Koni vs. Bilstein - Chevy Impala SS Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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Koni vs. Bilstein

I've gotten 14 good years of service on the Cady with Sport Bilsteins (sig shows susp. setup), and overdue to replace with new. I had imagined Koni's initially back then when I put the car together as I had run on my earlier drivers, but opted for Bilstein's good rep on the forum and slightly cheaper cost. I also have Bilsteins on the Impala SS and an '88 MCSS - love them all. I'm probably more just looking for a change than anything else, and considering the "next" 15 years the amortized cost seems affordable to pop for the Koni.

The Stickie provides good background, and the debate between these, and shocks overall, has been going on at least 15 years:
price difference in shocks

Koni or Bilstein??

Alternate low pressure v. high pressure designs for the two. Adjustable on Koni is pretty neat though I'd probably just pick one setting and leave it at that The only thing left is to check to make sure the spread on current pricing has not widened up between the two.

EDIT: Looks like yet another option has surfaced recently: http://vi-king.com/
Double adjustable
$170 each to start

\'96SS SOB: SSRI, Herter Tune, Tri-Y II, SLP SS, 3000 Edge, F/HO bars, METCO extendeds and CV MMC, Bilsteins, currently Vredestein Ultrac Sessanta (315/35 rear)
\'96FWB BUW-Butt Ugly White: SS Bars, METCO LCAs, Koni Reds, PowerTrax No-Slip

Last edited by 96 Black; 07-01-2016 at 11:32 AM.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 11:22 AM
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I think you missed your sale opportunity. Seems every spring, koni does a like 20-25% off sale. That's when I picked up my fronts after the one AK1195 failed as mentioned in the other thread. That puts them right around the same price. If memory serves, they were about 90something each.
Having them for a few years now, I wanna say they feel a little softer on compression where they be good with stiffer than stock springs. Rebound is great. But you need to be close to the max even with the stock ss springs I recall i'm 1/2 a turn from max after initially trying 1/2 and then 1 turn from soft.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 11:30 AM
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Oh, and they'd feel softer than the sports for sure on rough impacts.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 11:34 AM
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IMO, you need a lot of time and practice on roadcourses or AutoX to see the benefit out of the Koni's.
I have no doubt they're better when you get to that level where the car becomes the limitation rather than yourself.
I'm not there.....lol!

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-22-2016, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 91ss View Post
I think you missed your sale opportunity. Seems every spring, koni does a like 20-25% off sale.
I've still got them on Sale @ 20% Off!

TC
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-22-2016, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 96 Black View Post
I've gotten 14 good years of service on the Cady with Sport Bilsteins (sig shows susp. setup), and overdue to replace with new. I had imagined Koni's initially back then when I put the car together as I had run on my earlier drivers, but opted for Bilstein's good rep on the forum and slightly cheaper cost. I also have Bilsteins on the Impala SS and an '88 MCSS - love them all. I'm probably more just looking for a change than anything else, and considering the "next" 15 years the amortized cost seems affordable to pop for the Koni.

The Stickie provides good background, and the debate between these, and shocks overall, has been going on at least 15 years:
price difference in shocks

Koni or Bilstein??

Alternate low pressure v. high pressure designs for the two. Adjustable on Koni is pretty neat though I'd probably just pick one setting and leave it at that The only thing left is to check to make sure the spread on current pricing has not widened up between the two.

EDIT: Looks like yet another option has surfaced recently: Rod Ends, Shocks, and Springs | Viking Performance
Double adjustable
$170 each to start
I carry Koni, Bilsteins & Vikings - I have Viking Coilovers on my '73 Camaro - Nice Product!
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 06:50 AM
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Starting using the Bilstiens in 94 on an "for export only" Impala SS project. Quickly started having Bill Hindhoff @ Bilstien in San Diego revalving them for ever more rebound. The "soft" Bilstiens were about perfect for compression but even the "hard" (sport) ones were too light on rebound. We settled on rates very different for various springs, even then he had created a chart of about 20 different values to match the then few different springs. Fast forward to the present and while the Koni's are fixed in compression at just about the perfect rates, the rebound is even more adjustable than the Bilstien revalves would tolerate. Some people only adjust them after some wear, but from new they can benefit any setup by adjusting. So depending on which springs and sways they are combined with (both count) , the Koni's today can give a better ride and handling mix than any of the off the shelf Bilstien's. Any front spring/sway will work well with a full soft Adjustment on the Koni (softest ride) to various degrees of hard (about 2 1/2 turns toward full hard) to improve handling. Even tiny changes in the last 1/4 turn makes a big difference. Full hard in front on any spring rides pretty hard, actually smoother full hard the stiffer the spring and bar combo. It's not possible to get the front adjustment too hard for handling but the ride will really suffer, and a too stiff suspension bouncing over rough spots isn't "good handling". The frame can't be too stiff but the suspension easily can be. Rear is different. None of the OEM spring/bar combo's will benefit from very much harder Koni adjustment. The rear suspension doesn't really work well with crazy hard spring rates either (weight distribution has the front working much harder) or too much rebound but the stiffer the rear springs, the more rebound on the Koni's. Most stiffer aftermarket springs used with thicker rear bars do best with the rear shocks adjusted to 1/2 to 3/4 of full hard. A 300 lbs rear spring like on the crazy long wheelbase 8000 lbs stretch limo with a 1 1/2" solid rear sway bay works perfect with the Koni's at full hard from new. Compression stays very soft so the limo rides and handles best at full hard, not true for any B-body sedan. (Even a 200lbs rear spring would be too stiff on a 4000 lbs. sedan and require a front spring matched for bounce frequency that would be insane) In front any over 800 lbs spring couldn't be Bounce Frequency matched with any but a too stiff functional rear spring. Although Colin Chapman famously said (eons ago) "Any suspension will work if you don't let it".
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 07:38 AM Thread Starter
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Yo Scot. I appreciate your insights and intel. I've your thread detailing the locked up frame and full poly suspension of your stretch limo and have to say all that plus the wheelbase is my vision of perfection - times 2!

I updated my orig. post above and sig after (sadly) parting with my FTSS. Actually quite relieved it's been adopted into a great new home. Anyway, I'm working a new blank slate - and want to do it right - for the NEXT 15 years. I'd like to think I can put together a great integrated setup from the start and keep it that way. On the last one I went through 3 shocks, 4 coils and several bar combos until pleased.

I don't see any better shiny objects out there that wind me up. But, I sure wouldn't mind giving current design suspensions a run for their money with the perfect undercarriage upgrades on mine. Like you I believe the frame/suspension/brakes return the greatest performance and enjoyment.

I'm curious, in a perfect world and from your (immensely more than mine) experience what would be your dream setup on all counts if forced to work over the same FE1 creampuff I just snagged?

\'96SS SOB: SSRI, Herter Tune, Tri-Y II, SLP SS, 3000 Edge, F/HO bars, METCO extendeds and CV MMC, Bilsteins, currently Vredestein Ultrac Sessanta (315/35 rear)
\'96FWB BUW-Butt Ugly White: SS Bars, METCO LCAs, Koni Reds, PowerTrax No-Slip
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 07:58 AM
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"In the long run, men hit only what they aim for"

I need more info!
Everyone has a ride/handling balance fantasy. What's yours?
Do tires/wheels, entire suspension and frame rigidity right from the start and life is good.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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D'oH!

I'm guilty of my own pet-peeve with a classic "Help Me" but providing no data. OEM SS coils on FTSS, babied lo-miler with FE1 on the right.
.
.
.



-It'll be my driver for the next 15 years, just as the FTSS was for the past 16. My official designated garage queen is the '96 Imp. There's a 6-speed laying next to it for someday, but I digress.
-The new white one (I'm liking the new Lincoln tanclay for repaint) will be the worker.
-Goal for this one will be approaching the handling of a nice new S-Maybach, - but for $170,000 less. You know nothing unreasonable.

Seriously, the car as it sets is a clean 52,XXXmile beaut, and short of an IRS and some one-off R&P steering I'm hunting for what you referenced as critical in correctly matching coils-shocks-bushings-bars.

The FTSS took 2 years to get right using cobbled together and repeat tries at used pieces off the Impala combined with eventually just stiff Bilsteins and some aftermarket LCAs. I'd prefer to do it right with the correctly matched set of new (retail priced) stuff - but only once.

My last FWB gave me the following:
-intersection turns that felt like autocrossing, and could never get the tires to squeal even trying hard
-very gratifying straightline road feel
-flattened "non-overcorrection-requiring" maneuvering between lanes
-got rid of the pushing, plenty of oversteer

I'd like to replicate as much of that as possible. Not a tall order. Just sacked out SS coils all around gave a good ht/rake (right at 2" drop in front with the old gray one and the new white one next to each other.

I hope that helps, though most of the input is qualitative. You may end up recommending just matching some simple samebrand coils, bars and LCAs and call it a day. But there may be some German skunkworks stuff going under the newest Audis or AMGs too that you know about. lol

Other points to entertain:
1.If going after boxing the frame - but without lifting the body - where would it be for you? The F- front brace is a given, welded of course. I'll even be looking into jounce bars of some sort. Anything that stiffens things for turns but without locking down straightline comfort to the point of feeling like an old Vette.

2.If compromising comfort a bit and allowing one place - and one place only - for poly bushings - where would you do them? I bet you say A-arms eh.

3.For any return on actual performance or ride comfort (and especially considering the cost and work) do AirRide systems belong on anything other than lo-riders and tractor trailers?

I read decades ago the famous Cadillac Ride was their engineering really wimpy spring rates together with stiff shocks (well as stiff as blu-hairs could tolerate and still not feel the road at all). You make mention of keeping rates low which is exactly my reasoning - but without your scientifical experience of course. The front simply must drop - almost 2" I'd say. Some for stance, but mostly for road viewing ahead. The difference between FTSS and this new one is unnerving, like between seeing everything v. the feeling I'm going to run over a little kid I can't see.

The only thing pretty much set at this point will be some sort of 17-18" 8 1/2" wheels, but with at least the same or greater rolling ht tires as stock. I saw something on an Infiniti SUV that looked great. I ran simple SS wheels with 255 55's before, and that provided plenty wide pattern and decent sidewall cushion.

Finally, I'll have to do NavyLifer's rear discs AGAIN, but that's not really susp./chassis.

Thanks for playing along. I hope this makes up for the last post. haha

\'96SS SOB: SSRI, Herter Tune, Tri-Y II, SLP SS, 3000 Edge, F/HO bars, METCO extendeds and CV MMC, Bilsteins, currently Vredestein Ultrac Sessanta (315/35 rear)
\'96FWB BUW-Butt Ugly White: SS Bars, METCO LCAs, Koni Reds, PowerTrax No-Slip
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