R-Package Bilsteins vs HD Bilsteins: Differences and hard tech by FCM - Page 2 - Miata Turbo Forum - Boost cars, acquire cats.

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Old 12-03-2010, 01:56 PM   #21
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That would go a long way in helping those of us in the market have not only a better understanding, but make the selection process one we can justify based on our own needs.
As would providing shock dyno graphs.

Inevitably, there will almost always be some difference between what the tuner thinks the customer wants, and what the customer thinks the tuner is going to give him. Having shock dyno graphs to examine, discuss, and compare was a tremendous help when Bernie fine tuned a set of Bilsteins for me.

Shock dyno graphs aren't the total solution, because only a handful of tuners and racers can accurately relate how the graphs looks to how the suspension will perform, but they are a big part of the puzzle and with more general familiarity with how to interpret them their value will only increase. The other big plus is that the tuner and customer knows that the shocks were assembled properly and that everything works as intended.

Shaikh, I don't know if test every shock you build on a dyno, but if you do and you don't provide a dyno graph to confirm your work and to form the basis for future tuning, both you and your customers are missing a valuable opportunity to improve the end result.

Last edited by Thucydides; 12-03-2010 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 12-03-2010, 09:02 PM   #22
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Since we've all heard your criticism of all the other setups on the market, would you care to share the criticisms that you have about your own product line (from a component and performance standpoint). That would go a long way in helping those of us in the market have not only a better understanding, but make the selection process one we can justify based on our own needs. My own conversation with you in the past seemed to end with your feeling that all other products/options have shortcomings that make them substandard, but what you offer is perfect.
Criticisms would be relevant on case by case basis. What specifically are you attempting to achieve with your car, what features are most important?

Do you require a 2.25" spring or will a 2.5" clear your wheels/tires? (15x9 225 tires clear our 2.5" coilovers just fine, the sway bar or control arm limit contact first).

How important is saving a few pounds per corner of unsprung weight?

Are you willing to put up with the increased NVH and potential service concerns with using spherical bearings on poor/broken roads? (We do offer a spherical bearing mount/coaxial upper spring perch with Torrington bearings/races but only recommend it for a more dedicated race setup).

Does some potential rubbing of spring on coil-over sleeve (which can be usually be corrected by re-centering the spring on the perch) cause you to lose sleep?

Do you really think you need adjustable body length on your setup?

Do you need it delivered within a week or can you wait 6-8 weeks for a custom-setup? or longer for doubles (already addressed previously)

Those come to mind as potential criticisms. I was drawn to the Bilstein because it's widely available in many markets and find a wide range of cars fascinating to work on/study/race. Funny that after driving a Porsche 944S2 at the Packwood NT this year, someone from the region started a rumor that I wasn't tuning Miatas anymore! I've learned quite a lot characterizing cars across vehicles makes, which has helped me build better setups for everyone, Miatas included.

I have envisioned a custom-built, aluminum bodied monotube and it will be prototyped in-house next year, potentially in a double-eyelet, spherical Material stock for the reservoirs was chosen to double as threaded body stock; planning ahead.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:07 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Thucydides View Post
As would providing shock dyno graphs.

Inevitably, there will almost always be some difference between what the tuner thinks the customer wants, and what the customer thinks the tuner is going to give him. Having shock dyno graphs to examine, discuss, and compare was a tremendous help when Bernie fine tuned a set of Bilsteins for me.

Shock dyno graphs aren't the total solution, because only a handful of tuners and racers can accurately relate how the graphs looks to how the suspension will perform, but they are a big part of the puzzle and with more general familiarity with how to interpret them their value will only increase. The other big plus is that the tuner and customer knows that the shocks were assembled properly and that everything works as intended.

Shaikh, I don't know if test every shock you build on a dyno, but if you do and you don't provide a dyno graph to confirm your work and to form the basis for future tuning, both you and your customers are missing a valuable opportunity to improve the end result.
I understand what you're saying and there's merit to it, esp. the feedback/improving the end result part. I will explain my approach so perhaps you can understand as well.

We dyno test every damper that leaves the building. They are tuned to the corner-weights if provided or to a mean expected CW. Most NA and NB Miatas are about 52/48, btw. We calculate natural frequencies for each corner and if needed, adjust recommended spring rates. I model the spring vs. shock travel needed for every setup, which is why I ask about expected ride heights, car/driver weight, tire compound/wheel width, road or racing surfaces, preference for comfort vs. performance. I have stringent internal build standards for the shocks and those standards are refined as we learn more about what works in different driving situations.

We've had some success tuning for street/sport driving and also winning races. We've developed some pretty cool technology with more on the way. Because I know Miatas pretty well, I'm able to use my racing/driving/tuning experience as a baseline and then taking a customer's needs and racing/driving experience into account to fine-tune for them. I'm able to extend that experience to other vehicles, which is why I like to jump in any car I can and then take the suspension apart to see what the factory did - and what we can improve or customize for different needs.

