The ‘shocking’ story about Sweden’s suspension superpowerSeptember 9, 2016
The unearthly sound of a banshee rising from hell whips around the corner, you twist your neck to follow the mechanical beast as it screams past you in a blur. Your heart pounding, you grip your seat in anticipation as the first corner is taken. You’re on the edge, cheering as the cars shuffle for dominance into a hairpin turn, millimeters away from collision…
They make it around, they stay on the track, but how?
This is endurance auto racing, and this is one of the arenas where Öhlins shines.
When a car meets the road at almost 200 mph, one of the key components needed to avoid total destruction is shock absorbers. Shocks are the little tube things in your suspension that control how your tires connect to the road, and at these ridiculous speeds, they can mean the difference between life and death.
One of the best producers of advanced aftermarket suspension technology is a Swedish company called Öhlins Racing AB.
Since 1976, Kenth Öhlin and Öhlins Racing AB have been making sure tires stay firmly on the road. Öhlin’s vision was to provide superior shock absorbers for the motocross world. Just two years after its inception, the firm was part of making Russian racer Gennady Moiseev world champion on his KTM bike. Soon after, in 1981, Neil Hudson rode his MX250 Yamaha on Öhlins suspension to become the FIM World Champion. From there, the wins began to pile up, and people started to notice the new little Swedish company. So much so that Yamaha bought part of the company in 1986.
The new-found partnership accelerated winning, and soon Öhlins extended into auto racing.
Win after win and championship after championship only spurred founder Öhlin, and in 2007 he bought back his shares and became 95 percent owner of his company. Öhlins took off again, filing patent after patent with game-changing technology. By 2012, its products had been used in more than 300 world champion motorsports titles.
In the 10 years since Öhlin regained control of his company, the company has seen unprecedented growth and opened offices in Thailand, the United States, Germany and several more in Sweden.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, it seems like Öhlins is just getting started.
With new products coming out for the mountain biking world, rally cars and aftermarket suspension systems for road cars, no podium, driveway or garage is off limits for this Swedish shocker.