I came across a variety of links recently on ‘whole body vibration,’ the kind of testing that the military often does to ensure a vehicle won’t impair an operator’s efficiency. There’s quite a lot of work in this area on bicyclists, and also in the automotive industry. But when it comes to aftermarket suspensions, or even what’s really optimal for a factory suspension, not enough attention is paid to how to measure / characterize the level of optimization. I’m aiming to change that for the better!
On a related note, I got an email today from a potential customer with a BMW. He sent me some links to parts we could start with on his build, and indicated that per whoever he had spoken to or whatever was on the website he would order from, the parts were ‘matched.’
This isn’t a dig on him by any means, but more a reflection of how ambiguous words are when we don’t have data, facts, or some unifying principles behind them.
Where’s the PROOF that this random assortment of shocks and springs are ‘matched’?
Specifically, for the springs and shocks he suggested were ‘matched,’ I knew from prior experience that the dampers were heavily rebound-biased and would cause very uncomfortable ‘jacking down’:
Plus, the springs rates from H&R were HIGHLY front-biased and would cause a HUGE amount of pitching! For those who aren’t familiar with pitch, picture being on a see-saw and having our head wobble back and forth over every bump.
That’s considered ‘matched’? OH H*LL NO!
We have Wine Spectator scores with details on all kinds of aspects of wine I’m not sophisticated enough to detect (I like fruit-forward medium-bodied reds with smooth finish and yes I had to look that up):
We have mandatory labels on food to indicate the quality of the ingredients and if additives are present (some of which are carcinogenic). We even have ratings from various magazines and consumer organizations for all kinds of devices.
WHY don’t we have something that tell us whether a suspension is going to be bouncy, jarring, floaty, locked down, harsh, etc.?
Okay, perhaps a bit unfair to tease with the app (and no, those aren’t customers but my friend put some cool graphics together to illustrate that each vehicle would have a unique – and measurable – Ride Quality score. What’s more important that having an app is to understand the factors that would go into making a suspension ‘matched’ or ‘imbalanced.’ That’s what the videos, blog posts, and white papers on ‘Envisioning the Perfect Ride’ are going to do.
This year, 2020, I want to see a major improvement of enthusiasts’ and general drivers’ understanding of what’s happening to make a vehicle behave a certain way.
Wiggle words like ‘sport’, ‘matched’, ‘tuned’, ‘(Nurburg)Ring tested’, ‘Earnhardt-approved’, doesn’t tell us anything about how or why it might work for our needs. I think a vast majority of testing is done on very smooth roads, simply for driver feel and ‘confidence’ but isn’t taking into account actual road-holding especially over real-world roads that are often broken, choppy, uneven, and prone to unexpected hazards like deer, moose, or small children.
I was also listening to a fascinating and disturbing history of how ‘vegetable oils’ got into our food supply (hint: they ARE NOT foods and were used as industrial lubricants!). Lobbying, sleazy marketing, and propaganda were employed to drive people to EMOTIONAL – not FACTUAL – decisions to abandon fats that we’d thrived on for millenia in favor of new-fangled ‘progressive’ Frankenfoods. The rates of heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune conditions and so on show a direct increase once natural fats were demonized.
Was there actual research to support these ‘fad’ foods that were supposed to be more ‘modern’ than those out-dated ways of making beef tallow or goose fat? Nope. Just conjecture, and lots of marketing dollars plus lobbying efforts galore.
If we’ve learned anything in the past few decades it’s that commercial interests aren’t necessarily aligned with our ultimate health and well-being. I’ve got more to say on this – such as specific questions to ask yourself and anyone you’re buying a suspension (or vehicle) from, but I’ll stop here for tonight.
Remember – if someone gets emotional and can’t explain why their choose certain springs, or dampers, or tell / show you how they behave, they might not really know what they’re talking about.
Caveat emptor – be a better buyer, my friends!
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