© 2013 Stewy Bryant wisefabthumb

WiseFab: My thoughts

I must get asked a few times a week on my opinion of the WiseFab kit, and until this point I have had my theory, but no practical knowledge besides physically seeing the kit in the flesh. On the weekend I was given a drive of Cam Moyles S13 which used the WiseFab setup kit, so i got to feel a bit of what it could do, the layout wasn’t ideal for testing it’s big entry capability, however i still had a bunch of fun.

First things first, it’s a good bit of kit looking at it, there are a few bits i look at and wonder how they hang in there, and i may have done it differently, but in practice they seem to work fine, and no major breakages yet. The one weak link of the kit is the offset rack spacers, in Australia many of us came to the conclusion many years ago that these were a shocking idea, and shouldn’t be anywhere near a car. However some still use them, and WiseFab, i’m sure out of simply having no other alternative, has used them too. Cam had issues with these the first time after testing, and soon cut and shut the cross-member to move the rack forward and ditched the offset spacers, more time intensive, but a much better solution.

One of the things my setup and the WiseFab have in common is they both relocate the upper strut mount point, however in opposite directions, mine is designed to work with roughly 7-10 degrees caster angle, with the tension rod longer than standard (ie. decent caster with low bind), whereas the WiseFab kit is designed to reduce the caster angle quite a long way, then use caster trail by relocating the spindle to provide wheel return. The lack of caster angle the WiseFab produces decreases camber gains at steering angle, basically it keeps the wheels flatter while you’re at opposite lock. The net effect of this is larger amount of grip and a more efficient use of the tyre.

If there’s one thing anyone knows about setting a drift car up, it’s how important balance is, ultimate grip becomes irrelevant if the car doesn’t balance right through a corner. For me, when setting up a drift car, i find the rear grip is always the hardest place to pull grip from in accordance to the balance, most drift cars are way too oversteery, generally due to a lazy driver who doesn’t like to move the car enough to induce oversteer. Usually for me, getting enough front grip is usually a matter of simply having a half decent tyre with 26-34 psi, so i rarely go to much effort to chase ultimate grip at the front as the rear is usually the weak link.

More important, is how the front grip works at different points in the car’s movement. Put a decent tyre on the front and you’ll get a fairly consistent increase in grip at most points during the car’s movement (to a certain degree), however play with the car’s geometry and the gains and drops can be insanely drastic. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

The WiseFab kit effectively lessens the drop off of grip you get from the front as you dial in lock, and the wheels camber over onto the shoulders. So the grip you get from the front is fairly consistent from turn in, to small amounts of lock, to large amounts of lock. As opposed to the typical setup where the grip tapers off a lot with steering angle (not taking ackerman angle’s effect into account). However the issue is as any car gets more sideways, the oversteer bias becomes greater, the rear is more vulnerable, hence why at high angle, any steering or throttle input slightly too strong causes drastic over steer to the point of spinning. To counter this, it can help to have a front end which loses grip the more angle you get.

The WiseFab kit uses the tyres very well mid corner, and with the tyres we were using, gave it fairly good control moving it around with the front tyres. However personally i prefer to run a setup with better tyres and a setup which tapers its front grip off the higher the angle the car gets. This allows for more turn-in and low angle grip, without having too much frontal grip at the high angle stuff.

The other issue with having so much mid-corner front grip is how positioning the weight and grip in the car differently, changes how the car pivots, and where it pivots. As you bring the grip to the front of the car, the car tends to pivot around the front tyres as opposed to closer to the middle of the car, meaning the rear end needs to swing around further to create the same angle, it’s a little hard to understand without images and diagrams, which i might draw up another time, but this lends to slow transition and initiation time, creating poor “snap”. It’s hard to know exactly how much is attributed to that, and how much is to do with the low caster angle setup, but there are many outside contributing factors like damping, spring rates, chassis’ etc etc as well which would have effected this particular car this time. However watching videos of others using the setup, it does mesh with my experience as well. Personally big angle isn’t really all that spectacular if to get there, the car was very lazy in it’s movement, i prefer seeing car’s snap to big angle and maintaining it.

Having said all that, most people do not realise exactly how many issues there are when chasing an extra 5-10 degrees of lock over the usual knuckle designs on the market, the issues at least double in numbers, and for anyone to overcome these as well as WiseFab has done takes a lot of work. The kit seems to work great at achieving what it seems it was designed for, it allows huge amounts of lock with very little or no bind, and fairly smooth operation. They overcame a lot of issues very few had tackled before, and there are some great design features which have got people thinking, so from that perspective i take my hat off to the WiseFab crew for making something different.

I guess the question i ask is what was the kit really designed for? I found it was definitely enjoyable to drive, although i’m not sure where i’d use the lock the WiseFab allows you to use. I definitely enjoy driving with the kit, it works well, makes it damn hard for you to spin, and feels very controllable mid corner. It certainly makes it easy to cover your mistakes as a driver, and drive with more confidence knowing that you can cover those mistakes. However personally i don’t build my cars to cover my mistakes when i’m driving at my worst, i build them to allow me to go bigger when i’m driving at my best, so it doesn’t really mesh with me and my driving style, however each to their own i guess.

One last thanks to Cam Moyle, really enjoyed skidding his S13 and hope to chuck him in mine soon, and maybe have another go at his S13.

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