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Thread: Shock(ing) un-decision

  1. #1
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    Shock(ing) un-decision

    I'm so confused, not unusual for me as many of you know, but this drop is 1000.00. A mistake here would be a very costly one and could substantially increase my Prozac dosage. I would hate to think, my car looks great but I'm taking mass transit 'cause my e39 rides like 4 ton wrecker.

    At this point, I'm not even sure what does what in all this. The lower the springs, the stiffer which equates to a harsher ride? Answers I found so far: True/False/Maybe/Sometimes/ Depends. I found answers all over the map. Who would YOU trust with MY $1000.00?

    Too low and the spring bottoms out. Bump stops, spring rates, hell I can't even figure out the springy thing, much less shocks and I've read until I'm cross-eyed and pulled out most of my short hairs.

    Some say, H&R sports ride more comfy than Eibach springs, some say factory sports, some say Bav Toys and some have named springs I can't spell or even tried to store in what's left of my burnt out memory bank from all this. My mind is bouncing like a blown shock over a speed bump at 80.{{boing}}. My brain needs a sway bar.

    Then there's sports shocks, Race shocks, touring shocks, HD and OEM, gas shocks and adjustables. Sports shocks must be on for sport springs? Answer: Yes. no, depends. The only thing I find shock(ing) is there are so many answers to the EXACT same question. Who knew? Who knows? I'm so stuck in "I dunno mode" that I've scratched my head to a bald spot.

    It's little wonder there are so many re-posts of what shock and springs combo on this board and advanced search only serves up more confusion. I've tried to decipher the graphs but I find it easier to understand Hebrew Pig Latin. Looks purdy, but what do 'dat mean to me? {shrug}, next click. {{BIG sigh}}

    My driving style is best described as engine off to school zone max. Yes, I am that guy that drives 55 in the center lane. Get over it or go around. Honk honk. Mine works too.

    After I read ALL the threads here, I googled and read for hours. At one point I thought about putting my car on Jack stands AND getting sand bags at the same time. To rake not to rake? I'm raking my mind trying to find an answer but my is brain shutting off because of the overload to it's neuron transmitters. I don't have many left, so this is a +1.

    I'm just a guy that wants to fill his wheel wells and not feel like I'm riding in a vibrating bed in a cheap motel. I would rather not take out a second mortgage on my car just get it lower. I don't plan to wait until I wear of all the tread off my new tires just because my decision is stuck in a "suspension selection paralysis." (note to self: "Pick something for Christ sake!")

    There is surely an answer for me, but finding it, seems more difficult than predicting the mood of a woman during PMS. (BTW, if any of you have mastered this, my inbox is empty 4 u and I'll pick YOUR shock and spring combo as my definitive answer, 'cause you're waaay smarter than me.)

    Can we PLEASE have some VERY straight talk here before I decide to buy back my 15's AND buy 4 different springs and 4 different shocks for each of my four corners?

    Thanks for putting up with me,
    ~Joe~

  2. #2
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    Based on your comments and preferences I would recommend that you look at the Sachs OEM Sport struts and either use the Stock OEM Sport Springs or look into a Vogtland for a slightly lower look. Both will lower your car noticably without adversely affecting ride(it will be effected but not excessively so).

    The struts generally tend to have the greatest influence on ride quality for most of the springs you might get. The lower the spring the stiffer the shock has to be to do its job(same energy to dissipate but shorter distance to do it in). This means a greater portion of the energy from the bump is transmitted into motion rather than heat) The springs support the cars weight and the different spring rates relate to the amount of compression that the spring undergoes to support that weight. A stiffer spring(higher spring rate) will not compress as much as a softer one. This also effects ride but in a different way. With a stiffer spring the suspension will flex less for a given input so the car may have to move more for the same bump(makes the car seem to roll over bigger bumps say like speed bumps), so this increases the roughness of the ride as well. In general most E39 lowering springs tend to be somewhat softer than the original ones. This allows them to travel more when they hit bumps(the reason this is done on e39s however is due to the short height of the spring which allows more coils to be fit) This means that on a lowered car a stiffer shock is needed to reduce the travel of the spring. This is why you find that original shocks tend to fail faster as the lowered springs place more load on the shocks to limit excess travel.

    My reccomendation above is for 2 spring sets with moderate drops with a slightly stiffer shock. Suspension travel is not severely limited so you should not experience any bottoming and you should have a smooth roll free ride.

    Hope this is what you were looking for.
    Last edited by NNY528I; 06-02-2008 at 11:12 AM.
    >'97 528i, 200000 miles, Hella Xenons, 17" Stilauto wheels, Vogtland Drop Springs, Dynomax Race Muffler, Homelink, 540 brake upgrade, 15mm spacers >'65 & '74 MG Midgets BFC OT Lego Club #48 Manual conversion in process!!!



  3. #3
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    Well Joe, I guess you're not the only one. There were a few new guys asking the same question, and the answer was (from the "nazi" members) "search is your best friend". I know I was in the same boat, but I refrained asking and same as you, I lost quite a few hairs, but no definite answer. If there was a device where you could drive your car on after doing springs and shocks, and if that device could quantify the "g's" of your setting that would be great. It could tell you how harsh / soft your ride is. But it could not tell if the combo is "made" for the car - as in correct stance and road handling. Or maybe it could if someone build it?
    Until then, I guess, you would have to go through all these posts and select first: what people say about their stiffness / softness of the spring/shock combo or whatever they are using, and second check out the pics and choose whatever you like for a drop, rake stance etc.
    On top you can add spacers (the right ones of course) if you would like a more aggressive look?
    So, here's an answer, which is a no answer of your question. Just 0.02

  4. #4
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    i went with H&R sport springs with Bilstein HD shocks...very happy with drop and ride quality...i call it the "real world" set up...its sport suspension height with a higher quality shock than OE...drives well in all conditions...stiffer than oe but not ridiculous...handles rough roads without kidney damage...

  5. #5
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    I dont see what the big deal is. I did search and I came up with my own conclusion. The answers are all there and layed out. There is NO definitive answer out there. If you want to stay comfy without all the headaches, get a stock sport suspension. When you start getting HR this and eibach's that, then you will start pulling out hair. Stick with BMW stock sport suspension.

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  6. #6
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    The problem being, everyone is different, and everyone has their own opinion about suspension, and what they like.

    Suspension is very subjective.

    What one person may like, the other may hate.

    Plus there is the factor that same shocks and springs can look totally different on a V8 car, than a I6.

    I think I6's tend to lower more.

    One way to tell what you might like, is to ride in other people's lowered cars.

    Find other 540i owners with the lowered look you like, and go from there.

    To me, the only 540's I have seen that have NOTICEABLE suspension work, have coil-overs, but few are willing to fork over the extra $300-400 more for coil-overs.

  7. #7
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    There is a slammed thread with millions of posts. That would be a superb place to start if you want to see what certain drops look like.

    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...hlight=slammed

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  8. #8
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    I have always done everything the hard way Ken, why change now?

    I have read among other things that there have been quantum leaps in shocks and springs since our cars were built. Of course nobody could quantify "quantum" and just because they said it must be true.

    I agree the OE setup is the shortest distance between these two points but if there is something out there at least 15% better at near the same price point it makes some sense to look. I'll change the shocks and springs ONCE on this car most likely. I want to make sure I get the most bounce for the buck when I do.

    Here's my problem: I went from 15's to 17's. Yoko to Khumos. There is a difference in ride quality by -20% maybe more. I just want to make sure I don't degrade past what I have now which is stock OE non-sport shocks and springs. So I need to be particularly careful on this drop. That's why I'm driving myself nuts and everyone else over it. I'm a ride wus and this is a lot of money I could spend only to degrade the RQ my car. I'm trying to take this very seriously, all joking aside.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jLace View Post
    I have always done everything the hard way Ken, why change now?

    I have read among other things that there have been quantum leaps in shocks and springs since our cars were built. Of course nobody could quantify "quantum" and just because they said it must be true.

    I agree the OE setup is the shortest distance between these two points but if there is something out there at least 15% better at near the same price point it makes some sense to look. I'll change the shocks and springs ONCE on this car most likely. I want to make sure I get the most bounce for the buck when I do.

    Here's my problem: I went from 15's to 17's. Yoko to Khumos. There is a difference in ride quality by -20% maybe more. I just want to make sure I don't degrade past what I have now which is stock OE non-sport shocks and springs. So I need to be particularly careful on this drop. That's why I'm driving myself nuts and everyone else over it. I'm a ride wus and this is a lot of money I could spend only to degrade the RQ my car. I'm trying to take this very seriously, all joking aside.

