Shock absorbers that are equally good on smooth asphalt and on a broken grader, on paving stones and in impassable mud - are there such ones and why are they needed?

Igor TVERDUNOV. Photo by Sergey Ivanov

We will try to answer the first question a little later, but with the second one everything seems to be clear. If there are universal cars combining remarkable cross-country ability with high speed and comfort of movement on the highway, then they will need first of all a “multidisciplinary” shock absorber.

As an experimental vehicle, the well-deserved, but still popular, Niva VAZ 2121 3 was used in a standard configuration with a 1.7 liter engine, shod “seasonally” in the universal 175/80 R16 Bridgestone-Winter Duler mounted on standard drives. By the beginning of the test data, the car ran about 40, 000 kilometers.

It was necessary to show its capabilities to five sets of shock absorbers of three different types: two-pipe hydraulic SAAZ (such “Niva” are equipped on the conveyor) and “Ranch”, two-pipe with a gas back-up - “Monro-Gas Magnum” and gas-filled one-pipe - “Koni” and “Plaza” ".

Fortunately, there was no need to rush around in search of suitable conditions - the complex of roads of the NATI polygon in the village of Novy Byt, near Moscow, was the best suited for our requests. After all, “Niva” had to go along a variety of roads - from asphalt to deep gauge. The track was prepared quite compact, but very "versatile."

Before falling into the hands of an expert group (which, by the way, besides the employees of the test department and the laboratory and technical center “Behind the Wheel” included professional test experts), “Niva” with the next set of shock absorbers passed the vibration test. As ordinary examiners, the usual, not very even Moscow highway and the device of the Danish company Bruhl & Kjерr acted.

As a result, leaders, middle peasants and outsiders were identified among the shock absorbers tested. But do not expect that now we will point a finger at the product of a certain company - they say, from the point of view of the magazine “Behind the Wheel” you only need to buy this. Absolutely "failure" of the shock absorber, we have not identified. Even the one that received low scores for most parameters, somewhere suddenly “shot” at the leaders. Do not forget about the price: after all, the most expensive of the tested shock absorbers costs as much as ten (!) Cheap. For many, this is far from the last argument in favor of a particular product.

Therefore, we did not set the task to dictate our opinion, but only wanted to orient the potential buyer, to give him a choice allowance.

Below we offer a shock absorber rating for nine positions, a price ratio, and some comments on the configuration and installation. Let everyone make the choice themselves, based on their own views on the car, its use, driving style and, in the end, focusing on the thickness of a particular wallet.

1. Comfort on the pavement:

1 - SAAZ; 2 - "Monroe"; 3 - “Horses”;

4 - "Plaza"; 5 - The Ranch.

On Russian asphalt, replete with cracks, seams and patches, but, according to the experiment, devoid of pits and large potholes, the leader, in the general opinion, turned out to be the products of the Skopinsky auto-aggregate plant - the very ones with which the "fields" are off the assembly line. With them, the car perfectly “swallows” all the microroughnesses of the coating and only responds to more or less noticeable disturbances with easy buildup of the body.

Swinging the Niva to Monroe is much more difficult, but the occupants feel more clearly all the flaws in the coating.

Further worse. Gas monotubes as if tracking every pebble on the road. But if the car on the Koni shock absorbers hardly responds to more noticeable disturbances - it goes like on rails, then on the Plaza, the Niva strives to throw a back in the slightest hole.

As objective information for assessing the performance of “experimental” shock absorbers in a car, we measured the accelerations acting on a person (in our case, the driver) in three directions (longitudinal, transverse, vertical). From biomedical research it is known that longitudinal and lateral accelerations are perceived by a person worse than vertical ones, but we limited ourselves to the analysis of equivalent and weighted average equivalent accelerations. The smaller the weighted average equivalent vibration acceleration, the more comfortable the person feels, and as a result, he remains working for a longer time (see table).

2. Comfort on the grader and country road:

1 - "Monroe"; 2-3 - “Horses”, “Ranch”;

4 - "Plaza"; 5 - SAAZ.

On the Monroe, the Niva excellently overcomes wavy roads without a hint of a buildup, provides acceptable comfort in the event of a wheel falling into a pothole, and behaves well on the comb. The “Ranch” and “Koni” are in no way inferior to the leader in the first two cases, but when there are not round bumps under the wheels, but pits with sharp edges, the shaking in the cabin is still more noticeable. The Plaza again disappointed with its tendency to toss up its backside: the feeling that you were not driving a Niva, but a real goat - UAZ 469. SAAZ on a country road and an uneven grader can not cope with the buildup of the body, especially the longitudinal one. You can crawl along the country road, but it’s worth adding speed - the car starts to swing above any limit.

