which Bilsteins? - Chevy Impala SS Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-14-2003, 04:22 PM
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hey guys...
Im in the market for new shocks...
but Im stuck between the "soft" and "firm" shocks.
I like having a solid ride but are the firm ones like... too hard?? I know its kinda one of those things you don t know until you try them but I was wondering if you guys who have used the Bilsteins could give me some input as to which shocks to get.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-14-2003, 09:12 PM
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Well...you're a member of BADASS...and like everyone in the club that has replaced their shocks has gone with the "stiff" bilsteins. I had HAL's in my car, but I just sold them and took them out in favor of stiff bilsteins because I love how everyone elses cars ride, and the HAL's can't handle the cold winters here (they blew out last winter and got rebuilt under warranty...and now the warranty is gone, so I want them out).

So if you'd like to ride in my car...or just about anybody elses, I'm sure it can be arranged...if you're a good enough stickshift driver I might even consider letting you drive mine so you can get the feel of the shocks for yourself.. Also if you look at the actual rates of the shocks...the "soft" bilsteins are actually stiffer, it's just that they're progressively valved so they ride softer, but when you hit something like washboard pavement they can actually get REALLY harsh. I had the soft ones in my old 9C1 and the ride was very floaty and felt uncontrolled, and then it got harsh and I overall didn't like it a bit...the stiff bilsteins actually ride really nicely (because our cars are HEAVY) and the ride always feels controlled.
post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-14-2003, 09:32 PM
95 9c1 Lt1
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I call for the stiff bilsteins too.
Now my front shocks are still factory or whatever but I have the boxy bilsteins in the back of my wagon (which I took from my 9c1 I had them in) and along with wagon springs they improved the handling dramatically
Thumbs up for stiff boxy bilsteins.
post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-15-2003, 07:39 AM
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Mike, the spec differences really lies in the rebound and compression damping. The compression damping of the front 91-96 Bilsteins is ~25% stiffer than the 77-90 ones, but the reason the stiff ones feel so much more controlled is that they have almost 400% more rebound damping. The rear shocks show similar differences. I don't know how the progressive nature of the 91-96s is conveyed in the damping rates but I think this pretty much explains why they feel floaty. I also think I'd be happy with the 91-96's compression damping on the boxy shocks.

For inquiring minds, the numbers are here:


And I've generally found that progressive damping isn't always a good idea. For instance when you hit a big bump (or drive on washboard pavement), the fast acceleration of the shock rod can make the progressive valve slam shut and instantly make the shock firmer. I think to make progressive really work an OEM would have to tune it around the car's weight, springs/anti-roll bars and even tires.

Anyway, my vote goes to the 77-90 0929 and 1104s (which I have installed on my car, just so people don't think I'm benchracing shocks).
post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-15-2003, 09:09 AM
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I had the same worries before I purchased my Bilsteins. I went with the stiff ones and coulldnt be happier. Well, maybe if I had HALS. But the stiff Bilstein handles great, and isnt too jarring on the road. You wont be upset.
post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-15-2003, 04:37 PM
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I bought the soft ones, and wish I had bought the stiff ones. The ride with the soft ones is kind of bouncy with stock SS springs. Nice on the highway and it takes speed bumps like they aren't there, but just kind of floaty. If I could justify the dough after only 8k miles on the soft ones, I'd go back and do stiff.
post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-15-2003, 06:44 PM
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I went ordered the stiff ones. I'll let you know how it works out.
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