    Actually now that I think about it, I have read and actually witnessed the ride quality of Koni FSD's and i must say that they will be my next shock if I ever change out my bil sports. Those are something you should REALLY look into coupled with the recommended eibach which will give you a raked looked or with factory sport springs.

    I too was in the same boat a while back. I dont remember if I created any thread but I sure did my fair bit of reading. then I was pretty much forced into getting bil sports and Im glad i was. the factory shocks/struts were toast. Now I can take off ramps at 90mph. (Not recommended) . They are not harsh but you can definitely feel the car more. I feel as if im ONE with the car now.

    FSD's are a more softer, luxuries and comfortable ride imo. Look heavily into them. I think from what you have written, they will be your best bet.

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  10. #10
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    I understand being one with the road. That's why I drive a BMW not Mercedes. The e320 drives you, you drive an e39 and I like that.

    The FSD's are too expensive for me. I have not priced Koni reds yet but they are worth a look I think, If they are softer than Billy sports in fact, who knows. It's all pretty subjective until you get them on your car and your butt is under them. It might be best to go to a local meet and find something other than a 540 and see how they ride.

    It may be too, that I'm over analyzing things (happens more often that not). Eibach pro + Billy sports may be just fine. All the chit chat about harshness on various posts and setups has me spooked.

    All I know for sure is I need a drop, but I'm not willing to bust a kidney to look cool.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by gumbi4u View Post
    Actually now that I think about it, I have read and actually witnessed the ride quality of Koni FSD's and i must say that they will be my next shock if I ever change out my bil sports. Those are something you should REALLY look into coupled with the recommended eibach which will give you a raked looked or with factory sport springs.

    I too was in the same boat a while back. I dont remember if I created any thread but I sure did my fair bit of reading. then I was pretty much forced into getting bil sports and Im glad i was. the factory shocks/struts were toast. Now I can take off ramps at 90mph. (Not recommended) . They are not harsh but you can definitely feel the car more. I feel as if im ONE with the car now.

    FSD's are a more softer, luxuries and comfortable ride imo. Look heavily into them. I think from what you have written, they will be your best bet.
    +1

    I'm running the Koni FSD's and Eibach Pro Kit springs and can't be much happier.

    One thing that I've noticed a LOT of is that people call the FSD suspension "soft" or not as "compliant" as the Billy's or Koni sports. While to a degree this may be true, I'm going to play devil's advocate.

    FSD technology was created to address the concerns that you have: Ride Comfort vs. handling prowess. Typically you can only get one or the other. However with the advent and commercial availability of FSD technology that line has been great blurred and it IS possible to get a comfortable handling car AND an avid performer.

    The best description that I've heard about the FSD's is that it is just as compliant, responsive, grippy and has the same "feeling" as the Dinan suspension, except it feels like youre "riding on carpet." (somebody tell me who said that, Malachi?). This has been my experience to a T.

    Highway rides are comfortable (not wallowy) and controlled, the car is planted and responds well to changing conditions on the road (bumps, joints, etc.). Lane changes are responsive, the car is well controlled with MINIMAL body roll (the car gets back to position, it doesn't let its weight "over pull" it; trust me I've done some quick lane changes at up to 120 without issue) and really feels very solid.

    From a handling perspective it is the same thing; the car stays planted, sure footed and I have yet to push the car past ANY of its limits. While the car isn't initially as flat at first entrance to a corner as the Sports and Billys (10% maybe if that probably due to the springs) the car holds composure at the same speed confidently even on decreasing radius curves. An area where I think the FSD's REALLY shine is when multiple turns occur. The rear end never really becomes unsettled and stays planted. This goes for BOTH smooth and rough surfaces; the FSDs do a GREAT job at managing the bumps and their frequency. Finally the FSDs aren't as "springy" as some others I've come across. Some cars if you get them loose the will want to "snap" back into place; something that if not carefully managed can get you into trouble. The FSD's don't seem to have this aggressive or snappy behavior. Instead they're more "progressive" and for some reason (it could just be me) unload/dampen variably depending on the conditions/forces they are met with.

    One other things that I want to throw out there is that FSD's are starting to gain ground in a LOT of sectors. I believe some Lambos come with them standard, many large car manufacturers are looking incorporating them AND they have been widely adopted by F1. Granted the F1's design is totally different than what ours have, the concept is still the same. If you can more efficiently manage the contact patch of the tire and the road then you are able to transmit more power and hold more grip in EVERY direction (not just handling but braking AND acceleration) and will have a quicker car. It just so happens that this management results in a better ride b/c there isn't as much suspension jarring occuring on a small scale.

