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Reverend Arthur Dimmwit
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Hi,
I'm thinking about a shock upgrade. However, unlike most B5er's, I don't want to drop my Variant. I live out in the Endless Mountains of NE Pennsylvania and I need some suspension travel. Think RALLY. I'm considering Bilstein HD's (maybe with the Neuspeed grooves to drop the front a touch to eliminate the rake). Have any of you upgraded your shocks but not springs? Is the improvement without new springs worth the cost? Or should I not do the shocks without new springs? Also, how much more stiff is the ride over the stock shocks? I want her to be firm but not bone-jarring.

Thank you for your time and wisdom. :)
 

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poohbear said:
Hi,
I'm thinking about a shock upgrade. However, unlike most B5er's, I don't want to drop my Variant. I live out in the Endless Mountains of NE Pennsylvania and I need some suspension travel. Think RALLY. I'm considering Bilstein HD's (maybe with the Neuspeed grooves to drop the front a touch to eliminate the rake). Have any of you upgraded your shocks but not springs?
I've been running HDs on stock springs for the past two years for the same reason: I wanted a firmer ride, but wanted to keep plenty of ground clearance for weird and crappy roads.

poohbear said:
Is the improvement without new springs worth the cost? Or should I not do the shocks without new springs?
I think so.

poohbear said:
Also, how much more stiff is the ride over the stock shocks? I want her to be firm but not bone-jarring.

Thank you for your time and wisdom. :)
This setup will be noticeably firmer than with the stock dampers. You'll feel the difference in cornering as well as when hitting bumps and dips.

I think the ride is quite comfortable, though some may say the opposite. Ideally, you'd want to try out another car sporting HDs both with and without stock springs to see how they feel to you.
 

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shine racing actually recommended that i did this, i went w/ the hd's and eibach springs instead though. he said every spring for the b5 they tested were too low and not stiff enough, he didnt even have an srs set to offer yet. they do have a nasty rear sway bar though, www.srsvw.com
 

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I am running the stock springs with the Bilsteins HD's and Shine Racing sway bar too. I think it's great! The car rides nice but handles a TON better. I did the Bilsteins first and loved it. After a bout a month I went with the sway bar too and the car handles great. Best of all it looks stock, like the grocery getter it was created to be. I live on a dirt road so need the extra ground clearence but I like to drive hard. :lol:
 

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Reverend Arthur Dimmwit
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scirocco78 said:
I live on a dirt road so need the extra ground clearence but I like to drive hard. :lol:
My situation, exactly. Thanks to you all for your adivce. You've sold me. It sounds like exactly what I'm looking for. :)
 

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I'm running the Bilsteins+stock 1BA springs and the SRS bar.

The Bilsteins are great and DEFINITELY worth it, though shop around for a good price. If you plan to keep the car a long time, you'll have to replace the shocks at some point anyway, and Bilsteins, Konis, KYBs, etc. all have a lifetime warranty.

I installed the SRS bar first. That was the first BIG improvement although it seemed to make lateral motion in the rear a bit choppy and made some popping noises for close to a year. I asked passengers about that, including ones who'd ridden back there beforehand, and they said they didn't notice.

Next, I upgraded from the stock Contis to Dunlop SP5000s in 205/60R-15 size (.4" wider with almost the same sidewall height). That enhanced lateral grip considerably. I really like the Dunlops.

Next, I installed the Bilstein HDs, and let me tell you, I think the ride is actually much smoother, at least on decent roads. Sure, on bad roads, you'll get more feedback, but it's not bad or harsh at all. On the highway, though, the Bilsteins are 'like buttah' with none of that annoying ocean swell woosha-woosha hobby horse rebounding of the too-soft stock Buick shocks.

Definitely get Bilsteins, or Konis, with the stock shocks. I don't think you can go wrong. I only wish I'd ripped out the stock shocks on the dealer lot at delivery.
 

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I like the comment about changing the shocks at the dealership :D I changed my shocks out at 48k and couldn't believe how bad they were! I agree about the Bilsteins riding better than stock too. :thumbup:
 

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You'll like the HD's with the stock springs, especially if Wysox, PA has roads like York, PA. I've used up every inch of ride height trying to navigate PennDOT's problems. The HD's are a little firmer, especially when new. They do go bad on occasion. Keep your paperwork and they will replace them. They have a good warranty if you can change the shocks yourself.

Cheers,

Carl III
 

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Alternatively you can try Bilstein B4 which are for OEM replacements. They are not as stiff as HD but firmer than stock.

