FCM Elite Consultation and Design Q & A

Our mission is to bring more harmony into your life which our detailed Elite Consultation amd Design process helps us achieve. On this Elite Question and Answer page, we address many common questions here; the balance we'll answer during your Consult.

'Ready to Buy' Q & A

'Convince Me' Q & A

Earn $100 credit on FCM Elite services
by taking our Ride Harmony survey!

Q1 - What do I need to provide you to get started on my Elite Project?

First, please fill out the Elite Project form with information about your vehicle and your needs. Then, submit an Elite Consultation and Design payment of $125 for 30 minutes. If you have a more unique or exotic application, we may invoice you for additional consultation fees based on the estimate from our 30 min Elite Consultation and Design consulation. For most production vehicles, a 30 min consultation is sufficient.

Q2 - I'm definitely excited to experience an FCM Elite suspension but am not technical about cars. What kind of information would you need?

We'd need basic information like your vehicle make, model, options, how you use it, how many passengers or how much load you typically carry, changes in overall engine output, the geographic area you live in, etc. Also, we'd like descriptions of what ride or handling behaviors you don't like and what you'd wish for in 'a perfect world.' From the data we've gathered on real-world roads and race tracks, we've found there's a lot of useful information in descriptions like 'I want it to absorb frost heaves better' or 'the ride is very jittery driving downtown'. So rest assured that plain-English answers are exactly what we're looking for as part of our Elite Consultation and Design process.

The end result of our Elite Consultation and Design process is to create for you a unique, individually-tailored set of dampers (also called shocks, struts, etc.) that will go on your vehicle. In some cases you will get a the shock or strut from us, in others it would be a completely 'coil-over' package. This depends upon your vehicle and intended use. We'll discuss details during our Elite Consultation amd Design session.

If you're ready to begin, fill out your FCM Elite Consultation form!

Q3 - How long until my Elite Project is finished?

Lead times vary based on seasonal demand and Project complexity. Expect anywhere from 4 to over 8 weeks. We can't give an exact time and will not work under pressure so please plan ahead. We'll discuss estimated lead-times with you during your Elite Consultation and Design session.

Q4 - I'm not sure what kind of shocks to use for my Elite Project? What do you suggest?

A quick clarification - 'damper' is the correct term for what the shock or strut in your vehicle does. It controls motions that are periodic and repeating. We do sometimes use the word 'shock' or 'shock absorber' because it's what most people know, but in this FAQ and on this site we attempt to be more accurate with our terminology.

To deliver the most consistent and long-lasting results for our customers, we only add our FCM Elite products and services to a Bilstein monotube damper or a Bilstein-based H&R coil-over system (Street Performance coil-over, etc.). The key is that it MUST be a serviceable type monotube! Some Bilsteins are crimped (non-serviceable in which case we MAY be able to rebuild them but at higher cost). We cannot rebuild twin tube Bilstein dampers.
This is very important, so please don't ask about working on some other brand. For over 15 years, we've had tremendous success by trusting the build Quality, durability, and flexibility of the Bilstein monotube design. They have an excellent reputation for over 80 years as the world's leading damper manufacturer. Fortunately, many vehicle come with Bilsteins as standard or optional equipment so this can make sourcing the right dampers easier.

If you don't already have a serviceable-type of Bilstein monotube shocks or struts* on your vehicle, or you can't have your vehicle out-of-service, you can a) order and ship a new set to us, or b) we can order a set for you. If providing your own dampers, we would need them for at least 6 weeks and sometimes longer so please plan accordingly.

*NOTE: Even if your vehicle came with Bilsteins as factory equipment, they may not be easily serviceable. You can reference these two photos of crimp-top style vs. take-apart style Bilstein monotubes. If you do have the crimp-top style, we usually can convert them to take-apart for $75 per damper (labor/machining fees subject to change).

