Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

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Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby Teamwork » Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:12 am

To elaborate on the title: Deciphering useful/worthwhile after market modifications you can make on your shift assembly vs. marketing hype/waste of money.

I tried doing a simple search on bushings and such and since most of the results were over 2-3+ years old I decided to start my own thread with a little broader subject. Ultimately, in this thread I would like to learn about what after market modifications really give the best bang for buck versus things that subjectively could be more marketing hype then functional improvements. As many will note I am very new to manual transmission so I am unsure of what mod's are night and day differences or "should be done"'s. I'm just going to touch on a few areas that get a lot of mention on the enthusiast club forums.

1) Well, it's always the most talked about and doesn't really need an explanation for me is a short-shift kit. Some are more adjustable then others... some are a lot more expensive then others... I'm actually wondering more on this one regarding people's personal opinions rather then a lengthy description of what it actually achieves.

2) Solid Shifter Cable Bushings - This I'm going to need a background information base on. This is one of the most 'notable' upgrades for my model, period (nevermind only talking about shift assembly stuff). I kind of have a really basic idea of what is happening with this but I'd like to hear a more in depth one.

3) Shifter Mounting Bracket Bushings - I'm just going to quote this product description...
By eliminating shifter bushing deflection, you can now take control of your shifts with precision and enjoyment. You can expect a more solid, direct feel to the transaxle shift lever, typically characteristic of racing linkage type transmissions.
Stop Missing Shifts. Change your worn out rubber bushings today and feel the difference for yourself!

Now I'm absolutely lost to what the bracket bushings actually attribute in terms of feel or noticeable differences?

4) Solid Shifter Cable Bracket - Essentially it's replacing the stock plastic (yeah plastic) bracket with 304 stainless steel. It's quite pricey too at 140 bucks... I'm guessing this is more for peace of mind of testing the depths of time more than anything else that has a functional advantage?

5) Shift Knob - Overall, seems expensive for what it is and also seems like the hardest to do on my personal car. Mostly because it requires somewhat of a hack job, there's no turning back, and there's a lot that can go wrong. I like my OEM shift knob aesthetically but it's extremely light and has no substantial feel to it.

Again, just relating most of what I've heard in regards to my own vehicle which is a 2015 VW GTI. The aftermarket support isn't on the level of a WRX or SI but it's healthy for sure with options. Looking forward to hearing new info and knowledge!

Thanks

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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby tankinbeans » Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:36 am

Curious, what would make a shift knob expensive and cause you to be unable to turn back in your car? For me I would need an adapter to accommodate the reverse lockout collar, but it would be easily reversed.
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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby Teamwork » Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:04 am

tankinbeans wrote:Curious, what would make a shift knob expensive and cause you to be unable to turn back in your car? For me I would need an adapter to accommodate the reverse lockout collar, but it would be easily reversed.

I'd say the two most popular options for this gen is raceseng (avg price roughly 160?) and Black Forest Industries (avg price roughly 140?)... I guess that's not really bad for what is probably the number one touch point other then the steering wheel. I've looked through some of replacement DIY threads and it seems like the OEM knob threading gets broken unintentionally or just ends up breaking off. I believe you also need to use loc-tite to position and secure the new knob or it's advised to do so... a few early incidents with BFI people complained about the knob working itself loose while in usage.

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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby tankinbeans » Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:07 pm

That makes sense. I tried el cheapo from Walmart since I had a gift card, but it didn't fit. Was mad man.

I wanted this one in my car.
Image
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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby theholycow » Sat Mar 05, 2016 4:07 pm

Short shift kit: Pretty sure I'd like that.

Bushings and brackets: The manufacturer must make things smooth, quiet, inexpensive, environmentally friendly, long-lived, easy for a robot to install in a factory, etc. Smooth and quiet are easily accomplished for the shifter by using flexible mounts, bushings, connectors, etc. Flexible stuff absorbs desired movement as well as undesired movement. This is an acceptable compromise for selling a vehicle to the general public. An enthusiast may choose to adjust the parameters of that compromise, selecting for precise operation at the cost of any or all of reduced vibration absorption, increased price, reduced component longevity, etc.

Shift knob: Supposedly the weight and balance of the knob can affect shift feel. I'd upgrade it just because I like to touch some things better than other things. Mine was replaced with an 8-ball by the previous owner...it looks a little large for a shift knob but the shape and size works surprisingly well and the surface doesn't get as sun-heated as I expected.
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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby Rope-Pusher » Sat Mar 05, 2016 7:04 pm

Like the Cow said, production stuff is often a compromise compared to what an enthusiast might want / put up with.

