How Do You Know When To Increase Formula Amount How to Set Proper Spring Pre Load on Coilovers

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How to Set Proper Spring Pre Load on Coilovers

So you bought a set of coilover shocks for your car with preload spring (or “spring compression”), but do you know how to set them up properly? Maybe your coilover system doesn’t have an independent height adjustment, you set it to give the desired ride height, and now you’re hoping that the preload is within the proper range. Or maybe your handlebars have preload adjustment independent of the ride height adjustment, but you’re not sure how this affects performance. In this article we will explain the effects of spring preload and how to set it properly.

Having too much or too little spring pressure will negatively affect suspension performance, but in different ways. Too much spring pressure can make your suspension seem like it’s coming out. This happens because now the shock reaches its maximum height quickly, and this can unload your tires on the road surface. Insufficient spring pressure can make your suspension too low. Knowing these results can help make the right adjustments.

Let’s define a few words to help understand the effects of spring preload. The amount of spring stroke is usually the static height from the weight of the vehicle is called “droop.” And the amount of stroke left at static ride height is called the “compression stroke.” The total shock stroke is the droop and compression stroke combined.

Equation:

Total Shock Stroke = Droop + Compression Stroke

It is important to understand that spring tension does not affect the spring rate of a linear spring (most coilover systems come with springs). For example, increasing the preload of the spring will NOT increase the stiffness of your linear spring. However, this WILL increase the number of compression strokes you have which increases resistance.

The springs in most coilover systems must be preloaded to maintain the desired amount of compression stroke at a static ride height. For example; if you have a coilover with 200 lbs/spring carrying 800 lbs of weight, with no pre-set spring load, the coilover will compress just 4″ from the static 800 lbs of weight it is working on. A total of 5″ of stroke, this leaving you with only 1″ of stroke pressure left! In this case you need to preload the spring to make sure you have 1″ of stroke pressure. There is too much droop in this case.

So now we know that spring pressure affects droop. But which droop is the right one to have? This varies depending on how much total stroke your guides have, so we treat the droop you want as a measure of the total shock stroke. In order to have the right amount of droop, we recommend setting the droop to 30-40% of the total stroke of the shock (see equation below). Now you know you need to adjust the spring pressure on your coilvers to produce 30-40% droop!

Equation:

Required Droop = Total Shock Stroke x.35

How to set spring preload:

You must first measure the total shock of your coilover (including the length of the bump stop). Then measure how much the coilover compresses when the vehicle is at its height. Subtract the compression stroke at static ride height from the total shock stroke to get the amount of droop. Adjust the preload of the spring until the droop of the suspension is between 30-40% of the total shock stroke.

Equation:

Droop = Total Shock Stroke – Compression Stroke

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