Ohlins Motorcycle Shocks

The Ohlins story is another one of those “guy starts company in garage” tales that serve as inspiration for entrepreneurs of all stripes all over the world.  For Ohlins, the “guy” was Kenth Ohlins — an experienced motorcross racer — and the “garage” was his father’s workshop near Stockholm, Sweden.   In 1976 Kenth started offering a variety of motorcycle related products and by the early 1980’s Ohlins, though successful, was stretched pretty thin with so many product lines.  Kenth made the decision to scrap everything else and focus strictly on shock absorbers.  They began with motorcycle shocks but over the years they have applied their innovative suspension technologies to the Automobile, Atv, and Snowmobile markets.  Unlike many successful smaller companies that sell out to the big boys, Ohlins remains a family owned business.  Although Yamaha acquired a 50% interest in the company in 1987, Kenth later bought back most of the stock and now Yamaha‘s interest is only 5%.

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Ohlins shocks are primarily aftermarket offerings, but they also are an OEM supplier for many major automobile manufacturers, including Ford, Volkswagen, Volvo, Audi, and Mercedes Benz.  Still located in Sweden, Ohlins now has a United States distribution and service center in the heart of Nascar country — Hendersonville, North Carolina.   Ohlins shocks have been used by racers winning more than 200 International Racing Competitions of all types.  Their products aren’t cheap — you get what you pay for, many believe — but it is their series of breakthrough technological innovations that make them worth the price.  Each of these technologies has its own special logo, to identity its inclusion in a particular shock.  Let’s take a look at a few of the technologies that make Ohlins shocks so special.

Ohlins Technology:  Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CES)
At the heart of this innovation is the CES valve, a hydraulic pressure controller that receives electronic impulses from sensors that monitor changes in road and handling conditions.  As a car begins a turn, the sensors “sense” this and signal the CES valve to adjust the pressure to maintain optimal handling during the turn.  Right now CES is only available to OEM automotive manufacturers.

Ohlins Technology:  Twin Tube Technology (TTX)
The use of two tubes allows better balance between the compression and rebound stroke of the shock.  There is continuous gas pressure applied to the low-pressure side, allowing the needed pressure for both the compression and rebound stroke.

Ohlins Technology:  Chassis Stability Control (CSC)
CSC keeps the vehicle’s chassis stable during the ride.  It is actually an adjuster that monitors and modifies damping force to maintain optimal balance between the compression and rebound side.

Finally, if you question the idea that quality justifies price, consider this.  Ohlins shocks are so durable they are actually available used.  Check out Ebay and you’ll find folks who have upgraded and are selling their Ohlins.