One of the most common questions we get from customers is why our shocks cost more than competitive off-road shocks.
The quick and easy answer is that ADS shocks are closer to true racing shocks than competitive shocks. Most major off racing shock manufacturers have multiple lines of shocks. There are the full blown race shocks that are found on sponsered race trucks and bought by customers who want the best product available. The next line is a standard line that looks very much like the race line but is made up of parts that are less costly to manufacture, or made in bulk. These shock lines go by different names but they are built in very much the same fashion and cost considerably less than race quality shocks.
To the untrained eye a race shock and a non-race shock look almost exactly the same.
Standard line shocks are commonly built with cast external pieces, smaller rod ends and heim joints, fewer seals and o-rings, commonly sized shock bodies for various amounts of travel, weaker metals, and so on. It's not that these lines of shocks are poor quality or substandard in any way, they are just not the same as a race series shock.
For street and light off-road applications these shocks are an excellent alternative to paying the price for a full race shock.
ADS does not offer multiple lines of shocks. On any ADS shock what you see on the track is what you get for your vehicle!
If you want the piece of mind of having a race quality shock without the race shock price ADS has the right shock for you.
Take a look at some of the differences between an ADS shock and popular competitive non-race series shocks:
The Shock Piston
The shock piston attaches to the shock shaft and controls the shaft speed by bypassing shock fluid. Pistons are designed with holes that bypass the shock fluid. The more fluid that is bypassed the faster the piston moves through the fluid. As the shaft moves up and down the kinetic energy is coverted to heat and transmitted to the fluid. ADS uses 7075 aluminum instead of 6061 that is used by competitive non-race shocks. 7075 is 63% harder than 6061 which means it will last a lot longer under the most adverse conditions. ADS pistons also come with multiple bleed holes to allow for more adjustability. Finally, ADS pistons use an energizer o-ring to maintain a strong seal between the wear band and the shock body. This energizer o-ring promotes piston sealing to prevent shock oil from leaking past the wear band.
One of the significant advntages to the ADS piston is the piston pocket design. A subtle change to the shape of the pocket prevent shims from permanatly bending during extreme compression events, like hard landings or extreme transissions. Shim failure is very common on non-race series shocks due to the pocket design on the piston as seen on the last image.
Midcap Seal Housing
The midcap seal housing threads into the bottom end of the shock body and prevents fluid from leaking.
ADS' midcap seal housing utilizes two external o-rings, an internal dust wipe, and two high pressure hydraulic fluid seals. What this means in plain English? It takes quite a bit to make an ADS shock leak.
Competitve non-race shocks use a single external o-ring, and a single internal dust wipe and seal.
Finally, the body of the midcap seal housing is physically larger resulting in more threaded area with with to attach to the shock body. The noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) of off-road vehicles routinely cause smaller midcap housings to rattle loose.
Here is an ADS air shock midcap housing compared to a competitive non-race style air shock midcap housing:
Here are ADS' Street and Race style housings. Notice the use an internal bushing and multiple seals. The street seal is designed to seal in applications with very little shaft deflection and the race housing is used in applictions with moderate to severe shaft deflection.
Shock Body Cap and Shock Eyelet
The body caps and eyelets of a shock are the points used to mount the shock to the vehicle. As the shock cycles there are lateral forces placed on the shock causing it to twist. Non-race shocks use smaller caps and heim joints than what is found on a race series counterpart.
ADS uses considerably larger body caps, eyelets, and heim joints. Also, ADS uses captured heim spacers to make it very easy to install mounting hardware once the shock is in place.
The Shock Shaft
The shock shaft attaches to the shock piston and moves up and down with the suspension. The shaft material has to be extremely hard to resist denting, scratching, and scuffing from dirt and rocks on the trail. If the shaft is not perfectly smooth the sharp edges from the imperfections can cause the seals to fail and the shock to leak.
Most race and non-race shocks up to 2.5" in diameter use similar shaft materials but the diameters can be different. ADS uses a 7/8" diameter shaft with a hard chrome coating. 7/8" was chosen due to the amount of fluid displaced. Running a large shaft in a smaller diameter body results in having to sacrifice fluid volume.
3" diameter shocks uses 1" (or 1.25" if desired) induction hardended shafting material with a 70 Rockwell chrome finish. 4" shocks use a 1.25" shaft and the 5.25" shock uses a 1.5" or 2.5" shaft.
What does that mean? It means that you'll break a control arm before you break a shaft.
Take a look at how an ADS shaft reacts to a broken suspension component versus a non-race shaft.
The Shock Body
Shock bodies for quality race and non-race shocks are made from similar materials. Some manufacturers use materials that are not as strong as others. ADS uses honed ID DOM tubing. Other manufacturers use aluminum or non honed ID tubing. Stonger materials resist gouging or failure due to heat and stress. Honing the ID is critical for piston and wear band life. As the piston moves through the shock body it is important for the body to stay smooth so the piston or wear band do not experience premature wear.
ADS uses honed ID tubing to start. The tubing is then coated with a finish to resist rust and the elements. The inside of the tube is hand honed to a mirror-like finish.
The result is a hard shock body that has a very smooth inner finish for long piston and wear band life even under extreme conditions.
Welded Shaft Bung
Attached to the bottom of the shock shaft is the bottom cap. The bottom cap captures hardware that mounts the bottom side of the shock to the vehicle. As the shaft moves with the suspension the bottom cap is responsible for making sure the shock stays attached to the vehicle. Aside from moving up and down the bottom cap must resist lateral forces that would want to shear the cap away from the vehicle.
On small diameter (under 3") and non-race shocks the threads are cut into the shaft itself. On heavier vehicles that are driven aggressively off-road the lateral forces could potentailly cause the bottom cap to shear the threads.
ADS shocks use a welded bung to retain the integrity of the shaft and increase the diameter and length of the threaded area to which the bottom cap attaches. This results in a significantly stronger attachment point for the suspension. Where a threaded shaft would fail a welded bung shaft would suffer no ill effect.
Look at the difference is size of the threaded area between an ADS welded bung shaft to a competitive non-race series shaft.
These are just some of the differences between an ADS off-road shock and a competitive non-race series shock.
Some customers believe that non-race series shocks are race series shocks and subject their non-race series shocks to conditions that would neccesitate the use of a race shock. Even if you decide to buy a shock other than ADS please be sure to throughly review how you intend to use your vehicle and buy the appropriate product. We routinely show customers that their non-race shocks have internal failures when they are sent in for service. From cracked internal pistons to broken coil sliders, we've seen just about everything. When we show customers these failures they often wish they would have bought the more expensive shock from the onset.
If you would to learn more about how an ADS shock can improve the ride, performance, and life of your vehicle please contact us or one of our authorized distributors today!