How-To: Quick Shift Your Stick

Take full advantage of your shifter

The Honda Civic and its multitude of variants have become favorites of the import enthusiast community, and for good reason. Close inspection reveals clever engineering and mechanical systems that lend themselves well to upgrades.

The shift mechanism of the Civic family is a perfect example. Whereas other compact cars employ a cable-actuated shift mechanism, Honda chose to stick with a proven and sturdy rod linkage. This set-up has several advantages over a cable system. During aggressive use, cable-actuated shifters sometimes bind up, causing missed shifts or requiring the driver to double-clutch to get the car into gear. Though newer cable systems are less prone to this, rod linkages still have an edge in this area.The other advantage is shift feel. Rod linkages have a delightfully direct, mechanical feel. At idle, the shifter will often quiver slightly, a sign that it is positively connected to the powertrain. In contrast, cable linkages transmit almost no vibration or feedback through the shifter, the knob standing absolutely still at idle. In the fanatical zeal to rid modern cars of "noise, vibration and harshness," many OEMs have chosen cable mechanisms to isolate the cabin and driver from this feedback. More often than not, they do not consult the enthusiast community on these decisions.

Taking full advantage of the performance-oriented design of the Honda shifter mechanism, B&M Racing Products has produced a short-shift mechanism and shift stabilizer system designed to work with all Honda Civic variants from 1988 to 2000 models. The modular design allows the owner to select from three degrees of throw reduction: Street/Race, Race and Pro Race. This is accomplished through multiple snap ring indentations allowing the driver to locate the pivot point according to intended use and preference. The shift stabilizer system adds the option of three different shift lever placements, forward of the stock position, aft or right in the middle. Installation is straightforward, though you will need to be able to raise the car at least two feet and be able to safely maneuver underneath the car.

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