KYB vs Bilstein Shocks: A Concise Comparison & All You Need To Know
If you’ve been looking to finally upgrade your OEMs to something better, there’s a good chance KYB and Bilstein will pop up. I’ve heard countless comparisons between them among car owners – from trucks to sport cars.
Usually you’ll hear about KYB’s Excel-G, Gas-a-shock. There’s also the legendary Monomax series for trucks/SUVs and heavy load tasks such as hauling or towing.
On the other hand, Bilstein have secured a loyal customer base with their 5100 series shocks and HD series. You’ll see a handful of people noting their outstanding performance and long-lasting sturdiness.
Previously, I outlined the basic differences between KYB and Monroe shocks. I’m going to do the same here, with one very important preface:
Bilstein is a cut above both KYB and Monroe.
Think of the latter two as your standard-fare upgrade from OEMs. Affordable price, decent performance, will be around for a few years without issues.
Bilstein is a more premium take on shocks, but with the higher price tag you always get increased performance, tighter control, and better longevity.
KYB vs Bilstein:
Some fundamental differences
It’s hard to say anything bad about both brands’ manufacturing roots.
KYB is Japanese and you know the attention to detail involved in their production facilities. Bilstein are German – and this is yet another nation with an insane amount of dedication to how they craft things.
In fact, I’ve visited both countries. To me, German people were something like the Japanese of Europe, if that makes any sense to you. Very disciplined, very pedantic, proud in how they work and the quality of the outcome.
That said, Bilstein is just better. It’s designed for the car owner who doesn’t shy away from investing a bit more in a set of shocks.
Bilsteins offer masterful control, firm performance and can easily last you a decade.
KYBs are good, but around the 5-6 year mark you might feel a decrease in their performance.
Here’s the typical 5100 series design:
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As I mentioned in my KYB vs Monroe article, KYBs are definitely stiffer. They feel – and are a bit harsher than Bils.
I remember a guy in a Jeep discussion board mentioning the production basics too. Most KYBs are similar to OEMs in terms of technology. Twin tube shocks (low pressure) with velocity sensitive valving.
A notable exception is the KYB Monomax series. As you can guess from the name, they’re a heavy duty monotube absorber for off-road conditions or towing.
Bilsteins usually involve a high pressure monotube design with a self-adjusting valving that’s digressive. That’s why they offer overall better handling, ride control and quicker responsiveness to road conditions.
Speaking of the Monomax, here’s how they are designed:
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Bilstein: better versatility
Generally, Bilsteins perform better in some road conditions that might make KYBs struggle a bit.
Perhaps the best example is off-road driving. I know I mentioned KYBs perform better than Monroes on roads with a lot of bumps.
However, Bilsteins simply blow out of the water any entry level OEM upgrades. Off-road conditions, including ultra bumpy dirt roads will be met with uncompromising performance.
The same can be said if you own a sports car and wonder which one would perform better on the track. The answer is Bilstein.
The one thing KYB does better
That said, a lot of car owners will probably note something the Japanese brand does exceptionally well:
KYB is definitely pretty good with corners. Not that Bilsteins are bad, but you can catch my drift.
Another notable field where KYBs excel are Asian cars, they definitely seem well-suited and fit for most of them.
So, KYB Monomax vs Bilstein 5100 or Gas-A-Justs vs Bilstein HD:
Still the same conclusion?
Look, both will be a pretty big upgrade from your stocks anyways. And if you want to spare some money or are looking for some casual driving, KYB will work just fine.
But if you’ll be driving in more challenging road conditions or want to maximize the longevity of your shocks, Bilsteins are the better choice. Provided you want to shell out a bit more cash, of course.
Any good auto parts store should have both. Amazon has a fair amount of both brands’ shocks on reasonable prices too. Keep in mind that with Bilsteins you have to do a bit more shopping around to ensure everything will fit smoothly.