Bisi Ezerioha needs no introduction. His track record speaks for itself. He’s world-renowned for having the most powerful naturally-aspirated single cam Hondas, holding records in the import drag racing world in his Honda Insight, and has even ventured out from the Honda community to make his mark in the Porsche tuning world. It really wouldn’t be hard-pressed to deem him as one of the most innovative Honda builders of his and our generation. You last saw him on the pages of Super Street when we brought you his mind-blowing, 700-plus horsepower turbocharged Honda Civic Wagon and unless you’ve been living under that proverbial “rock”, you already know about his latest creation: a boosted, fully-operational, hybrid Honda CR-Z.
The Bisimoto CR-Z first made its debut at the 2010 SEMA Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, and blew the collective minds of every automotive enthusiast at the show—whether they were Honda fans or not. This came as no real surprise to those who were close to Bisi; the reaction from the automotive community was almost expected. Even Honda knew that this project would be a shining success when they first agreed to provide him with a CR-Z to make his own. They needed someone to give their “sports hybrid” campaign some instant momentum and Bisi was the perfect man for the job. What instantly jumps out to the casual enthusiast are the numbers (533hp) and the massive Bisimoto Turbonetics BTX6465X turbine. It’s easy to look past everything else, even the massive front-mount intercooler, which some ignorant, uninformed folk on the internet believe to be either a billet grille or giant radiator. At a glance, that’s what people want to see. They want instant gratification in the form of horsepower numbers and aesthetics. When you really put some effort into seeing what this build is all about, is when you will truly fall in love with this CR-Z. What you need to know is that this isn’t just a CR-Z shell with a motor swap/turbo combo. It’s a completely operational hybrid automobile; meaning that this CR-Z is still indeed a hybrid that maintains all of its original functions from the factory. It just so happens it makes gobs of power, looks incredibly menacing and has a chute coming out of the rear-end. The modifications are just the appetizer so to speak, the main course is that it’s still “green”. It’s the epitome of what Honda wants the CR-Z to be known as: a “sports hybrid”. Bisi not only opened the doors to the CR-Z’s possibilities—he created it.
“When Honda approached me with the opportunity to build a Honda CR-Z in the signature Bisimoto-style, I was more than happy to accept,” Bisi says. “What I wanted to do was enhance the entire sports hybrid concept. My mission goal was to put together a vehicle that was not only eco-conscious, but also maintain excellent drivability while also making great power, or more importantly, reliable power that Bisimoto Engineering has become known for. The challenging part of this build was that Honda wanted to retain full functionality of its IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system. There was no information available to us at that time so there were some concerns at the onset of the build. Being an engineer by trade, I was excited to take on the challenge and transform the CR-Z and I think Bisimoto Engineering executed it with great success.”
The first major hurdle that Bisi faced was not an electrical one, but a mechanical issue. Getting the IMA system to work seamlessly with the planned turbo set-up was all in the works but on the mechanical side, he had to figure out how to physically get the stock LEA1 motor out of the bay. This was all-new technology at the time, and removing the engine was not your typical job where just a simple unbolting of some components was all he had to do. The engine itself acted as a giant magnet and without the proper tool, which was only available through Honda, he could have easily lost a finger, some limbs or possibly even his life. Bisi himself admitted that there were some sketchy moments early on when even he was a little worried. He also warns that as this chassis gets more popular over time and more people begin to modify them, the risk of injury is very high if the proper precautionary measures aren’t taken.
