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Old 05-18-2019, 04:22 PM   #1
AT-JeffT
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Bilstein B6 and Stock Springs ("14)

Hi All,


Just thought I'd review the Bilstein B6 dampers when paired with the stock '14 springs. I didn't find a whole lot of information when doing research before I purchased some, so I thought I'd share my experience.


Ride quality: is best be described as "firm but round". Compared to stock, bumps are less sharp, but firmer. If you were to graph it on force over time graph, I imagine a bump would look like a wider but less tall curve vs stock dampers. I like the ride, it inspires confidence and in many cases it's more comfortable, but in some cases less than stock.



Performance: is greatly improved. I'm really really impressed with how these manage large weight transfers. I just got back from an autocross and they were excellent. On stock dampers, a hard left then right turn(or vise versa) would very much unsettle the car(think Top Gear's hammerhead turn). The dampers would allow the springs would overly compress then level out after. Now, with the Bilsteins those types of elements are definitely critically damped, meaning the car doesn't oscillate and transfers the weight smoothly in one motion.



Overall, the bilstein b6 dampers/struts/shocks are really impressive. If you're looking for better performance without giving up height and even gaining some better ride quality in situations, I would certainly recommend them. If anyone has questions about this setup feel free to post them here and I'll answer them the best I can.


I have RCE Tarmac springs I plan to throw on in a few months and will also review how those change the ride quality and performance.

Last edited by AT-JeffT; 04-26-2020 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 05-20-2019, 02:42 PM   #2
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Review the Bilstein B6 dampers w/ stock springs

Thanks for this review Jeff. I'm considering going away from the customer coil over track setup I have and returning to a more stock configuration.

I was staying away from Bilsteins -- which I have typically loved -- because of this suspension engineering video on youtube: [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHyVoiP0o_8&t=814s[/ame]

But your review is encouraging.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AT-JeffT View Post
Hi All,


Just thought I'd review the Bilstein B6 dampers when paired with the stock '14 springs. I didn't find a whole lot of information when doing research before I purchased some, so I thought I'd share my experience.


Ride quality: is best be described as "firm but round". Compared to stock, bumps are less sharp, but firmer. If you were to graph it on force over time graph, I imagine a bump would look like a wider but less tall curve vs stock dampers. I like the ride, it inspires confidence but and in many cases it's much more comfortable, but in some cases less than stock.



Performance: is greatly improved. I'm really really impressed with how these manage large weight transfers. I just got back from an autocross and they were really impressive. On stock dampers, a hard left then right turn(or vise versa) would very much unsettle the car. The dampers would allow the springs would overly compress then level out after. Now, with the Bilsteins those types of elements are definitely critically damped, meaning the car doesn't oscillate and transfers the weight smoothly in one motion.



Overall, the bilstein b6 dampers/struts/shocks are really impressive. If you're looking for better performance without giving up height and even better ride quality in many situations, I would certainly recommend them. If anyone has questions about this setup feel free to post them here and I'll answer them the best I can.


I have RCE Tarmac springs I plan to throw on in a few month and will also review how those change the ride quality and performance.
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Four_wheel_drifts View Post
Thanks for this review Jeff. I'm considering going away from the customer coil over track setup I have and returning to a more stock configuration.

I was staying away from Bilsteins -- which I have typically loved -- because of this suspension engineering video on youtube:


But your review is encouraging.

I'm not sure the B6's would have the same curve as analyzing in the video. He mentions that he's looking at the PSS (coilover) setup not sure if they would have valved those the same as the B6. Either way, the only other option for performance dampers was koni's which I read had leaking issues at the adjusters, so I don't think there's a perfect option out there.



If you do end up with Bilsteins, feel free to review them here. I'd be interesting to see yours and other's opinions on them.
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AT-JeffT View Post
I'm not sure the B6's would have the same curve as analyzing in the video. He mentions that he's looking at the PSS (coilover) setup not sure if they would have valved those the same as the B6. Either way, the only other option for performance dampers was koni's which I read had leaking issues at the adjusters, so I don't think there's a perfect option out there.



If you do end up with Bilsteins, feel free to review them here. I'd be interesting to see yours and other's opinions on them.
I wasn't going to mention it, but my custom coilovers use koni yellows and one has leaked from the adjuster.
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Old 05-29-2019, 08:21 AM   #5
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I agree 100% with ATJeffT's original post.

I recently replaced the OEM front & rear struts with Bilstein B6s while leaving the rest of the suspension OEM. ATJeffT's comments are correct; the car is much more planted and stable, firmer yet not brutal at all. Cornering speeds are much higher now even with the OEM Michelin Primacy HP tires. The car pivots much better when rapidly changing steering direction.

I would summarize my opinion of the B6s as "This is the way the car should have come from the factory" from a suspension point of view.