The cost of new Bilstein monotube B6 (HD) or B8 (Sport) dampers varies but prices range from $450 for a set of (4) Miata shocks to $1100 for a full set of (2) front struts and (2) rear shocks for a Mercedes or Porsche. In some cases, only a Bilstein PSS (B14) or PSS9 / PSS10 (B16) kit is available which cost more than the B6 (HD) or B8 (Sport). For racing or custom applications, we can use the Bilstein Motorsports product line which provides a wide range of 'race-shocks' with spherical bearings, in different lengths with various options. We can't provide a definitive price until we know your application and can see what Bilstein monotubes are available and appropriate for your needs.

If you're more of a 'do-it-yourself' type, you can look on Bilstein's 'cart' website to see what Bilstein officially lists as available for your vehicle make, model, and option package. There's also a more detailed parts list in their Aftermarket Motorsports catalog with lots of details and info. Be aware that the newest vehicles may not have applications listed. Ths is where our long-term Bilstein supplier, the very knowledgeable Mark, owner of Shox.com, comes in. He has a direct line to Bilstein and has access to the most updated information. Mark's phone number is 1-800-683-2890 and if you call, be sure to let him know you'll be working with Fat Cat Motorsports on your Elite Project build so he can ship your new dampers to us*. If you prefer to have us do the research, it makes even more sense to pay for an Elite Consultation and Design session, and to send in your Elite Consultation form as soon as possible.

NOTE: If you do have used Bilsteins you want us to service, let me know what type they are and also SEND US PHOTOS. If the dampers are too old or have experienced road salt / corrosion, we may not be able to service them.

For shipping new or used Bilsteins or H&R (Bilstein-based) coil-overs, whenever possible use UPS or FedEx for best tracking. We understand for international customers that the Postal Service is the most cost-effective method. We ship all domestic US packages via FedEx, and internationally via USPS Global Priority Mail. Our address for correspondence and packages is:

Fat Cat Motorsports, Inc.
639 Bair Island Rd #109A
Redwood City, CA 94063

Once we verify a Bilstein monotube exists or can be made for your vehicle, we'll determine the costs to modify or adapt it as needed. Then the next step is deciding what stage of FCM Elite services you want.

Q5 - I'm not sure kind of FCM Elite services to get. What do you suggest?

We have one required service (FCM Elite Stage 1) and a few options: adding our Ripple Reducer modification to create FCM Elite Stage 2, or adding both Ripple Reducer and our KBO (Kerb Blow-Off) valve to create FCM Elite Stage 3. Many of our Elite customers (about 80% actually) go with our FCM Elite Stage 2 as the Ripple Reducer feature is SO beneficial to smoothing out the background 'jitter' of an average road (discover that 'There's No Such Thing as a Smooth Road!'). Ripple Reducer also helps us design the overall shock performance to increase available traction which also adds to your safety margin. This is especially noticeable in wet, snowy, dirty, rough or otherwise poor road conditions. It's a common and necessary modification for many off-road vehicles and we decided our street customers deserved that option as well. Ripple Reducer 'adds more tire' that you didn't know you had available!

If you're either seeking the ultimate comfort or the absolute fastest lap times, you'll want to get our FCM Elite Stage 3. Yes, this little wonder satisfies both needs! You can read and watch videos below to find out more but in short, the KBO valve lets your suspension absorb bumps in a way you never thought possible, while also giving you better steering response! It truly is the best of both worlds, having your cake and eating it too!

The only required service is our FCM Elite Stage 1 damper optimization, which is our proprietary method of refining the internal behavior of the Bilstein damper used on your vehicle to achieve the best possible combination of compression force, rebound force, and gas force. By the way most vendors neglect to consider the gas force and minimize it - but we do! We optimize the Bilstein's performance to get the best results for your specific needs. Our revalve methods have evolved significantly through the years as our knowledge and experience has increased - which this 30 minute video shows in great detail! Our Elite revalves are $275 per standard 'shock' or $325 per standard 'strut'. PSS9, PSS10, or other adjustable Bilstein variants cost more due to the added time to remove and replace the damping adjuster. Through this detailed Elite revalve process, we use a customized Accu-Force shock fill machine to diassemble and reassemble the damper without use an external valve. Many aftermarket dampers use an external nitrogen valve which can leak or requires frequent service (and added cost). Once the damper is apart, we create your unique force profile. Finally, we reassemble and test your new Elite damper. We're happy to provide you an e-copy of the final result.