They are also cheaper :D
 

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Where can you get them and how do you identify the B4's as opposed to HD when you order? The best price i saw on 4 HDs was about $360.
 

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I have four Bilstein's sitting in a box just waiting to be installed on my '98. My brother who works for a tire shop has promised that he would help me install these but as brothers do he just hasn't gotten around to it...for two years! I might just get them installed up front at a local place and do the rears myself.

Its funny that a few months ago there was a discussion about HD's with stock springs and a lot of people didn't like the set-up. I think you'll like this set up and hopefully I will too!
 

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Were they saying it was too stiff? That's what I thought I had read. But I'm still game short of someone giving a better option. Like if the B4's are way cheaper, I may consider that.
 

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ganseg said:
Were they saying it was too stiff? That's what I thought I had read. But I'm still game short of someone giving a better option. Like if the B4's are way cheaper, I may consider that.
I guess Bilstein US is not promoting it at all if you check the website.

http://www.clubb5.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=76481&highlight=bilstein

I was quoted EUR 60 per pc for the front and EUR 30 per pc for the rear. Try to beat that! :D
 

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RayD said:
...
Its funny that a few months ago there was a discussion about HD's with stock springs and a lot of people didn't like the set-up. I think you'll like this set up and hopefully I will too!
I must have missed that one! :oops:

I have to agree with most of what has been said here:

I have a '98 (got it in '98 ) and after almost 2 yrs of commuting, it then became a non-commuter which I starting modding! I also didn't want to lower my car & I didn't want too stiff a ride for my then 1 yr old.

I think the HDs with stock springs is a great compromise. I soon added an Autotech lightweight rear swaybar and then the Autotech front swaybar.
The car lost its cornering 'wobble' thanx to the HDs, and the swaybars kept it pretty flat (unless I really pushed the turns), because the stock springs are a bit too soft - I think they are linear springs, not progressive.

Last fall I had H&R OEM Sport Springs put in and I don't think the car is any more than a 1/2" lower. The new springs are still silky-smooth but they make all the difference if you do any slolom type of driving. The H&Rs are definately better/stiffer when it come to "bottoming out" from bumps. (They are REALLY well-matched with the Bilstein HDs!)

My only complaint against the Bilstein HDs are (and I've read other posts that say the same thing) that the rears are a bit stiffer than the fronts.
I've read many who feel that the Koni adjustables (with the rears on a low setting) are better matched front-to-back. If I had to do it over again I'd probably try the Koni adjustables (more for my kids than for me).

But I'm STILL very happy with my Bilstein HDs and my kids haven't had any injuries or complaints yet. :lol: My wife hasn't complained about the ride either! :wink: (Not that she's in my car that often! :roll: )

I think you'll be pretty happy with HDs.
 

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Hope this isn't too far off topic, but how big is the difference between Bilstein HDs vs. SPs?? I have SPs on my 2000, and I think I'm done with them... they are just way too stiff for streets of Boston. In fact, I hit a particularly wicked pothole last night and ended up bending a rim, severely enough that the air came out of the tire. (...the wheel might be gone and--not to digress-- but Borbet Type Es not easy to find anymore... :cry: )

...anyway, I'm guessing HDs must be a lot more cushy by descriptions above.... but wondering if anyone has compared side-by-side.
 

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bisquik said:
Hope this isn't too far off topic, but how big is the difference between Bilstein HDs vs. SPs?? ...
Biltein HDs (Heavy-Duty) and SPs (Sports) have the SAME valving! (At least for Passats)
They are the same except for the height: the HDs are for a stock (or near stock) ride height. The Sports are for a lower spring (approx 1.5" lower) because they have a shorter shaft.
 

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I've got the H&R OE springs with Bilstein HDs and I'm not very happy with them. I'm now thinking that I should have gone with the Koni adjustables (set on the softer side). I've had three back surgerys and I really feel like I get jarred around way too much. Also, anything less than a smooth road will always wake my seven month old daughter.

While I agree that this is a great steup for smooth roads, in the real world most roads are simply not up to the required standards.

Bottom line, be very sure that you want the HDs before whipping out the credit card.

TGH
 

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I'm with ya, TGH... I also wonder if the constant jarring could be hard on the car. I will miss the incredible handling of the bilsteins.... the car doesn't flinch on hard turns...

Could someone invent a shock that can be adjusted from inside the car??

Would Konis work with the H&R springs?
 

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bisquik said:
Would Konis work with the H&R springs?
I think Kenny Payne has Koni adjustables with H&R OEs. IIRC he was happy with the setup.

TGH
 
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