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Old 09-20-2004, 04:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
Prowler
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Default Korbach Frame Locks

I was recently in contact with people from Korbach about testing their newly released frame locks. There's been quite a bit of debate on this new product as to whether it lives up to the claims posted from other testers on Honda-Tech and ClubSi. So I decided to test the frame locks for myself.

If you're not sure what frame locks are, pick up the September Honda Tuning article. There is a 6 page review and description on them. Also, check out KorbackPerformance.com for details.

First off, here's a picture of the product.



They come in a very nice foam case, each piece fitted in its own precut slot. Presentation gets an A+.

The instruction manual is also very high grade. Pictures of what to do, and also what to avoid doing duing the install, make this install the most straight forward I have ever done on a car. I only found one step that was vague (which holes to drill to which size), but the pictures helped enough. Otherwise, the only benefit I could see to adding to the manual would be having it in color.

I'm not going into how to install the product, as that is what the instruction manual is for. Also, plenty of other reviews walk this through in great detail. Why be redundant?

I will share some pictures to show the finished product.




Install was ~1 hour. It took me longer since I had to purchase a longer extension for my socket wrench. This also would have been a nice note to add to the manual before starting.

The forethought for the shadetree mechanic being able to install this item is excelling. Breakaway pieces where the bolts go have pilot holes so you will get everything centered just right. No room for someone to claim they weren't sure if the frame locks were installed correctly or not. It's idiot-proof. On places where you can't hold a nut in place to tighten the bolts, Korbach supplies the nuts on a stick so you can reach the nut where it needs to go. And everything lines up perfectly.
For example, where you see the black square and the hole:



You drill this hole to fish the nut on a stick behind the frame to the middle of the frame lock. Otherwise there's no way to get the nut behind the frame. It's works out perfect.

So the install is easy and straightforward. All you need is a drill (if cordless, make sure to have two charged batteries as you'll go through them drilling), a basic socket wrench set, and torque wrench.

Now to the testing. I have heard many varied claims from Korbach and other reviewers. For example, Korbach claims:
Quote:
* Lateral stiffness is increased
* Understeer is virtually eliminated; you’ll feel as if you’ve achieved a 50/50 balance between your car’s front and back end
* Turning is responsive and precise
* Onramp cornering is improved
* A more unified structure will eliminate excess front-end vibration
* A sturdier structure will reduce the effects of engine shake
* High speed driving feels smoother and more in-control
* Potholes will lose their unexpected jolt
* The harsh ride you get from lowering your car and stiffening your springs will disappear
I've bolded what I noticed as a difference. The main advantage is the tighter steering. On my test drives, one road I took was called Spiral Highway. Imagine the highways people drift on in Japan. It's very similar. I did a run a few days before the frame lock install and then immediately after the install. I could take the wider corners quite a bit quicker without feeling like I would lose control. And to put in perspective how I pushed my car, I did lose control once. It was a hairpin recommended at 20mph (according to the highway sign) and I couldn't hold it at 60mph. Otherwise the whole trip of switchbacks could be taken at ~55mph during 20-25mph recommend corners without grip loss, whereas before I would start to lose control 45-50mph. That may not look like much of a difference, but losing grip at 50 and being very solid still at 55 is a good change.

Steering goes where you point the car. No more little adjustments I was used to in taking wide, fast corners. Where the car was pointed, it would go.

The framelocks also reduce harshness while driving. A few reviewers said they saw day and night differences immediately driving in town. That is quite an exaggeration. Hitting potholes and railroad tracks doesn't shake nearly as much, but daily driving still is going to be unaffected. You still feel bumps in the road. Another review said wheel hop was eliminated in burnouts. That is also false.

Unfortunately, the framelocks did not remove any wheel shake at 70mph.

Other claims I've seen is the 50/50 weight distribution feel. This was much more noticeable adding a rear tie bar into the equation. My first two rides on Spiral Highway with and without the framelocks did not include a rear tie bar. The third trip did, and it helped keep the rear end from swinging out as much. Now if the frame locks multiplied the effect of a cheap eBay tie bar is yet to be deteremined.
So in conclusion. the frame locks work fairly close as to how they're described. I believe a ride quality difference would be seen much more so on a stock suspension.
The current selling price for the frame locks is $195 until October. Normal retail through Korbach is $250. I paid $70 and believe it is worth every penny now having driven on the frame locks for 5 days. Would I pay $200 for the frame locks? Yes. They've given me more noticeable improvement than $150 strut bars have. Is it worth the normal asking price of $250? Yes, if you can afford it. It may look like some simple pieces of metal, but until you see the engineering into these pieces you cannot appreicate them fully.

For reference and to answer other random questions I think will be asked:

What is my car setup?