    Finally, as you can tell I LOVE the FSD's hands down. I will say however that if you're purely going after handling and looks then get coil overs or look more into the Koni Sports and Billy's. Personally I think that if you throw a guy in a car with Koni sports or Billys and then throw him in a FSD equiped car, he won't be much if at all slower. It will just be a slightly different ride that may not "feel" as quick because "quick" generally is never in the same sentance as "comfortable." The FSD's simply soak up a lot of the road, but they don't take away from it. Some have commented that on high speed sweepers the FSD's might make the car feel "light." I've noted and to a degree understand this but if you really think about it, traditional springs/shocks/struts on a sweeping corner at high speed generally respond to changes (joints, bumpers, etc) at the same rate no matter what speed you are at; the FSD's don't do this, instead they use the force being exerted (not the setting of the shock by a key) as the input mechanism so no matter how variable the surface, the FSD varies WITH it. Think of it like this. How many of you have seen the Koni Sports or Billys with the "key" that you turn left and right to increase or decrease the stiffness? Now imagine bing able to turn that key on EACH independent unit WHILE driving and while knowing the surface. If you're going around a corner slowly the FSD's will take that input and ride a little softer. As you gradually increase your speed (forces on units going up) the FSD's "firm up" as internal valves open and close in response to the pressue. Inside units soften a touch to maintain traction, outer units form up to keep the car from rolling.

    ...wow I wrote a lot, sorry.
    Last edited by PutterMcGavin; 06-02-2008 at 12:33 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gumbi4u View Post
    Actually now that I think about it, I have read and actually witnessed the ride quality of Koni FSD's and i must say that they will be my next shock if I ever change out my bil sports. Those are something you should REALLY look into coupled with the recommended eibach which will give you a raked looked or with factory sport springs.

    I too was in the same boat a while back. I dont remember if I created any thread but I sure did my fair bit of reading. then I was pretty much forced into getting bil sports and Im glad i was. the factory shocks/struts were toast. Now I can take off ramps at 90mph. (Not recommended) . They are not harsh but you can definitely feel the car more. I feel as if im ONE with the car now.

    FSD's are a more softer, luxuries and comfortable ride imo. Look heavily into them. I think from what you have written, they will be your best bet.
    I have heard that FSD's are almost too soft...
    Plus, they are expensive.
    I like Koni.
    I would look into the Koni adjustables/ yellows.
    They have adjustable perch settings and you can adjust the ride (firm to soft).
    The Koni adjustables are around $615.
    "SilverE39" has H&R springs with Koni adjustables.
    I will try to find some pictures.
    He just put on some 18" M-parallels...

  13. #13
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    ok, one decision made. Done.

    Eibach pro over H&R because the ride height is higher on the EB than the H&R and the ride is less bumpy on EB than H&R. EB is lower that factory sport so I get some gain there and still be able to get up hills. Seems like a good compromise to me and maybe the reason so many run this spring.

    Now it's on to shocks.

    Anyone running the Bilstein touring shock on this spring and who has the best price on Billy and Koni? I also have read the Billy HD vs the sport has the same valving meaning they ride the same, true or false?

    I'm about to wrap this up.

  14. #14
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    Lace, something else you may try is going to a meet that may have some 5ers with diff setupd.... More than likely you will get them to take you for a spin.... As stated above, going off of peoples personal opinions rather than actual seat time is a gamble. I am heavily medicated right now, so I am PUI and cannot seem to proof read anything I post.... Good luck with your search.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jLace View Post
    ok, one decision made. Done.

    Eibach pro over H&R because the ride height is higher on the EB than the H&R and the ride is less bumpy on EB than H&R. EB is lower that factory sport so I get some gain there and still be able to get up hills. Seems like a good compromise to me and maybe the reason so many run this spring.

    Now it's on to shocks.

    Anyone running the Bilstein touring shock on this spring and who has the best price on Billy and Koni? I also have read the Billy HD vs the sport has the same valving meaning they ride the same, true or false?

    I'm about to wrap this up.
    wrong...Eibach springs are spongy compared to H&R... H&R springs ride quality is the same as OE...which i already told you 5 posts ago...if you aren't going to listen to people then why ask the questions...

