Posts tagged jbarone
(This isn’t going to be an in depth review or anything but I’d like to share my experience and opinion of the product)
I’ve been borderline ocd about the shifting of my car since the first day that I purchased it. At first I replaced the shifter bushings with some aluminum ones, this resulted in a much more stern feel of the shifter during shifting. The mushy feeling was pretty much gone and the gates became more predictable. I also replaced the transmission fluid with some synthetic Motorcraft XT-M5-QS in hopes of ridding the cold temp gear grind (which worked according to plan but now I have a noisy LSD on cold mornings while turning). It only made sense to finally get something to reduce the shift throws in which I had a few options:
- Short shifters: A few different notable products: COBB, who I heard had stopped making them. TWM, probably the most popular of them all. And some cheaper alternatives from RKM and what have you. They’re all pretty expensive for what they do ($200+) but that seems normal for almost all aftermarket parts. Besides the price, my biggest gripe with these is the fact that they’re a shorter shifter. I personally LIKE the height of the stock shifter on the ms3 and going any lower means I can’t lazily rest my elbow on the nice, soft, leather compartment thingy between the 2 front seats. Wtf are those called anyway?
- Short throw shift plate: A new alternative. I’m only aware of 2 products: Jbarone and JSpeed (sorry I don’t have a link). I guess there’s been a lot of drama involved regarding which is better, by how much, etc. as documented in this thread. These STSP (Short throw shift plates) work by moving the connecting point of the shift linkage closer to the pivot point, thus reducing the shift throw. For me, the pluses of this solution is the lower price and the fact that I can retain the stock height of the shifter. As it stands, I purchased the Jbarone STSP from a MOCC group buy.
Jbarone prides himself with quick service and I did receive the product quickly. The items were well packaged even though I can’t imagine what can damage a thick, heavy steel plate and a glorious steel cube (well, almost) in transit. Perhaps they were padded so they would not damage other packages in the shipping process but whatever, it’s fine by me.
The instructions were plain and clear, I didn’t have to follow a good portion of it since I no longer have the stock airbox, but it really was a no brainer. Nevertheless, it was nice to have something to follow along that doesn’t assume the user is knowledgeable enough to fill in the gaps (I’m el newb extraordinaire). The package also included some red loctite and grease, which was awesome since I honestly don’t think I have ANY grease anywhere. The actual installation itself was very simple and straightforward, I’d say the hardest part of the process was removing the 2 bolts that held the stock shifter weight… that shit was tough to get out.
Short!! I wasn’t sure if I liked it at the beginning because it was SO different than what I was used to before, but after a few minutes I was really digging it. Shifting from one gear to another was kind of surprising since I expected (I guess out of habit) the shifter to “go” a few more inches and there’s that moment of “Oh wtf happened? Why won’t it go into gear??” then you realize that it IS in gear and that you are awesome and sexy (also the stsp was doing its job). It takes a little bit more effort to shift but that is expected due to the shorter throws. I wish I had some more driving time with it but during the 30 mile drive home I enjoyed the up shifting while entering the freeway and didn’t really come across any major problems.
One thing that I noted though was getting it in 1st gear was sometimes a bit finicky, I experienced this before the stsp install but now it seemed to be more noticeable. It usually works if I move it back into second then side to side a bit before trying again. Jbarone has a tutorial on fine tuning the mazdaspeed 3 shifter that I will try. I’ll post the results later along with another impression after giving it more drive time.
Overall, short throw + stock shifter height + cheap = all smiles. Oh, and I had a lot of extra grease left over and I was finally able to grease my driver’s side door hinge that was making a slight noise. And I still have some left over! Yeah baby, GREASE!
So after about a week of driving I figure I’d update this post. In short, I’ve gotten used the difference in throw travel and I’m quite liking it. What I found out is once you know just how much force it takes to shift from one gear to another it eventually becomes second nature and it shifts great. If you apply too much force or too little, it tends to not fall in as smoothly. This is obviously the case when you use it for the first few times after an install. Take my word for it, give it some time and learn it… no, FEEL IT. You’ll be happy once you do.
On the topic of “force”, I also found out that the amount required to shift from one particular gear to another is not constant. In my case, shifting from 5th to 6th seems to be somewhat of a workout. Again, I suspect that given enough time I will get used to it but as it stands now I’m often caught by surprise when 5-6 requires that extra oomph. It’s probably also worth mentioning that I HAVE NOT fine tuned my shifter whatsoever. JBarone has a great tutorial video on his site that you can use to fine tune it.
So overall, I’m very happy with the product. I gave it a quick once over in the weekend and everything was still firmly secured (whew!) and felt solid. If you’re looking to shorten your shifts, definitely give this cheaper alternative a try!
Oh, and to address my initial concerns of it being hard to get into 1st gear… I think it’s a case of user error. I was too used to quickly shoving it to 1st from neutral almost diagonally. I guess for some reason this works with it stock. With the STSP installed, I just needed to make sure I swing all the way to the left first THEN up. Hasn’t been a problem since