Damper Valving 

Suspensions are VERY complex. Please note this guide is intended to be a BASIC damper valving guide and covers information at a relatively high level. Just like there are several ways to brew coffee, there are several ways to setup suspensions.


Understanding Dampers

It is important to understand WHAT the shocks (dampers) are doing in order to understand how to make changes to the handling characteristics of your car.

Dampers create force to control the springs and the dynamics of the suspension/chassis. When the suspension moves we measure it by velocity. When the suspension compresses it is called “Bump” and when the suspension droops it is called “Rebound”. Turning causes the car to roll (outside tire compresses and the inside tire droops) and this is typically a low velocity occurrence of the suspension (aka low speed). Hitting a bump or curb is typically a high velocity occurrence (high speed).

So the more adjustment knobs the better right? The tendency is to want a damper that has a knob for every function… low speed rebound, low speed compression, and high speed rebound/compression so we can fine tune but unfortunately its not that easy. We see it over and over and over again where people install complex dampers, get lost with knob turning and end up NEVER adjusting them ever again. The best laid plans get derailed by complexity. Its important to keep it simple and keep good notes.

Öhlins dampers are competitive, not complicated. They are setup out of the box with force curves oriented towards performance driving. The clicker predominantly adjusts low speed rebound (the most important) and low speed compression is matched as necessary. This low speed adjustment helps dial in the “dynamic balance” of the car, in other words, how the car reacts when you turn. It also helps dial in grip through the turn by keeping the tire contact patch optimal over small undulations and ripples in the pavement. The Dual Flow Valve (DFV) replaces the need for high speed adjustments, it allows the damper to soak up bumps without upsetting the car and lets the tire return to the ground quickly.

What about range of adjustment? There are typically two different use cases for aftermarket dampers and their adjustments: combo street/track cars, and dedicated track cars. It sounds enticing to buy a damper that can control a large range of spring rates to encompass multiple use cases but this approach is a major compromise. They typically end up with a small adjustment range for the springs you settle on limiting your adjustability and tuning capabilities from track to track. Everyone is a little bit different, or perhaps a lot different, which is why Öhlins offers two distinct kits, the ‘Road and Track’ and ‘Dedicated Track’, each of which are capable of handling a window of spring rates for their particular use case. No need to have your dampers re-valved if you want to make spring changes to suit your driving style or car setup. ‘Road and Track’ and ‘Dedicated Track’ are based off the same damper technology and can be converted back and forth. Custom applications are also available.