Raceseng Circuit Sphere 100 Shift Knob |
A month or two ago I set out to replace my BLOX Racing Shift knob because it had turned pink... after less than a year... because it's not very good. I decided that I wanted to replace it with a shift knob that looked retro, and I refused to pay the ridiculous $150 asking price of many shift knobs available for the FR-S.
Through a series of shenanigans, I purchased a Mustang shift knob (still stand behind it, it's a good option), a 3-inch shifter extension, and attempted to craft my own shift lever/extension. In the end, I decided to pay the ridiculous $150 price for one of the many shift knobs available for the FR-S ($160, actually) that in no way looks retro.
What I went with in the end is the Raceseng Circuit Sphere 100 Shift knob, and quite honestly, I couldn't be happier. The Sphere 100 is part of Raceseng's Circuit Series, which gives you the option to mix and match handle heights, shift knob styles, and anodized bands, so you can swap parts individually over time should you decide you want to change things up. Even though Raceseng has a reputation for creating extremely high-quality products, it does, on the surface, seem like an odd choice given my original goals. However, it actually checks most of the boxes for my original requirements/wants:
- I've never liked how hot and cold metal shift knobs get, but they do have a nice weight to them. I've always liked how Delrin shift knobs don't get too hot or cold, but they're usually too light - The Circuit Sphere 100 has a stainless steel base that gives it a nice weight, but the shift knob itself isn't metallic, so it doesn't get too hot or cold
- I wanted to raise the shift knob height slightly to bring the shift knob a little bit closer to the steering wheel and reduce shift effort and notchiness - The Circuit Sphere 100 raises the shift knob by 100mm (or 150mm if you choose that shifter base)
- I wanted something slightly heavier than the stock shift knob and the BLOX knob that I was replacing, but I didn't want a "weighted" shift knob since they often make the shifter feel vague and dead - The Circuit Sphere 100 weighs roughly 100 grams more than the stock shift knob, so it's heavier, but not excessively so
- By raising the shift knob, I wanted to make sure that the shifter didn't look odd or out of place (the 3-inch extension looked ridiculous) - The Circuit Sphere 100 looks like it could be factory, except nicer
- After several attempts to makeshift something that I wanted, changing my mind, and then going off in a different direction, I wanted something that I could easily change in the future - The Circuit Sphere 100 is made up of 4 parts: thread adapter, shifter base, anodized ring, shift knob. All of these parts can be mixed and matched, so I can use this knob in any car in the future or change it up in my current car. I can decide between a 100mm or a 150mm shifter base, there are 3 colors available for the anodized ring, and there are two styles of shift knobs that can be threaded onto the base
It's beautiful. Even as I was placing the order, I still wasn't sure how it could be worth $160 for a shift knob, but I could really understand why it costs what it does when I inspected the pieces in the box. There are no blemishes, knicks, or imperfections of any kind anywhere on any of the pieces. Everything feels very solid and quality. The lines and threads on each piece are clean and neat- they feel and look surgical. You get the sense that statements on Raceseng's site about being "properly engineered, tested, and refined" aren't just marketing gimmicks that sound good- you can see it (more on this in the verdict).
INSTALL / FITMENT
You wouldn't the install to be difficult since it's a shift knob, and it isn't. Again, the design of the shift knob and its' pieces show how well thought out it is -
- Threaded adapter onto the stock shifter
- Shifter base onto the adapter
- Anodized ring onto the shifter base
- Grip onto the shifter base
Even the process of adjusting the shift knob alignment is neato. On every other shift knob I've ever owned, if the knob wasn't aligned quite right there was a jamb nut that you turned clockwise or counterclockwise until the shift knob is straight when tightened, and it usually takes a lot of trial and error to turn the jamb nut just right. On the Circuit Sphere 100, there's a flat head screw on top of the thread adapter that you either screw in or screw out to align the shift knob. It's super simple, but it's more convenient because you turn the screw with an allen wrench the same number of degrees that the shift knob orientation is off by. After threading the knob on once and saw how off the orientation was, I unscrewed it, adjusted the flat screw once, and it was perfect.
If you hadn't guessed already, the verdict is very good. The feel of the Raceseng Circuit Sphere 100 is everything that I'd hoped it'd be. Rather than type up a paragraph summing it all up, it's probably better to itemize a few key points about the feel when driving:
Hand Feel |
The shape, height, and shift knob texture all feel exactly right. The height isn't awkwardly high, but it's noticeably better placed relative to the steering wheel than the stock shifter height. The shape of the shift knob seems to form well to your hand with a variety of grips. The Sphere knob is designed for overhand shifting, and it does work great for that, but it also feels right with your hand slightly turned toward a side-arm grip.
Shifting Effort |
The stock shifter height and knob aren't really high effort. My old mustang required way more effort to change gear than the FR-S, but the FR-S requires just enough effort that unless the transmission is really warmed up, shifts don't really flow- they can feel more like interruptions than they do transitions. The 3-inch Torque Solution Extension that I briefly had on the car was too much the other way. Shifting was too easy, and shifts felt sloppy and careless. The Circuit Sphere 100 is perfect. Shifts are easy, but there's still effort required. Somehow the throw doesn't feel noticeably longer than stock either.
Shifting Feel |
This is the part that I'm most impressed by. It's also the part where I totally believe Raceseng when they say that their shift knobs are "engineered, tested, and refined". Even though shifting effort is less than stock, it feels MORE precise. The notchiness that many people with an FR-S, BRZ, or 86 complain about becomes more of a positive *click* from gear to gear. Leverage is increased, but because all of the shift knob weight is low down in the base, you don't lose any feel like you often do when you increase leverage while also having the weight up top (which is why my homemade extension still didn't feel quite right). Running up and down through the gears feels almost instinctive. It's the way the car should've come from the factory.
With such a glowing review you might think Raceseng paid me to write this, but they haven't (I have no influence over anyone). I'm just that pleased with this purchase. Go buy one. You won't regret it.