I have finally gotten to the bottom of my shifter search. After installing and driving with three different aftermarket shifters, I've settled on one, and I'm not looking back. In my book, the Ripper is the way to go.
Whereas I thought that the stock shifter in my Z06 would suffice, I now know it belongs in a school bus. The throws are way too long for this kind of car, and the shifts are not precise. Yes, the stock shifter shifts easily, but it is not ideal for this (or most) sports cars. I have a Hurst in my '93 Cobra, and knowing what that did for shifting in that car, I figured my Z could benefit from a shifter, too.
The shifters I tried out were the Kirban, Corvette Concepts Quickshifter, and the B&M Ripper. My review goes something like this:
*CC's Quickshifter -- Essentially a stock C5 shifter that's had an inch or so (of the threads) lopped off, and a space-worthy lubricant added to it. (It comes with a C5 Concepts-style ball knob (with the crossed flags design etched in it.)) It's designed to perform better than the stock shifter, with shorter throws, while not compromising ease of use or noise. (No adjustable stops.)
*Kirban -- A machined billet shifter with heavy square base. Approximately as tall as the CC & Ripper. Same thread pattern as stock. Designed for quick shifting and durability. Stops are adjustable using two wrenches.
*Ripper -- Anodized base shifter w/hardened stainless steel stick. Same thread pattern as stock. Handsome blue base and shiny silver stick (though this shouldn't matter much, as each will be covered). By far the best looking shifter. It's designed for quick shifting and durability. (No adjustable stops.)
*CC's Quickshifter -- Installation is straightforward, as everything from the base to the bottom of the threads is essentially stock. There is no need for additional insulation, boots, etc., as all of the factory material is intact on this shifter. The directions could use more specifics, like the amount of torque to put on the bolts when tightening. (Factory bolts are reused.)
*Kirban -- This shifter comes in two pieces, requiring you to use two bolts to mount the top shifter stalk to the base-mounted stick. It is not clear which is the "front" or "back" of the shifter base (perhaps it doesn't matter), and Kirban doesn't tell you on which side of the base stick to mount the top shifter stalk. Since one is mounted to the side of the other, the shifter can either be toward the passenger seat (away from you), or toward the driver's seat (closer to you). Again, this may not matter, but it's not clear, and it should be made clear. Also, because of the tall height of the shifter base, Kirban includes longer mounting bolts -- but says that they "may be too long," and so you should check to see how far down into the housing they go, and that you shouldn't over tighten them (but that you should use washers to adjust their depth instead). In my opinion, it is absurd to include bolts that "may be too long." Kirban should get this squared away in their R&D lab. Also, the stock black plastic "cup" that's to be reused on the bottom ball of each shifter did NOT sit snugly on the Kirban, but rather had some slack around it, as if the Kirban's ball was slightly smaller than the others. Finally, the stops adjustment directions were not very clear, and I wondered if I had performed the adjustments properly after following the directions.
*Ripper -- Instruction are straight forward, and easy to follow. The shifter comes with a boot and boot retaining ring along with the necessary hardware. Installation was as easy as the CC's, but with better directions.
*CC's -- This shifter does exactly what it's designed to do. It provides stock-like shifting with a shorter stick, which makes things much nicer than stock. However, the throw is shortened only by the distance the now-shorter end of the stick has to travel, NOT because the gates have closer stops. There is no noise whatsoever associated with this shifter. Shifting feel remains a bit vague. Overall shifter effort is light.
*Kirban -- This shifter felt notchy from the start. It was very difficult to get the shifter into first gear. 2nd-to-3rd shifts were a breeze with its centering mechanism, but knowing you had to go through 1st to get there made the experience bitter. Also, this shifter transmitted the most noise from the tranny tunnel. As far as the throws go, the Kirban can be shifted very quickly, as the front-to-rear-to-front travel of the shifter stick was very short. Once slotted into gear, the stops felt very positive. Overall shifter effort is quite firm.
