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WRX & STi Sway Bars – Less is More (Added Bonus: thorough explanation of digressive valving)

WRX & STi Sway Bars - Less is More (Added Bonus: thorough explanation of digressive valving)

– Introduction –

As many of you are aware I have been specializing in Subaru suspension for a long time. I’ve been modifying these cars since the ’90s, and I started my business, Cygnus Performance LLC, back in 2006. Shortly after starting this business I authored the sway bar stickies on all of the major Subaru forums. To this day many Subaru owners modify their cars based on advice I offered in these posts. Unfortunately, as with much of the information on the forums, these posts are very dated. 

Back then many people considered me to be the world authority on Subaru sway bars, but the truth is that no matter how many years I spend doing this day in day out there is always more to learn. Just like our products, my opinions and the advice I offer our customers is constantly evolving based on not only my own R&D, but on feedback from tens of thousands of customers. With this post I would like to clear up some of the misconceptions people have about my current views when it comes to sway bars and end links.

– Changes over the years –

These cars come equipped with much larger diameter sway bars from the factory than they did in 2007 when I authored these forum posts. Subaru models that were equipped with 19mm front OEM bars from the factory back then are equipped with 24mm front OEM bars today. Affordable damper technology has also radically advanced. In 2007 I could not sell you a halfway decent coilover set that provided true digressive valving force with proper R&D behind it for an affordable price like I can today. 

– Sway bar limitations –

Sway bars are undoubtedly a useful component of the suspension of all WRX and STi generations. With that said it’s important to understand that bigger is not always better. Large sway bars have a lot of inherent limitations, and they introduce several issues. They only provide two benefits which are reduced lateral roll (flatter cornering) and the ability to tune understeer. They have no effect on fore aft body roll (diving under braking and squatting under acceleration). This means that the roll resistance they offer is not a constant. They do nothing as you brake hard for a corner. As you enter the corner the sway bar loads up offering maximum roll resistance mid corner then taper off as you accelerate out of the corner. A sway bar is essentially a spring. Because the rate of this spring is variable it is not always possible to tune your damper with the appropriate amount of rebound and compression force to cope with this spring which is an issue that is exacerbated by increasing bar diameter. To sum it up larger diameter bars are not ideal for many builds because of damping tuning considerations and because your body roll resistance will be inconsistent.

– Reduced droop travel and suspension Independence –

All of this sounds bad enough, but there is more. A large diameter sway bar directly reduces the independence of your suspension. It ties the passenger’s side to the driver’s side which has a number of drawbacks. These corners no longer respond independently without one affecting the other which is not good for handling or ride quality. One of the main drawbacks from a handling perspective is the fact that large bars significantly reduce effective droop travel. Droop travel refers to the suspension’s movement downwards as the suspension un-weights. At autocross events it’s common to see cars tripoding with their inside rear tire floating in the air. Having a large diameter rear sway bar makes this problem much worse. The stiff bar will essentially pull the inside tire off the ground. Stiff coilover springs actually have the opposite effect which is why most of the fastest autocross cars in the country have small bars and stiff springs. 

A stiff coilover spring takes full advantage of the independence of the suspension pushing the inside tire to the tarmac which is obviously where you want it. Hitting imperfections in the road on the passenger’s side has no effect on the driver’s side. A stiff coilover spring is also a constant. It doesn’t matter whether you are braking, accelerating, cornering etc. A coilover spring offers an equal amount of roll resistance with fore and aft forces, lateral forces and any combination of the two. 

Reducing the independence of the suspension also causes tires to skip over pavement that is not perfectly smooth. This means that if you overdo it with sway bars you’ll actually have less grip on many surfaces. You will have less body roll which may make your car feel like the limits are higher, but in many circumstances they could actually be lower. 

– Effects on ride quality –

While it is possible to improve ride quality with coilovers depending on the specifications, it’s important to understand that larger bars always make ride quality worse. How noticeable this is will depend on a number of variables including how large of a bar you went with, what type of surface you are driving on and what type of dampers you are pairing the bar with which brings me to my next point: Putting giant sway bars on stock shocks and springs is never ideal because you cannot increase rebound force to cope with your increased sway bar spring rate.

– What I recommend –

So given everything I have said so far here is my advice in 2022 to all WRX and STi owners looking to improve handling of their car: do things in stages. Start with the most important, most fundamental suspension modification which is high quality coilovers. If your dampers and springs are not right the rest of your handling is not going to be any good. High quality coilovers are 85% of the puzzle, so at least initially, putting a lot of time and effort into that other 15% which is not the weak link off the showroom floor really doesn’t make any sense. This is probably not advice you will get from other vendors. Many of them enjoy selling big comprehensive packages where you are adding lots of bracing and replacing every arm, link, bar and bushing on the car all in one shot. This is a terrible idea because if the final result leaves anything at all to be desired you have no idea what is doing what. Do you need to reduce bar size? Do you need to reduce coilover spring rate? Do you need to change caster or alignment settings? If you have harshness or noise where is it coming from? And most importantly of all – did you even need to spend thousands of dollars on all of these extra components to begin with?

