14. Short shift kit + double shear selector rod + modified clutch delay valve
It had been some time since I had the idea of acquiring a short shift kit. I found that the stock shifting experience, if better than in my previous E46, still was not optimal. I was looking for a shortened throw, slight reduction of notchiness and in-gear slop. What's more, the OEM clutch delay valve annoyed me as it was almost impossible to engage the clutch properly when shifting through the gears quickly.
I therefore did some research on what was available, and first stumbled across the short shift kit from the BMW Performance line. It had the advantage of being OEM material and generally favorable reviews of users who had this kit installed. However, I wondered if there was not something more sophisticated on the market - and it was not long before I learned about the short shift kit from UUC Motorwerks
. While reading on their short shift kits and double shear selector rods (DSSR), it became clear to me that they had invested quite a lot of research into their products and had considerably improved the stock shift lever and linkage. Their new short shift kit is called "Evo 3" and boasts 35% reduction in shift travel (100mm from 3rd gear to 4th gear total travel) if stock height is retained (the height of the shifter is adjustable, another plus), and down to over 40% when height is adjusted to the short end of the adjustment range. Also, 100% CNC-machined 303 stainless steel and 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum is used in construction, and not mostly plastic like the OEM parts, while the design still absorbs vibration via the rubber inner section.
Now, what is the DSSR mentioned above? I came across this particular piece when reading on UUC's website. You can find all the details under this link on the UUC Motorwerks homepage
, but the main issue is that one significant wear area that has never been addressed is the wear and ovalization of the linkage connection points at the transmission and the shifter's lower pivot. In the original BMW design, the connection at both ends has a large injection-molded plastic bushing, which wears over time and results in additional slop and loss of precision. To permanently fix this, a change in the fundamental design of the pivot is required, changing the assembly to a double shear system that redistributes the torsional forces from the pin/bushing interface to the complete face area on both sides of the selector joint.
Even though I'm by no means a technical expert, the explanation sounded reasonable to me and I thought it to be a good idea to have the DSSR installed at the same time as the short shift kit, in particular as UUC had a package deal going on at the time I ordered both items. Currently, they're available for the 135i, 335i and E9x M3 at a price of 355 USD for the SSK and 129 USD for the DSSR. I find that price to be quite reasonable, as it's still less than I would have paid for the BMW Performance SSK and seemed to be superior in quality to it.
Now, what about the clutch delay valve (CDV)? It is there to minimize stress to the drivetrain by increasing the engagement time of the clutch, i.e. pretty much prevents you from popping the clutch. In fact, it's mainly there to keep warranty costs down for BMW - and if you know how to drive a stick and how to properly engage the clutch, it should be removed as quickly as possible. This results in a more natural clutch feel and enables you to shift through gears more quickly and efficiently, as the engagement of the clutch can be timed correctly.
I ordered the SSK directly from UUC, together with the DSSR and got a good package deal including shipping to Europe. Everything arrived rather quickly and nicely packaged. Here's a photo of it all when I got it:
I do not have any photos of the installation procedure, unfortunately. I had it done again at my favorite installation shop Daum Motorsport
who told me that the SSK was easy to install, but that the DSSR necessitated some more work and was more complicated. If you would like to know more about the installation procedure, please see Former_Boosted_IS' excellent review and DIY
The CDV was also quite easy to install. I went with a modified CDV that looks just like the stock one (you can also just take it out entirely), as I wanted the modification to be as stealth as possible. I got it from (the now defunct) Riss Racing, but you can also order it here on the ar design homepage
. Here's what it looks like:
When I got the car back from the garage and took it out for a drive for the first time, the difference was remarkable. The shifts were noticeably shorter and much more precise, you almost had the impression of having another gearbox, and the UUC DSSR improved the lateral slop. Although the lever is not completely locked in place, the improvement is really considerable. The UUC short shifter height suited me perfectly just how it came from the factory, and it centered just right on my car for neutral.
When driving it for the first time with the SSK and DSSR, I have to say that this is one of the best modifications I have made so far, because you feel it every single time you drive your car. It has a bit the same effect on me as the active steering, which is also something that has immensely improved my driving pleasure on a daily basis. - Some weeks later I had a rental car for some days (as other modifications were done to my car), and when I got back into my car again it was really surprising - you really don't realize how bad and long the shifts on a "normal" car are until you get an SSK. I really feel it connects me better to the car and it's much more fun to change gears quickly and precisely. Also, there is no gear noise whatsoever in the cabin from the shifter at all.
The absence of the CDV is also noticeable, even though it's not an as drastic change as some have reported it to be. I can time my clutch engagement more precisely now, and do not have the feeling that the car does not really do what I want it to do - I feel more in control of the clutch.
Problems / disadvantages?
I noticed a slightly more notchy feel when engaging gears every once in a while, but it is very minimal and happens in particular when the car is still cold (which happened a lot during the past winter months). The effort it takes to change gears is very, very slightly increased, but it's something you get used to very quickly and it doesn't bother me at all.
Due to the modified CDV it is of course now easier to damage the clutch. But as I've driven manual transmissions all my life and do not intend to drag race my car anyway, that is not an issue that worries me.
All in all the SSK, DSSR and CDV are modifications that I can recommend without reserve and which I believe will increase anyone's driving pleasure considerably.