That being said, some stuff out there for sale might not be as durable as the OEM parts, or might allow annoying gear whine to permeate the vehicle cabin. It's nice to be able to go back to what the car came with if you really find you are annoyed by something. That precludes one-way modifications.

Some things you can do yourself for just a few bucks and a trip to the local hardware store. You might make a stack of metal washers that can substitute for the rubber bushings that isolate your shifter from the floor. Remove the shifter boot and/or console and look at the shifter as you shift it into gear and then apply side-loading and fore/aft loading to the shift knob. Does the shifter move around on its rubber mounts as you do this? If so, dig in a little further and remove a fastener so you can get a good look at the rubber bushing - measure it's height, outer diameter, inner diameter, etc. - make a sketch of it and go figure out how to fill that same function with some combination of steel washers. This may be the most cost-effective improvement you can make, since the cost is potentially very low and the improvement may be very noticeable.

Some shift cable end-fitting bushings are molded in place and not easily removed or replaced - it depends on the design the cable supplier used. Also, some shift cable bushings need only follow the motion of a lever swinging in a planar arc...while others need to follow the motion of a lever moving in three-dimensional space. I have seen where the end of the cable broke off when the OEM bushing was replaced by a non-compliant bushing in a 3-D situation. Having to replace the shift cable set in order to make the vehicle driveable may not be acceptable to you.
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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby Teamwork » Sun Mar 06, 2016 1:52 pm

Rope-Pusher wrote:Like the Cow said, production stuff is often a compromise compared to what an enthusiast might want / put up with.

That being said, some stuff out there for sale might not be as durable as the OEM parts, or might allow annoying gear whine to permeate the vehicle cabin. It's nice to be able to go back to what the car came with if you really find you are annoyed by something. That precludes one-way modifications.

So what I'm trying to get at is (obviously its going to be difficult to answer specifically) that there may be draw backs that come a long with upgrading these parts? I can say for things like the shifter linkage bushings- I've literally never heard anyone have any negative complaints for our particular 2015 model but I have heard people saying that after a year's worth of daily driving that the OEM bushings have exhibited slight tearing even and most people complain about them being way too mushy. In this specific case how does it directly effect drive ability when they say the rubber bushings are mushy... Would it be felt directly in the gate or when engaging the gears themselves? How does feel change when swapping out something that has give versus something that's SOLID. What oddities would be involved with doing this change also? More NVH through the shifter itself?

A lot of these companies say a good reason to upgrade if for no other functional advantage is because their parts are manufactured and made better for reliability and durability. Probably a baseless claim but most of these parts in pictures look fairly substantial and well machined. I think the shifter linkage bushings intrigue me the most and I'd have to do more research in regards to the installation and if there's no turning back. From preliminary stuff I've seen I would think there's no turning back because you have to mangle up the rubber ones to get them out.

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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby theholycow » Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:13 pm

I would expect that you'll find less slop, less elastic feeling, in the shifter and more NVH directly through it. It would have a slightly more snappy mechanical feel, a little bit more like this:
Image

and a little bit less like this:
Image

How else to say it...more digital, less analog. More solid, less rubbery. Imagine if the shift lever was made out of rubber and you replaced it with a steel one.

No experience, just imagining what such a mod would mean to me (if my shifter wasn't bolted directly to my transmission).
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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby Teamwork » Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:18 pm

I'm assuming Cow those pictures are supposed to be reversed?

The rubber boot for mushy "rubber" bushings and the circuit breaker (notchy) for after the bushings are solid billet or steel?

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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby theholycow » Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:33 pm

No...I think we're focusing on different parts of those pictures. The first picture is a toggle switch with a very nice, solid, mechanical, clicky detent feel. The second picture is a large mains switch that is smoothly moved along its radius (though behind the closed panel there may be some breakers).

CIrcuit breakers have a springy, rubbery feel, actually...think about it, you push it and feel resistance increase until suddenly it snaps into position and then it even springs back slightly. Looking at it that way, they are a better analogy for the OEM stuff.
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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby Teamwork » Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:18 pm

theholycow wrote:No...I think we're focusing on different parts of those pictures. The first picture is a toggle switch with a very nice, solid, mechanical, clicky detent feel. The second picture is a large mains switch that is smoothly moved along its radius (though behind the closed panel there may be some breakers).

