Project E39 M5: Part 3 - Installing and Adjusting KW V3s

by Martin Gonzales

In this latest installment of Project E39 M5 we will be outfitting our M5 with a set of KW V3 coilovers. We will not only be giving you our usual evaluation, but will also be spending some time explaining our basic theory of basic shock adjustments. It's no secret the grand majority of the MotoIQ staff are huge proponents of KW Suspensions' products. Either from personal experience in their own cars or from simply test driving one of our KW equipped project cars. I fell in the latter category. 

Like any other long time car enthusiast, I have gone through the trials and tribulations of choosing suspensions. I've also played the dollar game and come out on the losing end by not getting the performance or longevity I wanted from my purchase. Upgrading the suspension on your car is not cheap and there are a lot of options. The decision you make will have a dramatic effect on the handling and dynamics of your car, so it is very important to have clear goals and the right expectations.

The goals for our E39 project are to tame the weight transfer it exhibits, while not sacrificing too much of its daily driven ride quality. With wheel and tire upgrades in our project's future. ride height adjustability would be important. Ride firmness tolerance varies tremendously from one person to the next. What some may find comfortable and sporty feeling, some may find harsh and unbecoming of a luxury sedan. I tend to like a sportier ride and are willing to give up a little more on the comfort side for extra cornering performance. So with that in mind, shock adjustability is a must. 

The KW Suspensions Variant 3 coilovers offered and claimed to meet all of our goals and expectations. Height and ride adjustability in a quality durable package. The V3's feature all weather durability like no other coilover by having a body machined from stainless steel.  With a reinforced composite spring perch, seat corrosion and sticking of the ride height adjusters is something that simply doesn't happen, even on rust belt salted roads.  This stainless construction enables KW to have the confidence to offer a lifetime warranty. 
The front coilover assembly is a complete replacement of the OE McPherson strut assembly. The new strut mount and hardware is provided by KW and it all comes completely assembled. No parts to replace, refresh or put together while you're in there. The front V3's come with a tender spring that provides constant preload on the main spring which helps reduce the chances it will make noise.  The tender springs also help the tires maintain contact with the pavement on the non loaded inner side of the car under cornering. This enhances grip, particularly at the rear wheels.
The rears on the other hand will require some assembly and re-use of a few parts. The upper spring mount shown here is one of the new OE mounts we chose to replace our old and worn upper mounts with. 
With our suspension decision made, and a couple of new OE parts in hand, we were ready to install our new suspension hardware. We will be taking our Project E39 M5 to our favorite local BMW shop for the work: Pure Performance.
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Monday, August 17, 2015 10:09 AM
Why havent more companies released a remote electronic adjustment setup like TEIN has offered for years and years? I dont adjust mine every day or anything but its nice to push a button and have it go to twisty backroad mode and back to soft when I'm done.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, August 17, 2015 12:18 PM
EDFC shocks are single adjustable. The adjustments mostly affect rebound. In my opinion having independent adjustability of compression and rebound is a huge advantage when tuning.
Monday, August 17, 2015 3:37 PM
I feel like a good suspensions setup should be set it and forget it. I don't like the multi-mode new suspensions. You can't change spring rate so what's really the point?

When I had my Accord on Koni Yellows/Neuspeeds, it worked absolutely brilliantly. I set the shocks a click past soft and they worked phenomenally on NYC (!!!!) roads. To this day the best balance of handling and ride I've ever experienced. Frost heaves were non existent but turn in was crisp. I loved that setup and am hoping to replicate it on my Civic.
Monday, August 17, 2015 7:23 PM
Always like KW installs, such a good value for the features of the coilover. I like CTK's input too, it is possible to have a non-adjustable setup that works well. With careful valving, selection of spring rate, and a decent quality monotube you can have something that doesn't need adjusting. Further dialing in can be done with sway bars and alignment.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, August 17, 2015 8:29 PM
Koni Yellows have little low speed control and feel primitive compared to modern dampers. Having damping adjustability is very important. Shocks are weight transfer capacitors and being able to adjust them has a huge effect on how the cars balance and transitional behavior is as well as ride. The damping adjustment
is important regardless of spring rate. It's is not so simple as X spring rate needs X amount of rebound damping and you are set.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 1:08 PM
Konis are definitely archaic. What is your opinion of a bilstein monotube damper? We have had good success valving them as a budget minded solution for a wide variety of conditions. The pistons give a nice digressive curve that can build alot of low speed whIle blowing off well in the high speed for ride comfort and resistance to jacking down.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 11:04 PM
I agree on the Bilstiens. Just non adjustable
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Tuesday, September 26, 2017 1:57 AM
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