Once the 1.5L hybrid engine was out of the car, Bisi was able to break the motor down and develop a game plan for the rest of the build. Integrating the IMA system into the vehicle required careful thought. He wanted to produce power, but only in such a way where the Integrated Motor Assist was still an asset and not a hindrance on performance. “When you think about it, 533 horsepower is a nice solid chunk of power, but how can you produce those numbers while still keeping the CR-Z eco-friendly and with the IMA system operational?” Bisi asks. “It’s all in the sizing of the Turbonetics turbo. I didn’t want to utilize too big of a turbo because then the powerband would be rendered useless. I also couldn’t use too small of a turbo because then it would spool up too quickly and consume too much fuel, thereby eliminating the eco-friendly nature of the car. The BTX6465X turbine and housing is sized with such great precision that the CR-Z still cruises down the street with the same economy as a stock, naturally-aspirated CR-Z and also has power readily available as you get into the higher RPM range. The IMA system also enhances both the lower and higher RPM ranges, just like a factory CR-Z. It really encompasses everything you would want in a sport hybrid driving experience.”
“One of my favorite and proudest features of working on this project is that it is still 100% functional. The IMA system and all the creature comforts of a stock CR-Z from the factory are all still available. The original ECU still controls everything as it should, with the only add-on being the AEM Engine Management System (EMS), which is solely in charge of controlling fuel and ignition operations. The EMS unit acts almost as a symbiote to the original ECU; where they are both acting as separate entities, but the EMS serves as a beneficiary partner. The ECU still believes that it has complete control over every aspect of the car but the AEM EMS is busy controlling the 1,000cc fuel injectors as well as the individual coil packs. Careful research was done so that this is possible. We even have ballast resistors installed to fool the ECU into thinking it has full control, while the EMS is working proficiently behind-the-scenes controlling fuel and ignition parameters in low, mid, and high boost areas.”
The level of detail in this CR-Z is simply amazing. It is what Bisimoto has become known for. Bisi has no qualms with releasing the information to the public. There is probably enough knowledge coursing through the man’s mind on the engine and IMA system for him to write a book. We’ve simply provided the basics and you’re probably exhausted from all the information you’ve just absorbed.
While the intricacies of the motor and its operations are mind-numbingly detailed, the exterior of the Bisimoto CR-Z takes a much more minimalistic approach. The wild graphics scheme and chute may say otherwise, but beneath the custom Bisimoto-themed laminated wrap, the CR-Z retains much of its factory appearance. No crazy aero or fiberglass kit here, just the essentials. An HFP carbon front chin-spoiler and mudguards have been installed and the factory hood has been removed for a lighter VIS carbon hood, with vents that help to cool down the hybrid turbo motor. The 18x9" Bisimoto/Savini Monoblock wheels have been mounted to clear the 13" Stoptech brake rotors and 4-piston big brake calipers.
The interior also follows suit with a simplistic, more OEM-ish feel. The factory steering wheel is still in place and behind it, the stock albeit; futuristic-looking dashboard with all of its original bells and whistles still intact. The sporty factory seats however, have been replaced with much more functional Buddy Club P1 racing seats. Everything behind the front seats have been removed and surrounding the cockpit of the CR-Z is a custom Steen 6-point rollcage with removable kidney bars. On the passenger-side floor sits the AEM EMS that we mentioned earlier, with a custom Rywire harness that is fed back through the firewall to a custom mil-spec engine harness.
There are so many things that one can say about the Bisimoto CR-Z. It’s a landmark, one-of-a-kind build that is living proof that a gas-saving, environmentally-friendly hybrid can have fun too. Honda may have created the term “sports hybrid” to promote their CR-Z, but Bisimoto Engineering made the term believable. His drag insight made him “THE single-cam guy”, and his Civic Wagon brought awareness to his ability to build non-N/A turbocharged vehicles. The CR-Z shows that he can literally build anything. It’s a 533-horsepower hybrid eco-friendly sports coupe. Even as you see it on these pages, just saying that last statement is still a little unfathomable. Anyway you put it; the CR-Z is just another one of Bisimoto’s well thought-out, detail-enriched automotive marvels. The man is a mad scientist and he’s already planning his next breakthrough project. He won’t tell us what it is, but we’re already sold. All we can do now is anticipate the next great reveal.
How Exactly Does A Hybrid Cr-Z Make 500+Hp?