If a revision to a setup is required, 99% of the time it'll be on spring rates or ride height. In my experience, seat of the pants verbal customer impressions are more helpful than getting nitty-gritty about damping coefficients, % critical, blow-off point, etc. After doing only a couple fixed-revalves for E/Stock customers, I am still blown away that my first best-guess at valving for Jerry Jenkin's car helped him win two National Championships plus many Tours/Pros. An early track customer put the car into a wall because it was carrying more speed than the driver expected; usual braking point was too late. Whatever our methods and whatever opinions about them may be, it seems to be working. I continue learning and educating my customers as needed in the process.

Yes, we keep some of our tools and methods to ourselves; I'm comfortable with that. I do the work on the front-end, engaging extensively in consultation with a customer and create a framework from there. My philosophy is: you're giving me a challenge, a set of requirements to meet. You're paying for a result, like when you buy a gourmet meal. The chef may or may not give you the recipe but you can be pretty confident you'll enjoy yourself, especially if they asked you what kinds of flavors you liked, sweet vs. savory, hints/notes/tones, types of wines, breads, cheese, etc. Then it's a custom-crafted meal that you're bound to enjoy. If you happen to be a connoisseur, you might talk shop about your gastronomic experiences but it's up to the chef to decide how much to share of how they put it all together. That's their craft and their prerogative. As a consumer in this free-enough market, you can decide where you want to eat.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:30 PM   #24
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I understand what you're saying and there's merit to it, esp. the feedback/improving the end result part. I will explain my approach so perhaps you can understand as well.
Shaikh, you and I are coming at this from two different directions, and you know we'll just have to respectfully disagree on this one topic, but I do appreciate your thoughtful and detailed response.

Jim
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:55 PM   #25
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Shaikh, do you send the dyno sheets with each set of shocks? If not, is it because you don't want to reveal to much to your customer? About 8 years ago, I had a set of Bilsteins spec'd for me by a tuner. He had Bilstein do the revalve per his specs. When I reveived the shocks directly from Bilstein their sheet included his revalve specs. When I talked to Bernie, he told what changes he would make and that he would include a shock dyno so I could see what work he did.
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:28 AM   #26
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We don't provide dyno data unless it's requested for adjustables. My philosophy is to give an end physical result to my customer. I feel like I'm repeating myself but here's the final time so I can get back to work

My background is science, math and engineering. I did a fair bit of numerical modeling in college. It was fun but I couldn't get my hands on the laser system I was modeling (the Army sent one a few years after I graduated). I had lost my taste for theory without practice and left grad school after three semesters, working my way into a systems engineering position in the semicon industry. I had to learn much more than I was taught in school (surprise!) especially mechanical engineering, QA/QC, failure analysis, documentation and training service engineers. I wasn't an expert in any single area but certainly improved over time. I did know enough to move forward on projects, ask better questions, and - most importantly - who to ask them of. I developed a systematic problem-solving approach.

Outside of work, I did a lot of hands-on experimenting, especially on my dual-purpose or dedicated race cars. I noted how a street car in some situations was faster than a prepared racer, or when the racer excelled over the comfy cruiser. It involved a lot of attention, time, and effort and reasonable sums of money. I tested a lot of products (some purchased, others only evaluated) and noted pros/cons. I 'invented' bump stops along with Al Gore then made some changes/improvements to early NB->NA shock mount setups and began selling those. etc etc.

I started this business because I wanted to offer suspensions like the ones I'd developed for myself; fast yet comfortable. Or, comfortable yet fast. There would be some crossover but also places where you had to choose one or the other. That's where specialization according to the car's function came in. I also wanted to continue learning about vehicles dynamics. It's pretty much all I've done professionally the past 4 years, and avidly the past 10. I probably need a support group.

I'm an enthusiast, supporter of the community and also an entrepreneur/business owner. I will share as much as I feel comfortable, from a basis of experience and analysis. I'll stand on the results we've achieved for our customers, along with my attitude of making some information and tools - like the suspension/FRC calculator, camber curves and, now, lateral load transfer distribution spreadsheet - freely available to all.

My approach is to offer a complete solution and heavily involve the customer in the buying/decision-making process. I am providing a result, but not any more steps to achieve that result than I find necessary.
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:58 AM   #27
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I think your suspension calculator is a good beginning point for playing around with suspension changes. I'm sure it's helped a lot of people.
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Old 12-24-2010, 02:29 PM   #28
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Seems to me Sheikh's efforts have been positive for the whole Miata community. No harm in criticizing anything, that is how everyone gets better. Seems Bernie is cut from similar cloth. If I remember right, always questionable, the stuff Sheikh talks about is usually not slammed, just picked apart thoroughly. Suspension is always a compromise, I appreciate the input and opinions from anyone who has knowledge on it.
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