3. Comfort on a broken road:

1-2 - “Horses”, “Monroe”; 3 - SAAZ;

4 - "Ranch"; 5 - “Plaza”.

When broken asphalt, or uneven paving stones, or, as in our case, “humps” of variable height and profile (similar to the “washboard” that sometimes forms on the afthal, it’s even worse), under any Niva’s wheels, it will not be easy for any car . But if "Niva" bears the title of "car for any roads" - you will have to endure this test.

The leaders - “Horses” and “Monroe” are each good at their own speed. If you do not get involved in fast driving on a bad road, Monroe is preferable. It is worthwhile, contrary to common sense, to add a little speed on this terrible surface, the car on the Monroe starts to shake unpleasantly, but the Koni, which are more shaky at a lower speed … change simply before our eyes and bypass their competitor. SAAZ damps hard blows well, but it shakes the car. The Ranch is sometimes likened to tough sticks - this is how the Niva shakes, and the Plaza, which is already not the most comfortable, continues to toss the car’s rear axle.

4. Delayed response to steering:

1 - “Horses”; 2–4 - “Monroe”, “Plaza”, “Ranch”; 5 - SAAZ.

To call a serial “Niva” a car “sharp”, with quick reactions to steering actions, means to sin against the truth. But, it turns out, the selection of shock absorbers can significantly change the nature of the machine.

Consider the extreme cases. Equipped with SAAZ “Niva” - the device is more than thoughtful. If with a normal quiet ride this is taken for granted, then try to go through the "snake", at least at a moderate speed. The steering wheel has long been shifted from one position to another, and the car is only going to change direction. The situation is not the most pleasant.

With the Koni shock absorbers, the old all-wheel drive, of course, did not become a “formula” and the reactions of the modern road car probably did not exceed, but it became much faster and clearer to obey the steering wheel. With a quiet pace of driving, the change, again, is hardly noticeable, but in the intense mode, you quickly catch how much this “other” “Niva” is more obedient and predictable.

The rest of the trio - "Ranch", "Monroe" and "Plaza" took the "middle ground". They make the Niva more obedient than the standard SAAZ, but are noticeably inferior in this field to the leader - the Koni shock absorbers.

5. Banks:

1 - “Horses”; 2–4 - “Monroe”, “Plaza”, “Ranch”; 5 - SAAZ.

The situation is repeating itself. "Niva" on

SAAZ actively heels, and in tight corners it even falls on the outer front wheel. “Horses” is a leader: “tipping” the “Niva” with them is not easy. The rest of the trinity, if inferior to the leader, is very small. But the outsider is ahead of everyone by a wide margin.

6. Longitudinal buildup:

1-2 - “Horses”, “Monroe”; 3 - "Ranch";

4–5 - “Plaza”, SAAZ.

Everyone who is familiar with the “Niva” firsthand knows that this all-terrain vehicle suffers from the “ailment” inherent in many tall short-drive cars: it is prone to longitudinal buildup. In the creation of this unpleasant effect, the shock absorbers SAAZ and "Plaza" have succeeded a lot. But if the former, apparently, for reasons of comfort, are made quite “soft” (and the buildup is the other side of comfort), then how can one explain the jumping of the “Plaza”? Recall that the St. Petersburg shock absorbers "toss" the rear axle of the Niva. The reason for this should be found by specialists, but we will only make the assumption that the characteristics of the shock absorbers (especially the rear ones) are not optimally selected and do not correspond to the stiffness of the springs, load and other indicators. You can, of course, hope that a fully loaded Niva will behave somewhat more calmly on the Plaza. But is the car often used at full load?

The shock absorbers “Koni” and “Monroe” reduce the buildup most effectively. The Ranch took its place in the middle.

7. Stability:

1 - "Monroe"; 2-3 - “Horses”, “Ranch”;

4 - SAAZ; 5 - “Plaza”.

The scientific term “exchange rate stability” and the effect of shock absorbers on it are very simple to explain. If after driving another irregularity the car shook and that’s all - that’s good. If the car began to scour and you had to “catch” it while working with the wheel, this is bad. Who has gotten better, who got worse - said above. We only note that it turned out to be easier to identify outsiders, and when choosing the best opinions (and ratings, of course) diverged. It was necessary, almost as in the Duma, to create a "conciliation commission."

8. Repeat road profile:

1-2 - Monroe, Ranch; 3-4 - “Horses”, “Plaza”; 5 - SAAZ.