Modern WRX’s and STi’s are night and day massively better off the showroom floor than they once were when it comes to components like bushings and sway bars. Back when I wrote these articles you could walk into a Subaru dealership and buy a brand new GD STi. This was a very long time ago. The sway bars were small, and the bushings were soft. A 2015 STi has a 24mm front bar from the factory and rubber encased spherical bearings for front lower control arm bushings with excellent anti-lift and anti-dive geometry right out of the box. The chassis is incredibly stiff and the 22 WRX further improves upon that. Sway bars are not the weak link that they once were. For the vast, vast majority of VA and VB chassis owners keeping the front bar stock is the best option from a handling standpoint.

There are certainly exceptions to this. If you’re on R comp tires and 16k springs with a caged, gutted car trying to win a time attack it’s another story. You are still always going to be better off getting most of your roll resistance from coilover springs, but of course when you have very stiff coilover springs a larger bar becomes a smaller percentage of the overall stiffness of the suspension. The stiffer springs are able to overcome some of the droop travel limitations by pushing the rear inside tire down to the ground. On these aggressive track builds the larger diameter bars end up functioning similarly to the way OEM bars coupled with more conservative spring rates function. It’s important to be mindful of this so you can keep everything properly balanced based on what you are building your car to do.

– Digressive valving –

I have to talk about digressive valving because the quality, spring rates and valving style of your coilovers all have a direct impact on what your sway bar strategy should be. This is an incredible technology that is really the backbone of everything we do here at Cygnus Performance. It’s a technology that has been around for a long time, but certainly more than anyone else in the Subaru world, we have made proper digressive valving affordable and attainable for the average Subaru driver. Nowadays you will find cheap overseas coilovers that use the word digressive in their title, but in order to implement this technology properly there needs to be a huge amount of application specific R&D put into the product which most of these guys are not doing. I’m very confident that no one is doing it to the level that we are when it comes to Subaru applications. The functional components of the shock also have to be extremely high quality.

Essentially digressive valving provides variable damping force that is dependent on shaft velocity. As you go into a corner the suspension loads up slowly. This is a low shaft velocity event, so low speed damping force is the damping force that comes into play. With our digressive valving low speed damping force is very stiff which means your car will corner with minimal body roll and maximum driver feedback. This is obviously highly desirable from a handling perspective. If you ever hear me saying that our product offers more low speed control than the competition this is what I am referring to.

On the other end of the spectrum when you are on a bad road or if you hit a pothole or a crack in the road or even cross a curb at the track the movement of your suspension is almost instantaneous. This is a high shaft velocity event, so high speed damping force is the damping force that comes into play. Despite the fact that low speed damping force is very stiff on our product, high speed damping force tapers off and is very compliant. This is the incredible thing of digressive valving. This is the part that gets you the best of both worlds. While you have very little body roll the suspension is still composed and comfortable over almost any surface. Smooth ride quality is the obvious advantage, but there is another advantage. Even if you don’t care about ride quality having suspension that does its job properly is still important. If you hit a curb at the track you don’t want stiff suspension to bounce the car all over the place. You want the suspension to open up, properly absorb the impact and keep everything settled and composed. You want your tires in firm contact with the track rather than bouncing into the air.

– How digressive valving relates to sway bar sizing –

Let’s talk about how digressive valving directly relates to sway bar sizing. If you reduce the independence of the suspension this incredible digressive technology that we are able to provide at a relatively affordable price in 2022 can’t do its job properly. The only way to really understand what this technology is capable of on a street build is to keep your bars stock and get some seat time with your coilovers. Depending on a long list of factors upsizing sway bars down the road can be beneficial, but I always recommend initially experiencing your coilovers without aftermarket bars.

Back in 2007 when we could not provide dampers that were anything close to what I am describing for an affordable price and when the bars that came off the showroom floor were a very small diameter, sway bars were a great first mod for a lot of people. In 2022 when we are talking about the VA and VB platforms they are a great first mod for absolutely no one in my opinion. These cars come equipped from the factory with OEM bars that are larger than many aftermarket bars were for previous generations.

– Increasing sway bar diameter can be beneficial –

I’m not telling people that they should never increase the diameter of their sway bars. What I am telling people is not to start there. You may find that high quality coilovers are all you need, but at the very least if you get some seat time with your coilovers prior to doing anything with bars you will know whether you need to do both bars or just one. You will also know what sizes you need. I love talking suspension, and I’m happy talking with all of our customers about this after they get some seat time with their coilovers if they want to explore the idea of increasing bar size.

