The Perfect Ride is a vision, a philosophy, an ideal that’s evolved and grown for over 15 years. Everyone has their own sense of what perfection means to them. In truth, ‘perfection is death’ as a spiritual teacher of mine once said. Everything alive has flaws and non-idealities. However, the pursuit of perfection, or even better, the pursuit of EXCELLENCE, is compelling and important. I’ve also discovered some unifying principles of Ride Harmony that I’ll be sharing along with experiences from our FCM Elite customers.
Fat Cat Motorsports, Inc. is the company I founded in 2006 to help give form to my relentless pursuit for understanding and optimizing suspensions. I chose my company name as an gag sponsor at my first autocross back in 1996. Ten years later, I knew I had to come good – there was no other name I could use for this fledgling company. Just goes to show, the physicists were right – the future really does influence the past! In the process of seeking maximum speed and lowest lap times, I began to discover that a fast suspension needed to be smoother than I expected. It led me to question prevailing ideas about what made for the ultimate suspension, or assumptions people had about how to properly tune a car for competitive events, racing, etc.
When we don’t settle for whatever we’re handed, when we question the why and how of something, we naturally come to ask the question – “what’s possible? Is this really the best there is?” I’ve been asking that since the first time I installed a set of shocks, the first time I turned a knob to adjust rebound, the first time someone said “use this product” without saying why. We will explore the hows and whys and what’s possible here, in as much detail as I can muster. And yeah, I’ll have a helluva lot of fun in the process so I hope you do, too!
I LOVE this stuff – can’t you tell?? If you read my posts here or on other forums I engage in, or watch my videos (Suspension Truth YouTube channel) , you’ll probably get hooked, too (you’ve been warned!). I welcome your thoughts, experience, ideas, and brainstorms on this blog. I want it to be as interactive as possible. Your ideas will spawn new posts, new experiments, new “what-ifs” that get my juices going! I live this stuff, obsessively as anyone who knows me is well-aware. Yes, I’m asking you to feed my addiction. Ask me a question. Share an idea. Challenge me while being polite (keep it classy, people) and we’ll get along just fine. As a friend of mine said long ago “you don’t have to like me, but you WILL respect me.”
If you’re ready to take the next step and see what all this hubbub is about, stay tuned for updates and get active. I also invite you to explore more on my Suspension Truth Youtube channel and if you’re ready for a physical solution or willing to pay for my consulting time to help design an excellent suspension for your needs, fill out an FCM Elite consultation form. I look forward to every interaction with an Elite customer, because as a part of our Fat Cat Motorsports tribe, you are commissioning me, a Suspension Sculptor and Ride Harmonizer, to lovingly craft an exceptional suspension for your vehicle that gets as close to Perfection as is humanly possible.
First off, I love your blog and your instructional videos. Who knew?! I’m a writer working on a novel that happens to involve rally and the East Africa Safari Rally and today I went Googling to find out about rally suspension… In any case – what I’d like to know is what exactly does it mean to “jack down”? I tried to figure it out – and can make a decent guess but I’d like to be sure.
See one of my characters is upgrading her suspension and I need to know what I’m talking about.
P.S. I’d love to have you optimize the suspension on my 1989 BMW 318i – if only!
Appreciate that, thank you. That’s a cool synchronicity here. I’ve been meaning to make more videos about rally suspension as I continue to learn beyond what I had in my first video. There’s a lot that may not get shared because it could give up some advantage but by checking out some off-road / 4×4 and rally forums you might glean more information.
Jacking down is a phenomenon where the vehicle experiences decreasing suspension travel as it goes over the road surface. This ‘jacking down’ behavior is controlled by the dampers (also called shock absorbers although technically damper is correct). I give some illustration in my ‘How Shocks Work’ video series here:
You’ll want to watch the first 4 videos at least which will give you a visual sense of ‘jacking down’ and the opposite ‘pumping up’ which is what good rally suspensions do.
You can get as geeky / technical as you like and honestly there a lot of subtle psychology at work with how a suspension is tuned. I’ve been working on a book integrating suspension design and physiology.
With the proceeds from your book sales, you can buy a set of Bilsteins for your 318i! We can work out some sponsorship deal I think on our Elite revalve charges. You would be able to say you have a clearer sense of what a rally suspension feels like by having one on your BMW! A fascinating idea. If you’re interested get in touch with me via the Fat Cat Motorsports website.
If you’re curious enough, you can visit me at Fat Cat Motorsports headquarters in Northern California for additional research, technical discussions and hands-on experience (ride or drive). Lots of awesome backroads around here to feel what even a mildly-tuned rally suspension can do. This would add a lot of realism to your book.
Whoa Shaikh- I just found your response- how fantastic! Now you’ve got me fixated on the idea of getting a set of Bilsteins on my car. The last time this sort of thing happened I headed off to Africa so making a trip to California sounds pretty tame yet extremely attractive. Meanwhile thank you very much for the links and other info. And besides all that simply connecting with you on all this gives me a tremendous boost inspiration-wise. Moments before seeing your letter I was feeling dull and sleepy, now I’m raring to go back to my writing desk.
I’m very happy you’re stoked and diving back into your writing! How’s your book progress so far? I love sharing TED and inspiring talks (you can relate I bet). Perhaps you’ve seen these … I love this one by Elizabeth Gilbert, such beautiful vulnerability and power. Knowing what our genius is really empowers our creativity.. Mine are ‘Sculpting with Truth’ and ‘Harmonizing Rides’.
Your elusive creative genius
Dovetailing nicely, if you haven’t already read and gone through Dick Richards’ “Is Your Genius at Work?” I highly recommend it! After sitting on my desk for a year and incessantly tapping its fingers on my brain, I finally picked it up and wished I’d done so immediately.
I also highly recommend “The Alphabet vs. the Goddess” by Dr. Leonard Schlain (RIP). A powerful look at the history of communication, how the world changes after the advent of written word, (IMO) and how we can use the power of images (as we’ve experienced in the modern age with TV, internet, etc) to add depth and meaning to our interactions.
I’ll also admit being a big Terence McKenna fan – his concept of the spoken word as telepathy has made a huge impact on me.
I’m happy to have a phone conversation at some point, and wish you success as you continue following your bliss!
Hi! I really like your videos – healthy doses of technical & pragmatic insights!
I have been looking for a solution to a luxury-ish/cushy-ish style ride for my 2008 Mazda 3. I don’t want crazy performance, but rather to take bumps and city streets much better.
I had the thought of an foam insert or SumoSpring device inserts instead of expensive air suspension – thoughts on that??
I’ve got 100K miles on it and hopefully have another 100K left on it…
I’m about to get new front and rear arm bushings, and I find I’m preferring the standard rubber ones as they don’t provide the harsher feel of polyurethane bushings…
Thanks for your comment. Just throwing an MCU bump stop (which is really what a Sumo Spring is) won’t be a magic fix to the ride. If you’ve been watching my videos, you’ll know that proper damping is the key. We’ve worked on several Mazda 3 and Mazdaspeed 3 vehicles where the owner used a set of Bilstein struts that we revalved. If you’ve got 100k miles and want to make an improvement then new and improved dampers while keeping the factory springs is the best route. You can contact me through our Contact Us page if you want to discuss further.