Tuning A C5 Or C6 Corvette’s Suspension For Higher Performance

When the C5 Corvette hit the market, it was an instant success. Chevrolet had its sights on competing on the world circuit and invested a lot of time and technology to make it competitive. The C6 generation simply carried those improvements further by subtle tweaking and tuning, along with a nice infusion of power.

Many of those same technologies contributed to making these cars easily drivable on the street. By now, many C5 and C6 Corvettes have proven their street credibility, racking up miles in the triple-digits with ease. They have also proven quite capable for autocross and track duty. With the odometers rolling over like a casino slot machine, it’s easy to imagine many of these cars are due for some freshening up of their chassis components.

C5 and C6 Corvettes have accumulated many highway miles, as well as carved an amazing number of corners on tracks and autocross courses around the globe.

Of course, many enjoy how their Corvettes served them over the years and replacing the necessary components with factory units suits them just fine, thank you. For everyone else who refuses to let the world pass them by, especially on the track, RideTech has you covered. It now offers highly-adjustable suspension packages that allow your C5 and C6 Corvette to go further, faster, and safer than ever before.

RideTech offers the Touring Package (Left), which provides enhanced handling and performance for street driving and occasional competition. The Track Package (Right) is just that. A package put together for those who are serious about competition, and wish to have the ultimate tunability to make their car as fast as possible.

There are basically two packages — one for touring, the other for serious track duty. The Touring Package, brings many of the benefits of the Track Package, save for the lower stance and negative-camber tunability that comes with using RideTech’s Track 1 Modular Spindles. The Touring package also deletes the Track Package’s coilover shocks in favor of using the stock or aftermarket transverse leaf springs along with RideTech’s single-adjustable shocks. While designed to improve your Corvette’s handling significantly, the Touring package is engineered for those folks who likely won’t be doing much track duty with their Corvette.

For the others who seek an opportunity to wring out their C5 and C6 Corvette to the fullest, RideTech’s new Track Package suspension system for 1997-2013 Corvettes is just the ticket to put more distance between you and the rest of the field.

Picking A Level

Upgrading the handling of your C5 and C6 Corvette as a package deal brings many benefits beyond just carving a sharper corner. RideTech’s handling packages are engineered as a system, allowing each of the components to work at optimum levels for their desired use. Each package offers improved handling and several added benefits to enthusiasts looking to tune their Corvette’s suspension precisely to their driving style.

RideTech's packages feature Delrin bushing kits for 1997-2013 Corvettes and 2006-2013 Corvette ZO6s. They are engineered to supply the necessary rigidity to keep the suspension true, but also allow enough axial movement to allow for adjustment.

One of the ways enthusiasts can tailor their ride and handling is by including some upgrades available from RideTech. As mentioned, the Track Package differs from the Touring kit by adding RideTech’s innovative spindles and coilover shocks. RideTech even has a helpful coil spring rate calculator on its website. Beyond that, there are other options available to owners seeking even more performance.

Customers can also upgrade from the monotube or coilover HQ shocks to RideTech’s TQ Series shock system, which uses a remote reservoir connected with a 30-inch braided line for easy installation in a variety of installation applications. The TQ shock series offers both high-speed and low-speed compression adjustability, in addition to rebound adjustments. The high-speed adjustment allows tuning for rapid changes in suspension loading such as quick directional transitions in autocross competition. It also allows tuning for impact harshness during street driving due to encounters with potholes, speed bumps, and other road irregularities. Low-speed adjustment allows tuning for ride quality, as well as cornering characteristics for typical road course and winding-road use.

The Touring Package comes with monotube shocks (Left). The Track Package eliminates the leaf springs for HQ Series coilover shocks (Middle-Left). Enthusiasts wanting the ultimate in tunability can opt for RideTech's TQ Series shocks that feature an external reservoir and high- and low-speed compression tuning (Right).

While RideTech’s Track 1 Modular Spindles are designed to use either the C5 or C6 hub assemblies your car already has, another potential upgrade for enthusiasts would be to order RideTech’s upgraded C7-style hubs. These feature longer, ½-inch lugs in an improved hub design.

Innovation Built-In

When re-engineering components from a clean slate, the only limiting factor is the room allowed for certain components. RideTech met this challenge head-on by digitally scanning the underside of C5 and C6 Corvettes to ensure precise fitment and clearance to digital tolerances. The resulting 3D-image scans were imported into CAD software. Once RideTech’s engineers knew where things needed to be, they began stuffing all the available space with the most value and performance possible.

Ridetech places sway bar rate at the same priority level as spring rate. It’s that important. -Steve Chryssos, RideTech

The Track 1 Modular spindles are constructed out of CNC-machined, 7075 T6 billet aluminum, which is stronger and lighter than 4130 Chromoly. Another benefit is the improved geometry for severe-duty, thanks to relocating the upper ball joint and raising the hub location to effectively lower the car one inch without affecting the suspension’s geometry. The modular design of the Track 1 spindle also allows for a level of tuning not available with the stock spindle assembly.

