Friday, 28 October 2011

Handling improvements: Yokohama A-Drive R1 205/45/R16 and brake upgrades

In this post I will share with you my feedback about the recent improvements done to TakBolehBlah on the handling aspect. This post is mainly for my own notes to do further improvement next time but I do not see any harm sharing it on this blog. Expect less or no technical review as I have no proper tools and procedures to conduct such test so this review will be mainly based on my driving feeling compared to before (stock setting). Here is some details about the review made to give that this review was done in various conditions, dry and wet, high speed and low speed and mountainous road:
Review duration: 16/10/2011 until 28/10/2011
Review location: Banting - Penang - Kulim - Penang - Banting - Kerteh (total of 1300 km)

Now let's start with review

Yokohama A-Drive R1 205/45/R16 - RM260/piece (price on October 2011)

I've installed the tires first as the old Continental is badly worn out and the grip was not so convincing especially when attacking Karak highway at high speed. The tire screeching is obvious and the car's tail went out a bit on tight corner. I have decided to change to slightly wider tires (from 195 to 205) and the grip is improved a bit thanks to the slightly wider surface contact area on the road. Usually new tires need some time to 'rub-in' before they can give optimum grip on the road. Two days later I straight brought my car for a trip to Penang and I must say the grip is just as good as good ol' Continental rubbers but with added confidence when braking. This was proven when I need to suddenly brake from 160 km/h to 60 km/h to avoid highway maintenance worker who wanted to cross the highway! Thanks to the ABS and EBD on my Neo, the new tires manage to stop the car efficiently compared to the old rubber. Be advised that the brakes were stock at that moment as the upgrades were done a week after the tyre change.

Yokohama A-Drive R1 205/45/R16

I also managed to test the tires during my stay in Penang. Balik Pulau - Teluk Kumbar road with numerous sharp bents and hairpins really put the rubber to test. The road condition was wet all the time and the rubbers had no problem coping up with the aggressive driving. The tires managed to compensate the fading brakes (and cracked disc rotors I later found out) and any understeer can be easily corrected by stepping more on the gas and the tires will provide the traction needed.

Tread condition after about 1300 km

Water evacuation is better than the old tires, I guess the aggressive looking thread really serve for purpose. It was raining most of the time during the review period and the tires shows little or no aquaplaning on wet road. When driving through the puddle at high speed, slight loss of traction was felt but the steering response is still predictable.

Tread pattern of Yokohama A-Drive R1

During Kuala Selangor - Banting trip, I switched car with my dad to see how the car perform on new tires and upgraded brakes. I was driving his Waja CamPro 1.6 and I can see he confidently weaving through the traffic at high speed. It gives the sense of confidence to weave through the traffic thanks to the better grip by the tires as Neo itself is recognized as car with good handling. On my way back to Kerteh, I managed to test how the tires behave at high speed. While not being a quiet tire, the noise is lower than the old tire so it provides better comfort. At high speed of 180 km/h, the tire really sticks to the tarmac and I am very confident to whack the car at 180 km/h at most part of the highway. The only fear I have when driving at high speed on highways is the other driver who change lane without giving proper warning. Other than that, this tire is really worth the money and I am very satisfied with the performance.

Good price for good performance

Brake upgrades review

The upgrades consist of better brake pads for both front and rear, steel braided brake hose, complete flushing of new DOT4 brake fluid and new front disc rotor to replace the cracked old rotor. For complete list of the items used, you may read here.

The first impression after changing the brake system is it eliminates the spongy feeling when braking before. The brake feedback is more direct and linear now, it feel more convincing to brake now. The new brake pads can withstand higher temperature now and the 'numb' feeling when braking hard is now eliminated altogether without putting to much stress on engaging the ABS and EBD to put the car at complete stop.

Bendix Metal King Titanium brake pads in action

The linearity of braking also allows more precise brake work when attacking corner at high speed especially like those found in Karak - Bentong highway. The car is more forgiving than before when I entered the corner at slightly higher speed. The car turns well by lightly tapping on the brakes to correct the cornering angle. Previously, I cannot really predict how much should I brake due to spongy feeling when braking. The linear or direct feedback from the brake pedal to the brakes is contributed by the steel braided brake hose that retains its shape under high pressure from intense braking. Compared to the rubber hose, it will expand a bit before the fluid reaches the brake caliper hence the spongy feeling.

The dust generated is just the same as compared to the old stock pads. But considering that this is a performance brake pads, it is still better from the stock brake pads that performs worse than the performance brake pads but generating the same amount of dust. As for me, dust is not really a big deal as the my wheels themselves are grey in colour so the dust is not that obvious.

Minimal dust even after spirited drive

All in all, this brake upgrades really complement the safety features that are equipped with this car for the money I've paid. The system can react better to the driver and provides more accurate feedback to the driver. I really recommend this upgrade to the Neo owner as the chassis itself is heavy and the car is slightly under-brakes for the engine performance it offers. Yes, you can always drive slowly but that's not the purpose of this car. To really appreciate the car, you have to put your foot down on the accelerator and drive. Safety and handling improvements are often neglected by drivers when modifying their rides. As for me, no point making the car run faster if it cannot stop properly when needed. Again, I would say the money well spent on this upgrade. :)