Insight - How many clicks does it take?

By: Admin

Something that we run in to a lot in both damper design & development and in working with our clients is: how many clicks should we do?

When it comes to setting the amount of clicks you design in or adjust, there are three main considerations:

  1. Can the car and driver combination detect and react to the change?
  2. What is the mechanical range of the assembly?
  3. How much adjustment is necessary for the range of springs & applications?

We’ll take a review of these and give some useful tips for making better decisions.

Compression blow off adjustment graph
An example of a very consistent and wide ranged compression blow off adjustment

First and most importantly, does it work? If you are track side and looking to help your hero behind the wheel make time, you need to know if you’re going in the right direction. In this case, knowing your application is very important. This is where communication from the folks who provided your dampers and/or educating yourself on what you have comes in. Having a damper setup with a lot of available clicks is not inherently better or worse. What matters is that you know the adjustment is going to do something. For some dampers that can be six clicks, others one, and with others one can be too many. Even worse, sometimes there aren’t enough clicks to do the job, you’re out of range (full stiff or full soft) and looking for more. Following that, we need the adjustments to have some level of consistency. For example, if you do 3 clicks and that’s the right way, you do 3 more. If the first 3 did say, 50lb of change, then the second do 100, you are probably in for a rude report from the driver on the radio next time by.

TIP: Talk to your damper supplier, builder, team engineer, etc and get up on what you have and what to expect. Get a good average number of clicks that will be something you can “feel.” After that, ask about the end of the range. Does this thing adjust into outer space as you get to full stiff? Do the first couple clicks not have much authority? Both of those situations are very common with bleed adjustments. Especially on digressive valve configurations.

Bleed rebound adjustment graph
An example of bleed rebound adjustment giving increasing amounts of force change with each click. Adding 3 in the middle range could be one towards the top.

Second; what is the mechanical range of the assembly? As we alluded to, bleed adjustments that bypass digressive valving can have much different sensitivities at the ends of the range. Conversely, blow off adjustments are largely very consistent through their range. Linear bleed adjustments can be very consistent but do also fall victim to extreme ends at the range. That latter part is very build specific. If the past few sentences sounded like a mash-up of technical jargon, worry not, here’s the point:

TIP: Get a full range graph from damper supplier, builder, team engineer, etc and check out the step sizes for each click. If they are even looking the whole way through, this is generally what you should be looking for. If not, it isn’t the end of the world but make sure you have recourse if you get to the fringes.

damper rebound adjustment graph
An example of a very consistent linear rebound adjustment

Finally, how much range do you need? Many times, a damper’s range is dictated by the forces of economics rather than those of physics. It costs a lot of time and money to develop a one off or application specific valving. You’ll come across people that can get it right quickly but know that their experience & knowledge most likely did not come quickly or for cheap. Another side of this is that if one averages the weights, motion ratios, grip capabilities, aero loads, etc over the years: the amount of force a typical damper assembly needs to produce has not exceeded the generic mechanical ranges offered in the last 30 or 40 years. Surely, refinements in the damping curve, consistency, responsiveness, etc have been made, but 300lbs is still 300lbs. Where does this leave us?

TIP: Get a starting curve from this same damper supplier, builder, team engineer, etc and then go compare it! Talk to some other people with similar applications as you and see if you can get some baselines. See where this curve puts you in your range, and if the adjustments can give you a couple predictable changes. In each direction.

All of this boils down to making sure whatever you get is made for your application or at least quite close. If the adjustments are a little outside the middle where they make you happy, that is not really a problem. Also, if doing double duty and the adjustments put you close to the bottom on the street and close to the top at the track, perfect! One of the things we do for each of our clients are these exact steps. We make it easy to get what you need and have adjustments that are easy and make sense. Contact us to see how we can help you!


Next up  – I Just Bought a New Set of Shocks, What Do I Do?, Part #1

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