It might come as a surprise to many but Honda's beloved K-series engine—the 2.0 and 2.4L mill that spawned a whole new subculture within the enthusiast market upon its introduction and, most notably, its high demand among the engine swapping crowd—is almost 20 years old. And as the parts bin has grown exponentially deeper over that time period with some good and some remarkably bad, when a group like Acuity Instruments spends over a year and half in the lab developing their Performance Short Shifters, the end result is a stark reminder about how much potential is still on the table for this segment.
Just a few years ago, the Honda crowd was introduced to some much-needed adjustable short shifter options to update the mundane versions that had come early on, along with the adaptation of OEM shifters to complete K swaps that often have a magical way of running well over budget. It should be noted that there's nothing inherently wrong with using a good 'ol Honda-issued shifter to get the job done, but when you experience something that's been engineered specifically for shifting performance and is fully capable of being tailored to suit your individual wants and needs, there's really no looking back.
You hear "short shifter" and your mind automatically turns toward snappy gear selection that's not only quicker than the factory offering but also more pronounced. Some rely on changing the height of the shift knob in relation to the pivot point, while others, like Acuity, completely redesign every inch of the factory shifter to create something far more adaptive and user-friendly.
Grabbing ahold of the Acuity Instruments Performance Short Shifter's aluminum and stainless-steel frame, it's obvious there aren't any short cuts in materials. In fact, scan the entire assembly and you'll notice spherical joints, bronze bushings, and high-quality hardware throughout.
Pick Your Poison
Two shifters were debuted, the first being a 2-way adjustable version with a solid stainless lever that is situated higher than stock. Gear throws and gate spacing are both independently user-selectable, with throws able to be reduced by up to 50 percent and a spacing reduction up to 36 percent compared to a factory RSX shifter.
The 4-way adjustable version carries the shift throw and gate spacing adjustability as well, but also incorporates a height adjustable shaft for the shift knob and the ability to rotate the shift knob's positioning. The gear throw and gate spacing reductions with this shifter kit are a bit more extreme, up to 55 percent and 41 percent, respectively.
Customizing the shift throws and gate spacing are the most sought-after options for end-users, but you should also consider the centering force of the system. This helps in gear location and selection and the centering action of the Acuity shifters are three times greater than that of the stock unit. The "snap" doesn't come at the expense of excessive noise as the carefully selected polymer spherical joints, self-lubricating bronze bushings, and polymer/rubber spring perches all work together for smooth operation. The large-diameter, aluminum pivot ball sits inside of a wear-compensating, spherical race and the result is minimal friction, so you get a smooth experience from behind the wheel.
How the Sausage is Made
One of the biggest parts of Acuity Instruments' approach to their shifter design is how they went about testing. Real world testing on the street and the track were used, but not wanting to leave out any details, the group incorporated a 3-axis load cell shift knob to measure how much effort would be required to fulfill a shift change, just as Honda does during their development of OEM shift components.
Acuity's Russell Garehan notes, "We were constantly monitoring test loads through the load cells which gave us much more clarity on what this shifter really needed to be. The goal was to produce a shifter with zero play, zero wear over years of use and as little noise as possible."
In addition to the testing and data analysis of the shift action, a 3D scanner was used to get dimensions of the factory console and the shifters low-profile design means it will fit comfortably underneath the factory RSX shifter console, though I imagine many would want to leave the shifter uncovered as its sleek design is easy on the eyes.
No Assembly Required
The shifters arrive assembled and ready to install, but the process that Acuity uses is an interesting one. The days of spending far too many man hours to hand torque each bolt is a thing of the past as Acuity has moved over to using a robotic arm and drivers with pre-set torque loads that offer repeatable performance at a level that a human hand alone simply can't duplicate.
Breaking It Down
One of the great things about Acuity products and one of the first thing I noticed when I used their gas pedal spacer and shifter on the HT 10th gen. project earlier this year is that every part that requires attention from the end-user is etched with pertinent information.
Here, the gate spacing adjustment point is labeled, and even the size of the tool and its appropriate torque spec is highly visible.
Shift throw adjustment is just a 5mm hex tool away and simple to perform from the driver's seat.
The 2-way adjustable version's solid stainless lever doesn't give you shift knob height or orientation options, and for some that's a plus. The straight lever doesn't lean in any direction and once you dial in your gate spacing and throw, you're done and ready to enjoy.
Sold separately, both versions are shown fitted with Acuity's 6061-T6 aluminum "Esco" shift knob.
The 4-way adjustable kit offers the classic dual-bend option that can be spun around so that shift knob is closer or further from the driver or can be set toward the rear in a more traditional "GS-R shifter" position.
Shift knob height can be changed to 1.2 inches above or below the stock RSX height.
The low-friction spherical joints and their carefully selected positioning lend themselves to a smooth, performance-minded feel that's maintenance-free and designed to outlast the factory shifter.
Using factory RSX mounting mounting point, Acuity includes the bolts and washers need to secure the shifter, in their signature purple anodize, of course.
In an industry jam-packed with knock-offs and inferior product shadowed by fancy coatings, Acuity Instruments' heavily tested and widely customizable adjustable shifter offers a whole new level of performance shifting with absolutely no short cuts.
- 2002-2006 Acura RSX/RSX-S all trims and models (with mt)
- 2002-2006 Honda Integra all trims and models (with mt)
- 2001-2005 Honda Civic Coupe (EM) and Sedan (ES) (with mt)
- K-Swaps using an RSX-S transmission or an RSX-S gear selector in another K-series transmission (requires adapter plate to affix shifter to chassis)