There are many opinions on the topic of S2000 performance suspension upgrades ranging from mild to wild and encompassing a variety of different views and experiences. Let us first discuss the ability of the factory Honda S2K suspension. The S2000 suspension is a very competent and well designed suspension right from the factory. The factory S2000 suspension setup is a well rounded purposeful built compliant design for a wide array of street, sport, and mild racing duties. The matchup of the S2000 suspension settings for the spring rates and dampening gives a confidently stable feeling to the driver, with a predictable balance for most situations encountered during street duty. Driver steering inputs are quickly converted through related suspension components into directional motion giving the S2000 that desirable quick steering feeling, with a reasonable amount road feedback subtle in less than bumpy situations. When it comes to wet road handling the S2000 suspension is also very capable and stable providing you do not get to aggressive with your choice of tires.
The Honda S2000 also has a well engineered braking setup consisting of four wheel disc brakes with 11″ plus rotors at all four corners, assisted by vacuum assisted servos, giving a nice balance between the feel and assist of the system, and utilizing an ABS system and very good braking balance for an overall efficient braking system. The heart and soul of the Honda S2000 suspension and its ability to perform go beyond the bolt on items provided by the factory and their ability to perform, yes I am referring to the underpinnings of the car.The new S2000 unique body and frame created by the Honda S2000 engineering team. The race inspired thought process behind the S2000 chassis created an extremely well balanced and incredibly rigid frame utilizing additional bracing and cross bracing, beefier cross members, complete with a four wheel double wishbone suspension, anti-roll bars, which allow for the hanging of the coil-over spring dampers (mono tube shocks), further the weight distribution achieved is at or near the optimum 50/50 ratio between the front and rear of the vehicle, truly racing balance from the S2000.Considering just the rigidity of the chassis design coupled with the weight balance and four wheel double wishbone suspension you know the Honda S2000 was designed, engineered, and born to be a thoroughbred in the performance world.
Some factors worth considering
We took a very brief look at the research, development, and engineering that has gone into the creation of a truly capable handling production model sports car the Honda S2000. Given the capability of this car why would I want to change the suspension, or its components…there are many reasons one may consider upgrading their S2000 suspension components to high quality performance suspension components, we will contemplate a few of these reasons and the impact they may have on your Honda S2000 and it’s suspension, and handling ability. Let’s start off with a common and very basic scenario: My S2000 looks cool, but my friends S2000 has performance springs, is an inch lower, and looks way cooler, I want to lower my S2000 but do not want to sacrifice my S2000 handling ability.
In this scenario there are many opinions regarding lowering springs, and their effects on your S2000 suspension and handling performance. First you should consider the mileage, as the effective lifespan is likely 30K-40K miles, and beyond this range your springs have effectively lost their ability to perform at their original rates. Given this if your Honda S2000 is above 40K miles than by replacing your original springs with a spring owning a relative spring rate to the factory spring will actually improve handling, however remember every time you alter the weakest link you create a new weakest link. Having said that if you replace your worn factory S2000 springs with a set of aftermarket performance springs with a 1″ drop (no more) you can keep within the geometry limits of the remaining factory components and effectively lower, and improve upon your S2000 handling. Do remember though, that this will likely also shorten the lifespan of your factory dampers, and that the current wear on all your other suspension components, bushings, is not being addressed.
Next let’s look at a braking scenario: I race my S2000 in the local “Time Attacks” and am extremely hard on my Honda S2000 brakes, my factory rotors are warped, and I am looking to upgrade them as they need to be replaced anyways.
In this scenario the owner is likely racing with the factory setup, and rightfully wants to upgrade the factory brakes. It is not mentioned if the rest of the factory suspension is still intact but if it is, this may contribute to the reason why the owner is so hard on the brakes. If the dampers, control arms, and relative bushings are in optimum condition, and the alignment is properly setup, and functioning correctly than the brakes, are likely the only component in need of replacing, however if this is not the case then likely by upgrading the brakes the suspension will feel more controllable, but that will be due to the increased braking ability, not the complete ability of the suspension to function at its maximum capability, or to be tuned for changing environments, not enabling the full potential of the upgraded performance big brake kits ability to actually be experienced by the driver because of the lack of performance of the worn factory suspension.
o Said S2000 has worn and damaged braking components in need of replacement (highly dangerous)
o Appears this S2000 has a worn factory suspension, and will require suspension upgrades.
o Factory S2000 suspension components lack the adjustability desired for racing.
o This S2000 brakes are in need of replacement, and should be upgraded with quality race proven and capable performance brakes.
o When entering your S2000 in competitive motorsports the suspension requirements should be addressed along the the braking needs.
o Consider how upgrading your S2000 suspension will aid your racing requirements, and what components will give the desired effect if you are not going to upgrade your entire S2000 suspension.
o Look at the springs, and dampers (coil-overs) on your S2000 and your comfort , and technical prowess for adjusting basic or complex suspension components…more basic = less adjustable.
o Assess you current control arms, ball joints, tie rods, end links etc. then decide if these components need to be replaced and what level of adjustably would you prefer for your suspension.
o Consider the size of rims you have on your S2000 as to buy a big brake kit that will fit your wheels.
o When using adjustable suspension components on your S2000 for racing make a baseline spreadsheet after your suspension alignment has been set, then note the effects of the adjustments you make to your new performance suspension upgrades, and how your S2000 suspension reacts.
Now a drifting scenario: I have entered my Honda S2000 in a few drifting competitions at the beginner level but my suspension seems to be too compliant to unload the tires properly, or give me the feedback I require to compete (it hooks up too well).
In this scenario the S2000 is being raced with the wrong suspension geometry in mind, the stock suspension is meant to be an all around performer, giving a high level of cornering ability, traction, and stability to the average driver, all while providing tolerable ride quality, thus providing a suspension that is not adjustable enough, or stiff enough to annihilate the tires at will. The Honda S2000 in question could probably be lowered, and would likely benefit from a more adjustable suspension with stiffer springs, to relay a more direct power output to the rear wheels, all while maintaining control during the overpowering of the tires. To accomplish this, consider installing a set of aftermarket coilovers (likely the dual adjustable variety), matched with control arms, a big brake kit, and properly matched tires, should help to give the desired effect. With these changes to the suspension , of course the alignment should be properly setup, and a baseline achieved for future tuning of the newly capable installed performance suspension components.
o Lack of adjustably of factory S2000 suspension, not allowing the S2000 suspension to be tuned for drifting.
o S2000 suspension too soft for drifting, the S2000 suspension
is working just not properly for desired environment.
o Consider the compliance of the existing S2000 suspension and focus on how to stiffen and adjust your S2000 suspension.
o Improve your S2000 suspension drifting ability by forcing the tires to the ground, while still having the rebound, dampening ability your S2000 suspension needs for control.
o Upgrade the brakes on your S2000 for the stopping power you will require with a drifting S2000
o Evaluate all suspension components for upgrading, from the basics of your S2000 suspension (springs) to the more intricate S2000 suspension components like dampers (coil-overs), and control arms.
o Install new springs, dampers, control arms and brakes(with associated components) onto your S2000 suspension, creating a highly tunable S2000 suspension and a drifting terror to be reckoned with.
o Proceed to enjoy the newly found ability of your Honda S2000 in any and all local competitions, or just cruising the local boulevards.