*Ripper -- This shifter allows quick shifting with a positive feel. Going into reverse took some getting used to due to the tough centering mechanism. This shifter had the firmest side-to-side centering mechanism (it's down right difficult to move the stick from side-to-side), though that firmness does not impinge on front-to-back-to-front shifting. The throws are extremely short with this shifter (perhaps just a hair shorter than the Kirban). This shifter "clicks" nicely into gear. I did not have any problems getting this shifter into 1st gear. 2nd-to-3rd shifts are effortless, just like with the Kirban. Overall shifter effort is quite firm.
VALUE (without getting into actual prices of each):
*CC's -- This shifter was the least expensive of the bunch. Then again, perhaps it should be, as it's basically a modified stock unit. The knob is quite nice, but could be purchased separately from CC or another vendor, and will probably have little to do with your reasons for purchasing this unit. Perhaps cutting your own stock shifter yourself would be the most efficient way to achieve similar results.
*Kirban -- This was the most expensive of the shifters, though I don't know why. Perhaps the fact that Kirban is not as large as B&M lends itself to having a higher price on this shifter. Whatever the case may be, the quality of the shifter does not appear to be any greater than the Ripper, and so it shouldn't warrant a higher price tag on that merit. Furthermore, I'd have liked the shifter to come assembled and for there to be no concerns about bolt length for the higher price. That, and I would have liked the higher price to be associated with it performing better than the other shifters, though it did not.
*Ripper -- This shifter was literally a few dollars more than the CC's shifter, making it the best value of the group. There was clear attention to detail with this shifter, and the fact that it was as cheap as it was is just great.
I feel as though the CC's shifter may be in a league of its own here, as it isn't an originally designed unit, nor does it use tougher springs or tighter stops. It doesn't seem to try to do what the other shifter do. Rather, it just makes shifting more pleasant, and perhaps a bit quicker due to its shorter shaft. The distance your arm has to travel to shift with this shifter feels shorter than with the stock shifter, but not by a huge margin (the rearward gears -- 2nd, 4th, and 6th -- are still quite a distance). But then again, if you prefer a stock-feeling shifter that's short, has no noise/vibrations associated with it, that provides a better shifting experience than the stock shifter (and you don't want to get into cutting your own shifter), then this is the shifter for you. I didn't choose to keep this shifter, but not because it's not as good as the others. It's simply different from the others, and that doesn't make it bad at all. If the Ripper turned out the be as tough as I heard it would be, I'd have kept this shifter in a heartbeat.
The Kirban did not sit well with me at all. The facts that it was the most expensive, came in two pieces with mediocre directions, and was just as firm as the Ripper (I was lead to believe that it would not be) put me off. That, and the fact that it was noisy and didn't slot well made it so that I quickly took it out of my car. For me, since this was the first shifter I tried, I decided that I'd rather keep the stock shifter than put up with the Kirban's shortcomings.
Now, some people like the Kirban a lot. It DOES have short throws (and some of the other benefits I mentioned), but if all things were equal (the Ripper and the Kirban are in the same category as far as their intended functions -- but they're not equal), then it makes no sense to get the Kirban over the Ripper.
For me, the Ripper is the way to go. It's relatively inexpensive, is strong as heck, shifts quickly and firmly, has no slop in the gears and stops, and feels extremely positive (I can feel the gates in my hand before entering them -- and even then, I can shift with a flick of my wrist). Again, side-to-side movement of the shifter is very stiff, which may be disconcerting to someone at first. But actual rowing through the gears (where side-to-side movement is minimal, or where it's stiffness HELPS you find the next gear) is pleasurable. There is some noise associated with the Ripper (up through the tunnel), though I understand this could be eliminated with insulation. That being said, the minimal noise produced by the Ripper was not nearly enough for me to not want it in the car, whereas I felt that the Kirban produced enough noise that I couldn't see having it in my new, refined, expensive-to-me car. Perhaps the Kirban's noise could be silenced, too -- but then its notchy feel made it fall short in my book.
I topped my Ripper off with a pistol-grip style Delrin shifter knob (from Hardbar), and the combination of the two makes me just want to go out and drive.
These are my own findings, and are based on what I wanted to achieve with my car and my driving. Your results may vary. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif
Hope this helps someone! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif