Shock absorbers (or dampers, if you prefer) are some of the hardest-working components on your vehicle. They have to soak up incredible physical forces, massive amounts of heat, and thousands of pounds of weight all while keeping your tires firmly planted on the ground. Off-road, these stresses only increase as you load your vehicle to the max and travel over washboard roads and rocky trails.
Why upgrade your suspension? Well for one your ride quality will, of course, improve. But you’ll also see better performance in rough terrain, more stability with heavier loads, more clearance for tires and (depending on the model) the ability to fine-tune your suspension for the road ahead.
My colleague Pat here at the Overlander Notebook wrote a little while back about how off road suspension works from a technical standpoint. It's worth a re-read, as he has a knack for explaining this stuff really well. Plus, he made this neat video driving his Land Cruiser without shock absorbers!
You can see why dampers are so important for the driving performance of your vehicle. Through the magic of fluid dynamics, shock absorbers convert the energy in the motion of your suspension springs into heat, which controls the oscillation of the springs, and thus the ride and handling of your rig. The better shock absorbers are at dissipating heat, the more performance you'll see from your suspension both on road and off. If you've ever driven a truck with worn out shocks, you'll recognize that bouncy, swaying feeling illustrated in the video right away. It's not only uncomfortable, it's also potentially dangerous. As Pat says, "Take good care of your dampers, and they'll take good care of you."
Let's say you're looking to replace your old worn out suspension, or possibly upgrading to a higher performance spec to account for larger wheels and tires, or an increase in weight due to your overlanding kit. Bilstein should be at the top of your shopping list for a number reasons.
For nearly 70 years Bilstein has been making some of the toughest and most technologically advanced suspension on the planet. From classic Land Cruisers to 1000 hp Baja race trucks, Bilstein’s comprehensive line-up of off-road focused shock absorbers and suspension components can keep your vehicle on track for more adventure. And, you can add Bilstein's class-leading technology to your rig at a very affordable price point. For example, their B6 4600 Series shocks start at just $84 per corner.
If you have a lift and a little more weight, Bilstein's B8 5100 Series add a larger diameter shock body for increased heat dissipation, and zinc-coated outer protection for long life and good looks under your fenders. The 5100 is a popular upgrade especially on Rams, Tacomas, and Jeep JK Wranglers. The kicker? They start at only $99 per damper.
If you're looking to do a comprehensive overhaul of your vehicle's suspension system, Bilstein's B8 6112 Off-Road Suspension system could may be the ticket. Available for many popular coil-sprung off-roaders, like the FJ Cruiser, the 6112 includes custom wound springs designed for your application and 60mm mono-tube dampers with digressive pistons for increased resistance to fade. These are truly bolt on kits, so you know the fit will be exact.
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