If you want to check out the first upgrade we did to the stock Ranger, see our Stage 1 writeup and Video.
Shop your shock options: 2019+ Ford Ranger Shock Buying Guide
Stage 1 Findings
Going from stock shocks with a spacer to an entry-level performance shock like the Bilstein 5100 gave a great baseline on what kind of changes we can expect to see with future shock changes.
Truthfully, some of the staff didn’t expect to see much difference when upgrading to the 5100s. They were pleasantly surprised though upon their first driving impressions.
From Steve, owner of the Ranger:
The Bilstein 5100s rode well, but we felt small bumps and cracks in the road more [compared to stock]... Larger hits were well-received, like railroad tracks and speed bumps.
Off-road, they performed well on dirt trails but could still be overtaken at speed. Where the 5100s shined the most was towing. The Bilstein gave inspiring confidence while towing and the truck felt glued to the pavement. Trailer sway was dramatically reduced as well as any porpoising.
Saying the Bilstein 5100s are one of the best stock-upgrades for the Ranger, let alone other light duty trucks, is an understatement. A noticeable difference for sure, and a big improvement for a lot of activities.
They may not be the softest shock on the block, but you may not want mushy shocks for your truck, there’s a lot of cons - check out What Improved Ride Quality Means
What is High Performance? Fox 2.0
When you start thinking about REALLY GOOD SHOCKS, a lot of people start looking at brands like Fox and King, because those brands have dominated professional racing sports for decades at this point. But how much of that trickles down to OE applications?
A lot of light duty trucks like the Ranger, can step into the Fox 2.0 Performance Series for around $1,100. If you’re all about a big upgrade over factory, you want a very smooth ride for a reasonable cost, these are definitely a top contender.
Moving to the Fox 2.0s from the Bilstein 5100s, the truck enjoyed a smoother ride on and off-road. Body roll was increased, but still a large improvement over stock.
So if the Bilstein gave +3 or +4 to On-road Handling, Fox would be a +2 to handling. But our team also concluded that Fox is more comfortable / softer on-road than Bilstein.
So the Fox still gives improved handling over factory, but not as a dramatic improvement that we saw with the Bilstein 5100s. Lots of people say Bilstein is too ‘stiff’ for them, because small bumps aren’t ‘soaked up’ as well as a softer shock. Even though a softer (or even blown) shock soaks up the bumps well, the resulting body roll or aftermath may not be optimal; but truthfully people may not care about the aftermath of the bump, only the bump itself.
We found the Fox 2.0 really shines off-road, where rebound valving was a bigger factor while hitting hard obstacles or pushing the truck a bit faster through rougher terrain.
REBOUND - the rate at which the wheel/tire droops away from the vehicle.
With ‘higher performance’ in mind, Fox tunes their shocks for situations where the suspension is rebounding from harder hits (full compression), so as to decrease bucking or excessive bounce after taking that obstacle.
So where the Bilstein is a more daily driver oriented shock and is tuned as such, the Fox leans towards more aggressive driving and tougher terrain, so weigh the pros and cons for what you’re after.
Check out the video for the behind the scenes of this review and what the rest of the team had to say about it.