– End Links –

I do often sell rear length adjustable end links with 2008+ WRX and STI applications which have multi-link rear suspension. This can be helpful for removing preload from the bar when adjusting ride height. Length adjustable end links can be helpful both in the front and rear if you are corner balancing or significantly changing ride height. But aside from that I would not worry about upgrading end links before doing coilovers either. Personally, I would never purchase an aftermarket end link that does not allow for length adjustment.

– Why we stopped making sway bars –

People often contact me asking if they can purchase the sway bars that we used to manufacture. We no longer manufacture sway bars, and hopefully this article gives some insight as to why that is. From a business perspective it was an excellent part to sell. Sway bars are very simple to design and the manufacturing cost is low. They are very easy to sell since they are inexpensive, and there isn’t a long list of custom options like there is with coilovers. It was a quick and relatively profitable sale, but ultimately the changes Subaru has implemented over the years coupled with the advances we have been able to make to our dampers made this modification obsolete for many of our customers. We don’t spend money on advertising. We rely on happy customers spreading the word. This works so well because our only focus is getting you guys the best possible results for your money when it comes to suspension. If that means discontinuing parts that we once made money on then that is what we do. 

– Conclusion –

I’m not telling you to never increase sway bar diameter, but 100% do not start there. If you have any questions we are always happy to help! Thanks for reading.


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The Hyperco hydraulic spring perch – what does it do, and why do you want it?

The Hyperco hydraulic spring perch - what does it do, and why do you want it?

A coil spring inherently puts significantly more pressure on one side of the spring perch than the other because of its shape. This uneven force also varies throughout the range of compression. This puts lateral force on the shock shaft which is less than ideal. 

Lateral force on the shock shaft causes the damper to not operate quite as smoothly as it would otherwise. This has a negative impact both on handling and on ride quality to some extent. It also reduces shock life by putting strain on the main seal which can cause the shock to weep more oil.

The Hyperco hydraulic spring perch rocks back and forth as the coil spring compresses which evens out the force exerted on the lower perch. While this does not completely eliminate all unwanted lateral force, it greatly reduces it.

We sell quite a lot of these. It’s a great upgrade if it’s within your budget. It’s an easy upgrade to add to existing coilovers, and we pre-build Cygnus Performance, Ohlins, Fortune Auto, Penske and MCS coilovers with Hyperco hydraulic spring perches when customers opt for this optional upgrade.

We highly suggest running our coilover covers in conjunction with these. Over time dust can get into the hydraulic perch. Eventually it will stop moving, and you will have to rebuild it. Running our Cygnus Performance coilover covers with the hydraulic perches will significantly extend rebuild intervals.

If anyone has any questions about Hyperco hydraulic spring perches or anything else suspension I would love to help!


Cygnus Performance owner & founder

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Loose Top Hat Nuts

Loose Top Hat Nuts

When you first install height adjustable coilovers it’s pretty common to have a loose top hat nut. This is not because the nut was improperly tightened at the factory during production. We have a special clamp that holds the shaft, and every top had nut is properly torqued to the same specification before the coilovers get shipped to the customer.

The reason that this can be an issue is because when you initially adjust ride height the spring can put a lot of force on the upper perch causing the nut to slightly back off. This issue is not unique to our product. Every height adjustable coilover set in the world including $15,000 coilovers will exhibit this issue once in awhile depending on a number of variables.

If you are experiencing this issue you will notice a clunking noise. Typically whenever the suspension un-weights the spherical bearing will slide up on the pin and then bang down on the shaft as the suspension comes back under load. The good news is this is a very easy issue to fix. Usually tightening them one time will be sufficient to permanently address the issue.

No matter how many times I tell people this many of them don’t seem to understand that ***THE TOP HAT NUT CANNOT BE TIGHTENED BY THE END USER USING HAND TOOLS.*** This is because the shaft and piston assembly will freely rotate within the shock body as you try to tighten this fastener. There is no way to incorporate a hex inset into the shaft of a rebound adjustable coilover (unless it’s inverted) because of the rebound adjustment clicker assembly. If you don’t have the special clamp that we use at the factory during initial assembly the only way to overcome this rotation is with inertia. Therefore, the nut must be tightened with an electric impact gun rather than hand tools. The speed at which the impact gun spins the top hat nut will overcome the rotation of the shaft which will sufficiently tighten the nut within a couple of seconds.

In order to successfully tighten this nut without damaging anything you will need the following:

– Electric impact gun

– 19mm or 21mm deep socket (dependent on which of our top hats you are running)

– 2mm hex key

Although it is preferred to do this under load while the car is on the ground it really doesn’t make a big difference either way. Start by removing the rebound adjustment knob which is attached via 2mm hex set screw. This is to avoid damaging the rebound adjustment clicker with the impact gun. From there you simply tighten the nut using the deep impact socket and electric impact gun. A couple of seconds is all it takes. Although none of this is going to damage the shock in any way you don’t really want to spin the piston more than necessary.