You could also upgrade to our FCM Elite Stage 2, which is when we incorporate our Ripple Reducer option - that adds 110 per strut or shock on top of the cost for FCM Elite Stage 1. Incidentally, we came across the idea creating a 'high-frequency' vibration reducer while working on heavy vehicles such as shuttles and executive coachs. These often suffer from terrible ride quality due to a heavy rear axle and simple damper designs. This feature, which we dubbed the 'Ripple Reducer', involves drilling small, precise 'bleed holes' into a Bilstein shock piston, similar to what's shown in this image from an off-road site. Ripple Reducer worked so well in softening the ride of those heavy vehicles we wanted to try it on our street and track cars, of course scaled to the lower weight and different suspension design. Viola! Better ride and more traction! The exact size and number of drilled holes is specific to each Elite application. We were amazed at how a modification originally intended for off-road racing works so well for street use, not to mention high-performance environments where we found our cars even easier to drive and to hold at the limit of traction! So, while Ripple Reducer is an option, we've find it so effective that we consider it a 'must-have' for all our Elite members. You'll feel enhanced ride quality and have a safer setup vs. an Elite setup without it (not to mention any non-FCM product). Since the damper tracks small surface undulations better, there's less 'micro-skipping' or 'jitter' from the tire, a nuisance we're forced to get used to. In case you haven't seen, years ago I demonstrated the fact that there's 'no such thing as a smooth road' but it was a few years later I discovered this high-frequency softening principle as a way to actually smooth a road out! Our initial experiments, back-to-back testing by a sensitive customer, and many testimonials since have verified the amazing effectiveness of Ripple Reducer for every application.

The ultimate technology, available exclusively for FCM Elite customers, is our FCM Elite Stage 3 in-house designed, patent-pending KBO (Kerb Blow-Off) valve. While we initially tested KBO on race tracks, we found a much smoother drive to the track! While we highly recommended KBO for racers who want that winning edge, KBO isn't just for competition use. Such demanding environments only highlight the improved real-world comfort and confidence behind the wheel. As our customers often say, our Kerb Blow-Off valve 'chops the top off bumps'. We always integrate KBO with our FCM bump stop tuning methods, so we ensure the required protection on very large, sharp bumps to help cushion any 'bottoming out.' Our proprietary Kerb Blow-Off valve simultaneously gives you more feedback behind the wheel while keeping the tires in constant contact with the ground, whether the road is wet or dry! More than any aftermarket system, integration of KBO even more effectively replaces the need for a 'knob' that some people expect and that a number of racers use as crutches. This is because with KBO we design for control and comfort without causing jacking down. The suspension is always returning to a stable neutral point. In this way, it really is the ultimate upgrade for your Elite Project build. We can design a damping profile, optimized to your vehicle, which minimizes the negative impact of any real-world road you could drive, all in a simple, efficient, durable package. Our KBO valve is $400 per strut or shock. As our customer Carol in Seattle said of her FCM Elite Stage 3 (with Ripple Reducer and KBO upgrades) street- and performance-driven Porsche 997 'from the factory, this is how it should feel!'

If you're ready to begin, fill out your FCM Elite Consultation form!

Q6 - Great, I'm ready to buy FCM Elite services and want to add Ripple Reducer. I'm also curious about KBO. Can you tell me more about it?

Absolutely. This will get a bit more technical, so we recommend you familiarize yourself with the content of the first three videos in our 'How Shocks Work' playlist. These videos are:

#1: 'Overview of Bilstein internal components
#2: 'An Introduction to Damping Concepts
#3: 'Jacking Down - Rebound vs. Compression Damping'

(for another level of understanding, check out the next video in the playlist, '#4: 'Introduction to Rally Car setups' to see how the relationship of compression and rebound damping comes in play, as we are design our Elite setups with a slight 'rally car' behavior in mind)

Then, watch and hover your mouse over the areas of the shock dyno graph in the 'Introduction to KBO: A Leap Forward in Suspension Tuning' as you read the descriptions below.

