Acccurate Head to Head Shifter Comparison  
B&M 45126 vs. UUC USCE EVO3
 

The old saying is never more true: when you are at the top, everyone wants to knock you off.

B&M Racing, a well-respected aftermarket manufacturer,  unveiled their newest line of BMW shifters at the SEMA convention in November 2003.  Their new products directly target UUC Motorwerks and our BMW Ultimate Short Shifters. In fact, B&M's new products are undoubtedly the result of much examination of UUC's kits, as the comparisons that B&M has put on their website clearly shows - click here

Unfortunately, their comparison is wildly inaccurate and misleading.

However, one thing that B&M seems to have overlooked: UUC Motorwerks does not attempt to make shifters for all cars... rather we excel at making shifters for a select few automobiles, and in doing so keep our focus precise and on-point. If you are reading this, chances are good that you have a BMW.  Your car is the car that we work on every day, that we drive every day, and is the focus of almost all our development energy.  We do not make shifters for Hondas or Mustangs, and we do not confuse marketing speak for good engineering practices.

UUC also had a special unveiling in November 2003: the all-new UUC EVO3 shifter line. Working with our years of BMW short shifter experience, the EVO3 is the next step in UUC's Evolution series, yet it is so new, so revamped, that it shares no parts at all with our previous EVO2. While all this is great for our customers, it is unfortunately bad for B&M, as the EVO3 bears little similarity to the "head to head comparison" that B&M has posted on their website.

We have corrected B&M's mistakes in the accurate "head to head comparison" below. For accuracy, most of the information about the B&M product used in this comparison is the information supplied by B&M in the original form of this table.

Also, note that we have added "relevance" notes to the table to explain why or why not some of B&M's comparisons have any meaning or importance.  In addition, we have added a few comparison items overlooked by B&M that consumers should be aware of.

ACCURATE DIRECT COMPARISON B&M TO UUC - BMW SHORT SHIFTER (B&M's 45126 to to UUC Motorwerks USCE)
B&M 45126
UUC USCE - EVO3
Number of Applications: B&M: 2 different kits (or 5, depending on who supplies the information) that fit "all models" via alternate installation options which relocate the pivot ball on the shifter shaft using C-clips.  Depending on application, shifter height will be incorrect (too high or too low) and shifter centering position may be off-center. UUC: 14 applications specifically designed for each individual BMW model.  Each application has factory-perfect shift knob height and perfect centering relative to the transmission tunnel.
Applications for all models including new 330i 6-speed and Xi models.
Note: all models are adjustable for personal knob-position preference.
  RELEVANCE: Correct application is critically important.  By using only a few different parts with "universal fit" design, the B&M shifters compromise on fitment, positioning, shift throw reduction, and selector rod geometry. The net result is less comfort and control for the driver. It takes more effort for UUC to design and offer a distinct short shifter kit for each BMW model, but it ensures fitment and satisfaction every time.
Shift throw reduction: B&M: 20%-25% UUC: All models: 35%*
Height adjustment allows an additional 5%-8% reduction at the preference of the end user

* UUC's 35% reduction has effort subjectively indistinguishable  similar to other brands' 25%.

OTHER FEATURES

B&M: None. All of UUC's shifters offer:

- Height adjustability allowing shift knob position to be altered by up to 3/4" (depending on model) for perfect ergonomic comfort.  This tailors the shifter height to the individual driver.

- Perfect compatibility with all BMW models.  We offer 14 different part numbers (with more than half a dozen sub-variations) which means that every BMW model gets the exact shifter it needs for perfect shifter centering, height, and shift effort requirements.

- Carrier bushings included standard with all shifters (as required) to eliminate slop and rotation in the carrier assembly. No matter how or where slop exists in the shift linkage, it will be felt by the driver. UUC has systematically identified, isolated, and eliminated slop with our BMW Ultimate Short Shifter kits.
Piece by piece component construction    
A. Upper Stick
B&M: billet 6061-T6 aerospace quality aluminum, clear anodized to military specifications.
UUC: CNC machined from billet alloy steel.
UUC's Comments: B&M has focused their comparison on the appearance of this part. A shame, since this is a part with more function than form. It is only visible during the installation process, and after that is hidden away behind the original equipment protective rubber boot, and then by the interior shift boot. Quite simply, the appearance is of no concern since it is constantly protected from scratches, and is not visible for you or your passengers to see. Calling this an "appearance" item is meaningless. 