If you experience clunking that is not resolved by tightening this fastener please contact me for further troubleshooting. It is not common for these coilovers to make noise, but the good news is when they do we can always resolve it. If you are experiencing a clunking noise this is by far the most common culprit. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

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Spring Rates, Brands and Conversion Charts

Spring Rates, Brands and Conversion Charts

– Introduction –

The two most popular units of measurement for coilover spring rate are kg/mm which refers to how many kilograms it takes to compress the spring 1mm and lbs/inch which refers to how many pounds it takes to compress the spring 1 inch. Here are a couple of quick spring rate conversion charts: 

Spring Rate Conversion Charts
kg/mm to lbs/inch Conversion Chart

3k = 167.994lbs/inch
4k = 223.992lbs/inch
5k = 279.990lbs/inch
6k = 335.988lbs/inch
7k = 391.986lbs/inch
8k = 447.984lbs/inch
9k = 503.982lbs/inch
10k = 559.980lbs/inch
11k = 615.978lbs/inch
12k = 671.976lbs/inch
13k = 727.974lbs/inch
14k = 783.972lbs/inch
15k = 839.970lbs/inch
16k = 895.968lbs/inch
17k = 951.966lbs/inch
18k = 1007.964lbs/inch
19k = 1063.962lbs/inch
20k = 1119.960lbs/inch

lbs/inch to kg/mm Conversion Chart

150lbs/inch = 2.685k
200lbs/inch = 3.580k
250lbs/inch = 4.475k
300lbs/inch = 5.370k
350lbs/inch = 6.265k
400lbs/inch = 7.160k
450lbs/inch = 8.055k
500lbs/inch = 8.950k
550lbs/inch = 9.845k
600lbs/inch = 10.740k
650lbs/inch = 11.635k
700lbs/inch = 12.530k
750lbs/inch = 13.425k
800lbs/inch = 14.320k
850lbs/inch = 15.215k
900lbs/inch = 16.110k
950lbs/inch = 17.005k
1000lbs/inch = 17.900k
1100lbs/inch = 19.690k
1200lbs/inch = 21.480k

– Why Does Spring Rate Matter? –

One of the most important decisions you will make when you purchase coilovers is deciding what spring rates to go with. How stiff or soft would you like the car to ride? How much understeer or oversteer are you looking for? Is your top priority smooth ride quality or the best possible handling or a combination of both? How far below stock ride height would you like to lower your car?

These are the questions you need to ask yourself. Then you need someone who truly understands your chassis and how it reacts to different rates to advise you if you want to get the results you’re looking for the first time without doing an enormous amount of research. No one has more experience with this than Cygnus Performance, LLC. We have specialized in custom coilovers since 2006. Day in day out for more than 16 years we have advised customers on spring rate. Spring rates dramatically affect the way your car performs and rides, so getting this right is absolutely mission critical.

– Can You Change Spring Rate In The Future? –

This all depends on what coilovers you buy. On many lower quality brands you cannot change spring rate without revalving the shock which is a costly and time-consuming process. Our coilovers feature industry-leading levels of rebound adjustment which will allow you to change spring rates in the future without revalving. If your needs change and you want your car to be more or less aggressive you will have the flexibility to significantly change rate with Cygnus Performance X-1 coilovers. All of our products offer a large rebound adjustment range, and some of our products offer more rebound adjustment than anything else in the industry. When it comes to damping adjustment range more is always better. Damping adjustment range has nothing to do with the number of clicks a rebound adjustment knob has. It’s what these clicks do that matters. All Cygnus Performance X-1 coilovers provide a very large difference in damping force between full soft and full stiff.

– Why Is Spring Brand Important? –

In a word: Accuracy. Low quality springs tend to have a lot of rate distortion. If you have a 7k spring and you hit a pothole even though the spring is supposed to be linear and stay close to 7k throughout the range of compression it will often jump up by 20% or more which is very bad for ride quality. It’s also not good for consistency when you’re cornering. Low quality springs often don’t match the rate printed on the side. A 10k spring might actually be closer to 8k or 12k. One supposedly identical spring might not match the next. This is obviously not good for handling. The car may not feel the same when you are turning left as when you are turning right. You may have different amounts of understeer or oversteer than you desire, and the overall neutrality of the car could end up being pretty inconsistent. Low quality springs also tend to sag and change over time. This means you lose preload, ride height changes and rate likely changes as well. A spring may seem like a simple part because it’s just a piece of steel, but as you can see it’s a very important piece of steel. After the damper this is the most important component of your entire suspension.

