Alitech shifter install - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-30-2016, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Alitech shifter install

Installed my new shifter last weekend. I tried to take some pictures along the way to fill in any gaps in the install guide.

I'm thrilled with the improvement in feel over the stock shifter. As soon as you take the center console off, it's immediately clear what the Alitech shifter brings to the table; there's a ton of flex in the OEM shifter assembly which accounts for most of the slop. I wasn't a fan of the shift knob on the Alitech, but it feels great with the stock knob on there. I may order a Voodoo knob soon as a replacement.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how quickly it shipped. I was expecting a lead time of several months, but the whole process only took a few weeks.

However, I have some mixed feelings about the product itself. The industrial design and attention to detail on the shifter is phenomenal, but I ran into issues with part tolerance that added huge headaches and several hours to the install. Essentially, all the parts that arrive assembled will fit together beautifully; anything that shows up in a bag will not fit. Also, it seems as though it would have been trivial to throw in an M8 rivnut and a washer / nut for the traction control switch.

For a part that knocked $1,697.25 out of my wallet (1080 with shipping => $1,627.25, $70 for wire transfer), these issues were frustrating.

Anyways, onto the install.

First, a few side-by-side comparisons of the stock shifter vs. the Alitech shifter:





I decided to add the extra bolt, as recommended by the install guide. I installed the front bracket, marked the new hole with a sharpie, then gradually stepped up the drill size.

Here are the parts I used:






...and here's the rivnut installed in the floor.



Slackening the handbrake cable was a little tricky. The install guide doesn't really have a picture for this, so I tried to get a slightly better one. I moved the two nuts shown about 1.5" to the right, which gave me enough slack to attach the handbrake cable.



I had to add a slight bend to my handbrake switch to get it to engage properly, as suggested by the install guide. The switch should be closed when the handbrake is completely disengaged, and open in every other state.

Handbrake slightly engaged, switch open:



Handbrake all the way down, switch closed (little white button):



I stopped taking pictures at this point because things got ugly. The supplied dowel pins, which lock the shifter cables into place, simply did not fit. I measured the dowel diameter and the interior diameter of the cable block with a digital caliper; it was off by about .3mm. I don't have a shot of the caliper readings, but off the top of my head, I think both were supposed to be around 5mm.

I drilled out the dowel holes to the correct diameter, but the pins were still slightly too thick. The "waist" of the shifter cables also wasn't quite out of the way, and blocked the dowels from passing through the block. I ended up having to clamp the shifter cables in place, then run through the holes (and metal cable sleeves) with a 7/32" bit (5.556 mm). The pins could slide into place easily, and were locked in by the rest of the shifter housing once that block was in place.

The other tolerance issue I ran into was the tapped holes on the lever arms. They seemed to both be tapped from the right side, but weren't tapped all the way through. This meant that installing the rod end for the shifter cable was pretty easy, but the crossgate cable was a colossal pain. I had to borrow a bolt from the base of the shifter chassis and run it through the holes a few times (first from the right, then from the left) to get the rod end to screw in.

I don't have a great picture of it installed, but here's a quick one I took today:
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-31-2016, 09:00 AM
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Nice review of the process. Looks like a cool piece.
I gotta say, at the price point these go for, the QC/fitment issues are completely unacceptable.

2005 Elise - Storm Titanium
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-31-2016, 09:13 AM
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I had all those issues and a couple more. I'd say, one of the most brutal installs I've done on any car, and I've owned 93 cars... and modded most of them. Absolutely zero install instructions kinda sucked too. There was a pretty good learning curve on some things. The saving grace is that now it's installed, it's freakin' BRILLIANT!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-31-2016, 10:10 AM
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OP, did you have to slacken the shifter and crossgate cables from the engine side at all? Because both of my cables were too short and in order to install the block, I had to give it some slack.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-31-2016, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jumpman1975 View Post
OP, did you have to slacken the shifter and crossgate cables from the engine side at all? Because both of my cables were too short and in order to install the block, I had to give it some slack.
I did not. I thought I would need to, but ended up having just enough slack.

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Originally Posted by Gokart3 View Post
I had all those issues and a couple more. I'd say, one of the most brutal installs I've done on any car
Agreed. Someone here quoted a 4 hour install time; if that's accurate, I'm really impressed. I spent 8 hours on it the first day, and another 3 the next day (granted, I did some other interior work while I had the seats out).

What other issues did you run into? I'm still trying to find the right mounting hardware for my traction control switch. The switch for the door locks fit perfectly, and I had to trim the ridges on the hazards switch to get it to fit. It was glued into my old center console, so I went for a first drive without it installed... only to find out that the turn signals don't work without it!
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-31-2016, 10:55 AM
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I bought a pack of plastic grommets ( I think they're called caps) from pepboys. Ended up using two pieces and drilled holes on both: 1 for the top and one for the bottom as a washer and I used the stock nut.

Also, did you loosen both parking brake cable or just the driver's side? Although, I'm not sure if you can adjust the passenger side as I didn't look.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-31-2016, 11:27 AM Thread Starter
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Also, did you loosen both parking brake cable or just the driver's side? Although, I'm not sure if you can adjust the passenger side as I didn't look.
Just the driver's side. I'm pretty sure only the driver's side is adjustable.

The factory nut for the traction control switch was missing; must have disappeared when the previous owner swapped in the leather-wrapped console. I'm still trying to find a replacement that fits.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2017, 09:44 AM
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Question for anyone who has installed this or other shifters. (I have installed the Alitech.) The two little plastic black sleeves that ride over the shifter cables seem to serve no purpose in this install. See accompanying picture (but don't pay attention to the blue circles - look further to the right to the black sleeves.) They are loose and rattle around but they don't slide off the cable. Can these be removed even if cut off without changing the functionality?
Thanks!
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-22-2018, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teague View Post
Question for anyone who has installed this or other shifters. (I have installed the Alitech.) The two little plastic black sleeves that ride over the shifter cables seem to serve no purpose in this install. See accompanying picture (but don't pay attention to the blue circles - look further to the right to the black sleeves.) They are loose and rattle around but they don't slide off the cable. Can these be removed even if cut off without changing the functionality?
Thanks!
Teague.
I believe these act as strain reliefs and self-lubricated guides. They often crack on the OEM cables (mine were, and I've seen it in lots of photos), and expose the wire cable underneath. I'm not sure if you could get the cable to bind it you, say, slammed the shifter into gear without the transmission's cooperation.
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