Nevertheless, the EVO3's alloy steel is much more resistant to scratches than the B&M aluminum. So, what does this piece do? Two critical things: mates the shift knob to the shift lever, and houses the levers acoustic isolation components. Although appearance is not a factor in either of those tasks, precision is. Anodizing is a process which adds to aluminum a coating of aluminum oxide. There are some types of anodizing that produce a porous layer that can be colored with dyes or pigments to give the aluminum a decorative color. Although the thickness of this coating can be controlled to some extent, it is not a precision operation. Why would anyone taking a precision machined part, with critical dimensions and tolerances, and change its dimension with erratic results? 

UUC uses an alloy steel that does not require anodizing. We know that just a bit too short a dip in the electrolytic bath and your shift knob will constantly pop off, or a bit too long and the internal damping components will not fit properly.

Additionally, the anodizing process which B&M is so proud of is often misused for its appearance enhancing properties with no consideration given to the effect of the aluminum's properties. In fact, anodizing has the net effect of increasing the aluminum notch sensitivity and makes it more prone to stress related failures. UUC does not agree with choosing form over function in this or any situation, nor do we think the word "aerospace" is needed to distract attention from good material selection and engineering practices.

B. Vibration isolation system
B&M: fully rebuildable high compression Buna-n (nitrile) o-rings that meet or exceed ASTM D200, SAE J200, and Aerospace Standard (AS) 568A for complete 6th axial damping (100% isolated). UUC: fully rebuildable silicone damper that meets or exceeds ASTM D2000 M3GE507. 

Contrary to B&M's analysis of UUC's previous generation shifter, the EVO3's damping components provide 100% shifter lower shaft coverage and 100% isolation. Additionally, UUC has designed and integrated a 100%-isolated rotational load stop into our standard locating pin system. 

Conclusion
B&M's comments: The UUC piece does allow up to _� knob height adjustment but in doing so sacrifices 100% vibration isolation and creates a varying damping compression pre-load of the isolation material. This means that the vibration isolating properties and the upper to lower stick �flex� set at the factory can and will change depending upon whether or not you choose to adjust the shifter. The B&M unit is 100% isolated to tight tolerance compression as calculated and modeled by the B&M engineering department. Ensuring a constant factory setting means no vibration and less upper to lower stick �flex� than the UUC unit
UUC's comments: B&M is mistaken.  EVO3's 100%-coverage damping insert provides nearly the same vibration and sound absorbing characteristics as the BMW original cast-in rubber insert.  The 100%-coverage unit is flex-free and constant-dimension.  Vibration-absorbing characteristics do not change at any time, and are superior to any partial-coverage O-ring system.

Compare this to certain B&M shifters: "Part Number 45125 is a full race version shifter that directly links the driver to the transmission without compromise. Part Number 45126 is an isolated version of the race shifter, damping some of the vibration and noise associated with race vehicles use a solid metal shifter lever, known to transmit and amplify internal transmission noise."

Feel free to read this quote yourself in B&M's installation manual. If they admit that their shifter only damps some of the vibration and noise associated with race vehicles, then who are we to argue? 

 

C. Lower stick

B&M: billet 416 heat treated high strength stainless steel UUC: billet 303 high strength stainless steel
RELEVANCE: All materials; metal, plastic, ceramic, composite, or Martian, will flex, bend, and break. The important question to ask is under what conditions will those results occur, and which one will happen first? When selecting a material, there are other considerations beyond strength, such as corrosion resistance and machinability. 

Conclusion

B&M's comments: The B&M unit has a yield strength (point at which the material starts to deform and cannot return to its original shape) that is 3 to 5 times stronger that the UUC unit. UUC's comments: B&M's claim may be absolutely right... in a short sighted way.  Anyone can look up the properties of a material in a table. But it takes a little more effort to examine all of the stresses a part will be subject to, including the environment, and choose the correct material. This process has a name: engineering

Unfortunately, since B&M has opted not to disclose the form of treatment that their steel is subject to, there is no way to make an accurate strength comparison. 

