on the 4C forum, but thought it might be interesting to those here who might have missed it.
Since buying my 4C three years ago I’ve been critical of its harsh, uncompromising ride and dangerous tram-lining. I’ve always believed that these characteristics are caused by overly-firm low speed damper settings (on both bump and rebound), and excessive bump steer resulting from poor suspension design. Ironically, both these characteristics aren’t as noticeable on race tracks because of the good surface.
After a few months of ownership (in Autumn 2016) I looked into replacement dampers but it seems that most owners want to make the car harder still for track use and that’s the opposite of what I want. Ideally, I’d like Mercedes S Class comfort for cruising, the playful handling of an early Elise, and the ride of a WRC rally car over less than perfect roads. Not asking for much then.
This has been a three year journey so far which started with me luckily finding Meteor Motorsport after an Internet search (run by a guy named Simon Rogers who sprints and hillclimbs a turbocharged Hyabusa-engined 7. His YouTube videos show it to be as quick as you can imagine with around 300bhp and 500kg. Meteor re-build and custom build top level dampers, using their damper dyno to evidence their settings, and are well respected in Lotus and Caterham communities.
After indecision on my part over which manufacturer to use and whether my objectives could be achieved (Meteor recommends Nitron, Penske, Quantum, and Ohlins at a range of prices), Simon got in touch in 2018 inviting me to take a look at some new adaptive dampers from Tractive Suspension that he’d fitted to his 7. It was strange to be able to bob the car up and down by pushing on it, or make it as hard as a board simply by the change of a dash-mounted switch setting. It seemed witchcraft so I emailed Tractive Suspension and asked them if they’d make a set for 4C, even offering to drive to Holland if a test car were needed. They’re a busy company working with OEM and specialist manufacturers (the new Dallara Stradale is fitted with Tractive dampers) and couldn’t justify such a niche market. So I forgot about it and in April this year almost bought an Alpine A110 but coincidently Simon again got in touch to say that Tractive were interested in building an adaptive set for 4C.
At Meteor, my car was weighed and motion ratios calculated and there was much discussion of spring rates and explanations of how the new dampers worked and what they could do. By now Simon and Dan his technician had been trained at Tractive to be able to re-build these dampers, configure them, and set them up correctly. Meteor had also became sole UK distributor. Tractive has tested the OEM setup on its damper dyno and confirmed surprise of how the low-speed damping gives a very, very harsh feeling when driving the car. It reflected my thoughts that 4C has very soft springs and very firm damping.
Tractive has designed the Force/Velocity curves for 4C, which at its hardest setting is controlled conventionally using internal valving and shim stacks, but it’s possible to create a wide range of softer curves by adjusting the setup’s CPU and accelerometer settings. Adjustments can be made (on the fly if required) via an in car touch screen, and can be stored to memory and recalled using a 5-way switch.
Here’s some more information:
Meteor Motorsport -
The part of Meteor dealing specifically with dampers is named Raceshox UK
It’s been announced that the forthcoming $35M Pagani Roadster BC is fitted with these - https://www.meteormotorsport.com/about-us/
Tractive Suspension -
detailed explanation here
Fitting will be this coming Tuesday and it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. I’m looking forward to letting you know.