Our roads are far from the most even, even on the asphalt there are slopes (not always constant), subtle ruts, patches, seams. How will a car behave on such a surface? How accurately will he track the profile of the road? Will this lead to car pulls and jerks?

Let's say right away - on different shock absorbers, the behavior of the Niva did not change much. On the Monroe and the Ranch, the car reacted a little less to the profile change, on the Koni and the Plaza it was a little more noticeable, but the withdrawals were easily compensated by a clear reaction to the steering wheel. At SAAZ, the Niva was "dragged", maybe not more, but the feeling was unpleasant due to the need for active taxiing - we had to take into account the noticeable delay of the car on the steering wheel.

9. The possibility of knocking, breakdown:

1–4 - “Horses”, “Monroe”, “Plaza”, “Ranch”; 5 - SAAZ.

In our "calibrated" pits and potholes in the given modes, only standard Niva shock absorbers were able to "break through". Perhaps, making a comparison under more severe conditions, it would be possible to more accurately trace the behavior of other products. But such tests are fraught with damage to the suspension. Since we did not have such a goal, we did not “kill” the Niva and the shock absorbers.

10. Price per set:

1 - SAAZ - 280, 000 rubles; 2 - “Plaza” - 260, 000; 3 - "Ranch" - 2 650 000 rubles .; 4 - “Monroe” - 1 280 000 rubles .; 5 - “Horses” -

2, 200, 000 rub.

Comments here, as they say, are unnecessary. We repeat: often this criterion has a major influence on the choice of goods, and contrary to all other considerations.

11. Installation, equipment

Major problems with the installation of shock absorbers of various types did not arise. Each set was mounted on a car by one mechanic using a conventional tool.

Note some of the features that "pop up" during installation. “Ranch”, unlike all the others, do not have spacer metal bushings in the upper support of the front shock absorbers, and under their lower support it was necessary to slightly unfasten the mounting eyes.

The front “Horses” have a large-diameter cup on which the rubber sleeve rests. It is not easy to insert the shock absorber into the upper bracket - this cup does not allow skewing, and in order to avoid it, the high-pressure gas shock absorber must be compressed. The work is not easy.

The thread on all the rods of the front shock absorbers is the same - M10x1, however, on the Plaza they “forgot” (?) To turnkey flats to hold the rod. We performed them ourselves on an emery wheel.

All imported shock absorbers are packed in elegant, bright boxes, a set of fasteners is attached. According to tradition, ours are without fasteners and without packaging.

SAAZ; Skopin, Russia. Two-pipe hydraulic shock absorbers are supplied to complete the Niva on a VAZ.

+ Low price, high level of comfort on asphalt, acceptable comfort on broken asphalt.

- A tendency to breakdown, longitudinal buildup, banks, low comfort on the lane, a significant delay in the actions of the steering wheel.

Summary. For an undemanding driver who prefers a calm, measured ride, moving mainly on paved roads. Good as much as they cost. Maintainable!

“Monroe-Gas Magnum”; Belgium. Two-pipe, with low pressure gas support.

+ High level of comfort on a broken road, grader and country road, acceptable comfort on the pavement, minimal buildup of the body.

- Noticeable rolls, some delay in driving.

Summary. The behavior of the car with Hydros Magnum shock absorbers is a good compromise between comfort, on the one hand, and the behavior of cars in heavy duty, on the other. In general, close to the golden mean. And for the price too.

"RS5000 Ranch"; USA. Two-pipe hydraulic shock absorbers.

+ An acceptable level of comfort at the side of the road, acceptable reactions to driving.

- Low comfort on asphalt and broken road, high price.

Summary. "Oil" - but not that! Unlike a fellow from SAAZ, there is a noticeable bias towards improving driving performance to the detriment of comfort. Nothing really shines, but without obvious failures. Strong (but very expensive) middle peasant.

"Plaza"; Saint-Petersburg, Russia. Single pipe shock absorber with high pressure gas support.

+ Low tendency to breakdown, moderate banks, low delay in driving, reasonable price.

- Low level of comfort on all types of roads, a tendency to longitudinal buildup.

Summary. If it were not for the offensive tendency to throw up the rear axle, it would be very good for heavy loads and bad roads. In addition, it is much cheaper than foreign analogues.

“Horses”; Holland. Single pipe shock absorber with high pressure gas support.

+ Minimum rolls and buildup of the body, the minimum delay in the reaction to the actions of the steering wheel, a fairly high level of comfort on broken and country roads.

- Low comfort on the pavement, price.