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When August Bilstein laid the foundations for the innovation incubator BILSTEIN in Altenvoerde in Germany’s Westphalia region in 1873, nobody had any idea of the crucial influence the company’s products would one day have on the driving comfort and safety of cars.

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COMPANY HISTORY


Instead it was metal window fittings – sold under the catchy name of AUBI, an abbreviation of August Bilstein – that soon made the company famous far beyond the boundaries of Bilstein’s local region and even abroad.

A whole series of technical innovations followed and the revenues earned through these patents provided a solid basis for the later successes of what was still a young company. In order to meet the exacting quality demands already in the preliminary stage of manufacturing the fittings, the company set up its own strip iron rolling mill in 1919. In line with the motto “A rolling stone gathers no moss”, Hans Bilstein, who had taken over the running of the company from his father, returned to his native Westphalia from the USA, which in the 1920s was still a long way away, bringing with him new concepts for nickel- and chrome-plating processes.

Entry into the automotive business: 1928-1954

It was in 1927 that Hans Bilstein made the first move towards the automotive accessories industry, through his co-operation with the Berlin-based lifting gear company Levator-Hebezeug-Fabrik. He did not have to wait long to see his activities bear fruit.

In 1928, four years before the opening of the first motorway between Cologne and Bonn, BILSTEIN supplied the first chrome-plated bumper for mass-produced cars. Just one year later the company began producing car jacks. In typical BILSTEIN style, it entered this market with a resounding technical innovation, introducing the first usable side jack to a world that was only slowly getting used to the car. But the true world sensation was still to come.

Gaining the lead through expertise and technology: 1954 to the present day

In 1954, BILSTEIN was the first to realise the potential offered by an idea of Prof. Bourcier de Carbon, a French researcher in the field of vibrations. The aim was to eliminate the physical disadvantages of the conventional telescopic shock absorbers, whilst at the same time making the dampers lighter and able to be fitted in any position.

Enormous effort went into development, accompanied by substantial investment in the necessary production facilities, in order to achieve this ambitious target. And it paid off. The introduction of the first mono-tube gas pressure shock absorber in a standard production Mercedes-Benz vehicle in 1957 by what was at the time the ‘Fittings and car jack manufacturer BILSTEIN’ (Beschlag- und Wagenheber-Hersteller BILSTEIN) is still today considered a major contribution to active driving safety.

Gas pressure technology is now used in all types of telescope shock absorbers developed for use on powerful, high-class cars. The latest highlight is the development of the air spring module that BILSTEIN supplies ‘just in sequence’ to the Mercedes S-Class production line.

To this day, the demands of its customers in the automotive and tuning industries, combined with its commitment to motor sports, are what drive development and innovation at BILSTEIN. All AMG Mercedes in the DTM and over half of the teams in the 24 hour race on the Nürburgring approach the starting line with BILSTEIN accessories.

The name BILSTEIN has for many decades been closely associated with high tech in the field of suspension design, driving comfort and safety. In order to expand this position in the future, BILSTEIN became a division of ThyssenKrupp Technologies AG in 1988, and a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2005. The partnership and co-operation within the group will enable the company to continue to inspire with innovations in the traditional BILSTEIN way.

GAS PRESSURE TECHNOLOGY


Over time, the mono-tube gas pressure technology developed by BILSTEIN has established itself as a standard in automotive construction. This technology involves keeping the oil in the absorber under pressure, which prevents it from foaming when temperatures and loads are increasing. As a result, full damping power is retained even when the system is placed under extreme stress, a feature that can be observed in the self-lowering piston.

  • Ensures a high level of traction and more precise handling
  • A must-have for powerful sport suspensions
  • Added safety in all dynamic driving situations

BILSTEIN´s mono-tube technology

The original and best: The original mono-tube gas pressure shock absorbers bore the BILSTEIN name, and they’re still responsible for producing the best there is. BILSTEIN’s mono-tube technology is the number-one choice in motorsports and series-production sports cars: no other type gives engineers the same freedom to choose the perfect installation location or position (e.g. Upside-Down technology).

