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There are basically three shock types available from most of the shock manufacturers: emulsion type, internal floating piston type, and reservoir type.
Emulsion means the gas and oil are allowed to mingle. This is the cheapest way to build a shock so these will be your lowest cost shocks. The downside to an emulsion is that if the shock gets hot from riding for extended periods of time on roughs roads, the oil can cavitate which
means you're pushing foamy oil through the valving and this can cause damping fade.
Emulsion shocks work fine on the street generally speaking, but they are not recommended for adventure bikes which might be ridden off road or where riding on very rough roads for extended periods is the norm.
Emulsion Example - Rear
IFP SHOCKS (Internal Floating Piston)
IFP shocks are the next step up. An additional piston is added to the assembly to keep the oil and gas separate. Because the oil is just oil and with no gas molecules in it, the oil can shed the heat to the cylinder wall better which gives better thermal stability. These shocks are usually produced with a 6082 heat treated aluminum cylinder which sheds the heat better than the steel cylinders commonly used with emulsion shocks.
Reservoir shocks are at the top of the list in terms of adjustability, performance and heat management. By adding a reservoir, the nitrogen is no longer inside the shock, it is contained in the reservoir. This means
that instead of the shock being only half full of oil as is the case with emulsion and IFP designs, the shock is now 100% full of oil.
With this additional oil capacity and the increased surface area of the shock
created by the added reservoir, overheating is rare regardless of terrain. In addition, a reservoir shock typically has a more advanced compression circuit.
In the case of the common Dutch high/low speed design, the compression stroke is valved based on the velocity of the oil. Low speeds of compression are handled by the low speed path which has an adjuster, high speeds of compression are handled with an additional circuit that opens when there is high velocity demand, and it
also has an adjuster.
These reservoir shocks are ideal for adventure bikes which are ridden off road, and will give any rider best ride quality over the roughest roads. Reservoir shocks also give you ultimate
adjustability due to the three damping adjusters (rebound, high and low
speed compression) provided. Even if you never touch the compression adjusters, the more advanced design will do a better job of smoothing out the biggest bumps.
If all the shocks were all the same price, we would only sell reservoir shocks because they are superior to the other designs. But they are not all the same price and frankly not every rider needs a reservoir shock. You would have to look at your budget and your needs.
Most of our street bike customers are delighted with the improvements that they enjoy from upgrading to something like the Wilbers emulsion shocks; model 630 front
and 640 rear, or the TFX IFP shocks model 130 front and 140 rear.
Most will add the hydraulic preload adjuster to the rear shock which is similar to how the stock shock is outfitted. This makes it easy to adjust sag when your loads change. If your loads don't ever change, you could omit the HPA and save your pennies by buying the rear shock with just the threaded preload ring adjuster.
You can also replace one shock at a time which helps some customers with budgeting. The rear shock is the first place to start.
Due to the fact that we carry so many brands, we offer unbiased recommendations based on your budget and riding conditions.
We are available by phone for a more in depth discussion of your shock options at: (831) 438-1100.
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