Fitting a set of Spax Krypton Gas Shocks
Rob Collier (Woodcote Green 1147) from Lancashire recently bought
a set of the new Spax shock absorbers developed for the RV8 and describes
fitting them and the pleasure driving an RV8 with much better handling
and ride. (Jan 08)
Rob Collier posted a note on the V8BB saying I recently
purchased a set of Spax Krypton adjustable shock absorbers from Clive
Wheatley which he developed with Spax specifically as "tailor
made" replacement units for the RV8. Although I have so far only
fitted the front units I thought members would be interested in my
findings. The first thing I will say is that although my RV8 has covered
only 5,000 miles from new, and despite a recent MOT, the original
front Konis were providing no damping at all. Forget trying to adjust
13 year old original shocks, the only place for these is the skip!!
There have been four written off RV8s in my local scrap yard as testimony
to how the roadholding on RV8s can be compromised by tired shock absorbers.
With the new Spax shocks fitted the transformation was immediate.
No more crashing on the bumpstops and shuddering. The car is much
tauter, the steering is much improved and I no longer avoid grids
and potholes. I have much more confidence in the car's capabilities
and am now using the cars performance to the full . . in fact too
much so!! In short the new Spax shocks are a MUST, not cheap, but
in my opinion the best investment you will make. After all what price
is your life?
Richard Wittington posted a query: I was interested to read
your note Rob. As a 'new' RV8 owner I have this modification on my
list of things to do. Could you guide us as to how difficult it is
to do the job yourself? Clive Wheatley is some distance from me and
fitting the replacement shock absorbers myself is quite attractive
if it is not too taxing on my limited skills. A note on "changing
shocks for the under fives" would be useful!
Rob Collier responded: Clive and Steve give a first class fitting
service and I would normally advise you to go to them for fitting,
but I am in the same position as you and it took me all day to get
there and back last time. It took me less than an hour to fit both
front shocks. All you need are some car ramps, two 17mm spanners and
a 1/2" socket set, a 3" x 3" x 6" block of
wood and a jack.
As a new owner, the new shocks would be the FIRST thing on my shopping
A day later Rob Collier posted a note following completing
the fitting of the rear set of Spax saying: I fitted the rear Spax
shocks today and have driven about 60 miles and my findings are as
The ride is very much improved and the handling much tauter. There
is a dip on an A road near to me and I no longer take off from the
seat and bang my head on the hood rails! I have adjusted the front
shocks to 7 and the rear to 9 and this gives a taut ride without being
'jiggly' at low speeds. I may experiment with the settings as the
rears can be adjusted with a knurled knob by simply reaching around
the rear tyre, whilst the front can be adjusted with a screwdriver
when full lock is applied.
The car is noticeably more stable on the motorway and I cruised at
speed in windy conditions, something I would not have done before!!
Overall I am very impressed and am enjoying driving the car and exploiting
its performance much more. I'm glad I waited for the Spax shocks,
but would recommend everyone with the standard 12 to 16 year old original
Konis to seriously considered buying some Spaxes as soon as possible
from a safety viewpoint alone.
added: fitting the Spax shock absorbers is well within the capabilities
of anyone who can change a wheel on their car! Fitting shock absorbers
is covered in a straightforward way in the RV8 Workshop Manual. Both
front and rear shocks can be fitted in under a couple of hours without
specialist tools or knowledge. You do need to cut a couple of pieces
of 3" x 3" x 6" fence post to support the front suspension
arms before jacking up, but that's all.
For the front shocks there is no need to remove the road springs as
the shocks simply drop through the bottom of the spring pan. The rears
are even easier with just two 19mm nuts to remove top and bottom on
the passenger side plus two bolts of the top mounting bracket to remove
on the driver's side because of access due to the proximity of the
battery compartment. January is the ideal time to fit new shocks so
that your car will be ready to use as soon as the better weather arrives.
bespoke replacement Spax shock absorbers for the RV8
The new replacement Spax shock absorbers on offer from Clive
Wheatley are a bespoke set of front and back units developed
specifically for the RV8. They are the result of the skilful
development work and thorough testing carried out by Spax which
was commissioned by Clive. The substantial costs of that work
have been funded by Clive who has also provided an RV8 for Spax
to work on for a number of weeks. So through his contacts and
personal enthusiasm he has now sourced an even better replacement
shock absorber in fact a complete and balanced set of
front and rear shock absorbers - which has further improved
the ride and handling of the RV8.
I say further developed because Clive did a similar
resourcing exercise in 2004 and obtained a better quality Koni
(the "yellow Koni") which transformed the handling
and has pleased many RV8 enthusiasts who have had them fitted
since then. So he has now gone a step further and has had an
RV8 fitted with a set of the new bespoke Spax and the result
is a car which is a real delight to drive and what is more is
likely to be a safer car too.
It is important to note these bespoke Spax shock absorbers are
not an "off the shelf" unit but one Spax has tailored
for use on the RV8. When these new
Spax units were first mentioned on the V8 Bulletin Board, a
posting from a member provided information on an alternative
source of Spax shock absorbers for the RV8. The posting said
"Spax custom-made KSX Krypton gas rear shocks for the RV8"
were available from a supplier at £75 each". But
whilst they may have appeared a cheaper source they were not
the same units. A posting from the managing director of Spax,
Franck Michaux, clarified the position:
"Perhaps I can clear up a few points as I am the managing
director of SPAX. We were commissioned by Clive Wheatley to
design and develop dampers specifically for the RV8 to do a
job - improve the ride quality at low speeds and improve the
handling throughout the speed range. This involved design, prototype
builds, testing, etcetera. After many thousands of pounds worth
of costs, the bespoke finished product was launched a few weeks
ago. Both Clive Wheatley and I drove the donor car before (on
Konis) and after (on SPAX) and I was more than happy to sign
the dampers off. I believe the improvements are significant.
In my opinion, it is a transformed car on SPAX that is safer
and much more enjoyable to drive. There has been some feedback
elsewhere on this forum to confirm the improvements. The rear
dampers are valved specifically for the car and exhibit quite
different and superior characteristics to the KSX range that
we offer. The rears also have a bush that was specifically chosen
to improve low speed compliance and reduce noise. There are
also spacers included that ensure exact fit - not available
on the KSX range. The front dampers are entirely bespoke in
both construction and damping characteristics and there is therefore
no KSX size equivalent. I trust this clears up any questions
regarding specification and price."
So simply spotting and broadcasting what may appear
to be a lower price for a spares item is not necessarily helpful
unless checks are first made that the units are the same quality
and have the same performance characteristics. Only then can
you judge first whether the unit is likely to perform well and
then make the value for money judgement. I think we can now
see that Clives price was not a bit high at
all but that his bespoke front and rear Spax shockers were priced
on the basis of a substantial batch from which he has to recover
the development costs. From talking with Clive this afternoon
I can tell you he is bubbling with enthusiasm for the new Spax
as a better performing unit tailored specifically for the RV8
to achieve another significant improvement in ride and handling.
The value for money judgement is one RV8 enthusiasts will need
to make once they have driven an RV8 fitted with the new shock
absorbers and experienced the delight that Martin Colclough
reserved by the V8 Register