  • Large effective surface on the working piston creates increased damping power and better handling
  • Improved dissipation of thermal energy outwards enables a consistently high level of absorber performance
  • Sturdy structure for added safety in Upside-Down Technology

Twin-tube technology

The proven technology of a twin-tube absorber is applied in the vast majority of all vehicles. BILSTEIN‘s twin-tube absorbers, featuring “original equipment manufacturer” quality that has undergone rigorous testing, offer a marked improvement in driving characteristics with universal spare parts replaced in a timely and efficient manner.

  • Oil or gas pressure technology
  • Only tested, OEM quality is provided
  • A favourably priced alternative at the highest level
  • Technology transfer from series production

ROAD-TESTED BY BILSTEIN


To achieve that celebrated BILSTEIN driving experience, BILSTEIN engineers rely on not only technology that is truly at the cutting edge, but also something that has withstood the test of time: how it feels to the driver. As a result, all of their high-performance shock absorbers, as well as sport suspensions and threaded ride height adjustable kits, undergo a rigorous testing programme.

On the Nürburgring and in their own test centre at the Papenburg test track, drivers test how balanced the driving characteristics of various vehicles are in a variety of different driving situations. Only when they have passed this programme of tests with distinction are they allowed to bear the BILSTEIN name. This way, they can guarantee that celebrated BILSTEIN driving experience.

MOTORSPORT


For more than 50 years, Bilstein has been developing successful dampers used in motor racing. And the basic task always has remained the same. The damper has to absorb the blows the wheel has to take from the road on their way to the body. The goal: to ensure maximum contact between wheel and track surface. Still, the racing cars have been massively improved, over the course of the years, hence, the Bilstein engineers were confronted with new problems again and again.

Growing aerodynamic influence

For a long time, the dampers and the suspensions were – nearly – the only key factors for the handling of a touring car but today, the aerodynamics and the tyre setup are becoming more and more important. And in recent years, Bilstein has made vital progress supporting these areas.

The underbody of a modern racing touring car creates a considerable deal of the aerodynamic downforce, particularly at the front axle. In this area, the distance between the front-underbody panel and the track surface represents a key factor, as a certain ride height is a must to produce maximum downforce. Leaving the optimum area results in unwanted vibrations at the front axle.

In this area, the distance between the front-underbody panel and the track surface represents a key factor, as a certain ride height is a must to produce maximum downforce. Leaving the optimum area results in unwanted vibrations at the front axle and hence, in reduced downforce. Today, Bilstein succeeds – in cooperation with the teams’ vehicle engineers – in optimising the downforce generated by the underbody with a fitting damper setup, thus providing the driver with a handling as neutral as possible and adapted to meet his preferences.

Tyres as crucial factor

Modern racing tyres alternatively deliver their maximum grip for just one fast lap or some 90 to 95 percent of it over a longer distance, with the tyre temperature and the air pressure resulting from it representing the key factors when it comes to determining the characteristics. Thanks to the individual adjustment options of the Bilstein dampers, however, the suspension can also be used to influence the tyre temperature. Both the tyre and the damper absorb the punishment coming from the track surface. The more exactly and sophisticatedly a damper can be adjusted, the more clearance the tyre technicians have got regarding the setup.

To appropriately realise the maximum performance for suspension, aerodynamics and tyres, Bilstein developed the Modular Damper System, MDS, with a so-called two-way-inline adjustment. To do so, both the compression and the rebound stages can be manually adjusted by dint of two adjustment wheels and in ten numbered positions.

BILSTEIN AWARDS


For many years now both nationally and internationally the name BILSTEIN has been synonymous with best quality and top performance in chassis design – whether it’s in motor sports, Original Equipment or car customising.

This claim to superiority has also been backed up repeatedly and most impressively by reader surveys and votes held by motoring magazines – in the category of sports suspensions, sports shock absorbers and springs, BILSTEIN is by far and away the leading brand with the best quality. BILSTEIN won the Best Brand Award from the German magazine ‘auto motor und sport’ for the seventh consecutive time after 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

No matter whether it’s workmanship, reliability, progressive technology or motor sports success that is being judged – the BILSTEIN brand keeps its promise, winning one award after another.