Things to be aware of:

1. The shafts on the front struts are too wide to use the OEM bump stops so you run the fronts without the stops.

2. The shaft on the rear struts are a touch narrower so you can reuse the OEM bump stops but they will be "loose". I do not hear any funny noise as a result of this.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:14 AM   #6
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Hmm? If they need non-stock bumpstops, they didn't include such in set?
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Old 05-29-2019, 10:37 AM   #7
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Hmm? If they need non-stock bumpstops, they didn't include such in set?
Nope. No matching bumpstops included.
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Old 05-29-2019, 11:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrspindlelegs View Post
Things to be aware of:

1. The shafts on the front struts are too wide to use the OEM bump stops so you run the fronts without the stops.

2. The shaft on the rear struts are a touch narrower so you can reuse the OEM bump stops but they will be "loose". I do not hear any funny noise as a result of this.
The fronts are inverted monotubes, and they have a bump stop inside the strut case. You just can't see it. There are no issues with the rear stop fitting slightly loose. You shouldn't hear any noise. The photo below is a BMW strut but it gives you an idea what is going on inside.

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Old 05-29-2019, 11:54 AM   #9
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Just put bilsteins on the rear of our Forester. They're a lot better than a blown suspension!
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:00 PM   #10
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What about the included bumpstops with the RCE Yellows? Would those fit on the B6s? just curious..
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:42 PM   #11
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What about the included bumpstops with the RCE Yellows? Would those fit on the B6s? just curious..
You would not use our included bumpstops on the front with Bilsteins.

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Old 04-27-2020, 01:21 PM   #12
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Update: I took the Bilsteins with stock springs off for the winter here and put back on the stock suspension.

I've now put on the Bilsteins with RCE Tarmac springs. For those following along, I've had 3 different combinations of shocks and springs on since last year. 1) Bilsteins with stock springs. 2) Stock shocks and stock springs. 3) Bilsteins with RCE Tarmac

This latest combo is certainly the best combination. Strangely, it is the most comfortable setup of the 3 for street driving. The only type of bumps I've found less comfortable than stock are medium to large raised bumps. These raised bumps are about the same as the Bilstein/stock spring combo. Everything else is more comfortable than stock, broken pavement, small dips, transitions into parking lots, even railroad tracks!

Performance wise, the change isn't very noticeable on the street. Weight transfer forward/back and laterally seems mostly the same on the street. On ramps yield slightly less body roll. I don't feel street driving is a good test of the performance of this set up. I expect to feel a bigger change when pushing the car harder, but we'll have to wait and see. Also, how it feels is one thing, and actual performance is another. I'll update this once autocross season finally begins.

Last edited by AT-JeffT; 04-27-2020 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 04-28-2020, 02:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AT-JeffT View Post
Update: I took the Bilsteins with stock springs off for the winter here and put back on the stock suspension.

I've now put on the Bilsteins with RCE Tarmac springs. For those following along, I've had 3 different combinations of shocks and springs on since last year. 1) Bilsteins with stock springs. 2) Stock shocks and stock springs. 3) Bilsteins with RCE Tarmac

This latest combo is certainly the best combination. Strangely, it is the most comfortable setup of the 3 for street driving. The only type of bumps I've found less comfortable than stock are medium to large raised bumps. These raised bumps are about the same as the Bilstein/stock spring combo. Everything else is more comfortable than stock, broken pavement, small dips, transitions into parking lots, even railroad tracks!


Performance wise, the change isn't very noticeable on the street. Weight transfer forward/back and laterally seems mostly the same on the street. On ramps yield slightly less body roll. I don't feel street driving is a good test of the performance of this set up. I expect to feel a bigger change when pushing the car harder, but we'll have to wait and see. Also, how it feels is one thing, and actual performance is another. I'll update this once autocross season finally begins.
Thanks for this update and appreciate your opinion as you drive it more. I have 50k and figure in about two years I will do the suspension. One of my options is to go RCE yellows and B6, so this helps. I am DD and some spirited driving on mountain roads.
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Old 04-28-2020, 02:38 PM   #14
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Thanks for this update and appreciate your opinion as you drive it more. I have 50k and figure in about two years I will do the suspension. One of my options is to go RCE yellows and B6, so this helps. I am DD and some spirited driving on mountain roads.

Sure thing. The reason I changed over the suspension this year despite autocross not happening is due to a blown rear (stock) shock. It blew with around 75K miles, FYI. I compressed the shocks to check them before I put them on this past winter and they seemed good. Hopefully that gives you an idea of the stock shock lifespan. I'll rent a spring compressor and inspect the blow shock, but I have a feeling corrosion was the failure mode.

After all 3 combos, it's pretty clear that the majority of how the car rides is due to the shocks. If you are looking for a firmer but less sharp ride, I'd certainly go for the Bilsteins. I like that they aren't adjustable like the koni shocks. I know I'd be tinkering with them more all the time and it would cut into my enjoyment of the car. The RCE Yellow springs seemed perfect for me, but I wound up finding a deal on the RCE Tarmacs. I really don't tolerate uncomfortable suspension set ups, and I don't think you could go wrong with either the Yellows or Tarmacs.
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