How Shocks and Shock Valving Works
Note: If you wish to skip the basics of how shock valving works and go straight to shock tuning, please see our Shock Tuning Guide.
Shock absorbers dampen the suspension movement of a vehicle to improve handling and performance by forcing specially formulated shock oil through tightly controlled holes (ports) in the shock piston to convert kinetic energy (movement) into thermal energy (heat).
Most high performance shocks are similar in design and feature a piston attached to a shock shaft that moves up and down inside the shock cylinder which is filled with shock oil. Shims placed on either side of the piston, then control the movement of oil through the ports depending on their arrangement.
As the shock shaft moves within the shock body, oil is forced through openings in the piston to push against the shim stack on the opposite side. The faster and harder the shock moves, the higher the force of the oil pressing against the shims becomes. Controlling how much force is needed to allow the oil to move past the shims at any given speed is how shock valving is determined.