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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had my 5160s for several years now. I love the way they handle. I had Rancho 9000xl before the Billies and I did not care for them at all. The rebound control was terrible on the Rancho, but the Bilsteins are pretty much perfect for my needs. So whats the problem you ask?

We'll, in the 7-8 years I've had the 5160s, I replaced the rear shocks under warranty when one blew oil at about 25,000 miles then about a year ago one of the front shocks did the same. Now I find one of the warrantied rears has lost its Nitrogen charge. The shocks only have about 20,000 miles on them and its mostly highway driving. The shocks are about 4 years old and it seems that after time they just loose their charge and then bad things happen. It is possible, but unlikely, that I over extended my 2 previous shocks that leaked oil. However, my current shock is in the the stock rear mount and the sway bar has never been disconnected. So it just lost its charge after a few years. On the other hand, since I needed a quick spare, I threw on my old Ranchos I purchase 10+ years ago and they still work as well (poor?) as they did back when they were new. So it seems to me that twin tubes might be more reliable. Which brings me to the Old Man Emu shock.

I love my Bilsteins and I hate to sacrifice the performance of the 5160s, but I am tired of having issues with them every 3-4 years. So I was wondering if anyone has switched from one to the other. Will the OME last longer? How much performance will I sacrifice? How does the ride and handling compare? In particular rebound control in the rear.

The price is about the same to rebuild my 5160s as it is to purchase new OME. So what are your experiences with these two shocks and what do you recommend.
 

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What's the problem with the Bilsteins? Mine are at least as old as yours and they are fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What's the problem with the Bilsteins? Mine are at least as old as yours and they are fine.
I believe one of them has lost its nitrogen charge. When pushing up and down on the bumper I can hear oil squishing in one shock and not the other. That made me curious. So I unbolted the shocks from the lower shock mount bracket. The shock that did not make any sound expanded when it was removed from the bracket. It was very difficult to put back in due to the pressure. Just like it was new. The shock that made the oil squishing sound had no pressure. When I unbolted the shock from the mount, the shaft on the shock never moved. It still offered some resistance when I pushed it in or pulled it out, but it had no pressure to push itself out as a new shock does. So I assume that it has lost its nitrogen charge.
 

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I believe one of them has lost its nitrogen charge. When pushing up and down on the bumper I can hear oil squishing in one shock and not the other. That made me curious. So I unbolted the shocks from the lower shock mount bracket. The shock that did not make any sound expanded when it was removed from the bracket. It was very difficult to put back in due to the pressure. Just like it was new. The shock that made the oil squishing sound had no pressure. When I unbolted the shock from the mount, the shaft on the shock never moved. It still offered some resistance when I pushed it in or pulled it out, but it had no pressure to push itself out as a new shock does. So I assume that it has lost its nitrogen charge.
I was going to ask how you know it had lost its nitrogen and you explained it very well and before I could ask. Thanks for that:)

My interest is I ordered Bilstein 5160's last week for a JKU with short arms and 3.5-5 inch lift and they are on back order, with an estimate delivery in August!!!

Just a note if you are ordering 5160's for your JK, I have found that most sellers don't mention there are two Jeep designs, one for long and one for short arm (stock). I already received the wrong shocks and returned them. Reason is I emailed Bilstein and one of their expert's said the valving for the two shocks are very different and a short arm Jeep should not be running the long arm designed shock. Because of my purchase the seller I bought mine from has since changed their internet description and informed their salesmen these facts.

Arch Canyon Jeep trail near Natural Bridges Ut, May 2021
 

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I have no idea why a long arm would make a difference. In reality the travel and overall length is what you need to be concerned with. Maybe they are assuming that long arms typically have more travel?

I think all performance shocks are on back order right now. As with a lot of things.

Teraflex used to offer limit straps with their lift kits, I don't think they do that anymore. If you look at lifted vehicles most of them use the shocks to limit down travel. The only way I think you would damage them would be something severe like a fast compression into a jump.

Fargo and Bob have you guys ran a tape measure on your shocks when cycling your suspension?
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have not put a tape measure to my system. But you are correct that it should be measured and limit straps used if needed. Something I need to do when I pull my old shocks. Thanks for the reminder.

Bob - thats a good looking Jeep. I don't know what to tell you on your 5160s. I have a friend that used to have a JKUR with the AEV 5100s and he never had issues. Although it looks like you also likely have an AEV setup. (If I ever get a JK that is the only lift I will consider. I loved how my buddys handled).

