Lowering at the highest level

We provide advice on suspension tuning

“Simply having shorter springs, doesn’t work” explains our Engineer, Daniel Boehnke. It’s one of the most common mistakes in suspension tuning. Although this form of lowering gives a sporty appearance, the handling will not match the styling. A shorter lowering spring also needs to have a harder spring rate to support aggressive driving. Not only this but the new spring rate must also be matched with a damper calibrated to the new springs travel range and stiffness. It’s an exact science. Ignoring this results in a bouncy ride and poor road holding, compromising braking, acceleration and cornering grip. In extreme situations the shock absorber reaches the very end of its travel, bouncing on the bump stop and creating dangerously unpredictable braking and steering characteristics. This also causes rapid damper wear. The moral of the story is this; you should always fit sport springs with the appropriate shock absorbers. That’s why BILSTEIN has developed the B8 damper, specifically designed to work with lowering springs.

The best course of action for sporting enthusiasts is to select a complete suspension package where spring and damper work in perfect harmony with the car. For this purpose BILSTEIN has developed sports shock and damper pairings and more dynamics focussed coilover systems. Both of which are extremely popular in the tuning scene. But which solution is best for you?

“The most expensive and complex is not always the best for everyone”, explained Marco Kunert, a BILSTEIN suspension engineer.  For example “Our Clubsport racing suspension is definitely not for someone looking to retain day to day comfort. Yes it’s a road-going solution but it is focussed on achieving the optimum handling possibilities” he continues.

That’s why the BILSTEIN buying process begins with a requirement analysis. The dealer will ask a series of questions in order to narrow down the customer expectations.  “Some individuals will always seek the most expensive solution. However, these products may not be the best for them. Often the specialised product lines are simply too hard-core or offer too much adjustability. These can often be specially developed for a group of enthusiasts seeking a specific characteristic, forgoing all others. Often we provide these customers with an abundance of options which can be too much for the regular car driver”, said Kunert.

However, being too thrifty can also be problematic. This can be true when only changing the springs or if you require adjustable damping for changing situations but purchase a fixed damping solution. It’s the BILSTEIN dealer’s job to make sure the suspension acquired meets the customers demand for driving dynamics and also the look. For most drivers fixed-damping suspensions like as the BILSTEIN B12 Pro-Kit are perfect. It offers lowering up to 40 mm and is a fit and forget non-adjustable solution with perfectly matched damper and spring pairs. We also offer the BILSTEIN B12 Sportline for people looking to go a little lower, B12 Sportline provides a max lowering of 50 mm.  If you want to select your own lowering amount then coilover systems like BILSTEIN B14 may be for you. These offer even more possibilities to vary the vehicle height and get the optimum look and ride height setup.

If you want the ultimate driving dynamics on the road and you want suspension that can be perfectly tailored to your preferences then BILSTEIN B16 is the product for you. In addition to the B14 features, it offers a mechanical parallel adjustment of rebound and bump settings via an easy to use adjustment wheel. There’s ten distinct clicks to choose from as you turn the wheel, each with perfectly matched bump and rebound settings. The BILSTEIN B16 is the perfect suspension for a car that spends most of it’s time enthusiastically driving local roads but also can be found on the track on occasion too. B16 is more than suitable for a few quick laps on the Nürburgring on the way home. Whether you choose conventional shock and spring sport suspension or a race inspired coilover suspension system remember; extreme lowering has a detrimental effect to handling, road holding and safety.

There is another solution available however, this time aimed at the hard-core track driver and those who drive on the road with semi-slicks. These drivers only normally drive on public roads to get to the next race track. If this is you, BILSTEIN Clubsport is your suspension. The extremely reliable, high-tech coilover system offers an aluminium uniball top mount, as well as separately adjustable rebound and bump characteristics. In total there are 100 different setting variations. Make no mistake, this is racing suspension for the road and if you value comfort over performance then BILSTEIN B12, B14 and B16 will offer a better compromise.

Of course it is not only suspension that is responsible for your driving experience, there are many other factors to consider too. One of the most important is that extreme tyre cross-sections can negatively influence handling. Heavy over-sized wheel and tyre packages can increase the unsprung mass and compromise the suspension system. You’ll have moved it out of it’s intended design range. Conversely, when supplementary components are chosen wisely they can support the suspension in operation. Experienced BILSTEIN dealers are available in your area to offer advice and assistance to drivers.