Perhaps they are not sure themselves, since they can't quote a single specific number... 3 to 5?

UUC's use of 303 stainless steel was not a lightly made decision. 303 is readily identified for its ease of machining and excellent resistance to corrosion in rough environments. Unfortunately, B&M has not thought very far away from their California offices to consider the BMW enthusiasts all across the country and the world who own snow tires and are faced annually with the salt monster. It is hard enough keeping your BMW clean during a New England winter; do you really have time to worry about the condition of your aftermarket short shifter?

A 400-series steel will rust, it's simply a matter of how long.

This is a simple example of choosing the right material for the job. With a yield strength of 30kpsi (you read that right: thirty thousand pounds of pressure), 303 stainless steel is more than sufficient for use in a BMW shift lever. Maybe not for a 4-speed Muncie rock crusher, but UUC has yet to examine a BMW so equipped. 

D. Center pivot bearing

B&M: Raised pivot point to keep shift rod angle at original position. True spherical bearing consisting of an oil impregnated sintered bronze sphere and Nyloy (high temperature resistant nylon based fiber composite) race, which creates a slight preload for ultra-smooth precision operation and a self-cleaning and lubricating seal. This spherical bearing is specifically designed for long-term high stress operation over millions of cycles. With the pre-loaded design and self-lubricating there is no end-play or �slop� in the bearing to race construction and there are no maintenance concerns over the life of the vehicle. UUC: Raised pivot point to keep shift rod angle at original position (most part numbers including USCE, USCE2, USSE32, USSE6, USZ6E, USSE8, USSIX, and custom-built variations).  Pivot height precisely calculated for each of 14 different applications for exact linkage geometry corrections.

The EVO3 has a true self-adjusting pivot bearing, consisting of polished stainless steel sphere captured by a self-lubricating, automotive-grade race material, creating a constant low friction load regardless of wear or temperature, which creates an ultra-smooth and precise feel for millions of cycles.  

With the self-adjusting design and self-lubricating there is no end-play or �slop� in the bearing-to-race construction and there are no maintenance concerns over the life of the vehicle due to the sealed nature of the pivot bearing. You are provided with 100% protection, including beneath the pivot. The whole assembly is fully rebuildable in case of damage or removal for transferring to another vehicle.

RELEVANCE: This is a critical element to the shifter assembly's smoothness and long-term durability.

The difference in design between these two units is primarily seen in one place: the self-adjusting feature of the UUC design prevents the loosening of a fixed bearing that is likely to create a vibration or a buzz in the shifter assembly.

 

Conclusion

B&M's comments: The UUC bearing construction is a very good design for sealed, low-temperature environments and is employed in many of B&M�s short throw shifters that are inside the vehicle or in enclosed housings away from high-heat and the environment. Unfortunately, in this application, the main pivot is located in an area directly above the drive shaft and exhaust where it is subject to high-heat and contamination. Unmodified (white) nylon has an operational temperature range rating of �40�F to 200�F over which the material begins to deteriorate rapidly. Also, over time, unsealed exposed lithium grease will attract contaminants into the pivot area pushing out the grease and eventually causing wear, rough movement, and �slop� or excessive free play as seen in older stock shifter applications that uses this exact same bearing construction. The B&M unit eliminates all of these problems by using a spherical bearing specifically designed for high-temperature, road dirt and contaminant environments. This bearing is maintenance free since it is self-lubricating and self-cleaning and will not compromise smooth and accurate movement over the entire life of the vehicle. UUC's comments: B&M is mistaken again.  EVO3 models (as listed above) do not use the BMW original nylon cup design (originally specified by BMW, so we will ignore the comments about the material's temperature suitability).

B&M's comments have no relevance to the EVO3.

