Improving the Handling of Your Ride (Part I)

Attack those corners with lesser roll and greater confidence.

Handling problems have constantly plagued drivers of high performance vehicles who wish to achieve better lap times and improved handling characteristics from their rides. Regardless if you're into drifting, drag races or time attack, predictive handling from your vehicle would allow you to perform at your best and outshine your competition.

Common problems faced by drivers of all types of vehicles would be body roll. Body roll can be described as the car leaning towards the outside of a curve due to the centrifugal force acting upon the car, and load transfer. Body roll interferes with the control which the driver has over his vehicles and one must wait for the car to finish leaning before he can fully judge the effect of his steering change. Such an occurrence would add to the delay before the car moves in the desired direction as well.

There are several factors which causes body roll and similarly, several solutions that one can take to reduce this unwanted roll. For a start, a good handling upgrade to counter body roll that is easily available regardless if you're driving a Japanese, Korean or European ride, is a set of coilovers.

A coilover is an automotive suspension device, short for "coil spring over strut" and consists of a shock absorber with a coil spring around it. Damping, ride height and spring rates are all customisable to suit your driving style. A higher center of gravity would result in increased body roll hence by lowering the ride height of your vehicle through the use of coilovers, you can expect to feel an immediate reduction in body roll.

As the factory suspension of most rides is setup with comfort in mind, they are designed to absorb the bumps of the road surface. In such a setup, softer springs are used for greater levels of comfort for the passengers. However these softer springs will result in increased body roll. Coilovers, which are designed with performance in mind, have harder springs which cope better with load transfer when going through a bend and in turn, reducing body roll.

Anti-roll bars, as their name suggests, also aid in reducing the body roll of a vehicle. An anti-roll bar forms part of the vehicle suspension system by connecting the opposite wheels and increasing its resistance to roll in turns. Through its stiffness which is based on the thickness of the bar, it is able to resist body roll motions and in turn allow for better handling of the vehicle.

Now that we've dealt with body roll, the next installment shall explore the other handling improvements you can make to your ride.

This article is written by Leow Julen, contributing writer for Top Gear Singapore, and Samuel Kang, editor for Rev magazine.


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