Anyway, I have seen other comments about Bilsteins leaking, but I don't think its the norm. I think my situation is a bit unique since I park my Jeep during most of the winter. I have speculated in the past that because I was parked in the winter, my seals didn't get the lubrication they needed and might have dried out. Athough this winter I did drive it a little to try and keep things lubed. But its hard to say how much damage was done from road salt that might have been encountered years earlier or dry seals from when I had it parked all winter. I don't know if remote reserviour shocks are more prone to leak than a monotube or not. There is certainly more connections and seals for it to leak. Maybe 3-4 years is all the life you get out of remote reservior shocks regardless of miles. I just don't know. Maybe I did do damage on one of my offroad trips. Just to many variables for me to bad mouth the company or say they are garbage. And I love how they handle. So, other than the constant curiosity to try different shocks, I am leaning towards rebuilding my 5160s. If the parts are available. That seems to be the problem with everything.

But I'd love to hear anyone who has run the OMEs. You just don't see much talk about them since they changed to the Sport shocks.
 

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I have no idea why a long arm would make a difference. In reality the travel and overall length is what you need to be concerned with. Maybe they are assuming that long arms typically have more travel?

I think all performance shocks are on back order right now. As with a lot of things.

Teraflex used to offer limit straps with their lift kits, I don't think they do that anymore. If you look at lifted vehicles most of them use the shocks to limit down travel. The only way I think you would damage them would be something severe like a fast compression into a jump.

Fargo and Bob have you guys ran a tape measure on your shocks when cycling your suspension?
Please excuse the side discussion Fargo. I learned that valving is critical to performance on motorcycles and considering Bilstein knows how to design a shock for a particular application I want what my Jeep was designed for.

Here it is from Bilstein America concerning the 5160 shock difference between the long and short arm

"If you have a short arm kit and you received the long arm kit part numbers, just simply by that you should return the shocks. The difference between the two shocks is pretty vital if you plan on maximizing performance off-road as the tuning is pretty drastically different."

Kind Regards,
Jurrian Terpstra
Technical & Warranty Support Expert
thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America, Inc
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I agree that valving is important. I think Bilstein is one of very few companies that really does test their valving for specific vehicles. When I first built my Jeep I installed the adjustable Rancho 9000xl at the recomendation of knowledgeable folks on a different forum. I thought they were terrible shocks. Upon further research the reason why was obvious. Rancho uses the same shock for at least 3 different applications. They used the same shock on the TJ, LJ, XJ Cherokee and one of the Grand Cherokees.

On the other hand Bilstein had different shocks for each of those applications as well as different valving for stock height vs lifted TJs. In your case, they have different valving for short arm vs long arm. I suspect this is due to different leverate affects by the longer arm or maybe the arc the arms travel in. There must be something different that they are valving for.

Another company that pays attention to valving is OME. They offer 2 different front shocks for the TJ/LJ and also offer a specific rear shock designed for the LJ along with the TJ shock. If you look in their catalogue they even tell you which shocks should be used together. That is why I am looking at the OME vs rebuilding my 5160s. I'm not aware of any other company that puts this effort into proper valving for the lJ.
 

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Kind of surprised nobody has commented on having run the OME's. In the early days of this forum they were one of the most common shocks being used, along with OME springs and JKS arms.

I never ran them myself, so can't comment. I have installed several OME lifts with shocks on Tacoma's for friends and they all really like the ride.

I wish OME offered the BP51 with a TJ mount. I'd steal the money somewhere and give them a try. The guys I have travelled with running them on other rigs love the heck out of them. Will be installing them on yet another Tacoma soon that I'll be riding shotgun in quite a bit, so I guess I'll kinda get to see for myself.

- DAA
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Kind of surprised nobody has commented on having run the OME's. In the early days of this forum they were one of the most common shocks being used, along with OME springs and JKS arms.

I never ran them myself, so can't comment. I have installed several OME lifts with shocks on Tacoma's for friends and they all really like the ride.

I wish OME offered the BP51 with a TJ mount. I'd steal the money somewhere and give them a try. The guys I have travelled with running them on other rigs love the heck out of them. Will be installing them on yet another Tacoma soon that I'll be riding shotgun in quite a bit, so I guess I'll kinda get to see for myself.

- DAA
Yeah, I know. OME used to be the top recommendation on all Jeep forums. I think forums have a tendency to 'group think'. A couple of knowledgable guys on the one of the forums said the new Sport shocks rode rough when they first came out. After that they fell out of favor and no one recommended them any more.

What I think is missing from that equation is how well did they handle. I think a lot of guys want a soft shock and don't pay any attention to body roll, rebound control, or any other handling characteristic. I did get to do some messaging with a guy on another forum and unfortunately they do appear to be rougher than the old OME and he didn't think the rebound was that great. But he admits he never really paid any attention to it. So its still an unknown to me.

I agree the BP-51 would be cool in a TJ.
 

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I had 5160 Bilstien on a TJ for several years. Then installed OME. MUCH improved ride on and off road. No difference noted in control or handling.

Recently built a LJ. Put OME shocks on it as well.

Imho. Ymmv.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I had 5160 Bilstien on a TJ for several years. Then installed OME. MUCH improved ride on and off road. No difference noted in control or handling.