We became clear for the need of KBO as we found that our best-tuned Elite dampers which behaved well on decent or fairly rough roads could feel 'jumpy' on very rough roads. The car would seem to 'launch' into the air. Of course, any suspension is greatly tested the worse the road quality is, but we are obsessed with the Physics of Suspension Design and achieving Ride Harmony. We wanted to understand and, if possible, improve the situation. We determined this 'launching' behavior was from an excess of high-speed compression damping force. We knew we had to reduced that force, but we didn't want to sacrifice the benefits of having low- and mid-speed compression force for the reasons stated above. In analyzing the behavior of the Bilstein dampers, we say that they, like the majority of dampers, used a 'digressive piston.' This is a good concept, where you can create a certain ramp of damping force at low- to mid-speed shock movements, then decrease or 'digress' that force ramp for high-speed movements. However, for very bad roads, or very sharp bumps, 'digressing' the force isn't enough.

We thought about ways to further soften the high-speed compression force and consulted with a trusted friend and Ph.D. Mechanical Engineer to help implement a unique solution: integrating a spring-loaded blow-off mechanism into the compression side of the piston. He also performed an FEA (Finite Element Analysis) of the expected stresses on the valve to make sure we had a robust design. We've designed KBO to work with a long cycle life and provide two distinct stages of compression speeds. There's a separation of the damper's force response at low- and mid-speeds (e.g. handling manuevers and overall small to medium bumps) from the damper's force response at high-speeds (e.g. over larger bumps or a rapid succession of medium bumps). It's by our effective separation of low-speed and high-speed forces that lets KBO out-perform a shim-based damper or one with a lower-flowing blow-off. For a standard digressive, shim-based damper, you may have acceptable high-speed force but the low-speed force is too soft. Alternately, you may have enough low-speed compression force, but now the high-speed compression force is excessive. This coupling across the damper's speed range is a detriment inherent to a standard digressive piston and is why adding our Kerb Blow-Off technology provides such an advantage in control and traction. Let's look into this further:

The FIRST STAGE of KBO behavior is when the valve is fully or mostly closed. In terms of actual damper speeds, it's the region from 0 in/sec to between 3 to 5 in/sec. The Ripple Reducer allows a small amount of fluid flow through the piston during initial compression movement. During this initial movement, we can generate more compression damping force in the damper's low speed range than a conventional damper. The added compression force provides the driver of our KBO-equipped suspension with more direct feedback and confidence when applying steering, gas, and braking inputs. This contrasts to common, lower-cost factory and aftermarket dampers which increase the low-speed rebound damping* instead, to the detriment of ride quality, confidence, and road-holding.

*NOTE: Lower-cost dampers (including most factory units and many) are often an inferior twin-tube design. Whether through fundamental design or manufacturer's bias, a low-cost twin-tube damper (or improperly valved monotube damper) ends up creating more rebound damping (which keeps the damper from extending) than compression damping (which keeps the damper from compressing). It's cheaper from a cost stand-point to control a suspension with rebound force but the downside is poorer ride quality and reduced grip since you are literally 'ratcheting' or 'jacking' the suspension down into the bump stops, so each subsequent bump makes the car less able to absorb the next one. In contrast, a slightly compression-biased setup keeps the suspension on its 'tip toes' like a proper dancer, tennis player, or boxer. You're ready for the next bump or dip, and the next, and the next!

Additionally, as the damper begins to move somewhat faster in compression - say during a medium amplitude bump - the KBO valve will move from closed to slightly open as fluid pressure builds and flows more through the piston ports than the Ripple Reducer. Overall, flow is still being restricted so the compression force will continue to rise - again, usually more than a typical low-cost damper. In this mid-speed portion of the damper's first stage behavior, KBO assists in preventing 'bottoming out' on medium-sized bumps. As with the damper's low-speed portion, we need to make sure the rebound force is not exceeding the compression force otherwise you'll experience 'jacking down' on these medium-sized road features. 'Jacking down' is so detrimental because it causes psychological dis-ease and physial discomfort, potentially leading to physical harm if the suspension is very badly-tuned or some parts have worn out from years of constant 'jacking down.' Higher-end vehicles always use more compression for this reason, and usually a premium is paid for this improved behavior of 'less rebound and more compression.' This is why we always design every FCM Elite suspensions to avoid 'jacking down' and to provide the necessary compression support so the suspension can always reset to a neutral position, no matter what the road throws at you.