The most accurate springs that we have experienced after 16 years of custom coilover builds and running hundreds of springs through rate testers are not 100% perfect, but they are massively better than the entry level springs that come on most coilover brands. They are much more linear, they have very little distortion, and they typically don’t sag, settle or change rate over time. This will have an extremely positive impact on both ride quality and handling. If your springs are not working properly the rest of your suspension does not matter. We always highly encourage people to upgrade their springs if it’s within their budget.

– The Springs We Offer –

We work closely with both Swift and Hyperco to custom manufacture the highest quality coilover springs in the world. These springs are manufactured both in the United States and Japan. The springs we sell are extremely accurate. They are almost perfectly linear, and they have very little distortion. They don’t sag, they don’t settle, and they have a lifetime warranty that you’ll never have to use.

We work with the best manufacturers in the world to create specifications that are not available in their standard catalog when necessary. This can sometimes be very important. For example, Hyperco did not have a 7k or 400lb 7 in 60mm ID spring in their catalog. We purchased thousands of these in order to offer them because this was a critical rate for many of the Subaru applications that we build coilovers for.

We offer springs with application specific R&D behind them which is something that virtually no other coilover manufacturer is doing. We purchase these springs thousands at a time in order to get the best price on them then pass the savings onto you. We put our time and money into sourcing and developing the best possible components to get you the best possible results. We don’t spend money on advertising. We don’t spend money on wholesale distributors. We don’t spend money on a complicated dealer network. We sell our suspension directly to you, so when you buy suspension from us you get more for your money than you do with any other brand.

– We Are Here To Help –

If you have any questions about springs, spring rates or anything else please feel free to contact us anytime!

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Redefining What Is Possible With Affordable Coilovers

Redefining What Is Possible With Affordable Coilovers

The latest versions of Cygnus Performance X-1 coilovers are now live on our website! Pricing starts at just $1,650. We are offering options and features that are not available on any other coilover set in this price range. When it comes to the components that affect ride quality, performance and shock longevity zero corners have been cut. We offer high-quality Japanese bearings, Japanese rubber top hats, Swedish shims, high viscosity index group 5 fully synthetic shock oil, CNC’d Japanese pistons and every Cygnus Performance shock is assembled and fully dyno tested in the United States for perfect results every time.
Every coilover set we offer is truly application-specific. The stroke lengths, shock valving, spring rates and shock oil weight have all been specifically developed or selected for your application. Our European style digressive valving gets you very similar results to coilovers costing two or three times as much. We offer all of this in a price range where the competition is selling generic shocks that were not specifically developed for your application and are made entirely overseas from low-quality components.
On top of all of this we offer the most comprehensive pre and post sales support in the business. No one spends more time with customers before the sale ensuring that you are ordering coilovers that best fit your needs. No one spends more time with customers after the sale to ensure that all questions are answered, everything is set up properly and you are happy with the results.
We are able to offer so much value for an affordable price because we are more efficient. We cut out all of the unnecessary middlemen. There are no wholesale distributors involved, and we rely on happy customers to do the majority of our advertising. Better ride quality. Better performance. Better longevity. Better value. Cygnus Performance X-1 Coilovers


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08-22 WRX and STi Rear Camber and Toe Correction

08-22 WRX and STi Rear Camber and Toe Correction

– Introduction –
For many people this is going to be the second most important suspension modification after a good set of coilovers and the most important supporting mod to go with their new coilover set. I know I’ve typed up a couple of replies to questions about this in the group, but I wanted to make an official comprehensive post. In this post I will cover both why/when adding aftermarket adjustment is recommended and the brands and components that I personally recommend using. Although they are not on our website yet I have also decided to start selling these components again after a long hiatus.

In the interest of keeping this post more concise I am going to assume that readers understand what camber and toe are. If you’re not sure what these terms mean an internet search for a quick illustration would be the best way of understanding it.

– When is Adding Rear Alignment Adjustment Important? –
Off the showroom floor these cars do not have rear camber adjustment. It’s important to note that this does not necessarily mean your rear camber values are very good off the showroom floor. Oftentimes these cars have pretty bad camber numbers even at stock ride height. Sometimes left and right camber are very far from symmetrical. Over the years I’ve sold many sets of rear lower control arms to customers who need alignment correction even though they have not changed ride height. When you start changing ride height matters only get worse. You pick up a pretty significant amount of static negative camber when you lower these cars.

When your rear camber values are too high/too low, not symmetrical or both you can expect accelerated tire wear, less than ideal handling and sometimes the car will even pull to the side on the highway. Aside from improving handling, adding adjustment if you need it typically will pay for itself pretty quickly by extending the life of your tires.

Adding rear camber adjustment is always a good thing provided that you are adding it with high quality components. Without it the rear camber values are pretty much guaranteed not to be perfect. The importance of aftermarket alignment adjustment for your car is going to come down to four main variables which are how far off your alignment was when your car was new, how much it has changed since, how much lower or higher than stock you’re adjusting ride height by and how you want to set alignment. Obviously there is really no way of definitively knowing how critical adding rear camber adjustment is until you get the car on the alignment rack, but virtually every single person who owns one of these cars will benefit from having adjustment at least to some degree.

– Ways of Adding Rear Camber Adjustment –
Unlike with the front of the car you cannot adjust rear camber via camber plate. Camber plates only work on MacPherson struts. We do offer rear camber plates on the older models that use MacPherson struts on all four corners, but because the rear is multilink on any 2008+ WRX or STi rear camber plates are not an option with any coilover set for these applications.

There are four main ways of adding rear camber adjustment. You can do it with adjustable rear lower control arms, adjustable rear upper control arms, eccentric upper control arm bushings or eccentric lower control arm bushings. In my opinion you can eliminate two of these options right off the bat because these bushing kits with offset tubes are more trouble than they are worth. They do cost a bit less than going with a full arm, but that is the one and only advantage. They have a very finite range typically only giving you about 0.75° of adjustment, they are finicky to adjust which makes getting the values you want and getting things symmetrical difficult, they use low quality urethane bushings that are a downgrade from the stock bushings and on top of all of that most alignment shops have no idea what to do with them and the ones who do typically charge you extra because of the difficulty of adjusting them which negates any advantage with price. They are a waste of time – don’t buy them.

This leaves full upper control arms and full lower control arms as the two viable options of adding rear camber adjustment. For the vast majority of people rear lower control arms are going to be the way to go. They are more accessible and significantly easier to adjust. They offer more adjustment range, and there are a lot more options on the market. In rare instances adding an adjustable upper control arm in conjunction with an adjustable lower control arm can be helpful to have better control of offset, but this is not going to be necessary or beneficial for most people.

– Additional Rear Toe Adjustment –
These cars do have factory toe adjustment, but when you add rear camber adjustment this factory toe adjustment is often insufficient. It’s an eccentric bolt with a finite adjustment range that was not designed to compensate for camber adjustment. A turnbuckle toe arm is the best way of adding additional toe adjustment. It’s easy to adjust, and it has plenty of range no matter what you are doing. As with rear lower control arms there is no downside to adding this adjustment as long as you go with a high quality toe arm. I also like to remove the factory eccentric adjustment when turnbuckle toe arms are added since it becomes redundant. A straight bolt that eliminates it makes adjusting things less finicky and greatly reduces the chance of anything slipping.

– Rear Camber and Toe Values –
I wanted to add this section just so readers understand that I am deliberately omitting this information from this post. Recommended alignment values are a long discussion and highly dependent on individual uses. I will make a future post that comprehensively covers recommended alignment values for specific uses. In this post I will simply say that while adding adjustment is always beneficial it becomes highly recommended if you have less negative camber than -1 or more negative camber than -2 or if rear camber is different from left to right by more than half a degree.

I should also point out that alignment values on pre-2008 WRXs and STis are not an apples to apples comparison with the newer cars. Dynamic camber characteristics have to do with how camber changes as the suspension is compressed (eg when you are cornering). The dynamic camber characteristics with unequal length double wishbones is superior to MacPherson strut dynamic camber characteristics. Because of this you need less static negative camber (the camber value when the car is sitting on a flat surface) in the rear of the newer cars than you did with the older cars.

– The Brands I Recommend –
As with any suspension mod the quality of the components you buy is absolutely mission critical. Just as with coilovers when it comes to lower control arms and toe arms low quality overseas made options can be very problematic and a big downgrade from stock. If you go with high quality components adding alignment adjustment will not be the only benefit that you experience. You will also end up almost completely eliminating unwanted movement and play in these suspension components. Less unwanted movement and play and better articulation will greatly improve suspension function. You’ll be able to tell what the car is doing at the limit, and handling will be noticeably more precise and confidence inspiring.

Some of you have been following my suspension tech posts for a long time. I have been making them in places like Nasioc since 2006 and for more than a decade here on Facebook. My opinions and recommendations when it comes to manufacturers are always evolving. As some of you have seen I am not afraid to contradict myself or change my recommendation if a product changes or if my own experiences and research provide new information. I am not married to any of these third-party manufacturers or suppliers. For the most part I can sell whatever I like which means that I sell what I recommend rather than the other way around. My sole interest is getting you guys the best possible results and value for your money.

With all of that said my recommendations on brands when it comes to these components have changed several times over the years, and recently they have changed again. For many years now my go-to recommendations for aftermarket control arms and toe arms have been Cusco if you’re not worried about budget and SPC if you want something cost-effective. Although these are no longer my top recommendations they are still a reasonable way to go and better than the majority of the competition.

Although SPC is still probably the best cost-effective option it’s a slotted sliding style rather than a turnbuckle style. This makes adjustment more difficult, and it significantly reduces adjustment range. A turnbuckle is a better solution. The problem with a turnbuckle is a good turnbuckle is not cheap, so if you want to spend $400 or less you don’t want a turnbuckle. If you have the budget for something high quality ($600+) a turnbuckle is always the way to go. Adjustment is easier, and you have far more of it.

I currently have three Subarus in my fleet which are a 2013 STi hatch, a 2017 manual transmission Forester and a 2020 Outback Touring XT. For years now I have been running SPL on the STi and Cusco on the Forester. These are my two favorite turnbuckle adjustable lower control arms. Cusco was my top recommendation simply because it has a sealed heim joint rather than an open heim joint like most of the other options. After seeing cheap heim joints make noise or fail completely I felt that recommending something that was sealed better served our customers who were daily driving. However, after many years of running these two control arm sets a recent incident made me rethink all of this. One of the Cusco heim joints failed. Upon closer inspection the seal was trapping moisture and dirt and doing more harm than good. I would guess that the seal probably did do its job properly for a couple seasons, but my American made SPL heim joints are still going strong. I do hit them with spray lithium once a year, but that’s not really a big deal.

The failed bearing alone is not what caused me to change my recommendation though. It was the solution to the failed bearing that was the bigger issue for me. Although I have not had to replace them, the high quality American made FK heim joints that SPL sources out of Connecticut only cost about $15 a piece to replace. They are very nice component that is Teflon lined and produces very little friction. The fact that you can get a high quality heim joint made in the United States for this price shows you how cheap these lower quality brands are being when they get something that probably costs less than $1 out of China. With Cusco it seems that you are looking at the typical JDM tax. These are $157.50 each to replace, and because they are made overseas having a quick replacement is not guaranteed. Admittedly I have no idea what it costs Cusco to produce one of these, but when I look at it next to the $15 SPL component that outlasted it I personally can’t figure out a good reason that it should cost 10 times the price.

Aside from my own personal experiences with longevity and ease of adjustment when compared to SPC and Cusco I like SPL because it’s CNC’d in the United States from 6061 billet rather than welded or stamped. They use a triple electroless nickel plated adjuster which has been totally bulletproof for me. They also give you multiple mounting point options for the rear shocks and end links which is nice.

They offer a turnbuckle toe arm that eliminates the redundant factory eccentric toe bolts which is always a good idea when you are adding a turnbuckle adjustable toe arm. As with the lower control arms these use components that are easily replaceable in the United States if you ever need anything which is a huge advantage over some of these other brands.

SPL is my top recommendation for both of these components. They also manufacture trailing arms, adjustable length end links and a roll center adjustment kit that is actually adjustable for different ride heights. The benefits of these other components is beyond the scope of this post, but I’m happy to help if anyone has any questions.

About a year or two ago we removed all of these supporting mods from our website. When it came to tech support I was spread too thin, and I wanted to make sure there were no compromises when it came to supporting our coilovers. Even if it costs me money I always want to run a business that I would personally be happy with purchasing something from which means a lifetime of real tech support before and after the sale. I decided that these supporting components are important enough that we really need to sell them with our coilovers. In the coming weeks we will be adding SPL back to our website ( In the meantime I’m happy to get anyone who is interested the best price on these components with free shipping and no sales tax to most destinations. Please feel free to PM me if I can help.

– Thank You –

If you found this technical post helpful please share it. You guys spreading the word is greatly helpful to me. It’s why I’m able to spend my time typing this stuff up rather than advertising. I will continue to do everything I can to get people in the Subaru community the best possible value and results with their suspension. Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions feel free to post them below or PM me 🙂👍



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Shock Oil Testing

Shock Oil Testing

Testing oil options for our Cygnus Performance X-1 Coilovers. We are simulating conditions that are far beyond anything that you will actually subject your suspension to. This video shows a shock dyno running continuously at 20 inches per second. We are torture testing several different types of oil for 24 hours straight. We constantly monitor damping force and temperature. After many different tests shocks are fully broken down. Components and seals are inspected. Oil is fully analyzed. This is only the beginning. Once all of our controlled lab tests give us some initial data we will run the oil in real-world conditions on actual cars that are driven on the street and on the track. Many of the coilover brands that cost well over $3,000 don’t do any of this. No one else does this at the sub $2k price range.⠀⠀⠀⠀
If all customers truly understood the difference between what we are doing and what every other shock manufacturer in this price range is doing we would sell every set of coilovers in this price range. No one else does this level of Subaru specific R&D. No one else uses high-quality European and Japanese internal components at this price point and virtually no one else builds and dynos coilovers in the United States at this price point. Proper suspension R&D, high-quality components and strict quality control will get you dramatically better results. Better performance, better ride quality, better longevity and better support. Cygnus Performance.
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Spring Rates

