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Old 06-11-2003, 06:18 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 280
Talking silly question

I was just wondering if the ride quality provided by shock absorbers in cold Winter weather can differ from the Summer months when its very hot. I am only assuming that the damping fluid/oil in the cylinder will be less fluid in the cold and make the ride harder and thinner in the heat which should make it more absorbent of the bumps. Would a changeover to the gas shockers like Monroes or Gabriel be better than OEMs? Are there any others? I heard that the gas ones are adjustable for differing types of weather conditions?
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Old 06-11-2003, 07:50 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Posts: 215
Since all fluids become less viscous with rising temperature, you are correct in your assumptions. However, the amount of the effect is almost impercptible. You also have to consider the effect of heat on the compliance of rubber bushings, tyres and other factors.

Gas shockers still have oil in them. The gas acts on a diaphram that sits on top of the fluid and is intended to stop the fluid frothing under heavy use. 'Frothed' fluid is a lot less viscous than normal and the damping action drops dramatically.

It is (or was) possible to buy non-gas shockers that are adjustable. Koni, Armstrong and Spax all produced adjustables long before gas filled shockers were available.

Gas shockers have been standard on MBs for a long time. Bilstein are generally considered the best, and these are OEM in most MB applications.
Cheers, Neil
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Old 06-11-2003, 10:47 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Epsom Downs, England
Posts: 152

Yes, the ride will get less damped in hot weather (feels "softer") but you don't say wether you prefer this.

In cold wether the oil will cause the shock to damp more and the ride will feel firmer. Bear in mind that shock absorbers turn all that energy they absorb into heat, so they run warm most of the time anyway.

If your budget will allow it, the koni ones are adjustable and tend to last forever (they are rebuildable), so with a turn of the adjuster you can have the ride of a Caddy or a Corvette.
Paul Gibbons
'93 320CE
'73 Jensen Interceptor (Resting)
Giant Full Sus Mountain Bike
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Old 06-11-2003, 11:22 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Mass
Posts: 1,127
When I first set out on a very cold day, the difference in dampening is very noticeable. Can be downright harsh. I have observed this to be true for all types of shock absorbers.

This does not last long, however, since they warm up quickly with use. Once warmed up, I have not noticed any seasonal difference in dampening. Not saying it is not there, just not perceptible to me. I wonder if shocks are designed to deliver pretty much 'steady state' dampening within a given temperature range. Some sort of viscosity compensation would be part of a sensible design.
1986 300E 5-Speed 240k mi.
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