Not that we’re experts in the subject matter, we clearly left this up to Bisi to tell you in his own words how he was able to take this eco-friendly motor and make it eco-powerful as well.
Fueling: “This is oversized to dampen fuel pulses, allowing for a consistent injection feed to each cylinder, by the Kinsler 1000cc injectors. Mil-spec injector wires, allows for waterproof, reliable connections, even in harsh environments. I’m also using a 10-micron filter to remove any fuel impurities that could clog the injectors. A higher flowing fuel pressure regulator adds 1psi of fuel to the system for every pound of boost.”
Block: “I sleeved the block with boost-friendly 9:1 compression pistons, mated to custom steel rods with ARP rod bolts to withstand boost pressures allowing reliability in excess of 600hp. It’s important that I use zinc compound fortified lubricants in 5w20 weight, with less polymers than common 0w-20 weight oils; this allows for stable lubrication in all conditions, street and race.”
Coils: “ This is a “smart” coil-on-plug setup and eliminates the need for a 4-channel ignitor, allowing for accurate and powerful spark energy, resulting in improved power and most importantly, economy. Iridium spark plugs (8 heat range) are used for ideal spark kernel formation and to ward away damaging pre-ignition.”
Intercooler: “On the front, I’m using an air-to-air design made of high thermal conductivity aluminum, resulting in highly-effective vanes that are superior to common tube and fin units for the best in cooling down the intake charge.”
Intake: “Here I’ve used aluminum construction with built-in velocity stacks to further enhance flow into the runners, which is also bottom-fed by a 70mm electronic throttle-body. The runner lengths are optimized for power from the 6800-8500 RPMs range by capturing the 2nd intake harmonic. Heat-shielding the intake gasket alienates engine heat from the intake for a denser intake charge, resulting in more power.”
Exhaust/manifold: “This is made from stainless steel construction, and is ceramic coated to prevent loss of exhaust energy. This type of coating keeps the heat in to further improve the turbo system’s efficiency.”
Gearbox: “Believe it or not, this hybrid is using a 6-puck sprung disc, with MIBA friction surface, combined with a single diaphragm, heavy-duty pressure plate for amazing clamping force and lightweight clutch pedal effort, all while providing shock absorption for the drivetrain components. High-pressure lubricants are also used here to protect the gears.”
Head: “It has been fully-ported and appropriately polished, coupled with stainless steel intake and inconel exhaust valves with slightly rough intake ports in order to keep fuel atomized. The more fuel stays in suspension, opposed to sticking to the port walls, the more power created. Custom level 2.4 camshaft, developed in house and optimized for 8600 RPM redline, and properly degreed in for ideal performance.”
Orange wire/VTEC: “This is the conduit for the hybrid IMA systems transfer, to and from the battery cells. This is the lifeline for the entire hybrid system and connects the inverter, battery cells and the feed for the starter, alternator and generator as the IMA has all these functions. I also modified the VTEC on this system with an AEM EMS and Rywire harness; now I’m able to control the crossover point of 2600 rpms, allowing for a tame idle quality of a small camshaft and the higher RPM power of a large camshaft. On the LEA engine, the lightweight aluminum VTEC mechanism exists on the intake rocker arms only.”
Turbo: “I used a 64mm, Turbonetics ball-bearing billet turbo, which contains a lightweight assembly that enhances spool, and moves more air per revolution than similar sized common cast wheels. The exhaust housing side contains a heat resistant inconel turbine with a properly-sized housing to provide great top-end power while maintaining cruising fuel economy.”
Radiator: “This is a single pass, dual-core pure aluminum radiator designed for optimal cooling, which is important for road and drag racing. A high-pressure Griffin cap lets cooling water reach higher temperatures that exceed boiling, and will still prevent cavitation, or the formation of bubbles, which can cause ineffective cooling and hot spots in the engine. A VP cooling additive is also used to further assist in keeping temperatures in check.”
