Hybrid Racing Shifter Review and Install

Hybrid Racing Shifter Review and Install

In today’s world of social media, we have become so used to validating someone’s credibility by basing how many followers they have to how knowledgeable they are. It’s the same thing as sports players that endorse products. Like I’m supposed to believe that because someone drinks red bull, they are good at what they do. If that were the case then we could all just drink red bull and be super stars. A Social Media Influencer is defined as:  a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach. It’s true, using social media is a great way to expose your product, and build your brand. The problem is that I can’t just blindly follow and believe that because someone has a lot of followers that they are knowledgeable in what they are promoting. I’m a very skeptical person and I need to see proof/results In multiple ways to validate me getting a product. I cross check many different things when deciding on what to get:

  • Who is promoting the item, and do they actually use their car for?
  • What the company’s background is?
  • What the reputation of the company is?
  • What is the general consensus of said product amongst the car community?
  • Have there been any issues publicized about the product?
  • What sets the product apart from others?
  • why do I need this product?
  • Will this actually improve my cars performance or is it just hype?

Since I’m not sponsored by anyone, it makes it a bit more difficult to test various products. I have to actually buy everything that I test out. This is why I like my 4 door so much… I get to try out many different modifications and directly see firsthand how effective it is, or if it actually improves performance or not. Now in no way am I saying that my testing is the end all be all. But I am saying that I’m no way biased towards any company, or product. I just want what’s best on my car.

With all this being said, Lets dive into why you’re here reading this article. You want to know if the Hybrid racing shifter is really awesome, or just some hype. Almost exactly one year ago I made the decision to start fixing up my 4 door. While converting it from auto to manual I decided to go with the best shifter on the market at the time. The FLP (FastLine Performance) shifter! This shifter came out many years ago and managed to take the community by storm. The shifter had years of R&D, a great solid feel, it was ergonomic, it placed the shift knob high, yet kept the OEM throw. If you talk to anyone that has or had the FLP shifter they will attest to it being the best shifter ever. This shifter was also ground breaking because it was a two piece design (that worked) allowing you to move the shift knob to your desired position. A few weeks after I did my auto to manual conversion, the Hybrid Shifter was released to the “influencers” and began to build hype. The Hybrid Shifter was ground breaking, and showed much potential to be the next best shifter because it totally re designed how a shifter mounts to the linkage. All the “influencers” reviews said words like notchy, direct, firm, smooth, and precise. These were all very enticing, and I’ll admit that there was so many people promoting this shifter, I was starting to believe I was truly missing out because I didn’t have this shifter.

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Let’s now ask… How many of the “influencers” had a Fast line performance shifter previously, or… did they even have a short shifter previously orrr… did they have some cheap short shifter?  What were they basing their review/comparison on? Were they only daily driving their cars?  I’ll be the first to admit that the spherical bearing and the way the shifter directly bolts to the stabilizer bar radically changes the feel. It gives a much more “race car” notchy feel to the shifter, and I do believe that this shifter is well engineered. So anyone installing this on their car is going to notice a drastic difference in every aspect of shifting the car. Does that translate into this shifter being the best thing since sliced bread, or is it such a drastic change that we assume it’s amazing. I think honestly a lot of it is just a placebo and we can assume this shifter is awesome because the results are very drastic and easily quantifiable. This doesn’t always mean that its better.

There are also 3 variables that we need to take into account, actually 4, 5, maybe even 6. There are three different styles of shift linkage bushing… OEM rubber (soft), energy/hardrace/prothane etc.. (stiff), or dimes solid metal bushings (super stiff). The 4th variable is… what shift knob you’re using,  5th variable would be what settings did you have the hybrid shifter set at, and finally a 6th variable would be the motor mounts you had, OEM or aftermarket stiff ones.

  • With each shifter busing scenario altering the feel of the shifter, how can we know if someone that installed the Hybrid shifter with OEM rubber bushing would experience the same happiness as someone who has the dimes solid bushings.
  • What about a shift knob? Sure a shift knob would alter the feel of the shifting on your car, was the “influencer” using a new shift knob in conjunction with installing the Hybrid shifter (like most of them were, using the hybrid shift knob provided by hybrid) so were they halfway in love with the shifter and actually half way in love with the knob? Have you ever put a super heavy knob on your car? It makes the shifting feel amazing because there is so much mass when throwing it into a gear that it slides in easier. What does that mean for your transmission though? It means you are probably prematurely wearing it out and it will eventually fail sooner. Now think about a really light shift knob, there is less mass when switching gears which translates into you needing to apply more force with your hand to get it in gear. This can make you think the trans is worn out, or your shifter isn’t really that good. Of course manufactures consider all of these things when designing a shift knob and there is a happy medium between both sides of the scale.
  • What about the throw adjustability of the Hybrid shifter? You can adjust it so it retains OEM throw, or make the throw shorter. When I tried researching how a shorter throw shifter affects the life span of your transmission I was lead in circles. Some would say that having a short shifter would ruin your transmission, or wear out your synchros sooner. Others said, that they hadn’t noticed any shorting in the life of their transmission in conjunction with a short shifter. I myself have had many short shifters on many transmission and can’t quite clearly decided if the transmission wears out do to racing the car, having a short shifter, or both. BUT there has got to be some truth to the short shifter myth,  because the FLP one focuses on keeping the throw OEM. What setting are the “influencers” reviewing their Hybrid shifter on? How high/low the knob is or long or short the throw is will drastically change someone’s opinion of the shifter.
  • Lastly the motor mounts. Since the hybrid shifter uses a large spherical bearing, and solid bushings where the linkage connects to the shifter, this is pretty much the most direct engagement you can get from a shifter. If you have OEM motor mounts your Hybrid shifter is going to move quite a lot in the car as opposed to having stiffer motor mounts.

All of these things can directly change the way the shifter works and feels. So it’s important that we know which set up each “influencer” is using. We also need to know what the “influencers” definition of a good shifting transmission is. Maybe they are used to a totally fucked transmission and obviously when you put this solid Hybrid shifter on there is going to be major changes in the feel and the “influencer” translates that into “this is the best shifter ever.” But it is really though?

We must take all of these things into consideration when deciding if the Hybrid Shifter is the Best shifter out there. True many of these variables will also affect any other short shifter out there too, but for the Hybrid because of its spherical bearing solid design all of these are heightened.

Let me talk about some of the cons I immediately noticed

  • Because of its spherical bearing, and solid bushing design, It instantly highlighted the fact that my transmission was very worn out. That solid feel of the shifter transfers directly to the shift knob and for me it feels like I can feel each tooth on the gears as they mesh together. If you have a fresh new trans I’m sure this wouldn’t be an issue. But I never noticed any of this with my previous Fast Line performance shifter
  • Again because of its solid spherical bearing design and the tolerances of the bearing having some “slack”, there are audible vibration noises that come from the shifter throughout the full rpm range. I am running energy bushings, and I have Hasport mounts which are both stiffer than oem. These things alone will cause there to be some vibrations/noises throughout the linkage and up the shifter to the knob on pretty much any short shifter out there. But again because of the Hybrids design it’s much more noticeable. For me I don’t care, but I know some people don’t like any noises.

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  • There is a circlip that holds the spherical bearing in and this has been known to come out. (UPDATE) David from Hybrid reached out to inform me that this issue has been fixed. They made the grove slightly larger so that the clip will seat better)  I haven’t experienced this but I have heard from a few reliable sources (people that track their cars) that this does happen. (EDIT AGAIN, this was only on the early models, and this issue has been fixed. so if you’re buying a new version one you should be fine) Of course this isn’t the end of the world, Just get some pliers and set the circlip back in. This is however an inconvenience if this does happen.

 

  • Im putting this shifter on my SOHC D16Y8. When I watched the review videos, and read the installation instructions on hybrids site, it states that there are three holes to mount the shifter firmly to the stabilizer bar. There are two holes that are there from the factory, and the third one will have to be drilled out. Hybrid states that utilizing only two holes will be sufficient, but advises using the third hole for racing applications. Well I figured since I track my car ,that would qualify as racing and I wanted to utilize the three holes. However there was no way to use the third hole on SOHC linkage, you can see this in my pictures below. I reached out to hybrid to ask them if I was just doing something wrong, but it turns out that this “three hole” design was only intended for DOHC, and they said that I would be fine using just the 2 holes for my SOHC. I was pretty disappointed in this, I feel like they are saying that because I have a SOHC that I wouldn’t go hard enough to need the third hole. Since I have a SOHC I feel like this will forever be a weak link, and I’m disappointed that because I have a D series shifter I don’t get that added peace of mind that DOHC user get with the three holes. I wish they would have stated this in the description of the product, as it might have deterred me from getting it. The Fast Line performance shifter is marketed for B/D series just like the Hybrid one is, however the FLP shifter is the exact same for both B/D series, and there is no extra parts for the B series to make it better. FLP just made a well engineered shifter that will work for all B/D series, with out compromising anything just because you have a D series.

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I feel like my review might be a bit unfair for this simple reason: I had the best shifter there was before I put the Hybrid one on, so topping that would be difficult. I feel like with either shifter you really can’t go wrong. There is however a bit more to go wrong with the Hybrid one in terms of moving parts and adjusting screws when compared to the FLP shifters simplicity. Like I said above, I do feel like the Hybrid is a very radical design that gives the driver a completely different feel than what we are used to. I also feel that this shifter does give a more reassuring gear engagement feel than the FLP. The Hybrid shifter gives that direct engagement sensation and you can feel the mechanical workings of the gears in the transmission. However the FLP shifter is a lot beefier, and is a lot heavier. This is what gives the FLP shifter its solid feel. Someone commented on my instagram post I had posted about the hybrid shifter… they preferred the hybrid one because there is no plastic or rubber in it. Well I got news for you pal, the FLP doesn’t have any of that either, in fact here is an excerpt from the description of the their shifter.

” That’s because we use expensive Delrin bushings. Delrin resists abrasion and impacts, has high stiffness and tensile strength, high fatigue endurance, mechanical resilience, wear resistance, and is not affected by temperature or humidity. It also has excellent insulating characteristics, which helps it absorb road and engine vibrations. It will not rattle or cause rpm resonation like the “roller blade” bearings found in short shifters.”

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In conclusion I believe there was know real “upgrade” from my FLP shifter to the hybrid. If you just had a basic short shifter previously or a stock one, either one of these would be a great upgrade. The punk rock side of me might still prefer the FLP shifter simply because there isn’t the popular fanboy hype behind it like the hybrid one. In the back of my mind I still feel that only having two holes to bolt it down since I have a SOHC makes it inferior, like maybe it feels better on a B series. Im just disappointed that they wouldn’t engineer it the same for both B/D series. Let me just be clear that there isn’t anything wrong with the Hybrid shifter and if you have one already then im sure you’ll be fine. The only reason I bought it was because I was hearing so much hype about it that I was thinking I was missing out, but in reality it was just hype. Yes the Hybrid one works great, but so did my FLP shifter. IMO if you don’t have a FLP or Hybrid shifter then you are truly missing out. they both are engineered far beyond what any old school style shifter was and both will drastically improve the shifting experience of your car.

Im sorry if my review is a little disappointing because of its lack of black and white results. Maybe it’s even a little vague. The main points I was trying to cover in this review were:

  • Don’t blindly follow, and question everything.
  • Don’t always believe the hype
  • The FLP shifter is still amazing
  • The hybrid shifter is a radical new way of engineering, and feels totally different than any other shifter out there. But different doesn’t always translate into better.
  • The Hybrid shifter does work good, but I’m still adjusting to the strange feeling you get from it.
  • There are some flaws to the Hybrid, noise and vibrations
  • Im very disappointed that I wasn’t able to utilize all three mounting holes.

I did have a few other people drive my car. After they got over the initial WOW factor from how different it feels, they agreed that it wasn’t any better or worse than my FLP shifter. Its also worth noting that I was using the FLP shifter in conjunction with the spoon duracon knob, and when I installed the hybrid one I also used the same spoon duracon knob. I also tried to set the height of the hybrid shifter to the same height as the FLP (which the FLP is slightly higher even with the Hybrid one at max height), I adjusted the throw of the Hybrid one as well. To give the Hybrid one a fighting chance I even used Ever’s battle craft knob off his car just to see if a taller knob would make it any better. As for now Im going to leave the Hybrid shifter on my car. There really isn’t anything wrong with the Hybrid shifter, so I guess that means that despite its short comings I mentioned above it isn’t actually that bad. But I still feel like the FLP shifter its a tough act to follow, and thats why I mentioned above about what short shifters were the “influencers” previously suing? Because while the Hybrid one is pretty much the same as the FLP for me, (with the exception of its extra notchy gear engagement feel) its miles ahead of old style short shifters, or even OEM ones which can make it seem like its amazing but in reality its only amazing because of what you’re comparing it to.