The SECOND STAGE of KBO behavior, which is distinctly separate from the first stage, is where we design the force to build to a threshold based onyour application and vehicle weight. At this threshold force, the valve fully opens in response to fairly high damper speeds.This can be due to a small, sharp bump or a larger, rounded bump. In terms of actual damper speeds, this is the region beyond about 5 in/sec. Keep in mind there's been a reasonable amount of force developed to reach this damper speed, as the damper piston has already moved through the FIRST STAGE force ramp. This means we still have enough force to prevent most bottoming events. Now, as the blow-off threshold force is reached, the valve opens and prevents a further large increase in high-speed compression force. This where that 'flat blow-off' behavior (seen in the KBO video) comes into play and why the feeling of driving or racing a KBO-equipped vehicle is so incredible!

This high-speed softening reduces the harshness and loss of traction from encountering severe bumps, either in isolation or in sequence. The KBO valve design is able to respond very quickly to road inputs, so this valve opening behavior can happen very rapidly, allowing a continual degree of low-speed control along with high-speed blow-off. By using of a spring-loaded valve (which obeys Hooke's Law, or 'force proportional to displacement') instead of a deflective metal shim (which follow an bending moment or 'force proportional to displacement SQUARED'), KBO creates a dramatic drop in high-speed force increase. This is truly a Leap Forward in Suspension Design, so you have a very distinct separation in confident control but amazing comfort on rough roads. It's unmatched by any other technology we've seen, especially without the extra cost and complication of extra damping adjustments, mounting external reservoirs, etc. There is no more effective suspension for street, autocross, or track than an FCM Elite package with Ripple Reducer and KBO and our customers ecstatically agree!

To summarize, KBO fundamentally improves the damper's ability to provide driver control plus its response to rough and bumpy roads. The result is maximum road-holding with exellent comfort. Whether you are dealing with rough streets or want to aggressively use the entire race track with confident, KBO is the culmination of our obsession with creating the ultimate suspension, 'The Perfect Ride'. This unique, proven upgrade is currently $400 per damper (pricing is the same for either shock or strut). Combine the benefits of Ripple Reducer with KBO to experience the most supple ride, responsive control, and isolation from background road 'jitter.' You'll be amazed!

If you're ready to begin, fill out your FCM Elite Consultation form!

Q7 - Do you have any discounts or incentives?

We are strong advocates for community blood donation and there always seems to be a shortage of blood, especially type O-negative. We recommend all who can donate this live-saving resource to do so: contact your local blood bank for more information on how. If you aren't able, consider asking a friend or family member to do this. It's a small action which makes a huge difference in someone's quality of life.

We are proud to offer active or retired military personnel a $220 credit on the purchase of the Ripple Reducer option (currently $440 total for four dampers).

You can receive a $75 credit for future FCM Elite service (does not apply to Elite consultation fees) by filling out our Ride Harmony survey.

We do not offer group buys or holiday specials.

Q8 - Why do you seem to only work on Bilsteins? And why don't your products usually have knobs?

When we began our journey as enthusiasts, there were a few names we heard as good quality damper builders. Bilstein was always highly regarded, although the fact that most Bilsteins were not adjustable for damping force seemed a drawback. However, we've come to find out that the Bilstein monotube construction, efficient design, plus continual improvements Bilstein has made have created the most durable, effective, and easy-to-work on damper in the world. Bilsteins are avaliable so most vehicle, and there is a wide range of high-performance Bilsteins as well for racing applications. So choosing to work with Bilsteins is like starting a delicious recipe with the very best quality ingredients! Why wouldn't you?