The automotive-grade materials used in the UUC bearing have been long-term tested by UUC for many years with no degradation in performance.  The bearing design is self-cleaning, retains internal lubrication, uses self-lubricating material, is entirely slop-free, and will continue to provide smooth and precise movement without variation over the life of the vehicle.

In contrast, B&M's bearing design is a fixed unit that, by definition, will change characteristics as it wears, resulting in slop and vibration.

E. Lower change rod pivot

B&M: German made high precision T-500 high temperature self-lubricating Igus bushings. UUC: Japanese-made ultra-high precision ABEC-standard cartridge bearing, rated to withstand hundreds of pounds of static load and over 30,000rpm.  Sealed and internally lubricated.

Conclusion

B&M's comments: In an area of only a few degrees of axial rotation and extreme axial point loading, a ball bearing (which is designed specifically for high speed rotation) will eventually �flat-spot�. Only one or two of the �balls� in the ball bearing cartridge will bear the full force of shifting over the entire life of the vehicle, which could possibly be millions of shifts! Yes, a cartridge ball bearing will initially feel smoother than a bushing due to less initial internal friction, but over time a cartridge bearing will simply not hold up to the force and pressure. B&M�s self-lubricating high-temperature bushing is designed for extreme pressure and abuse that racing and day-to-day driving will create. UUC's comments: B&M is mistaken again.  All UUC bearings (including earlier EVO2) are rated at hundreds of times the static load of the application, and speeds over 30,000rpm, with a tolerance of +0 to -.008".  

Comments about "flat-spot" effects are without relevance and unfounded.  With literally thousands of these components in use for many years, no such effects have ever developed.

RELEVANCE: This is another critical element to the shifter assembly's smoothness and long-term durability.

Through our years of testing on the BMW shifter design, we have learned that almost no bushing material is free of deformation effects; the bushing hole ovalizes or loosens due to the repeated side-loading forces of the selector rod pin.  The only type of bushings not subject to this type of degradation over time would be so hard as to be an unsuitable choice for this area where low friction is critical. All other bushings wear in this environment from exposure to road dirt and grit under the car. 
No "special" B&M bushing can avoid the fact that this is a wear area that quickly loosens any conventional bushing material, creating looseness and slop.
Installation
   

A. Instructions

B&M: (Included and posted on-line) detailed step-by-step instructions with photos. UUC: (Included and posted on-line) detailed step-by-step instructions with photos relevant to the exact model car - no "generic" instructions.
B. Installation time B&M: with drive on lift: 20mins.(expert) / 40mins.(novice). with jack and jack stands: 40mins.(expert) / 1.3hrs.(novice) UUC: the same or less for same-model cars.

Conclusion

B&M's comments: The B&M unit is less time consuming to install and thus less costly to install. UUC's comments: B&M is mistaken again.  For same-model cars, installation procedure and therefore time is very similar.  
Cost
 B&M: $285.72 retail  UUC: $295-$355 depending on model.
 
Warranty
   
  B&M: One Million Mile Warranty- covers the original purchasing consumer. This warranty is limited to repair or replacement by B&M of any B&M part that fails because of a defect in materials or workmanship. Implied warranty: Any warranties implied by law are limited to the duration of this warranty, (except in those states where prohibited by law). UUC: Lifetime customer support by UUC staff who own and drive BMWs every day.  All UUC personnel have installed every UUC product themselves and can offer complete guidance and assistance in every aspect of installation and usage.
Official warranty: one year, unlimited mileage.  Go ahead, drive it two million miles, we'll still be there for you!
Racing background
   
  B&M: VAC Motorsports (Speed Channel World Challenge) UUC: Speed Channel World Challenge, Grand Am Cup, SCCA Pro Rally, Improved Touring, Solo1, Solo2, Grassroots Motorsport Open Track Challenge, Car and Driver One Lap of America, all classes of BMW CCA Club Racing including Super Modified
UUC Motorwerks is in business for BMW drivers, by BMW drivers.
We know that the quality of our product and our service speaks for itself. Call us to experience the Ultimate Short Shifter for your BMW.


UUC Motorwerks � http://www.uucmotorwerks.com � 908-874-9092

(c) 2003 UUC Motorwerks