Our Roads and Stance
Let's play basic. Take any car and lower it by a few millimeters and voila! You have yourself a decently stanced car. In fact, lowering the car happens to be amateur rule number one of tuning culture. Regardless of the genre of the car, a subtle lowering can bring profound aesthetic changes. A zero tuned Corolla X, despite being an egg on four wheels will still look polite and not make you want to kill it with a sledgehammer. A new model Sonata comes standard with large 18" wheels with relatively less tyre- fender gap. Yet, take a couple of millimeters off the suspension system and you will have a slender Sonata, contrasting the voluptuous one off the factory. But that is only the aesthetic part to it. By lowering the car, its centre of gravity is brought down and there will be less air to go beneath at high speed. All this indicates reduced drag and higher top air pressure, making the vehicle stick to the ground. With this basic knowledge we get to work- some discover absurd ways of lowering the vehicle (let's chop off the spring or the shock absorber), whereas some lower it with precision to really improve handling and control at high speed. So given the fact that lowering does indeed make one's car look nice with a set of decent wheels, most Babu, Mishu and Tishu go for this in Bangladesh.
But some of us want the car to not only be lowered, but stiffer too. Yes, of course the rule book of tuning also teaches us that a stiffer suspension increases handling performance of the vehicle considerably, meaning you can brake later and make sharper turns without worrying of disturbing wobbly body rolls. While the next door neighbor's chauffer points out at your fender bracing Prelude and snickers that the 'socket jumper' is ruined, you smugly point back and challenge if his body mass can lower the fender any further. By installing stiffened springs with OEM shock absorbers or going hefty on the wallet and opting for coilovers, you not only reduce the suspension system dramatically, but stiffen it up significantly. You have an advantage with coilovers as it gives you the options to adjust the suspension height or the ride stiffness. Lowered sport springs do not give you that option. Yet there are Bangladeshi ways to deal with situations like this- we simply install a 'bati' to accommodate the desired ride height between the spring and the absorber. But once the car is stiffened, riding around in it is like a theme park ride through jagged terrain. Why of course the roads in Bangladesh are built in that very way. So much for the intended sporty feeling and the sharp turns that are to come from stiffening the car.
Happened with couple of friends of mine that they could not even get their lowered car out of their garage as the apartments they reside in have drive ramps with hill climbing geometry angles. Yes, our country is flood prone, but the real estate builders forget that apartment residents use cars. And some cars have long wheelbases, some have lips or rear diffusers. Trying too hard in getting a TRD lipped Celica out of an apartment resulted in scraping the front lip. There are worse cases - the imported bumper of a Lancer EX snapped and cracked completely while climbing down the driveway. The horror is just about to begin.
The roads of Bangladesh are all made with hatred towards automobiles. WASA, DESA and all the other government utility authorities have an uncanny desire in excavating the roads during all seasons of the year, peaking during monsoons. The whole process leaves the streets muddy and it's an absolute abjuration to drive through such condition as it leaves the car dirty every time you get it out. Once the work ends, the authorities dump abundant amount of sand, brick and concrete chips to fill up the holes. These serrated surfaces are extremely bad for tires and overall suspension system of cars. Chauffeurs of newly bought Allions and Premios mistake their cars to be mini SUVs and are seen to zoom past these rough terrains, causing hemorrhaging damage to the cars. It gets worse when BRTA finally tries to fix the roads with a half-hearted attempt, leaving them with uneven surfaces. It is extremely confusing for the driver whether to really slow down the car in these bumpy patched up roads to give the suspension less stress or just zip through them to make the horrid experience cut short. Now visualize the whole experience in a lowered and stiffened car with low profile tires. Ouch.
So back to the question of how low and stiff you would consider your ride to be in Bangladesh. Interestingly, we are yet to venture near the ungodly topic of speed bumps. While discussing lowered cars, we MUST rage against these ridiculous speed bumps. Firstly, they literally seem to be mushrooming at the same rate at which mushrooms mushroom. Dhaka can very well be called the city of speed breakers. Ironically, you can't even pick up 'speed' in this city; so these end up breaking your car and its suspension gradually. Hatirjheel's rather charming bridges and curves are now infested with humongous speed bumps, which too, will not only scrape (and may be break) your car's front lip, rear diffuser/ bumper and side skirts, but might damage your total exhaust system if you are not careful or if it is one of those unlucky days. A friend with his lovely GX110 Mark II on 17"s got caught off guard while ascending a bridge during night and according to him, "flew for a wee bit and then drove back home with the front bumper in the rear trunk". My own car, an E90 Sprinter is low with 15" SSRs and has an UR front four point harness. For me, speed bumps are like devil's trident - ready to prick you if you are not vigilant in going slow and sideways over them. The smaller/ flatter bumps can be forgiving at times but the Everest inspired ones are the murderers. I once got stuck at the Dhaka- Sylhet N2 highway where the bumps scraped my car's total bottom surface area along with the surface area of my heart. Some have to resort to forcing their rear passengers to dismount the vehicle before their stanced cars can go over the bumps. Certain groups have had enough with the impatience honking of drivers trailing them while they climb over speed bumps at snail's pace and thus opted to slap a "Be patient- I'm Lowered" sticker on the back of the car. As if all drivers would be able to comprehend that.
Multiple ridged speed bumps is a modern concept of relatively slowing down the car before it enters a residential intersection or a busy crossing. They are a few sets of four to five strips of industrial/ road paint maxing out at 10 to 15 millimeters vertically, allowing the vehicle to gently dribble by them at a moderate speed without disrupting the flow of traffic. In Bangladesh however, the idea has been taken to an all new level where BRTA deiced to have them at multiple locations in already busy roads such as the Mymensingh Road (leading to and from the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport), making the traffic congestions shoddier. To make matters worse, the ridged strips are in fact two inches of concrete tar lined at a couple of feet off one another. Not all the vehicles of Bangladesh are trucks or busses with indestructible suspension parts. While the SUVs and vans are seen to go by them as if they are nonexistent, the lowered and stiffened worked out cars go through living hell.
So, cohorts of 'Stancenation' and 'illest' fantasizing tucking in their cambered, stretched tires under the fender should in fact be pondering on how to move from point A to B in this country without hewing off fender bits. You just cannot be dreaming of a decently lowered car in this country.