Which springs and ARBS?

Hi All,

This is my very first post (ever) on any forum. Some of you may question how I’ve managed to avoid it but that is a discussion for elsewhere!

I have a 1996 MK1 1.8 and I have been fiddling around since buying in spring this year. It failed the MOT on rear shocks and discs so I have been using it to learn on. To date I have swapped out all four shocks for KYB AGX’s, changed the back discs and refurbed the calipers all round (being exasperated by the state the rears were left in by the previous owner). It has had braided brake lines, a proper roll-bar (of unknown parentage) from Paul Sheard and new alloys, toyos and alignment from Tony at WIM. All in all it was a lot of fun round the Nurburgring in September and managed to beat my mates in an MR2 and a BMW 325 both pushing 180bhp - obviously it was the driver[;)]

Anyway - I left the stock springs on when fitting the AGX’s, partly down to a lack of money and partly because they looked in reasonable condition. Now, however, I’d like to uprate the springs so the car is lower and firmer so I can really stay planted round the bends. I’m also thinking of uprating the ARB’s.

I have read bits and pieces here and there but no definitive views on a number of springs. The Eibach sport springs on MX5Parts seem to be the most expensive but have reasonable reviews and drop it 30mm which is the max I would like as I think It would be impractical to go lower. However, I’ve seen some reviews on Eibach’s saying they sag (admitedly it was from 2005 and not sure which model they were talking about). The spax springs on Moss look ok too but, again, not really heard anything about them. Obviously P5 do the FM springs for bigger bucks and MX5 Mad have racing beat ones.

I’d really appreciate any advice on this issue - particularly good/bad experiences with Eibach or Spax as well as any info on which ARB’s to go for. The choice here seems to be more limited as not many places sell them. Any good places to buy also much appreciated!

Thanks in advance for your help!

The Flyin Miata springs from P5 are an option £189

The Koni Lowering springs are cheaper…I have a full Koni setup and cant fault it. £114

Mx5 parts trim springs £96


ARB split a lot of people most tend to keep the originals as the gain is minor compared to the cost of purchase

If its top handling you want the big Job that makes a real difference is the Bushes…



Consider Tein S-Tech springs (Tein UK, eg TDI,Graham Goode etc); last time I looked, they were £100 plus VAT, but I suppose like most things, the price has since increased. The ones sold in the UK are the progressively wound “Medium”. In Japan, Tein also sell linear “soft” and “hard”. Generally the Japanese go for firmer rear springs than Europeans.

On AGXs though, any lowering spring will bring about a more jittery ride on backroads, due to lack of rear shock travel. FM top mounts supposedly help in this. I went for Mk2 Puredrive shocks/springs on a Mk1 instead.

ARBs; can have a major (bad) effect on handling, especially the tubular bars. Moss sell them I believe. For the unwary, they can result in a car in the ditch, as the tyre comes off the rim (flatter cornering, but sometimes a snappier break away). A refurbished rear bar off a 1.8 S-Spec might be interesting; its actually a tad thinner than stock.

Everyone has different opinions, I have tested at least 20 set ups and have found that:

 AGX’s can’t control strong springs except on their max settings so if its a road car (and you want any degree of comfort) forget FM springs.

Eibachs and most other lowered springs are too low 12" F 12.5 rear on AGX’s (AGX’s have slightly lower platforms than std).

The MX5 parts trim springs aren’t a bad compromise (but nor is cutting a coil off std ones).

Any drivers who say that 12" isn’t too low either have race suspension or drive on smooth roads. At 100mph+ on a bumpy road the car will get thrown several feet on AGX’s (even with FM top mounts) so bear in mind how you drive and how those giving advice drive.

 TBH having now sold my Koni shocks and tested several at 3x the cost I think the Konis were the best overall compromise.   :frowning:

 I love my FM ARB’s too I find the car easier to place and control albeit that a pro driver on a circuit may be slower with them fitted. I can throw the back out easily and find it very communicative (on 195 Toyos)

 I really liked the FM solid ARBs on my car with the standard springs (Mk2).  Handling balance was very similar to stock but cornered much flatter.
However, when I went to stiffer springs (P5Puredrive), the FM bars were just a bit too stiff although my fastest sprint times were when I had both FM bars and P5 Puredrive!

Hello Alex,  And welcome.
The answer really depends upon what you require as an end result to suit your driving style and abilities.
I run a MkII 1.8SE and once the original Bilsteins wore out I looked around for suitable equivalent, or better, replacement.  The result of this was that I contacted Derek at Absolute Shocks at the time his company was in its infancy.  We chatted; he had nothing specific to MX5s and as a result we did a development programme with GAZ.  The result is the Absolute Shocks GAZ kits that are available from many of the better known MX5 parts suppliers.
The suspension on my car is the third GAZ development set. Springs are 21/4 coil-overs at 340lbs front and 295 lbs rear. (Much like the TEIN springs). Ride height is set at 127mm from spring ring to centre of lower loop. It runs at 31.5 cm front and 33cm rear. (wheel centre to wheel arch) ARBs are stock Mazda SE items. For my own personal use I have the shocks set at 15 clicks from ‘soft’ front and rear.
In order to tighten up the handling further I also had a full Flying Miata butterfly brace fitted by Performance-5. Phil and Steven’s work really improved the handling.  The P5 suspension kit wasn’t available when I purchased GAZ otherwise it may well have been a ful P5 set-up.  The alignment was carried out personally by Tony of Wheels-in-Motion.
 The handling for road use is superb - flat, tight and very fast
response. On B-roads it’s a treat.- but potholes are avoided as much as
 I can personally recommend all of the above to put a smile on your face.