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S1 Suspension

January 2002

Lotus use Bilstein for supply of the S2 shock absorbers resulting in Koni halting manufacture of both the standard and sports shocks absorbers for the Elise S1. However the Koni (UK) still ask Koni to make them up in batches as required, since there is still a market for these parts. Standard shocks are 84 inc VAT each front and rear and LSS shocks are 160 inc VAT each front and rear.

Overview

The Lotus Elise has double wishbones with single coil springs over monotube dampers all round. It also had Lotus patented uprights of extruded aluminium, made by Alusuisse but in the sports and later standard models these were replaced by conventional steel uprights to improve operational lifetime. The ride height of Elises seems to vary by a noticable amount. The ride height is adjustable to a certain degree. The Elise Sport 190 has competition springs and dampers which are fully adjustable and lower the cars ride height by 50mm from standard.

The front damper design was changed recently, as were the front and rear springs and new damper mounting brackets (to accomodate the bigger spring). These new springs raised the ride height sligthly and are softer than the old springs. New rubber anti-roll bar mountings were also recently introduced and these also make the suspension softer.

Noises

On early models the suspension was noisy. Lotus have been reluctant to admit to the problems but have made new dampers and springs available to owners that have complained enough (see the problems section). The latest cars seem are much quieter in comparison. There are three main causes of suspension noise:
  • The anti-roll bar mountings have been assemble dry, causing a light tapping noise. This is easy to fix with some thick grease.
  • The springs touch the damper body causing a 'cow bell' noise over bumps. The service manual states that the front and rear road springs were changed to barrel shaped springs to reduce the possibility of the spring fouling the damper body. Also, an upgrade only means new springs (but not new dampers) and a revised top mount for the rear.
  • Damper knock caused by trapped air in the dampers resulting in a sound like someone hammering on the floor. This requires new dampers.

Upgrades

There are lots of suspension upgrades for the Elise and the following list is in order of perceived performance based on comments and reviews from lots of owners:
NitronRemote siteNitron are well known for their suspension upgrades on the Elise and they are definately preferred upgrade. I'll admit that I'm biased though. I've got Nitron springs and dampers on my FuryRemote site
LedaThe Leda suspension seems to the the preferred option on the Elise. It is cheaper than the Lotus Sport item, fully adjustable, can be rebuilt if required and are easy to adjust. List price is about £875 (inc VAT) + fitting. It can be bought on-line from Race Speed.
LotusKnown for their excellence in suspension design, the sports suspension uprated springs and dampers don't disappoint. Allows the ride height to be adjusted. Cost £620 + VAT.
Harvey-Bailey EngineeringSell a steering rack and suspension upgrade kit for the road going Elise at £1375 + VAT. This was reviewed in the motoring section of the Electronic TelegraphRemote site.
H R OwenThis basic spring and damper kit is set up by H R Owen but allows the dampers to be adjusted quickly for road or track use. Lots of very favourable reports on this kit. They cost £1500 including fitting and VAT.
Motobuild Racing Sell a SPAX RSX suspension kit. Aimed at those wanting to uprate thier suspension for fast road use and also whilst using thier car for the occasional track day. If the car is dropped anymore than 25mm from standard in can be fairly impractical, with current road conditions, speed humps etc. Costs £475 + VAT for four shocks with adjustable platforms and adjustable damping, plus four springs and a pair of 'C' spanners.

 
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