Alright I finally decided to post up a thread about my comparison between the Bilstein HD shocks vs Rancho xl9000's.
This is totally just my opinion and others may not agree but it gives someone something to go on and some good insight from someone that has owned both on the same setup around the same time.
First off I had about 70,000 miles on my stock ones and as we all know rangers dont ride to well lol and my originals were about gone. You know that feeling you get when you hit a bump and it feels like your whole body just got punched and you get that cringe look on your face lol, yeah. Add in being body lifted, 33x12,5 MT's, and you got a combination thats good enough for one shitty ride lol.
So first up I bought a new set of BIlstein HD's beens that seems to be the fan favorite on the ranger forums. I know they can be kind of on the expensive side, about $75 per shock and alot dont want to pay that much money, but you got to remember this is one of those items that you dont need to skimp on and you get your money's worth. Go to autozone and buy some cheap shocks that are $30 a piece and I doubt very seriously you will be impressed. Now it does seem like there is some KYB's, and a few other brands that are alittle cheaper that people have returned with good things to say, but for this thread I will try to stick between the 2 big ones. These are strictly my opinions and results that I got from my truck. Stats, 2006 Extended Cab 4x4, 4.0, 5 spd, body lifted, half cranked t bars, with 33x12.5 Duratracs. Had Bilstein HD from 70,000-75,000 miles, had the Rancho XL9000's from 75,000-80,000.
~$75 per shock.
Good big name brand, nice color scheme, obviously an improvement over stock, seems to be a fan favorite on the forums. They do a good job of handling the bigger bumps and for what they are made to do id say they are probably worth the money.
Because they are setup to variably change on their own if you have alot of road changes in a sort time it can be alittle annoying. This isn't really the shocks fault that your local roads suck but when I leave my house I have a country backroad drive, then through a rough construction zone site, then super smooth brand new asphalt, and then I get on the highway so I pretty much put them through all their paces in my first 5 minutes of driving lol. Like I said because they are built to adjust on their own for me it seemed like my roads would let them get alittle stiff from being a decent road, then once I hit the construction site the first few bumps almost kill me because the shock hasn't had time to adjust over. Then once I hit the smooth asphalt portion they will stiffen up again, and then ill hit the highway with another big bump and it seems like my first mile or so on the highway is super rough until the shocks switch over from a stiff setup to a softer setting. So as you can see from having alot of different styles of roads in such a short distance, its hard for the shock to have time to switch over fast enough. Again not the shocks fault, its only doing what it was designed to do, but for $320 shipped give or take alittle bit I wasnt overly impressed and it got kinda old fast.
~$90-$100 per shock.
9 way fully adjustable which I like ALOT, simply change the shock to w.e settings you like for your commute or driving style and your good to go. If you want to tow, turn the rears all the way up to 9 or if your going to be on the highway you can run like a 3 front 3 rear which Rancho stated was a good all around setting. Then if you plan to go offroad set em both all the way down to 1 front and 1 rear and be able to soak up alot of bumps. I kept mine at 3 and 3 like Rancho stated in their email to me and instantly I loved it so much more than the Bilsteins. Soaked up bumps better, and imo was alot better all around for me than the Bilsteins. Ive been running this for awhile and I still am happy with it, even took it across the farm field last night at like 30 mph for the first time ever and was clinching up for a huge impact but was very suprised at how I just flew up the hill and then back down the field to the front of one of the main barns and it hardly bothered me at all. I felt like a girl for flinching up so much but I had never done it before so I just assumed it was going to be a rough hit like the ranger normally does lol. Ive been waiting to go down to 1 front and rear being their softest setting until I cranked my tbars more and added shackles in the back so that way it felt like my ride stayed basically the same but added more lift and obviously cranking the t bars normally causes a slightly rougher ride. I decided tonight just to go to 1 front and rear for ***** and giggles and I was amazed at how softer they are from the 3 settings much less a WORLD of difference from the Bilstein's. Got mine during their buy 3 get 1 free sale and free installation so not only did I not have to put them on like i did my Bilsteins, I also spent the same money on them as I did for the Bilsteins. Also to me I liked the paint scheme of the Rancho's better but that can always be someones personal preference.
First off the obvious kind of pricey and most couldnt swallow spending that kinda money on shocks but again alot of times these are items that you kind of get your moneys worth when it comes to them. (As stated above I bought them during their buy 3 get 1 free sale so not only did I spend the same price as the Bilsteins, also got free installation which was nice after installing the others myself just 5,000 miles ago ha so for me it was actually better getting these at the time.) Secondly, I would assume that the Bilsteins will end up lasting longer. I can't say for sure as I haven't had these long enough but id say after 50,000 miles the rancho's will be starting to go and the bilsteins might last alittle longer. To me thats not a big deal because after that long I would probably wanna change things up anyways, and also like I said I have no def proof that one would last longer than the other, just it always seems like most opinions are that Bilstein is a better quality. As far as any other cons, thats about it as far as im concerned, besides the price (which wasn't a con in my situation) and maybe the Bilsteins having alittle better build quality (again speculation) I have no bad things to say about them at all.
So my advice would be for the people that are wanting to go all out and get top of the line shocks, id def choose the Rancho's in a heartbeat. I can honestly say I love them and they do their job about as good as I think they can, especially for the vehicle and what mods are done. For now I am really happy with them. Not to say that the Bilsteins are bad, like stated it seems like its the forums big favorite by a land slide, but this is just my opinions and views after having both on the same setup and time frame.
Sorry its not really an all out formal review, just hit the 5,000 mile mark with them and reminded me and figured id post up my thoughts. It seems like every other day there is a new thread about "what shocks should I choose" so hopefully this helps. I know alot of people will say screw that, im not spending that money on shocks, but I will say to me they were well worth the extra money they cost over your standard replacement style shocks and with my mods that are done, I def felt like it was needed. So overall im really happy with the results and my Rancho XL9000 9 way adjustables.