Although race shifters have been around for a while, they’re becoming more popular, especially for street driven cars, because of RTD Shifter. What is an RTD Shifter? It’s a tunnel mounted race shifter that reduces play and throw significantly while providing a crisp shifting experience. I decided to buy one and try it out on my E46 M3 race car (can I say that now?) especially since the price is very attractive compared to the “ultimate” race shifter, the CAE.
RTD Shifter V4 Carbon Fiber Review
Before I dip in to review the SSK, I just want to say this is not a sponsorship deal or anything of that nature. I paid for the shifter myself. Also I have tried the CAE and the AKG shifter so I will consider my opinions on these 3 shifters as I do this review. Also worth to mention is I’m coming from a B&M SSK.
Below are some product facts from RTD:
- First solid short shifter to fit the E30/E36/E46/E82 console without trimming.
- Mounts to the OEM tunnel holes (no need for drilling)
- Equipped with a Torsion Spring that gives a solid feeling and a better feedback while changing gears
- All turned and milled parts are made of Alumec 89 Alloy which is harder than Aluminum 7075 Alloy used in different shifters; cage is made from stainless steel
- Bronze bushings used instead of Teflon bushings, this gives a longer life for the shifter
- Has a pivoting joint at the area where it connects to the selector rod, which gives flexibility to the short throws
- Shifter have a full 1 year warranty
- We recommend you to buy a DSSR for the best shifting experience
Build Quality: When I opened the box, I noticed it was nicely packaged and strapped down to lessen the chance of damage during shipping – it did come from Lebanon. Picking it up, I felt how durable it felt with the Alumec 89 alloy plate and the shiny carbon fiber rod. The black anodized knob (twist off screw) felt great especially since it’s weighted. It’s definitely heavier than the ZHP knob. I held it by the knob and shook it around, but there was absolutely no play. The spring tension is tight, which is a good thing to reduce play.
Supporting Parts: I talked to Maher at RTD Shifter and he actually did not tell me to get the DSSR, however I did anyways. He does recommend one, but I asked him for the “homie” opinion. DSSR stands for double sheer selector rod which reduces selector rod play in the shifter’s lower pivot. The stock rod is a single rod and does not exert a firm leverage as the DSSR does. His reason for having the DSSR as optional was that the shifter masks the slop because of the torsion spring tension on the shifter. In addition to the DSSR, I bought a new selector joint.
I also bought harder 95A polyurethane transmission bushings as it helps with stabilizing the transmission during cornering. Some people experience sloppy shifting and notchy gear engagements when using softer bushings. It is also recommended to get harder motor mounts, but I’m just running the stock OEM Lemforder mounts.
Installation: I took my car to EF1 Motorsports in Long Beach, CA where my good friend Chasen helped me with the install. We put the car up on the lift and started taking down the exhaust and driveshaft to access underneath the transmission tunnel. It was a pretty easy install with a lift. Some people say you have to drop the transmission a little, but we we’re able to do without. The DSSR, selector joint and transmission bushings all went in.
The great thing about the RTD Shifter is that it mounts directly to the stock transmission holes and has a simple bolt to calibrate lever. I’ve felt a few CAE shifters, but 1 of the 2 I’ve felt was kind of notchy and just didn’t feel as fluid as I would prefer. Call me crazy? The CAE requires custom mounting therefore needs to be calibrated to really get that perfect feel. If the holes are off or the shifter is misaligned, it’s not going to feel as smooth. I think that’s what happened with the CAE shifters I’ve felt. I’m sure with a proper install, it’ll feel just as good.
Update: I didn’t explain the RTD calibration so let me clarify. On the shifter there is a little allen head bolt below the large nut to control the horizontal yaw. (pictured 4 images above) To calibrate, you simply loosen the allen head, throw it into 3rd, and tighten down the allen bolt. That should get the shifter in a good spot. Test all gears, rinse and repeat.
Test Drive: When I first drove it out of the shop I had a hard time getting into reverse. Not because the gearing, but because the spring tension is so much stronger than a normal SSK that it was difficult to sway it all the way left to get into gear. I think my strength is about “average” whatever that means, but getting into reverse was still tolerable. Just needed to get used to it. Keep in mind I’m describing my very first time experiencing this.
First gear was easy, 2nd was easy but I went super slow on the shift, 3rd was super crisp, and 4th did not engage. It took me a while to get into 4th over and over and something seemed a little off, but after I got home I realized I needed to calibrate my shifter. Once calibrated, wow! This thing felt freaking amazing. Every single throw was just crisp! One thing to note though, the slop is not 100% gone, but about 95% of it is gone.
If you want to see videos of me shifting, check out my Instagram Story titled “RTD.” on @buildjournal. You have to view from a mobile device.
The RTD Shifter feels amazing featuring the Alumec 89 Alloy construction, bronze bushing and torsion spring. Once calibrated, this is a true competitor in the tunnel-mounting shifter systems. The price is very competitive at about half the cost of the CAE. Haters will call it a “copy” but it isn’t. I love the CAE don’t get me wrong, but I just can’t justify the extra $500. That extra money can buy me a lot of things!