Continuing my preseason updates for the Evo are my SSB uprights. These uprights/spindles/knuckles go in place of the OEM spindle. In the front, it connects at the top to the bottom of the coilovers, and on the bottom it connects to the control arm. It also replaces the toe arm from OEM with its own connection. In the rear, the OEM attaches to 3 different ball joints, as well as the lower control arm. It also replaces one of the ball joints for its own toe adjustment arm. The spindle then attaches/houses the wheel bearings. These uprights were not cheap. There are also 2 options when it comes to the front uprights – there is a “milder” 1.25″ correction and a race 2.0″ correction. I went with the 1.25″ correction, as the 2.0″ correction needs quite a significant drop to run properly – and it’s better to be under-corrected than overcorrected. I debated quite a bit, but I think this is the right choice for me, given where I want to set the car’s height.
On the face of it, it’s hard to believe the uprights do very much. There is some correction to the suspension geometry on the CT9As, which are typically lowered quite a bit when changing to coilovers. Essentially, lowering the Evo from its stock ride height shifts the camber curve of the front, which for obvious reasons is not good for setting fast lap times or even for tire wear. I’ve hear crazy things about these parts – mainly, that they add insane levels of grip. This somewhat makes sense on the front end of the car, which has had its suspension geometry negatively impacted when lowering – but still, hard to believe.
On the other hand, it makes less sense what the rear uprights do – even SSB has admitted being surprised at the difference from the rears. While the fronts are almost a must-have for any lowered Evo, the rear adds a massive amount of turn-in sharpness – to the point that the driver needs to adjust how soon they turn-in.
In addition to these uprights, I got new, ceramic wheel bearings (technically, these are hybrid with ceramic balls and steel races). I reached out to a shop that sells these, and while they were also not cheap, ceramic bearings are 10x harder than steel, with much, much less friction. The fronts came as a fully assembled hub, while the rears came just with the bearing assembly. The old assembly/bearings needed to be pressed off and new ones pressed in. I debated between getting these or stock, as pulling the old ones apart would have potentially led to ruin (it didn’t). I’m told these will last the life of the car, while dealing much better with heat and spinning more freely than the old bearings.
Install for the front uprights was admittedly not too bad. The ball joint in the front came out with ease, toe arm installed without issue, and generally speaking, fitment was perfect. Because I got new front hubs with the ceramic wheel bearings, the front wheel bearings did not need to be separated from the stock upright, making it a complete swap. The rears on the other hand, needed a slide hammer to remove the hub out of the ebrake/upright. Once the hubs were out, the ebrake system entirely could be moved out of the way. Removing the rear spindle itself required a ball joint popper to pop off the 3 links on it. The link that controls the toe was replaced with an arm provided by SSB. I also ordered a few bits that lock the rear toe in place, as the new toe arm will be the primary source of adjustment, vs the OEM’s eccentric style. Also, while the front abs/wheel sensors came out with ease, the rear sensors were fully, fully stuck in there. I ordered an inexpensive set from RockAuto, hoping they are up to the task. At least for the drive home, there was no issue with ABS/ACD throwing an alarm. All sensors and bushings up front were covered by temp tape, as the front spindle no longer allowed for the heat shield.
The front uprights are about 4.5-5lbs lighter, while the rears are about 3.4lbs lighter. That is a big change to a decent amount of unsprung weight, about 17lbs off the car again, with the majority of it up front. I didn’t really get a chance to shake anything down on my initial drive home, as we had to use toe plates to just get a preliminary alignment. At the least, seems like everything was installed properly.
As mentioned before, I wanted to focus this off-season less on power changes (new rules in my class allow for, essentially, larger turbos) and more on the balance and handling of the evo, and fixing some inherent weaknesses. This is a big one, and will go a long, long way toward that.