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How to get the fastest lap times from your adjustable shock absorbers / dampers

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As we say to all our customers, getting the best lap times out of any set of adjustable shocks is a two part process ...

  1. The first part of the process is actually installing the shocks and springs (bolting them into the car).

  2. The second part is track testing with the assistance of an experienced suspension engineer to determine what is the best spring rate to run, and dialling in the shock settings to the ideal settings for the track and the individual driver's driving style.

Similarities to fitting then tuning an aftermarket fuel injection computer / ECU

In many ways, getting the most out of a set of adjustable shocks is similar to the two part process of buying and tuning an aftermarket ECU / fuel injection computer ...

The best results with an aftermarket ECU are gained after an experienced dyno tuner tunes the car using the new ECU to adjust the fuel and ignition settings to suit the combination of parts used on that car such as the particular exhaust, intake, head work, cams etc.

If you have modified your car to run on a racing fuel like E85, just as with E85 where you first install the required hardware parts to run E85, the second part of running E85 is to then tune the computer with the car on a dyno to dial in the best fuel and ignition maps to get the most out of that fuel.

You wouldn't expect an aftermarket tuneable ECU to provide the optimum performance without tuning it to suit your engine first, and tuning adjustable shock absorbers / dampers to suit your car, the tracks you drive on and your driving style is no different.

The importance of a wide range of adjustability

The JRZ Suspension equipped Porsche - GT class winner of the 2009 24 Hours of DaytonaThe JRZ Suspension equipped Porsche - GT class winner of the 2009 24 Hours of Daytona

Just as many people purchase an aftermarket ECU to allow them to access a range of tuning settings that they cannot with their stock computer, a set of adjustable shocks gives you the ability to adjust the shocks in a way that you cannot do with non-adjustable shocks.

The JRZ shocks are supplied by JRZ with a settings range designed for your car, but of course within that range there are a wide range of adjustments to dial the car in with fine tuning adjustments to the shock absorber settings.

Every driver has a different driving style and one driver may be faster on shock and spring settings that are different to the settings that another driver is faster on.

A dyno graph of JRZ shocks showing rebound adjustment, compression adjustment, high and low speed compression adjustment and high and low speed rebound adjustment. Note that each cliick of the adjusters produces a different curveA dyno graph of JRZ shocks showing rebound adjustment, compression adjustment, high and low speed compression adjustment and high and low speed rebound adjustment. Note that each cliick of the adjusters produces a different curve

One of the advantages of the JRZ Clubsport RS & RS Pro is that they have a very wide range of adjustment. This is of particular use to drivers who use their cars both on public roads and at the racetrack.

Having a wide range of adjustment allows you to dial in road settings that provide ride quality on the street, and then dial in your track settings for track days - without either set of settings being compromised by a range of adjustment that is not wide enough.

If a shock has an adjustment range that is too narrow, and oriented too much towards track performance then ride quality can suffer on the street. Similarly if a shock has an adjustment range that is too narrow, and oriented too much towards road comfort, your performance is not optimised at the track.

So the key to provide both adjustment settings that provide ride quality on the street AND separate adjustment settings that provide excellent performance on the track is a wide range of adjustment.

This system in the JRZ Clubsport RS & RS Pro will allow you to use a wide range of spring rates and eliminate the worry of having to constantly re-valve every time you want to increase or decrease your spring rate.

With JRZ shocks, the single adjustable shocks can have the gas pressure adjusted via Schrader valve and can be set between 100 psi and 300 psi.

The JRZ Double Adjustable shocks allows precise and accurate adjustment with 15 positions of compression adjustment, with the Triple adjustables offerring an additional 6 position precise low speed compression bleed adjustament.

The JRZ Quadruple adjustable shocks use the compression design of the triple adjustable, with precise 16 position high speed rebound blow off adjustment, and 8 position precise low speed rebound bleed adjustment.

Advantages of adjustable suspension at the track

Luiz Razia South American Formula 3 champion 2006 running JRZ SuspensionLuiz Razia South American Formula 3 champion 2006 running JRZ Suspension

When we were involved in Formula Ford, the team made a significant investment in a set of high quality adjustable shocks.

Once they were dialled in the car was significantly faster, and the tunability that those shocks provided and the ease with which shock settings could then be changed as needed with varying track conditions was a huge advantage to the team.

We had a notebook with our settings for each individual track, with wet and dry track settings.

The adjustable shocks let us dial the car right in at every track we went to, and we often found that if the track surface and grip levels had changed since the last time we raced at that track, the adjustable shocks allowed us to make a change quickly to be right on the pace.

If it started to rain before a race, we could quickly open the notebook, grab our wet track settings for that track, and adjust the shocks very quickly to those settings.

We had them set up with external reservoirs with the adjustment knobs placed specifically so that we could adjust the shocks in seconds without having to pull all the bodywork off the car. It saved us a huge amount of time both in testing and on racedays.

Once you are familiar with how to adjust your shocks to address changing track conditions etc, you will be very pleased indeed with the added advantages that gives you.

Can I use someone else's shock settings on my car ?

Track surfaces and track styles are different in different parts of the world, and it'd be very rare indeed for settings from a team developed for a particular driver on overseas tracks to be the ideal settings for a driver in another country running on different tracks.

While someone may be able to give you some advice about how to setup your suspension yourself, because each driver's driving style is different, using someone else's shock settings that are ideal for their driving style is unlikely to be a set of settings that will work best for your driving style.

The suspension tuning process

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Just like having an ECU tuned on a dyno by an experienced dyno tuner (to suit the unique airflow characteristics of the particular combination of parts used on your car) is the best way to get the most power out of an engine, the best way to get the fastest lap times with a set of adjustable suspension is to get an experienced suspension engineer to come out to the track with you and spend the time to tune your suspension to your driving style and to the tracks you race at.

That process requires experience and specialised knowledge, and as such highly experienced suspension engineers don't tend to publish on the internet how they do what they do.

As mentioned on our Racecar Engineering & Development page ...

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Members of our Engineering & Development Team include: ...

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A suspension engineer with over 30 years experience, including international experience in Australia, Europe and the USA, including suspension development for Lotus, Aston Martin, Ford Racing, TWR, Renault, TRD and Eibach.

When you get out to the track with him, not only will he dial in your shocks and springs to suit your driving style and the track conditions (finding the shock settings and spring rates that suit your driving style and the track conditions best), but he will also teach you how to then adjust your shocks yourself for changing conditions etc.

So he won't simply dial in your shocks, but he will also help you learn some of the knowledge you need to make changes to your suspension in the future for changing track conditions etc.

And once you know how to do that, it will open up a whole new world of tunability to you.

More info about our Racecar Engineering & Development Team can be found here ...

http://www.tunersgroup.com/engineering/

For more info about our range of JRZ Suspension, click here ...

http://www.tunersgroup.com/Products/JRZ_Suspension.html

created on 2010-08-10 10:25:35 by TTG