Öhlins Motorsport Heritage
Competition improves the breed they say. Wise words, but here at Öhlins, competition created the breed. We are a company that has been clearly focused since day one, with a singular purpose: To win races. From Kenth Öhlins´ first simple design back in 1976, through to the computer designed and tested masterpieces that we now create, every Öhlins unit is designed to give you total control, even on the very edge of the performance envelope. As our engineers say ‘The ground gives better traction than air.’ so every Öhlins design has one clear remit: to keep the car, bike, ATV or snowmobile maximizing traction, cornering speed and control! That is how you win races.
We enjoy a two-way dialogue with all of the teams we support. Kenth Öhlin made a clear decision many years ago, that we would never give any product away free to teams in sponsorship. Not one thing. So, every team that you see winning on Öhlins is doing so through choice, not obligation. The fact that so many teams choose to decline free product to pay for ours perhaps tells you what you need to know about the quality and ability of Öhlins race suspension products.
Over 200 World Titles have been achieved on Öhlins, and many thousands of podiums. Every discipline from Touring cars, through to Indy 500. From the WRC through to World Superbikes. In every instance we work closely with the team’s technical division in a two-way flow of information that allows us both to analyze data and evaluate performance. This is then poured back into the design and creation of new products as well as the continual improvement of existing lines. Winning races has taught us a lot, and these lessons are directly transferred into our aftermarket programmes where the real enthusiasts can benefit from the very best in forks, steering dampers or suspension.
Motorsport means so much to us. We have over 30 employees solely dedicated to high-end racing support and service. This team regularly briefs our designers on their results ‘in the field’ to ensure that every Öhlins customer, whether they’re a Factory Le Mans team – or a single, discerning enthusiast gets the very best performance from their machine.
We test everything – and then we test again. But data can only tell you so much. At Öhlins, it has always been as much about ‘feel’ as it has been about the numbers. If it feels ‘right’ to the driver or rider, then that is even more important than the dry statistics. We’re drivers too, and once you have driven on the product, you’ll feel the difference.
The Öhlins Concept
Perfection in performance. That has been the Öhlins way since 1976. We have achieved this through an obsession with detail and quality. Every part of the Öhlins manufacturing process sets new standards for the automotive industry. Whether it’s material choice, design, manufacture or even a small detail like packaging. Only when it is perfect can it leave the factory. Our new R&T range finally puts Öhlins incredibly high standards of research, development and manufacture within the reach of the discerning enthusiast. This range is pure Öhlins, but the good news is – you won’t need a race team budget to afford it!
For us, the relationship with our customers is usually a long and fruitful one. We have supplied many of the top teams in motorsport, but also thousands of genuine enthusiasts. We only manufacture to one quality and every new client is as important as the last. In our view, the relationship doesn’t end with that initial sale. We see our role as providing support and back up thereafter, for as long as our client needs it. That’s way all Öhlins units are fully serviceable and adjustable, making sure that they give faithful and dynamic service for years to come. Our fully trained and approved service centers can make your old Öhlins units perform like new and even make changes in damper characteristics to suit your set-up preferences. Remember that our road and track range was born out of our Motorsport programme, where the impossible has to be made possible, so you can expect the same level of care and attention to detail on the R&T range.
The choice of materials used is one of the key factors behind Öhlins success. Each component is surface treated to ensure reduced friction and superior performance. The piston shaft and damper walls are micro-finished and plateau honed for optimum lubricity and low friction coefficient. This attention to detail is the same across the entire range of Öhlins products. Without this fine surface finishing, excessive friction can reduce the compliancy of the damper causing a loss of function.
Damping rate on the R&T units is fully adjustable and ties compression and rebound together as a matched setting, meaning that in 99% of cases, the units will work superbly, straight ‘out of the box’ with only the smallest adjustments required to suit the car or drivers individual preferences. Despite what other suspension manufacturers may tell you, comfort is king, even when you are trying to set-up a competition machine. Our vast experience on events like the World Rally Championship and Isle of Man TT races has shown us that the fastest drivers and riders are those that aren’t being shaken to bits as they go flat out. The ‘science of compliance’ is a hugely important part of our design work.
And last but not least, is durability. But hey, we’re Swedish, so chances are you have already guessed that we’re used to building components that survive one of the toughest environments in the World. The carbon steels bodies are salt spray tested and can service 240 hours of abuse, whilst still retaining function. Don’t let those stunning race car looks fool you. These are real-world units for daily driven cars.