With the continual development of our Elite revalving and additional technology like Ripple Reducer and KBO, we are able to start with a great Quality damper and craft a unique damping force curve specific to an FCM Elite customer's needs. We get more consistent performance and very good matching from shock-to-shock. This means the knob is superfluous! You would simply be turning your suspension away from an ideal setting. We have heard from several of our customers with custom adjustable Elite options that they would always come back to the original damping settings, which is what we would have created if no knobs was used.* We'd rather save you the money and make sure you have an optimized experience!

As newer vendors come on the scene, we see improves to their technology and build quality. In some cases we are able to make some of our FCM Elite improves to non-Bilstein monotube dampers. These include BC Racing (which can actually use Bilstein pistons ... interesting!). While we greatly prefer to use a Bilstein monotube in every possible situation, in certain cases we have no choice but to use a BC Racing product. Labor rates may differ as they require a different disasembly / reassembly process. Send in an Elite Consult form if you have questions about using BC for your Elite Project build. Keep in mind that to gain maximum effectiveness of the Ripple Reducer modification, we would turn any adjustable damper to fully closed and ask you to keep it there for optimal damping performance.

*NOTE: Even professional racers agree when the suspension is tuned right you don't need knobs! Check out this longer video for a more in-depth look at the psychology and practice of 'Playing with Knobs'. For certain very demanding applications, we may be able to apply either an adjustable shaft or external adjustable reservoir both of which are exclusive to Fat Cat Motorsports. If you feel this is needed for your Elite Project, you can ask about these options during our consulting call.

The capabilities of a common twin tube Koni or KYB or Tokico are much more limited compared to the monotube Bilstein. Certain twin-tubes or monotubes with one or two damping adjustments always seem to exhibit deficiencies in their designs. We've also heard and seen horror stories of short service life and frequent rebuilds with several 'high-end' manufacturers such as Ohlins and JRZ. Often people buy a name without having any idea of the build quality, or actual degree of optimization put into their suspension.The key element of every Elite Project is the physical rebuilding of Bilstein monotube dampers for your vehicle. You can either provide us with Bilsteins or we can purchase them for you. We only work on Bilstein monotubes because nothing else provides the confidence, durability, availability, and are designed to accept our innovative FCM Elite technological enhancements!

If you're ready to begin, fill out your FCM Elite Consultation form!

Q9 - Why should I Join the FCM Elite? What's wrong with the factory suspension, or the common aftermarket replacement parts? There are some very expensive suspensions that have more knobs and other fancy features. Surely these are better than what you're doing?

By now you've read some of the innovations we've developed (if not, go to the start of this FAQ!). You've seen and read Elite testimonials about how well our philosophy, methods, and technology work in the real-world. All our packages are individually tailored to be ideal for YOU. Not the person who called before you, or will call tomorrow - just you. It is designed to give you the best of everything, without holding anything back. Whether you drive a Prius or a Porsche, our goal would be maximum comfort, maximum control, and maximum durability. We know that what you'll see from the factory is often only as good as the price you paid for the vehicle, and even then we're proud to have done better than every factory suspension we've tested! A vote for FCM Elite is also a vote for improving the Quality of factory suspensions. This is why we have a Smooth Ride Campaign being developed, to share our observations and insights with the greater public so they can see what we know and how their favorite vehicles can be made even better. It may sound arrogant, but we have the data and testimonials to back it up.

If that isn't enough to convince you, please answer this basic question: did you pop from a mold? Are you a clone, like in a sci-fi movie? No? Then you deseve to have your individual needs and concerns addressed when putting your safety and enjoyment into the hands of a vehicle. A mass-produced factory or even lower-production aftermarket unit will always overlook some aspect of the design. This is why we share so much of our methods on our Youtube channel, as a yardstick to measure other products by.

