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Project CR-Z: Footwork And Fancy Shoes

Tein, SSR, Falken, and ARK Design grant us more style and performance

May 20, 2011

Legs to stand on
Though the CR-Z was still considered a brand-new vehicle in late 2010, there was certainly no shortage of aftermarket support for the basics. Suspension is typically the first area that most new-car owners will attack and upgrade. Because our Project CR-Z would serve duty on the track as well as being a daily driver, our search was on for an aggressive coilover setup that wouldn’t cause back injuries while driving to and from the office. A call to Tein resulted in an offer to test a special Mono Flex for the CR-Z that I just couldn’t refuse.

Htup 1106 01+project crz+tein coil overs.JPG Photo 2/6   |   Project CR-Z: Footwork And Fancy Shoes

The Mono Flex line offered by Tein is, in their own words, designed for entry-level competition motorsports and aggressive street driving. It’s an excellent coilover for the daily grind, as well as for weekend track days, or just some spirited driving on your local backroads. Having driven a few Hondas with Mono Flex coilovers in the past, I was confident the CR-Z would see a vast improvement in reducing side-to side action.

CR-Z owners, take your pick
The off-the-shelf version of the Mono Flex will grant you a huge leap forward in handling and eliminate a large amount of the sway you get with the stock shocks and springs. The best part about upgrading to the Mono Flex is that your ride quality won’t go down the drain. Equipped with 5kg/mm spring rates front and rear, Mono Flex coilovers come with a number of high-quality touches, including:

  • Full-length adjustable (spring pre-load and ride height separately adjustable)
  • 16-way damping force adjustment
  • M.S.V. (Micro Speed Valve) included
  • EDFC compatible
  • Steel mono tube construction
  • Teflon-coated shell case
  • Front strut type dampers inverted for added rigidity
  • 14mm steel heat treated and chromium electroplated piston shafts
  • Aluminum spring seats and rear HAS with Alumite coating

Now, the Mono Flex coilovers for the Honda CR-Z are a special order item from Tein Japan, but you can contact any local Tein dealer to order a set for yourself.

Htup 1106 03+project crz+crz wheels.JPG Photo 3/6   |   Project CR-Z: Footwork And Fancy Shoes

If you’re looking for something a little less aggressive, Tein has you covered there as well. They offer a Super Street coilover (available in the U.S.) that features more mild 4kg/mm front and rear spring rates, and reads like this:

  • Steel construction
  • Twin tube internal construction
  • 16-way adjustable dampers, compression and rebound combined
  • Ride height adjustable via spring seat
  • Larger piston diameter for strut type front and rear (22mm)
  • Powdercoated damper body with Zinc coated threaded section
  • 1-year manufacturers defect warranty
  • Available for overhaul

Tein’s final option is a non-coilover spring that is a direct replacement for your factory coils. The Tein H-Tech springs will drop your car about 0.8 inches in front, 0.9 rear. The spring rates are much more suited for normal street driving, and your ride quality won’t suffer a bit. Tein really did their homework with the CR-Z to give you three different options, depending on your driving goals.

What so special?
Getting back to the special part of the equation, after hearing that we’d be bringing the CR-Z out to compete at Super Lap Battle (Hybrid class), Tein offered to put together a custom version of their Mono Flex coilovers for us. Sporting 7kg/mm fronts and 6kg/mm rears, our version also has more aggressive valving and a shorter stroke to match the increased spring rates. The ride, even just pulling out of the Tein parking lot, was noticeably stout and had us a little concerned about long-distance driving comfort at first. Out and onto the road, surface streets were no problem at all. The major increase in spring rates compared to the factory rates is pretty drastic, but the change is welcome. Even turning at low speeds, the car felt completely transformed; almost begging for us to throw more speed at it through the streets, and zipping onto the freeway on- and offramps. Through snail’s pace traffic, where the infamous aftershocks typically felt by competition coilovers when driving slowly on the freeway are most prominent, were no bother at all. On track, the Super Lap Battle results speak for themselves. While no one (and we mean NO ONE) assumed any CR-Z would do much better than the 2:30 mark, our project car, armed with nothing more than an exhaust, intake, and great wheels/tires, was able to muster a 2:18 with the Mono Flex setup.

Htup 1106 04+project crz+falken tires.JPG Photo 4/6   |   Project CR-Z: Footwork And Fancy Shoes

New shoes from SSR and sticky soles from Falken Tire
Choosing the right wheels for a project car is stressful enough to cause an ulcer. There are countless options available with a vast array of weights, colors, styles, and sizes out there. Sporting 16-inch factory rollers that seem laughably too skinny for such massive fender arches, a big choice had to be made17 or 18 inches? With the C-West kit already locked in and being prepped for paint, we were definitely leaning more toward 18-inch wheels. A set of 17-inch wheels would no doubt be lighter and offer less initial resistance, in turn helping the tiny 1.5L get up to speed quicker, but we’d probably run into clearance problems with the aero kit on the street. For those with pre-’06 Hondas, 18-inch wheels probably seem far too big, but on newer-body Hondas, they seem to work really well in both appearance and performance. The SSR Type F is a wheel that, in our opinion, looks good on just about any Honda. We’ve seen them on everything from S2000s to Civic hatchbacks, and their distinct spokes and hard-lined profile are just as classy as they are aggressive. Using SSR’s patented SSF (Semi-solid forging) technology, the Type F is not only strong, but incredibly light, and the open spoke design was the perfect match for our car. We ultimately chose an 18x7.5 (+48) and have had no issues with clearance.

Getting nutty with ARK Design
When it came time to choose a set of tires, it was really a no-brainer. Falken tires have been a favorite of ours for years. In fact, ever since they introduced their original Azenis model, we’ve been relying on Falken for our personal cars, as well as project builds. The latest Azenis RT-615K doesn’t need much of an introduction for itself. If you’re not currently running these tires on your Honda, you probably have at least a few friends using them. That’s because they offer outstanding all around performance on and off the track, wet or dry, and they’re very competitively priced. With a motorsports-grade cap compound, the RT-615K maintains grip even as tire temps rise, and they display very little squirm due to a very well thought out tread design. We ordered a set of 225/40-18s for our SSRs and the combination looks every bit as good as it performs.

Htup 1106 05+project crz+close up wheels.JPG Photo 5/6   |   ARK Design provided a set of their stealthy new hard anodized matte-black lug nuts to complement the SSR rollers.

To mount the wheels and tires to the CR-Z, we contacted ARK Design for a set of their new Duraluminum extended lug nuts. Manufactured from billet 7075 aluminum and hard anodized, the matte-black, closed-ended nuts are ultra-light and look awesome with the new wheels. They’re also pretty tough, because we’ve removed them at least a half dozen times since we’ve had them on the car and they still look great.

The result
The wheels, tires, and lug nuts complement the C-West aero; while ground clearance is a non-issue, and as for the look, well, the pictures speak for themselves. A completely transformed CR-Z is the result. Handling with the custom Teins and new wheel and tire package can’t really be compared to stock because of the light years that separate the two. Gone is the obnoxious squeal when taking turns even a few miles above the speed limit on the super-hard OEM tires. Now the car feels planted, solid, and more than willing to dive in and out of turns at will.

Htup 1106 02+project crz+crz rear view.JPG Photo 6/6   |   Project CR-Z: Footwork And Fancy Shoes

Stay tuned for more from our CR-Z, including a big brake kit and, with any luck, a little more power!


Falken Tire
ARK Design


SSR Wheels
Torrance, CA 90501
Tein USA
Downey, CA 90241
Falken Tire
Fontana, CA 92335
ARK Design
Anaheim, CA 92806
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