How parts really affect shock performance
We make a big deal about our shock internals in comparison to our competitors. Here’s today’s science lesson, ELI5 version:
Mass - Velocity - Oil Viscosity and how it all relates:
The shock piston is the main focus here, so let’s dive in on a discussion about our piston vs the other brands. I can’t speak for every brand, so I’ll focus primarily on the $800-1200 option that everyone on Reddit, Twitter, FaceBook, or what your favorite forum likes to recommend. You know who I’m talking about.
The Flatout Suspension piston is made from aluminum and cut on a CNC machine. The other brand has a chunk of steel. Ours weighs .247 ounces, theirs weighs 1.234 ounces. That’s five times heavier! Why is this important? Well, buckle up...
Inside of a shock, you have oil. The piston has to move in that oil. Oil is a viscous liquid that creates resistance; which you need in a shock. It’s that resistance that controls your shock. As we know, one of the duties of a shock is to control a springs energy (rebound). If you have a spring matched to a shock with no resistance, you have a pogo stick. Pretty bouncy, that’s its job. You don’t want that in a car. That’s why you have oil in your shock. You need resistance.
So in basic terms, trying to keep this simple without throwing a bunch of math equations at you...
An object moving (velocity) creates heat. The heavier (mass) the object is, the more heat it creates. So if two objects are moving at the same rate, the heavier object will generate more heat. The shock with the heavier piston will create more heat in identical scenarios.
If you heat up oil, molecules in the oil separate and the viscosity decreases. So the heavier object, generating more heat causes the oil to thin out. If you increase the speed of the heavier object, the heat rises in relation. The more you work the suspension, the thinner the oil gets, and the ride gets bouncier. Simple science.
To counter this, you’d generally run a thicker oil. However, when the shock is cool or you are just daily driving, you have too much resistance, therefore a firmer than desired ride.
The answer, keep weight down to control heat and run a mid-grade viscosity. Our shock is coupled with a light weight piston and medium weight synthetic shock oil. The shock is comfortable for daily driving and maintains its performance in competitive use. Your car rides better, and your shocks last considerably longer. In 1-2 years, you'll need a shock rebuild (oil change at least) due to the oil breaking down. In that time, you'll spend on average $200 less than you paid for your suspension in rebuild costs. That's almost like buying a new suspension every 1-2 years. Why are you ok with that??
I always say it over and over...for the same price, you have a choice to buy a suspension that works good enough or a suspension that works correctly.