Calibrated Dampers?

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Calibrated Dampers?

Postby avera01 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:07 am


In another Miata forum there is a developing post on DIY high-end dampers. Specifically, the creator of the post has been talking about that many brands of dampers are often out of spec and that they should be dyno tested to determine if they are and how far out of spec each one is in order to get them corrected and matched appropriately. This applies mainly to budget dampers/coilovers, but is also seen on higher end brands. To that end, he is building his own high-end damper (but budget priced) and will be providing instruction for the DIY. There are other Miata websites that sell/install custom made dampers based on the Bilstein dampers so I tend to believe he may have a valid point, besides the logic behind it.

While I understand the nature and desire of having calibrated dampers, does it make a difference for those driving street cars, even if it is aggressive/spirited/mountain driving? I am talking about buying off the shelf Koni or Bilstein which they could potentially be mismatched or out of calibration to spec tolerance (and to what degree out of spec is tolerated) and or to each other?

Or should dampers have some assurance and or be dyno tested prior to purchase? As I am writing this question, I can think about buying a set of tire, having them installed and upon checking you find that the tire pressure is off by more than 3 PSI on each tire: one is at 26, 29, 32 and 35. Would this make a difference in handling? Most (if not all of us) of us would correct the tire pressure immediately.

I don't have the driving experience to judge the dampers, but with tires, I can easily tell and feel the difference when the tires have different pressures particularly with the front tires.

So I am interested in your thoughts and opinions.

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Re: Calibrated Dampers?

Postby Brian » Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:46 am

Street drivers cannot feel the difference, just a massive waste of time for 99.90% of Miata owners. Some of our high end setups provide shock dyno with purchase. But the guys buying the off the shelf KONI and similar are never going to notice the difference between a calibrated set and non-calibrated, the reality is that most of the folks getting active in those threads are so slow, so far below the potential of the car, they are not ever going to get close enough to the edge of the envelope of what the Miata can do for there to be any reason to be concerned about this. I spend a lot of weekends teaching Miata owners how to drive their car, they always think they are 'fast' until I get behind the wheel and go 10 seconds or more faster per lap (and I have Pro buddies who are a lot faster than me!). Given how far from the limits most are driving, this is just another distraction for 99.9% of miata owners who should focus instead on more seat time.

Thus our 2019 ND2 has won two of first three events and been TOP PAX or 2nd on PAX for those two wins with just off the shelf non-calibrated Koni Sport shocks without any shock dyno.
Brian Goodwin
Good-Win Racing
Site Admin
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Location: San Diego CA

Re: Calibrated Dampers?

Postby avera01 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:55 pm

Hi Brian,

As always, your guidance is reassuring and extremely appreciated.

I know I fit in that 99.9% of Miata drivers that will probably never drive the car to its full potential. The roads of NC mountain was my first practice, but lack of seat time kept me slower than the rest of the group, plus a bit of fear of driving the car faster then my skills allow at the present on mountain roads kept me humble.

For that, my wife presents a great argument against adding any more to the car. She simply states that until I know why I need this upgrade or the next based on actual experience, don't buy. Spend the money on training and seat time then come back and make the request again.

I have driven police cars (and vans) past their max on many occasions chasing down bad guys, as well as, I learned on a police driving course how to push the car forwards and backwards, but that was years ago.

As a side note for you or anyone else, as there any good training facilities in Florida or the southeast region? I am looking for high performance driving skills.

Again thanks...

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Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:20 pm

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