Part I: Hybrid Racing Adjustable Short Shifter Assembly
Hybrid Racing's Adjustable Short Shifter Assembly is just a few years old but the idea of the short shifter itself has been a staple in the import community for a few decades. At this point, it's almost become just one of those things you add because, well ... because it's just better, right? Yes, and no. "Better" is subjective, and being that every single one of us prefers our seat adjusted to a certain position, shift knobs shaped a certain way, and even mirrors adjusted to a very specific angle, we're all a little different. The one-size-fits-all approach doesn't always work for everyone.
Ain't Nobody Got Time For That...Or Do They?
The idea of the short shifter is obviously to shorten the distance (aka "throw") between each of the gears you're selecting, and in turn, minimize the amount of time spent doing so. In the grand scheme of things, does a split-second difference really matter for the stop light grand prix crowd? Probably not. How about the guys trying to shave off every measurable amount of time from their E.T. or personal best lap time? Perhaps, but again, it's subjective and everyone has their opinion based on how things feel from behind the wheel. One thing is for certain: shorter shifts are available with some bolt-in shifters while some don't really shorten the throw much at all and might actually increase the effort. Then there's the byproduct of that notchy feel that often accompanies an aftermarket short shifter.
I Got the Feelin'
This might be hard for some to believe, but some drivers just don't like that "clickety-clack" feel that adjustable short throw shifters often present. It requires more effort to move into each gear, and with cars like the DC2 and S2000—which are often lauded for their buttery smooth shifts—some feel that OEM is your best bet. For those who enjoy the audible, haptic feedback that comes from a snickety aftermarket shifter kit, like myself, Hybrid Racing's Short Shifter Assembly for Honda's B/D-series family offers the most diverse, innovative approach we've seen thus far from a bolt-in system.
You've seen a thousand short shifters in your time, especially for the B- and D-series lineup. Hit your favorite online auction site and they run as low as $25 in a rainbow of colors and promise massive shift throw reductions that often aren't even physically possible. Most are based on the dual-bend shift lever found in the 3rd-gen. Integra. A longtime standard for Honda enthusiasts, years ago that OEM shifter served as the ideal solution for thousands of B-series engine swaps. It offered a smooth action due to the leverage afforded by the long shifter and shift ball placement. Also, the bends placed the shift knob further back from the fulcrum in a comfortable position compared to straight shift levers that required a slightly further reach to take hold of. The aftermarket took notice and adjusted the height of the ball upward, which in this case serves as the fulcrum or pivot point and determines both how far the shift knob will have to be thrown in order to meet its gear, as well as having an effect on actual effort.
Know Your Market
When Hybrid set out to design or, in actuality re-design this shifter, they spent more than a year just picking apart the past and present shifters already available. What they found is that when adjusted to optimal shift height, the throw of some of these units were substantially longer than a factory dual-bend—up to 90 percent longer, which is shocking. You could argue that if the shifter height was set to whatever the manufacturer deemed as ideal, then the throws might be much shorter, but it goes back to the fact that everyone of us has a different idea on what is "ideal."
More on Hybrid Racing's Shifting Upgrades
Hybrid Racing's adjustable RSX shifter V3 installed
Hybrid Racing K-series detent springs installed
Hybrid Racing's vision was to design something that wouldn't disregard the shorter shift for obtaining the end user's ideal knob position. The result of nerding out on shifters for so long is a throw that is 40 percent shorter than a factory dual-bend version. More importantly, at least in my eyes, is the feedback that it offers. I don't have a need to cut milli-seconds off of each shift, but I do appreciate the shorter throw and I really like the "snap" that accompanies each shift, along with the additional effort that, though small, adds confidence to shifting.
Improving On A Good Thing
Unboxed, the first thing you notice is the base of the Hybrid Racing piece. Rather than relying on the factory plastic ball and boot set up, this version completely replaces those with a 6061-aluminum rigid base that bolts right to the factory linkage and there are no OEM plastic pieces reused with the kit.
The bearings help determine how smooth the action will be and are a far cry from the factory sleeve. Sealed, quiet and slippery smooth, they take unwanted friction out of the equation. In addition, the metal ball inside of the rigid base glides effortlessly in every direction.
Modernizing An Old School GS-R
The included spacer is used to fill a gap you'll encounter on shift linkages that use a weighted arm that's welded in place from the factory—typically all B18 and JDM B16B linkages. For linkages that don't come with that additional arm, like D-series and B16A, the spacer isn't needed and there's an appropriately sized bolt included for both cases.
For my car, a 1992 Integra GS-R (DB2), it's a bit of an oddball. It carries the weighted arm, but the mounting gap is actually the size of shift linkages that don't include that arm, so it's a mix of both types.
After removing the entire linkage assembly, I put one half into a vise to hold it steady.
The Hybrid Racing rigid mount slides right over the top of the linkage.
Once in place, two of the holes in the Hybird Racing base line up with the factory holes in the linkage, which is perfectly fine to bolt-on and use, but Hybrid recommends you drill a third hole for racing applications.
Even if you're not tracking your car, it only makes sense to use the third attachment point while everything is out.
It only takes a few minutes to mark and drill the new hole before adding the supplied hardware to cinch it down.
Just a note: the D-series linkage is just a bit narrower and doesn't have enough space for the third bolt, but again, it's not necessary.
A touch of Loctite Blue to fight vibration and heat and the linkage is ready to put back in place.
Another great thing about this Hybrid Racing shifter is that the throw adjustments are made inside the cabin due to the two-piece rod and sleeve design.
The pair of retaining bolts are loosened and you can move the rod down to shorten the throw or up to lengthen it and find your ideal feel. In addition, with the adjustment happening above the chassis, exhaust piping space is maximized—an important factor for car's like mine that use a 3-inch exhaust.
