Performance and race dampers use stronger internals, with larger diameter rods and improved oil seals. Racing applications utilise remote reservoirs to control damper fade in the most arduous conditions. Damper selection needs to be thought out carefully. Adjustable dampers offer a range of benefits but it does not mean that a set of well matched non-adjustable dampers and springs are inferior. Our suspension suppliers spend a lot of time and effort making kits that have been tested and will improve handling out of the box. Adjustable dampers need to be set up correctly to work in harmony with the springs and the intended application, and even the conditions. Cold weather means the oil will be more viscous and the damper “harder” than in hot weather. When installing an adjustable damper generally it is best to start off with the softest setting and then work up from there. Inititally change front and rear at the same time. Later on you can experiment with different settings to ensure correct handling balance. If you are serious about extracting the best from your car you will be looking at a set of dampers with separate bump and rebound settings.
Most dampers today are gas pressurised twin tube design. These still use oil in a reservoir but are pressurised by gas at a relatively low pressure. The tendency for the oil to foam is reduced over a non-gas charged damper. The result is a faster response of the damping valves as well as improved damping characteristics.
There is another design of damper called a monutube which in comparison with the conventional twin tube system, ensures minimal foaming of the oil in the shock. This in turn makes the damper more stable and better able to cope with intensive use. It does this by keeping the oil in the damper under high gas pressure. Bilstein pioneered the monutube damper and still lead the field in this area. Another benefit of the monutube design is they are sometimes mounted “upside-down”, this saves a small amount of unsprung weight which can again improve handling, together with the fact that monutube designs are often 20% lighter. In addition the monutube high pressure gas actually adds some spring rate to the car which may help you if you are running in a class where you must run standard spring rates.
Monutube dampers generally have a worse low speed ride, but are often better at controlling the tyres contact with the road on a high speed surface with bumps. Adjustable twin-tube dampers usually permit a wider adjustment range so they can work with different spring rates. For racing use monutube units may need re-valving to cope with set-up requirements.
Balance Motorsport can help you choose the right application for your vehicle to maximise performance and value. We currently sell Shock Absorbers online from Bilstein, and Gaz and Nitron (available on special request). We are able to provide a rebuild and revalve service on Bilstein Shocks if you want to operate them with significantly stiffer springs.