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S1 SteeringWithout a doubt one of the first things to hit you when you first drive an Elise is the steering and it's ability to communicate the road surface and tyre traction to you. It is one of the defining characteristics of the car. The standard Elise steering wheel is a Nardi 320mm diameter wheel and leather coated. The wheel is mounted offset slightly upwards to provide improved leg room. The horn switch is the centre hub.
Quick Release Steering WheelLotus sell a Motorsport quick release steering wheel (approximately ©400) to provide improved access and some people use this as an additional security device. The down sides to this are that it usually gets left in the boot and someone may also steal the steering wheel if left on. A lot of owners have had problems with poor horn contacts on these quick release wheels.
Demon Tweaks and Motobuild also sell Momo and other quick release wheels. They can be even smaller (300mm or 280mm diameter) and are less expensive. Don't forget that a smaller wheel will make it harder to see the Stack pod.
Demon Twees also sell the Lotus badges to replace the Momo one, should you want to.
Steering RackThe standard Elise steering rack is a rigidly mounted rack and pinion rack with 2.8 turns lock to lock. The steering rack on the S1 and S2 is a modified motorsport rack normally used in a number of single seat racing cars. The modifications include a new casting which extends one side of the rack housing, to make the rack handed rather than centre take off. The rack gear itself is also longer.
When Lotus first developed the Elise they used an 8 tooth steering rack pinion, which reportedly was preferred by the more enthusiastic drivers on the design and development team. However, there was always some debate as to whether the steering was too quick for the average Elise driver, and under pressure from senior management, the pinion was changed for a 7 tooth just prior to the car's introduction. Raceline sell the quicker racks/pinions, with 2.45 turns lock-to-lock.
Lots of owners have have problems with the rubber gaitors failing, resulting in prematurely worn steering racks. There have even been a few cases of catastrophic failure. The steering rack is generally prone to wear and can result in slack in the steering system. Reconditioned racks are the favoured replacement due to cost.
Lowered ride heights will require the steering rack to be repositioned (higher) by removing the rack fixings from the front of the footwells, drilling out the pop rivets retaining the standard (5 notch) rack height setting plates, and fitting new (10 notch) plates (part no. A111H0021F). The rack fixings should be refitted using a suitable thread locking compound, and torque tighten the M8 bolts to 27nm, and the M10 bolts to 45nm.
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Copyright © Rob Collingridge 2009 - Last updated 28 Mar 2002