Keep in mind that production lines are driven by cost-reduction and most automakers would like to sell you new shocks every 30,000 or 50,000 miles. This is part of their business model and they'd prefer you spend big bucks on a factory replacement. On the other hand, if you buy an aftermarket unit, you are selecting a part that may or may not work harmoniously with other parts of the suspension. It may not be tuned as well as the factory, either. It may not be rebuilable so again, you need to throw it away at some point. With our Elite Consultation and Design process and exclusive use of the rebuildable and durable Bilstein monotube damper, we ensure all the necessary parts of your suspension upgrade work together in concert, so you don't end up with a 'Frankenstein' suspension!

Our business model is to sell you ONE suspension to last the life of your vehicle that's also designed to handle your roads, cargo loads, and driving preferences. We do not provide a specific warranty, and our work may void any warranty from Bilstein. However, from over 1,000 Elite customers in the past 15 years, we have had fewer than 1% failure rate. We believe this makes our products and services and excellent long-term investment. Join the Elite for yourself, or for a loved one. FCM Elite tuning is actually clinically shown* to improve relationships!

*NOTE: Okay, we haven't done a formal study but have heard enough 'My wife/husband/son/daughter/etc, loves the new suspension!' to know we're changing lives for the better.

If you're ready to begin, fill out your FCM Elite Consultation form!

Q10 - Why do you charge for consultation? No one else seems to.

There are a few reasons we do this. First, we're truly artisans - not technicians mass producing a standardized product or salespeople reselling something made by the pallet. We have great pride in our work which is very time-intensive. We spend our time focused on creating and improving our products and services, growing in understanding about engineering principles and suspension behaviors. We're driven by a constant quest for innovation. Internally, we invest significant resources and time in our empirical testing, analytical investigations, and material costs. We've never been shy about using the best materials, tooling, and consultants. Our track records demonstrates our success as we continually improve and enhance our offerings. Charging for consulting in this context helps support our R&D and the results you enjoy from us. now and in the future.

Second, we've found that from the popularity of our data- and experience-driven Youtube channel along with our ability to explain technical concepts in plain language that some people want to call and plug us for information or simply tell us stories. We enjoy being social but there's a time and place. In the past we ended up spending hours having fun conversations but had nothing productive to show for it - and our paying customers would have their builds delayed. That previous feedback loop is actually a big part of why we started the Youtube channel: to answer many frequently asked questions, explain suspension concepts, dispel misconceptions, demonstrate behaviors of other vendors' products, and inform you about the advantages of our unique Elite products and services. By paying for that time in conversation (whether phone or email) we can keep technicians on staff and know the necessary physical work is still being done.

Third, we've realized from thousands of conversations (both as enthusiasts and formally through Fat Cat Motorsports) that our hard-won experience will quickly cut through confusion and accurately clarify a solution. Again, this applies even if we can only communicate via email (e.g. overseas customers, deployed military personnel, etc.). Through our Elite Consultation and Design process we are providing you with vital information and answering your questions to save you time, money, and aggravation. Too many times we've heard "if only I had just come to you in the beginning!" instead of trying this product or that one, following marketing hype instead of fact-based assessments. Believe it or not, a 30 minute conversation with us is actually a long time where we're able to get to know you, have a fun and productive exchange where we ask you some targeted questions, hear about your experiences, explain otherwise fuzzy concepts, and go into specifics about your Elite Project. If you feel you'd just rather have a full 60 minutes, go for it! We can also break the conversation up into two sections which sometimes applies for more unusual Elite Projects.

Fourth, and for the reasons above - we charge for our time because we intend to create Elite products for Elite-minded people. For us, following our Elite Consultation and Design process helps us understand what you're looking for and to capture the details about your vehicle and situation we've found to be essential to providing the highest Quality result. Anyone selling an off-the-shelf product, no matter what the brand name, cannot provide the kind of result we do. This is why they don't charge you for their time, or it's already wrapped into their mark-up. We prefer to separate out the phases of the build, to have transparency about how we conduct our business so you know what you're paying for and why. You can simply pay for an Elite Consultation, receive the value from it, and not contact us again. We've both benefitted, so it's a win-win.