CIrcuit breakers have a springy, rubbery feel, actually...think about it, you push it and feel resistance increase until suddenly it snaps into position and then it even springs back slightly. Looking at it that way, they are a better analogy for the OEM stuff.

I understand now. Is what's ideal in the eye (hand) of the beholder right or is there a logical advantage over one or the other? The way I could describe my shifting experience right now is a bit distinct. The way you described circuit breakers is really much how I feel about 1st and 2nd gear (especially when upshifting going the 1-2 shift) but everywhere else in the gates feels like the way you describe toggle switches. Honestly, sometimes when I am doing the 1-2 upshift it feels like it's resisting me and then at the end of it's travel "snaps into position" but every time I shift from 2nd to 3rd or 4th to 5th (where I have to zig zag directions it feels like it just clicks right into place.

Most notably I've found that if it's below 30 degrees outside gears 1 and 2 almost feel crunchy at times. It'll never resist me from getting into gear but it hardly feels harmonious. Once the car warms up by 2-3 blocks of shuffling the action returns to normal. Above 2nd gear again, every time the lever goes through the gate there's a very positive and reassuring "thunk" at the end. I've only grinded reverse gear once (it had trouble going in after multiple tries...) and never really questioned the movements. Without having a ton of experience with other manual cars other then messing around in parking lots I'm really unsure of where my shift throws compare... There's plenty of people who have upgraded to a short-shift kit and some people have stated the throws are quite long but I'd probably not do anymore then a 20-35% reduction and I literally don't think I'd even consider a "side-to-side" reduction. Is there such thing as having throws too short in either direction? I'd feel like it could be easier to mis-shift if the reductions for each were heavily reduced. The intriguing option that feels like a real leap of faith is the unit from Dieselgeek.com, the sigma 6. A lot of people state it feels more like an old fashioned mechanical shifter... http://www.dieselgeek.com/6_Speed_VW_Sh ... sigma6.htm

The thing that I don't really understand is what the shift bracket bushings actually attribute to in real world feel (if even any?). It seems like the bracket bushings have more options and designs then the cable linkage bushings which I can grasp somewhat in theory. Also, adding steel, metal, of billet to a plastic bracket sounds like it has a lot of room for error.

About driving weight on a shift knob I could definitely see how it could be beneficial. The OEM shift knob has some height to it but is fairly ergonomic for many different grips and hand patterns I'd say but it definitely carries little to no weight. I say that but then sometimes if I push it up or down (intending for neutral) I'll catch 3rd or 4th and it seems to just slot straight in without much force... :shock:

Any who, glad to hear on the helpful responses.

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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby potownrob » Mon Mar 07, 2016 3:02 am

just be happy you don't have an accord - not the easiest job replacing the shifter :lol:
http://www.driveaccord.net/forums/86-9t ... ccord.html
BUT DEM FAHGLEITZ!! :shock:

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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby theholycow » Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:57 am

Teamwork wrote:Most notably I've found that if it's below 30 degrees outside gears 1 and 2 almost feel crunchy at times. It'll never resist me from getting into gear but it hardly feels harmonious. Once the car warms up by 2-3 blocks of shuffling the action returns to normal.

Nothing you do with the shifter will help. That's a result of the engineering and manufacture of the transmission, and the oil that lubricates it. You might possibly make an improvement with a different oil, and many expensive oils are sold to people looking for that improvement. IMO, I'd rather have oil that works best for most of my driving than chance one that might compromise most of the time for smoother cold shifting.

Is there such thing as having throws too short in either direction?

A short throw shift kit changes the leverage of the shift system (shift lever, shift cable linkage, and/or where the linkage attaches to the transmission). As the throws get shorter they require more force. Cut the throw in half and input force required doubles (actually there are more variables involved, but that simplified explanation is close enough). Do you have strong arms and would feel better putting more force in? Do you like the way you can just flick it around with fingers now?

I'd feel like it could be easier to mis-shift if the reductions for each were heavily reduced.

Hopefully the kit is designed so that the force to overcome the spring will be equally affected so, even though your target is smaller, the system funnels you more forcefully into said target. However, I don't know if that's how it's designed. Compare to this DIY modification for T5's like mine, which I think does a good job demonstrating what it means to adjust the throw:
http://www.stovebolt.com/techtips/shifter/index.html
With that modification, the centering spring (actually a stack of springs) does not get the leverage change relative to you; it's still the same distance from the fulcrum. In fact, that would make it much easier to mis-shift, as the spring does get YOUR leverage change so it has to fight harder to overcome resistance in the transmission just as you do.

the sigma 6. A lot of people state it feels more like an old fashioned mechanical shifter...