Spring Rates

There is no additional cost to customize spring rates on our Cygnus Performance X-1 coilovers, and unlike most coilover brands in this price range we actually valve your shocks to match your desired spring rates. The standard rates are the most popular choice. They do everything well. The standard rates are soft enough that daily driving remains comfortable and stiff enough that handling will be considerably better than stock with significantly less body roll. They are are also stiff enough to allow for a fairly aggressive drop in ride height. The default setup is a good compromise between all of these attributes, and it’s the most balanced setup. Coilovers are not a one size fits all product though, and that is why the custom rates are a no cost option.

If smooth ride quality for daily driving is a top priority you may want to consider softer spring rates. How much softer to go than standard is application dependent, but normally a 1k reduction in rate is sufficient. The downside of softening the rate is more body roll, but handling will still be considerably better than stock. If the best possible handling and minimal body roll are your top priorities you may want to consider going with a stiffer rate. There are many factors involved in determining how much to increase rate for the best possible handling. The stiffer you go, the harsher the car will be on a bad road for daily driving. The final thing to consider is front to rear bias which affects the overall neutrality of the car and whether it is going to understeer or oversteer.

Choosing appropriate spring rates is mission critical to getting the results you are looking for with coilovers of any kind. Whether you are going with our coilovers or one of the many other custom brands we offer, Cygnus Performance, takes the guesswork out of spring rates. We even guarantee that you will be happy with our rate recommendation, or we will sell you replacement springs at half cost anytime in the future. Don’t let a generic performance parts shop give you bad advice. Let Cygnus Performance, an industry leading suspension specialty shop, get you the results you’re looking for the first time.

***Addressing all possible scenarios with the various applications that we manufacture coilovers for is beyond the scope of this post. If you would like help choosing spring rates that best fit your goals please contact us. We have spent the last 15 years day in day out helping people with this question, and we would love to hear from you!***

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How to Set Preload

How to Set Preload

Setting Preload. This applies to all Cygnus Performance coilovers for all Subaru applications:
The preload values are 1/4″ front and 1/8″ rear.
In order to set preload you need to first loosen the lower spring perch which is the collar at the bottom of the spring (start by loosening the 5mm hex cinch bolt then use the included spanner wrench to loosen the perch itself). You want to make sure the spring is not compressed at all. From there measure the free length of the spring. It should be something close to 7 inches, but because of the way the springs are cycled at the factory it could be a bit shorter or even a bit longer.
Once you have this number tighten the lower spring perch until the spring length is reduced by the desired amount of preload. Tighten the cinch bolt. Preload is set 👍
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Monotube vs Twintube

Monotube vs Twintube

Anyone who is buying coilovers for their Subaru should watch the following two videos. One of them is less than a minute long, and the other is just over two minutes long. These three minutes and change will be more beneficial than hours of Facebook group research. There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing shocks, but one fundamental, critical thing to understand is the difference between twintube and monotube shocks.
The only real advantage with twintubes is the fact that they’re cheap to manufacture. Monotubes will outperform twintubes in pretty much every measurable way. Monotubes do not suffer from cavitation the way that twintubes do which means that monotubes are far more consistent. This gives you both better performance and a better ride quality. The piston diameter is much greater which makes the usable piston surface area almost three times the size in many cases. Greater piston surface area means more damping adjustment, and it also means that the engineers designing the shock are able to make it far more digressive which again means both better ride quality and better performance. Because a monotube shock piston directly touches the outer wall of the shock body monotubes shed heat a lot better which is a critical part of a shock absorber’s main job (converting kinetic energy into thermal energy). They also have significantly more oil capacity. Shock oil only gets changed every 30k-70k miles, so greater capacity really helps with things like shearing and viscosity index over time.
Recently I have seen a lot of people going with twintube options that are overpriced, don’t last as long, don’t perform as well, ride worse and have significantly less rebound adjustment when they could be buying something high quality and monotube for the same money. If you are planning on purchasing coilovers for your Subaru spend a couple of minutes and watch these videos. We offer everything from the best value for the dollar monotube coilover set for these cars to the absolute highest end monotube coilovers money can buy. Not many vendors or manufacturers are willing to have public technical discussions on shocks anymore which is a shame. We have built our reputation on getting customers better results for less money when it comes to suspension. Adamantly recommending monotube shocks over twintube shocks for the past 13 years is one of the ways that we have been able to do this.
Bilstein’s video:
If you guys have any questions about monotube vs. twintube or anything related to coilovers or suspension mods I’ll be glad to help here if you reply to this post, or you are also always welcome to contact me directly. 👍