Adding the upper portion of the shifter kit is a simple allen head screw and grants 360-degree swiveling and substantial height adjustment so that you get the shifter height right where you want it. For me, having the bend face toward the back seat was the most comfortable.
Here's the shifter installed and tightened up along with Hybrid Racing's Maxim Performance shift knob.
The factory rubber dust boot will fit over the Hybrid stalk with a little encouragement and creates a tight seal to keep the elements and the exhaust fumes out of your cabin.
Because the bulkier portion of the Hybrid shifter sits low in the console, you can also reinstall your shift boot, if you choose to.
Some like to leave it exposed and the clean anodized finish on the Hybrid piece is definitely worthy of showing off. Hybrid offers an aluminum Maxim Shift Cover Plate for the '92-'95 Civic and EK9 Type R users. It's a direct bolt in and it looks incredible in anodized black. I actually stole Hybrid's idea and applied it to some scrap carbon fiber I had laying around. And though it's not nearly as slick as the Maxim piece, it works for me and I definitely prefer covering this area up rather than leaving it exposed. Now I can switch between my shift boot and this plate whenever I feel like a change.
The shift boot has to be removed in order to make changes to the height, so I would recommend driving the car for a bit to finalize your settings, then installing the boot. With the carbon trim plate, the bolts are still exposed and can be adjusted easily.
The group has stepped away from the gold anodized finish that covered much of their previous shifters and now offer the black version I installed, along with this Dust Red kit shown above with their optional titanium shift rod.
From Short to Shorter
Prior to installing the Hybrid shifter, I had an adjustable short shifter already on the car. It didn't offer as much of a throw reduction as this one, notably because I had to bring it up in order to not interfere with the exhaust tubing, but that isn't a big factor for me. The way the shifter actually feels as it enters each gear is a far bigger concern. Previously, a click could be felt and even heard, and the shifting was more pronounced than the factory lever. In the case of the Hybrid Racing shifter, the transition from gear-to-gear was smooth and direct but that click became an authoritative "thud" as each time the shifter was pushed or pulled into its respective gear and its mechanics made me well aware that the shift was complete and untethered. Any signs of unwanted play or slop are a thing of the past. I won't mention the previous brand that was installed because, to be fair, it was introduced over five years ago. With Hybrid's shifter being much newer and based on their extensive research, the two really aren't comparable—the Hybrid version is on a different level entirely.
Part II. Hybrid Racing Heavy-Duty Detent Springs
The 10-Minute Install
With the adjustable shifter installed and working perfectly, I decided to add a set of Hybrid Racing's Heavy-Duty Detent Springs. Incredibly cheap (under $20) and simple to install, you've probably heard about upgraded detent springs quite a bit over the last year or so. In fact, I installed a set on my K-series project just recently, prior to installing the clutch and flywheel and bolting the trans to the block.
You have three detent springs working with your B-series transmission already—two of which are found on the outside of the trans case and easy to access, the third being inside the casing and require cracking into the transmission. I only installed the outer springs and would assume that most would do the same unless they had the trans out of the car for a rebuild or were tackling a swap.
Crawl underneath the front of your B-series equipped car and right on the bottom of the trans you'll spot a pair of bolts all on their own that you'll need to remove with a 12mm wrench or socket.
As you loosen and prepare to remove the bolt, take care to do so steadily as to not lose the metal ball that sits atop the factory spring that sits inside of the shank of the bolt. That metal ball held in place by the spring is what helps lock into each gear.
*Just a note: the detent spring retaining bolt closest to the engine had a pretty good amount of trans fluid behind it so it might get a little messy and you should have a few rags handy. Removing the other bolt produced almost no fluid.
It's Science, Bro.
The idea behind the heavy-duty spring is that it's slightly longer and much stiffer than the factory version and installation results in a far more solid feel as you push and pull the shifter. (OEM spring in the front, black Hybrid spring right behind it. Note the Hybrid version is slightly longer with more coils)
If you squeeze the factory spring between your fingers, it compresses quite a bit, whereas with the Hybrid spring the coils don't have nearly the same give. That's because they're over 80-percent stiffer than the springs that currently live inside your transmission and, again, are slightly longer.
The new detent springs are black zinc chomate plated for durability and an exact fit so there's no modification needed—it's a simple, straight swap that just takes a few minutes to install. You'll just need to swap the factory spring with the new Hybrid version and before bolting it back into the trans case, double check to make sure the metal ball is sitting at the top of the spring and the washer for the bolt itself is in place before torqueing down to 16 ft.-lbs.
Hybrid Racing's Heavy-Duty Detent Springs are available for all B and K-series engines, D- and H-series, as well as F20/F22A.
The Fruits of Not Much Labor
The solid engagement you get with the Hybrid Racing adjustable shifter can't be ignored and you can't be lazy while shifting. It calls for additional effort as compared to the stock shifter, and the reward is confidence-inspiring shifts that will leave no doubt, whether casually driving or at the track. The addition of their Heavy-Duty Detent Springs takes that feeling a step further, tightening up the experience even more. I didn't try out their springs on a stock shifter, but I wish I had just for comparison sake. I'm confident that even with the slop of a factory setup, these little springs will make an impact. For them to affect the already impressive adjustable shifter says quite a bit.
I've had many B-series engines in the past and tried out a number of short shifters and, in more recent years, fully adjustable versions. Some were pretty good, and some were absolutely terrible, but it seems that Hybrid Racing's Short Shifter Assembly for the B/D-series turns the corner with a whole new design and end-user experience. Adding the very inexpensive and simple-to-install detent springs enhances the shift action even further, and whether you're after that confidence-inspiring "thunk" into each gear, a shorter throw, or both, this shifter is the answer and offers the sort of versatility that you're not likely to outgrow.