Ultimately, your Elite Consultation and Design payment demonstrates you appreciate our expertise and care as experts in Ride Harmonization. It says you're serious about working with us, whether to expand your knowledge or as the first step in crafting an exceptional FCM Elite suspension. In this way, we can both get excited about how our conversation is laying the foundation for creating your own work of FCM Elite art!

If you're ready to begin, fill out your FCM Elite Consultation form!

Q11 - All this sounds good, but how does it compare to semi-active, computer-controlled suspensions that can switch modes for different driving styles or environments. Surely those are better than what you're doing?

The topic of semi-active suspensions is a very interesting one. There are different types of adaptive suspensions and a common one we see in some modern cars is called 'semi-active', where through various sensors providing road and suspension feedback, the dampers are electronically adjusted to vary the force they produce to attempt to keep the car more level through turns or to minimize the disturbance during bumps. though usually combining compression and rebound together. The feedback.I've heard from a number of customer who have owned or tested vehicles equipped with electronically-controlled suspension is that the majority do not like them. The 'Sport' mode was too stiff, the 'Comfort' mode too vague, and neither produced the kind of ultimate ride quality and handling balance they could enjoy with an optimized FCM Elite setup. Does this mean there is no active suspension which can exceed the performance and comfort of our Elite setups with KBO and Ripple Reducer? No - there could be. We just haven't found one yet! We find it amusing that at the cost of many thousands of dollars of labor, computers, sensors, cables, and (typically) non-serviceable or 'throw-away' dampers, you get a suspension which often is less refined in the real-world than a suspension with our FCM Elite-tuned Bilsteins, Ripple Reducer, and Kerb Blow-Off.

Because a semi-active suspension has to 'go stiff' at some point, it would be unable to take full advantage of Ripple Reducer like we can. I have seen the high-speed force profile on various semi-active suspensions and guess what? The curve is a typical 'digressive' damper, often with much higher high-speed force than our KBO! So you basically have a very expensive version of a digressive piston. The innovation is in throwing electro-mechanical switches, solenoids, and computer algorithms at the problem. It's one approach and no doubt it can be better than the average factory non-adjustable suspension. But we have not seen or heard about a system that's superior in combined ride and handling than what we can achieve. We'd love to set up a direct back-to-back test, and using a Chevrolet Corvette C7 with the Magne-Ride suspension. This may be the best vehicle platform for a direct comparison test, since we can simply replace the dampers and leave everything else the same. We already have excellent feedback from a Corvette C7 C51 customer who upgraded their factory Bilsteins to our FCM Elite KBO RR units and found the handling and ride far superior!

This simplicity and elegance provided by KBO includes having more effective damper performance with innovative yet simple internal behavior than a semi-active suspension with the required computer algorithms, sensors, cables, electro-mechanical switches, and expensive-to-replace electronics. In essence, KBO makes your vehicle's suspension as smart as it can be in the short term, with the advantage of serviceability which these fancy electronic dampers are not typically designed for. The factory wants to always sell you REPLACEMENT parts, we want to sell you a single re-BUILDABLE package! That fancy complexity gadgetry may look cool in a 0magazine review but in the real-world, it actually prevents you from fully optimizing your suspension, now or for the long-haul. With an FCM Elite solution, you won't have to worry about a sudden unknown failure, the 'entire suspension riding rough', potentially 'expensive lights' on your dashboard, plus the hassle of going to a shop for diagnosis and repair.

Our focus on technological innovation has also come with a commitment to Durable Design, which allows us to create long-lasting dampers that are inexpensively rebuilt if that time comes. For anyone who hasn't dealt with a modern 'semi-active' magnetic-ride or similar suspension, when components fail the cost ranges from $500 to over $800 per damper. From our extensive experience in semi-conductor R&D and engineering, we know how important up-time is and how costly and frustrating a field failure can be. We want to spare our customers that frustration, so we design for elegance and reliability. In fact, a damper with the Kerb Blow-Off mechanism produces LESS overall stress on the damper, the shock oil, and the associated suspension components. This means your dampers last longer while also providing you with excellent control and amazing comfort. This is beautifully-stated by Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

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