2011 Honda CR-Z
Owner Bisimoto Engineering
Hometown Ontario, Ca
Occupation Mating efficiency with technology perfection
Engine 2011 Honda 1.5L LEA1; Bisimoto Pro L-Series valve springs, titanium retainers, steel rods, heat shielding intake gasket and custom turbo kit; Bisimoto Turbonetics BTX6465X turbocharger and custom intercooler; Turbonetics Duo-35 blow-off valve and Newgen RG-45 wastegate; Bisimoto-Web Cam level 2.4 camshaft; Arias Bisimoto-spec 9:1 74mm pistons; Golden Eagle Bisimoto-spec intake manifold and sleeved engine block; Supertech stainless steel intake valves and Inconel exhaust valves; ARP Bisimoto-spec head studs; Kinsler fuel rail, fuel filter and 1000cc high impedance fuel injectors; Bisimoto 70mm drive-by-wire throttle-body; Burns stainless single stage muffler; Griffin radiator and radiator cap; K&N oil filter; Portflow custom-ported cylinder head; G&J braided lines; NGK BKR8EIX iridium resistor spark plugs; Torco TBO 30 oil (break-in period) and SR-5 5W30 motor oil; VP StreetBlaze Unleaded 100 octane fuel; Bisimoto reservoir socks and billet oil cap
Drivetrain Action Bisimoto-spec 2MS 6-puck clutch; Torco MTF oil for gearbox
Engine Management AEM EMS with custom MPT harness; Rywire custom mil-spec engine harness
Footwork & Chassis Progress coilover suspension and sway bar
Brakes Stoptech 13" slotted and directional brake rotors and 4-piston forged brake calipers
Wheels & Tires 18x9" Bisimoto-Savini TiO2 (+40 offset front/+27 offset rear); 225/40-18 Falken Azenis; Buddy Club Racing steel lug nuts; ARP extended lug bolts
Exterior Gatorwrap custom-laminated complete body wrap; Type 2 graphics; VIS Bisimoto-spec carbon-fiber hatch, hood and rear wing; Golden Eagle rear tow hook; HFP CR-Z front bottom lip and mud guards
Interior Steen 6-point Chromoly rollcage; Buddy Club P1 racing seats and safety harnesses; L&T Automotive interior paint
Props Special thanks to God; the staff at Super Street; Hedi, Janet, Julio and staff at Bisimoto; John (x3), Devin, Kirk, Tom, Greg and Scott at AEM; Reggie, Timo and Brad at Turbonetics; Laurie, Steve, Debbie and Alex at WebCam; Beeri and Carmen at Arias; Cheri, Beverly, Bob, Fernando and Gabe at Golden Eagle; Russ from BJs; Tom at Portflow; Alex at Action; Jeff and Ed at Progress; Jack, Rick and Vince at Burns’ Stainless; Kevin at Buddy Club; Fred and Tak at VIS; Zack and Cliff at G&J; Willy and Martin at Supertech; Bruce at VP Fuels; Jim, Earl and Scott at Kinsler; Jeremiah at Type 2; Rod and Jeff at GatorWraps; Brad, Fernando, Chris and Ramon at NRH; Mark and Steve at StopTech; Antonio at MM; the Chronicles; Lawrence and Shawn at Savini; Big Mike; Ryan at Rywire; Mitch Peterson at MPT; Ernie and Ned at Torco; Brian and Keith at Hasport; Albert and Ameye at L&T; onecamonly.com; Scott and John at Dynapack; Robert, James and Bakari at Falken; Bob and Shane at CarCraft; Nestor at K&N; Dr and Lolo E.M.E Ezerioha; Aaron at Driftmotion; Uncle Pius; John Y, John M, Christina, Jenny, Charles and Gina at American Honda; Kris at NGK; Sam at ARP; Alan and Benji at Griffin; Gary and Jason at Steen Chassis; Society of Automotive Engineers
www aempower.com; bisimoto.com; falkentire.com; rywire.com