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August 2013 Road Rage - 6 Trends That Should Really Stop

Aaron Bonk
Oct 14, 2013

Wandering about the Eibach Honda Meet each year is about the only chance I get to catch up on whatever trends have caught on within the show community. Nowhere else am I likely to see Barnum and Bailey-themed Civics juxtaposed alongside track brats like HaSport's K-series-swapped Prelude. Strange bedfellows, all of them are. Most of the trends are good, like the proliferation of high-end, remote-reservoir, independently adjustable coilovers; intricate fabrication; and, for the most part, all-around safer setups void of fire hazards and rollcage calamity. Despite all of the good trends, though, six bad ones in particular still loom large.

Excess negative camber: Part of the appeal of FWD Hondas for early enthusiasts was their superior handling capabilities when compared to other makes with their strut-based front suspensions. The fourth-generation Civic's and second-generation Integra's double-wishbone layouts lent themselves well to the cars' abilities to turn at high speeds while keeping their tires' contact patches planted relatively firmly. Even in racing situations only minimal amounts of negative camber need be applied to improve all of this. Doing so on a street car only makes things worse-shortening tire life and, more importantly, decreasing the car's handling prowess through significantly reduced contact patches. Besides being counterintuitive to your car going any faster, it looks dumb.

Stock intakes and modified engines: It may be the JDM thing to do and it may look clean, but using a factory airbox on anything other than a stock engine will never make sense. Especially when the engine's already outfitted with some sort of high-flow header and exhaust system. The bottleneck principle isn't a complicated one and doesn't escape your engine. You wouldn't continue sucking through a straw with an ice cube stuck in the end of it, would you? What makes you think your Honda is any different?

Stock exhausts and modified engines: Not unlike matching a stock airbox with an aftermarket header and exhaust system, pairing any type of high-flow induction system with a factory muffler is just as silly. Just imagine that ice cube lodged into the other end of your straw. Remaining stealth is one thing, but doing so at the expense of performance almost never makes sense.

DIY brake line tucking: The fascination of hiding, removing, and tucking away important parts that your car needs to operate properly hasn't begun waning yet, but it should. Honda went to all sorts of trouble to locate your car's high-pressure brake lines in places that it felt was appropriate--you know, so you wouldn't get burnt and stuff. Your moving them to the inside of the cabin mere inches away from the car's passengers seems like a good idea now, but when your flare fails or trouble happens and hot brake fluid ends up on your lap, all of a sudden Honda's engineers seem like they knew what they were doing.

Stretched tires: Like too much negative camber, stretching tires onto rims they were never meant to be stretched on to doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Early drifters with underpowered engines applied this technique to decrease their tires' contact patches and increase their ability to slide. They were made fun of. You do it because you think it looks cool. Until your tire comes off the rim at 80 mph.

$2,000 rims on $200 tires: Expensive wheels are nice, but not at the expense of proper tires--the lifeblood of your suspension and the number-one handling upgrade you can make. No other suspension modification will prove more worthwhile than the appropriately sized and compounded set of tires.

By Aaron Bonk
408 Articles

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