The Bilstein 5100 vs 5160 Shootout

Which shock for my truck???

If you’re considering either one of these shocks for your rig, one of the main things to consider is how much time you spend off pavement. The major differences in these two shocks is generally only noticed offroad, where tougher and unexpected terrain starts to max out suspension travel and generate heat. You may also notice a slightly softer ride on the highway if you're really in-tune with all the bumps on your commute.

Shock performance longevity and overall lifespan comes down to a few factors:

  1. Operating temperatures, the hotter a shock gets during use (such as aggressive offroad terrain for long stretches of time), the more chance of seals and components inside the shock can fail. A reservoir shock (5160) will be superior here to a non-reservoir shock (5100), since the extra fluid will help with heat dissipation while the displacement of the fluid and gas to the reservoir tube will allow for more travel in the shock body.
  2. Operating pressures, a reservoir shock will have lower operating pressure due to the displacement of fluid and gas to the extra reservoir, lowering the chances of component failure. So if both shocks were absorbing the same obstacle, the reservoir shock would be using a smaller percentage of its allowable travel compared to the non-reservoir shock, and pressures per square inch would be less as well.
  3. Actual terrain encountered, acute shock failure is when an obstacle or series of obstacles/terrain blows out your shocks. This typically happens when drivers speed over terrain that their vehicle isn’t fully equipped to handle, resulting in the shock hitting maximum compression or droop. This can definitely lead to failure if your shock is acting as a limiting strap on full droop, or if you're hitting an obstacle hard enough to fully compress the suspension.

Bilstein 5100s

These are the best and most budget friendly choice for daily drivers who see the occasional dirt road or trail on weekend adventures. One of the best premium level shocks available for truck and Jeep platforms, these last an incredibly long time with exceptional handling in most terrains. The 5100 are more than adequate for a majority of driver's occassional dirt travels; fire roads, camping roads, easy gravel stuff.

Bilstein 5160s

When performance offroad is the main concern, then you may be eyeballing some reservoir shocks to maximize suspension travel. The addition of the reservoir allows greater shock stroke length compared to a single body 5100, as well as superior heat dissipation for those long hauls on washboard roads or difficult terrain while Overlanding. At nearly 3x the price of the 5100s, really make sure that offroad terrain is your priority with this kind of investment.

Bilstein 5160 Shocks on Jeep Wrangler JK