RideTech's Track 1 modular spindles are designed for severe duty and tunability. They can utilize the factory hub and parking brake assembly, or customers can upgrade to RideTech's heavy-duty hub assemblies. RideTech also offers camber plates for those customers who wish to keep the OEM camber setting.

Another ingenious engineering detail which puts more tuning power at the hands of the end-user is found with RideTech’s Musclebar sway-bar system. Keen-eyed readers will note there is no fitting on the outer ends of the rear bar to mount the endlinks to the chassis. That’s because RideTech recently revisited its Musclebar line and found several ways to bring even more value to one of the most cost-effective upgrades available for any vehicle.

RideTech’s Musclebars are CNC-bent on a large-scale CNC tubing bender which produces sway bars with unheard-of dimensional accuracy and bar rate consistency. Each bar is shipped with its exact rate, so there is no guessing. From there, customers can fine-tune their bar’s rate specifically for their driving style with their particular vehicle.

Why such an emphasis on tuning? RideTech’s Steve Chryssos sums it up pretty well. “Ridetech places sway bar rate at the same priority level as spring rate. It’s that important,” he says.

RideTech invested in digital scanning equipment and CAD-controlled benders to ensure close tolerances and fit-repeatability for each of its MuscleBar sway bars.

To ensure a Musclebar’s rate isn’t hindered once installed on the vehicle, each Musclebar uses Delrin-lined, frame-mount bushings. These allow easy and predictable rotation of the bar as compared to the “stiction” resistance of polyurethane or rubber. Innovative thinking is found on the outer ends of the bars as well. The front bar now utilizes investment-cast, steel rod ends instead of the typical hammered-flat style of link.

Handling fanatics will really enjoy RideTech’s new rear Musclebar. It features a new, infinitely-adjustable endlink mount that allows the end-user to adjust the rate of the Musclebar. Sliding the endlink mount inward (further from the end of the bar) provides a higher bar rate. Starting at a minimum of 400 lb/in with the link flush with the end of the bar, the bar’s rate increases to 500 lb/in with the mount slid one-inch inward and 775 lb/in with the link slid three-inches inward.

MuscleBar sway bars have investment-cast steel ends for the front and adjustable endlink mounts for the rear. Adjusting the rear mounts inward increases the rate of the bar.

While there are several check-boxes available to customers while ordering suspension upgrades for their Corvettes, RideTech also conveniently included options for the end-user to tune their car’s suspension precisely.

Installing The System

Thanks to the accuracy available through digitally scanning the underside of the cars, all RideTech components are designed to fit and bolt-on using factory fitments. Upgraded fasteners are used when necessary, and there is only one area that requires mild trimming for installation. Due to the weight of the car now suspended by a coilover shock instead of a leaf spring, the beefy upper mount of the rear coilover shock requires slight trimming to allow it to fit into the factory opening.

The upper, rear mount needs slight modification for clearance of the shock's upper mount. The shocks bring increased levels of tunability to the car's ride and handling and RideTech has a handy coilover spring rate calculator on its website so customers can tailor the spring rate to suit their needs.

The upgraded bushings for the upper and lower control arms require the removal of the arms for installation. We suggest marking the adjustment cams on the control arms so you get the alignment as close as possible for the drive to the alignment rack. If you are upgrading to the Track 1 Modular spindles, keep in mind that the upper ball joint has been moved outboard slightly to allow for more negative camber. You will need to include RideTech’s Stock Camber Kit if you wish to keep the stock camber adjustment.

This is also the time to remove the springs (if using the Track package) and take out the sway bars. When removing the springs, use caution, as there can be a lot of stored energy in the springs, even with the suspension unloaded.

Tuning It All In

Once everything is installed and aligned for your intended use, there are still several options to make it all work perfectly together. As mentioned, you can adjust the rear sway bar attachment points on the endlinks to tailor how much the bar resists body roll. You can also adjust the shocks rebound and compression, depending on which kit you purchased and how they are being used.

Shock Tuning 101

RideTech has a great guide on tuning each of the offered shocks and offers some general information when adjusting shocks:

·       The rear shocks have the most influence on ride quality.

·       The front shocks usually have a much firmer setting all around than the rear because the front shocks “see” twice the weight.

·       The front shocks will generally need three to four clicks of adjustment change in any direction to be felt.

·       The rear shocks generally need two clicks of adjustment change in any direction to be felt.

Adjustment settings and shock-valving can only get you so close to the perfect settings for your application. Once you’ve double-checked all fasteners and input the initial settings to your suspension, then you’re ready to take on the open highway, and/or the apexes, to feel out the fine-tuning. That’s when all of the efforts become worthwhile and the fun really begins. After all, if having fun driving your Corvette isn’t what got you into the hobby, you likely didn’t read this far anyway!

Article Sources

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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