I guess "old fashioned mechanical shifter" describes mine, and I'm not really sure what that

Also, adding steel, metal, of billet to a plastic bracket sounds like it has a lot of room for error.

Wouldn't the idea be to replace the bracket with metal?

You may need to examine your motivation, as you seem to be feeling around in the dark with no goal evident. Are you looking at these mods wondering what improvements are available? Do you have any specific or general dissatisfaction that you're hoping to quell? Are you hoping to solve a problem, real or imagined? Do you think the manufacturer was incompetent, or had to cut price too much, or was forced to compromise for a one-size-fits-all car or regulatory requirements? Do you just enjoy modding and want any excuse to do so? It would be a good idea to look inside to figure out what end you hope to gain, and then work towards that.
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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby Teamwork » Mon Mar 07, 2016 9:03 pm

Nothing you do with the shifter will help. That's a result of the engineering and manufacture of the transmission, and the oil that lubricates it. You might possibly make an improvement with a different oil, and many expensive oils are sold to people looking for that improvement. IMO, I'd rather have oil that works best for most of my driving than chance one that might compromise most of the time for smoother cold shifting.

I thought so and it's really not that bad. I mean it was a mild winter for Long Island this year but it did hit one weekend in the negative's and the car was moving fine once it idled for awhile. It's mostly when it sits over night (I don't garage the vehicle/don't have the option too) and upon the first cold start of the day. Whenever I have "trouble" getting the lever into the gate of 1st I'll slide it into 2nd gear and push it straight up and it's never failed. I read to do that somewhere :D

A short throw shift kit changes the leverage of the shift system (shift lever, shift cable linkage, and/or where the linkage attaches to the transmission). As the throws get shorter they require more force. Cut the throw in half and input force required doubles (actually there are more variables involved, but that simplified explanation is close enough). Do you have strong arms and would feel better putting more force in? Do you like the way you can just flick it around with fingers now?

This is a good explanation of what a short throw shift kit would do also. I think I would prefer if force was required and it "thunks" reassuringly when it's in. I kind of dis-like that I could literally shift from 3rd to 4th using finger tips. I guess when I'm really thinking about it I would like more force to be applied but with the same "clicky" feeling when it goes through the gates. There's really no questioning now when doing 2nd gear onwards that it's in all the way.

Wouldn't the idea be to replace the bracket with metal?

Most likely in a logical sense that I can think of but I have a feeling that many people aren't. APR is the only company that offers a replacement bracket and it's $140 (doesn't replace the bracket bushings either). I've heard of more people replacing the linkage bushings and the bracket bushings which probably is about half of that bracket price. I've heard a few people say that the bracket bushings had no discernible real world difference but the problem is most people who are doing this are doing both at the same time so it's hard to tell. I haven't heard ANYONE out of multiple experiences say that shift link bushings weren't worth it or met with negative reviewal. Everyone I've spoke to about it (and this regards many different brands) have said it made a night and day difference in a positive way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkdZZ5b2E4Q

You may need to examine your motivation, as you seem to be feeling around in the dark with no goal evident.

Are you looking at these mods wondering what improvements are available?

I think this question fits mostly as the best answer. I am all for making improvements and catering to preference if I believe the juice is worth the squeeze. I also, am okay with being stock which seems to be rare these days... the thing is this is probably one of the most important aspects to this car and any improvement that can be made would be worth while to at least entertain. Do I think the throws are too long? Maybe a bit and I do believe I could benefit from them being shorter but I don't feel the need to shorten them by 40-50% of the travel- maybe 20-30%. Would I like for the lever going through the gates to feel like a bolt action rifle? Yeah, I think I'd prefer that over mushing around some of the gates if possible. I still don't really know how the bracket itself or the bushings on the bracket effect "real world/every day" stuff so I can't really answer those questions yet because I don't know.

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Re: Deciphering useful after market mods vs. marketing hype

Postby theholycow » Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:15 pm

With a short throw kit, there is one other concern of which I was reminded by your other thread: With shorter throws, your visual indication of currently selected gear (that whole parking in 2nd because it's not obvious when you're in 1st thing) will be even more difficult.
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