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The Hybrid is a worth while upgrade, and the “feel” of it makes your car feel like it is a race car. However I am uncertain of the long term effects of it on your transmission and its life span, but i am certain that we will never really know either. There are just too many variables that could cause premature failure of the transmission, and it would be tough to pin it specifically to a shifter. Rest assure though that I will be paying close attention to how my transmission feels and if I feel like the Hybrid one is wearing out the trans faster then ill be switching it back out. Again I am sorry for the inconclusiveness of tis review. But hopefully I was able to at least shed some light on a few things about this shifter, help you see the ways that “influencers” make us believe what is good with out having any prior knowledge or education, or maybe even convince you to keep your FLP instead of upgrading to the Hybrid.

Now let’s go on to HOW TO install this bad boy.

Here is what is included in the box

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There is Two different bolts that come in the kit to bolt the linkage to the bottom of the shifter. The longer one with he spacer is used for all B18 and B16b linkage, and the shorter one without the spacer is used for D series and all B16. Of course the three small bolts that bolt the shifter to the stabilizer linkage (I could only use 2 because I have a SOHC) also note in the picture below the spacer is on the wrong bolt. It will be quite obvious which bolt is for your linkage. Keep in mind that if you are using the longer bolt with the spacer then the orientation of the spacer is important too. Take a look at the instructions on hybrids site to make sure.

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these are the two bolts you would use to adjust the throw off the shifter.

 

Jack up the car, place on jack stands. and you are going to remove the linkage off the car. Do this by first unscrewing the shift knob. then crawl under the car and remove the bitch pin.

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first remove the clip that covers the bitch pin

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you are now going to have access to the bitch pin. I use a 1/4 inch punch to hammer out the bitch pin. You can also use a 10mm bolt. DO NOT USE anything that has a point, like a screw driver or a tapered punch. this will cause the bitch pin to flare and wedge its self in. use a blunt object like pictured

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now that the bitch pin is removed, take the punch out and you can slide the linkage off.

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you are now left with he stabilizer bar, remove the 12mm bolt holding it on and simply pull down on the stabilizer bar.

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It should look like this under your car now.

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next you’re are going to remove the x2 12mm bolts holding the stabilizer to the chassis. (I know the pictures aren’t the greatest, its difficult to lay under the car and take pictures.) It will all make sense though when you get under your car. Once removed, the shifter and the linkage will all come out a one complete piece.

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once the whole linkage and shifter are removed you can unbolt the linkage from the bottom of the shifter, and then remove the x2 10mm bolts that hold the shifter in the stabilizer.

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You can see above how the x2 10m bolts you removed will be what you use to put the new smaller bolts in to secure the shifter to the stabilizer bar. Note you will not use the plate or the OEM rubber/plastic bushing.

When installing the bolt, the washers go on the outside of the linkage. like pictures below.

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now reattach the linkage to the shifter. Make sure you put it on the correct way! There are two possible ways it goes on but only one way will work. You can also see in the above picture how the third hole over hangs and there is no way to utilize that third bolt to secure the shifter. (note this is only like this on a SOHC) on a B series you will be able to put the two bolts in, then mark where the third hole needs to be drilled.

Now just reinstall in the reverse order of removal. don’t put the top part of the shifter on until you slide it up into the car. It will be easier to feed a shorter part up between the exhaust and though the shift boot. Before bolting in the x2 12mm holding the stabilizer to the chassis I slide the linkage and the stabilizer back on at the trans but I don’t run the bolt through, put the bitch pin in, or tighten anything until I have completely tightened the x2 12mm bolts for the stabilizer bolts to the chassis where the shifter goes through the hole into the cab.

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Its also worth noting that some people have experienced issues with the loosening of the bolts on the pinch style system that sets the height and orientation of the shifter, and the 2 bolts that set the shifters throw. Since this shifter does create a quite a lot of vibrations I recommend using lock tight on all of these.

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and here is my finished product. This is a very easy install and can be done in just about an hours time. Please if you have any other questions, or comments about this write up, or install process don’t hesitate to reach out to me either via email Billy@functiontheory.com, instagram @functiontheory, or just comment on this post and I’ll get back to you.

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