  16. #16
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    Hey Shwell, good luck on the meds!

    I asked for a ride and here was my first response.

    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...3#post13200473

    We seem have no shortage of the arrogant in Dallas.

  17. #17
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    There's info overload on thhis subject + the goal posts moved

    I recently had the same decision to make with the exact same criteria. There's a lot of info out there on this forum but some of it is outdated. For example if you consider Bilsteins they recently changed their design and part numbers so any threads prior to that change are no longer valid thus the "Search is Your Friend" on those is obsolete. Bilsteins web site now tells of how even the Sport shocks are less stiff than before.

    So what to do if you want moderate lowering and a compliant ride? Well, there's compromises to make any time you want both. Since you've already selected the Eibach springs now you need shocks. BTW I had the Eibach Pro System (matched springs/dampers) on my Audi A6 2.7T and loved it.

    For a spring choice lower than the OEM sport springs takes out the first choice for a cushy ride and that was Monroe SensaTracs since the FSD's are budget busters. With the extra drop of the Eibach you MUST choose wisely for the softest shocks that will provide the dampening the higher spring rates of lowering springs require. Otherwise the dampers life is very short.

    My choice after a lot of research was OEM Sport springs (bought from BF member for $100) and the new version of the Bilstein HD's. Bavauto had the best price at $458 for the set. I am extremely satisfied with the performance of this combination. It is firmer than the stock non sport I had for sure but anything would be as the stock shocks that came out could be compressed by hand. However it is also much more planted and not the least jarring on any road surface. Dallas roads are for the most part much nicer than here in NH. I cannot think that you would not be happy with the new generation HD's.

    Good luck. I hope my recent first hand experience helps.
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  18. #18
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    I bought Koni FSD and Eibach springs since I wanted a very mild upgrade for our 99 528i non sport, given that it was my wife's daily driver at the time and I did not want to get into trouble for ruining her car. The Eibachs lowered the car only a little in the rear, but considerably in the front. I did not mind the look, but our car scraped going up the ramp and into the barn. My wife also lost the front spoiler lip.

    I changed to stock sport springs. They are a great compromise. No, the wheel well gap won't disappear, but it will be smaller than before. I am refinishing some 17" Style 5 wheels that will look great.

    I do agree with the comments that the FSD are soft in daily driving. You definitely won't complain that they are too firm. However, with the FSD and Eibach or stock Sport (about the same spring rate as Eibach but more ground clearance), you will notice that the ride is firmer and that you can feel bumps a little more.

    Were it my car, I would have gone with Koni or Bilstein and H&R or Eibach. I am hardcore and have TCK Coilovers on my E36M3. Maybe I will add a set of swaybars down the road to the 528i to reduce roll a little, but the goal was really to compromise it as little as possible.

    There is an active thread in the Group Buy section, I think by riding dirty or Eric at SPP for Konis. He had the best prices far and away. I think I paid $700 for the FSDs (got Eibachs used for $115 and then sold them and bought sport springs for $100), which was certainly more than Bilsteins and more than regular Konis. I thought about OEM Sport shocks, but the Sachs don't have the best reputation for durability.

    Vogtland makes the TCK springs, so they are reputable and worth considering along with H&R and Eibach if you decide to go aftermarket.

    Good luck with your decision.

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  20. #20
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    Looks really good Jason.

    Here's what I'm dealing with. The rear is worse than the front. The last thing I think I need is more rake.

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    ugly huh?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jLace View Post
    Looks really good Jason.

    Here's what I'm dealing with. The rear is worse than the front. The last thing I think I need is more rake.
    Agreed!
    Eibach springs are nice because they are a progressive spring.
    I have some more picture of a 540i guy that just put on H&R coil-overs.
    Looks REALLY good!
    But they cost around $1200-1400 (now)...

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  24. #24
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    1. I'm not spending 1200-1400

    2. See #1

    I agree it looks great but if we we're muddin' I'd have him beat by a mile.

    I just got a PM from the guy that did his 15's with EB pro and Billy sports. He's sending pics tonight but here is what he said.

    " This setup definitely will give you more of a raked look. The rears did drop, but only ever so slightly. "

    Humm, I need to drop my rears by a foot Maybe the H&R springs do make the most sense.

  25. #25
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    Oh, hey Jason, was it you asking in PM about the DDM Depos? If so I have mine finished today. PM me, I have some thoughts.

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