Recently built a LJ. Put OME shocks on it as well.

Imho. Ymmv.
Thanks for the input. Was that the newer Sport OME shocks on the TJ or the old ones.

I assume the LJ was the new ones if you did it recently. Did you run OME springs on the lJ as well?
 

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TJ and LJ both are the newer shocks. Bought from Dirk at DPG. Rubicon Express 3.5" springs on both.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I had 5160 Bilstien on a TJ for several years. Then installed OME. MUCH improved ride on and off road. No difference noted in control or handling.

Recently built a LJ. Put OME shocks on it as well.

Imho. Ymmv.

TJ and LJ both are the newer shocks. Bought from Dirk at DPG. Rubicon Express 3.5" springs on both.
I keep reading your 2 post. Not many people singing the praises of OME Sports. So I appreciate the info.

I missed it before that you were also on the 5160s. I thought you previously had the 5100s. Its nice to know I'm not the only one considering that change. It seems like a big step backwards going from a remote reservior shock to a twin tube. But I purchased the 5160s more for their compressed length than the need for a remote reservior. I'd be interested in hearing why you made the change or anything else you can tell me about comparing the 2 shocks.

Do you know which shock #s you put on your LJ?
 

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I'm going to try out the adjustable fox's, your wanting to change off the 5160 has me biting the bullet on the cost. Hoping for a memorial day sale this weekend. Can let you know once they come how they compare to the 5100's at least.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'd be interested to hear how they comparte to the 5100s. Aren't they almost $400 per corner? Ouch. I've looked at them over at Accutune.

Please post if you find a good sale on any Fox. The Fox are tempting, but I have to give up an inch of up travel to run them. I'm not sure that makes any sense.
 

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I'm hopeful the shock lengths will be ok with the fox. For mine the lift wants front: 19" compressed, 29" extended and 17" and 27" rear lengths. The foxes are front 17.2" x 28.8" and 16.35"x27.45". Seems like the Foxes should cover the ranges. What I haven't done, or figured out how to do easily without a forklift or something, is actually measure the full stuff shock length and full extension the jeep hits. Have you measured it out to know if shock length is the limiting factor on either side of the flex and using that inch? Perhaps if you need them to flex longer look for the part for the size lift up and see how the numbers compare?

And yeah, ouch on the cost, 379 a corner but rebuildable, adjustable external res, custom tunable, etc. The non adjustable are still $289, which much like the 5160's, seemed like a whole lot to invest on the maybe they will be good at everything vs knowing you will have solid adjustability you can mix up. That's how i'm mentally justifying it anyhow haha.
 
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For measuring, I pull the coil and bump stop, jack up the corner until it's bump pad to bump cup metal to metal and measure for compressed length.

On mine the shocks limit droop on all four corners, so longer is always better. But it's the compressed length that determines what fits and with how much bump stop. If that makes sense.

My LJ is setup to use every last bit of available uptravel in the 5100s I set it up for originally. The Falcons are very close in compressed and extended length, it is still using every bit of available uptravel in them too but I had to add just a tiny bit of bump extension in the rear for them. But without the highline kit, it would need a lot more bumpstop extension and wouldn't be able to utilize the full uptravel. In which case, I would use longer over all shocks and gain droop.

Anyway, don't need a forklift or anything to measure, just a floor jack. But it's best to remove the coil.

- DAA
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
...

And yeah, ouch on the cost, 379 a corner but rebuildable, adjustable external res, custom tunable, etc. The non adjustable are still $289, which much like the 5160's, seemed like a whole lot to invest on the maybe they will be good at everything vs knowing you will have solid adjustability you can mix up. That's how i'm mentally justifying it anyhow haha.
Not the same thing, but a similar situation. I purchased the adjustable Rancho 9000XL several years ago with the same hope of being able to adjust them to fit my needs. It didn't really work that way. The adjustment knob only adjusted compression and not rebound. Which was only of any value when needing more compression valving if loaded down for a vacation. The rebound valving was never right for my needs so I pulled the shocks to get the Bilstien 5160s which were valved so much better that adjustments were never needed. Unfortunately the Ranchos lasted longer. At least with the Fox you can get them revalved if needed. But they are likely setup better from the start.

I guess to sumarize, its better to have a shock that is custom tuned for what you need vs having something you think you will be able to adjuste with a knob. I don't think knobs give all the fine tuning abilities of actually getting the shock tuned for your setup. The nice thing about the Fox though is you can do both. But if I had to choose between a custom tune or adjustment valve, I would get the custome tune.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well I ordered the OME shocks last night. Due to shortage of rebuild kits for the 5160s, I wasn't having much luck finding someone that could rebuild my shocks for me in time for a summer trip. So I decided to just give OME I try. I'm still concerned about them being too stiff, but thanks to vsheetz reply, I feel some comfort that they should be OK. I'll update after I get them installed.
 
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