1998 Honda Civic Ex 4dr 5 speed D16Y8
KYB AGX adjustable struts
Neuspeed Sport springs 1.75" F 1.5" R
Neuspeed front strut bar
eBay rear tie bar
Speedy Lite 6 17x7 wheels (16lbs)
Hankook Ventus H405 205/40/17 tires
1 degree F 2.7 degrees R camber

Are framelocks available for my car?

They're only available for 96-00 Civics, but I know other models are under developement.

Am I paid off for this review?

No. The guys at Korbach were really stressing to be as critical as possible in the review. And I was. Plus, you can trust one of your critical HondaSwap.com moderators to not feed you any bs.

How do the framelocks work?

Here is a quote from David Lawson, an engineer for Korbach Performance:

Quote:
WHY THE FRAME LOCKS WORK
Frame Locks quickens the steering response by increasing the lateral (side) stiffness of the front frame. Visualize a car going into a sharp turn. As this occurs, the road surface exerts a lateral load to your front tires at the tire patch. In an extreme turn your tires will want to scrub out to the side. The lateral load of the tires will translate a lateral load to the suspension which in turns translates a lateral load to the front frame. The front frame of the car will flex and the time it takes to flex will result in a lagged response of the steering. Although the time it takes to flex may not seem to be significant. In actuality it is. For example at 40 mph, a vehicle is traveling at 58 feet/second. The simple calculations are as follows: [40 miles/hr x 5280 ft/mile] / [60 minutes/hour x 60 seconds/minute]) = 58 ft/sec. If stiffening the front frame results in a reduction of flex time of even 1/10th of a second, that translates to 5.8 ft of vehicle travel which is significant.

The Civic is great car and the rigidity of its chassis is above par for it’s price class. However, it was not designed by the OEM to be a high performance car. That’s why there is a huge after market industry to cater to driving enthusiasts wanting more out of their Civics.

The front lateral stiffness of the Civic has a lot of opportunity for improvement. It is by far the “weakest link in the chain” for chassis design. The current architecture relies on the lower radiator support to transfer the lateral load from the left front rail to the right front rail. Since the lower radiator support is at a lower elevation than the front rails, the load path takes a zig zag and that is a very inefficient structural design for high performance expectations. A close look at the lower radiator support will also indicate that the fore aft section thickness is quite narrow. Because of this, it does not yield that much stiffness when loaded laterally for the rails. Ideally the way to efficiently transfer the lateral load of the right rail to the left rail is to do this on the same plane. It just so happens that the bumper beam is at the same plane. Unfortunately, the attachment stiffness to the frame rails is very weak. This is designed in this manner to reduce cost and ease the assembly to assure fit and finish. High performance cars have stiffer attachments in this area.

Basically, the Frame Locks unifies the entire front chassis by effectively tying the front rails together. Professional race cars also have stiff chassis and they do so for this very reason. It’s not always about the suspension. A high performance car also needs a stiff chassis to make the suspension work effectively.
If you have any questions, please post them and I'll try to answer to the best of my ability.
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Old 09-20-2004, 04:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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good review. makes me interested in maybe getting this. nice write-up!
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Old 09-20-2004, 04:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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my only concern with these frame locks is that in the event of a front end colision, the bumper that is made to bend and crush is going to transfer some of the force to the frame possibly causing or increasing frame damage.

I've also read that it may cause the airbags to fasley deploy. I don't know how much truth there is behind this.

but otherwise I would buy this product. I've only read great things about it, even in honda tuning.
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Old 09-20-2004, 06:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This is from the legal disclaimer on their website

Quote:
) Körbach Performance has researched, developed, designed, and tested their products for safety including, but not limited to, valid vibration testing for false air bag deployment. I understand that not all real-world driving conditions can be simulated, and I assume all liability with the purchase and/or use of any Körbach Performance product.
http://korbachperformance.com/#
you do need to understand a new company needs to legally protect itself. but they did do testing, which i've read on honda-tech about. it was fairly intense.
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Old 09-24-2004, 07:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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does anyone know why these wont fit the EG's? I was under the impresion that under the skin the differences are minimal to non existant and that if one wanted to swap an EK front onto an EG that it was a relatively painless job. If they perform as advertised, this IS the greatest thing since sliced bread!! LOL! no, seriously, any ideas?
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Old 09-24-2004, 08:31 AM   #6 (permalink)
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nice write up. ive read about these thing in a mag. a couple months ago but want the hear other opinons first before getting them... thanks for the info
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Old 09-24-2004, 08:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DseriesScience
does anyone know why these wont fit the EG's? I was under the impresion that under the skin the differences are minimal to non existant and that if one wanted to swap an EK front onto an EG that it was a relatively painless job. If they perform as advertised, this IS the greatest thing since sliced bread!! LOL! no, seriously, any ideas?
even in the front end swap you need to swap the radiator support. there's probably a small difference like where the bumper support sits. even though the two cars are very similar. the frames are not the same.
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