Bilstein 5100 vs FOX Shocks is a real discussion starter. I’ve seen quite a few people pit Bilstein and Fox against each other in search of offroad shocks that offer top-notch ride quality. I totally get that – we’re talking about two kings of the extreme.
However, as the price difference indicates, there is the element of comparing apples to oranges when it comes to dramatic differences in ride quality – not just because of Fox shocks’ lighter, better, heat-resistant aluminum body construction.
| Bilstein 5100
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| Fox 2.0 Performance
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It’s Not Just About Bilstein 5100 vs Fox 2.0
Let’s clear the air and get some things straight first. Most people talk about Bilstein 5100 vs. Fox 2.0 shocks, but there are several shock types to compare:
- For standard monotube shocks: Bilstein 5100 (prices here) vs. Fox 2.0 Smooth Body (prices here)
- For reservoir shocks (long travel): Bilstein 5160 (prices here) vs. Fox 2.0 Reservoir shocks (prices here)
- For coilovers: Bilstein 6112 vs. Fox 2.0 coilovers.
Note: Fox coilovers are generally easier to adjust even after installation, thanks to their rotating spring collar. That’s why I’d generally recommend them over 6112 Bils as a common choice, despite the latter coming with more height adjustments.
With standard monotube shocks, you might find Fox 2.0 easier to install. However, the Bilstein 5100’s series is a better bang for your buck for a smooth ride during moderate offroading. Here’s a little Fox beauty:
By the way, AutoAnything also has a good selection of Fox shocks at decent prices if you’re looking for a cheaper option. Amazon’s shipping is usually way faster, though.
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Why Do People Compare the Bilstein 5100’s to Fox 2.0?
Simple: because there are not that many choices for premium truck shocks or quality suspension for off-road driving warriors. You’re not going to ride a set of Monroes or regular stock shocks in the dirt now, are you? You need something for a more robust, firmer ride, additional control, and peace of mind.
Before I look at the three main differences between Bilstein 5100 vs. Fox 2.0 shocks, let me just get this out of the way: For some, these improvements are unnecessary and don’t lead to an increase in ride quality – the higher price tag just doesn’t justify them. If you want moderate offroad adventures, a set of 5100 shocks has a lot to offer.
Conquering rough terrain of medium intensity is these shocks’ forte. Their digressive valving smoothens bumps and potholes alike. Generous zinc plating on the shocks protects from corrosion and also shields the monotube from offroad debris. Add the fact that they’re way cheaper, and you’ll see them win polls from moderate offroad warriors on automotive forums such as the F150 forum, for example.
Boy, talk about a thread starter!
| Bilstein 5100
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However, these three main differences are exactly what makes Fox 2.0 steamroll over the 5100s for extreme offroad warriors, as they deliver unmatched off-road ride quality. Additionally, on max ride height settings, the Bilstein shocks are harsh and result in a stiffer ride. The valving on Foxes makes them firm yet more comfortable to ride with, as they offer a softer ride when it comes to higher lifts.
Bilstein Vs Fox: 3 Key Differences
In the world of suspension upgrades, the choice of Bilstein vs Fox shocks can be a pivotal one. I’ve had the chance to put both to the test. So, what are the crucial distinctions between these two renowned shock absorbers, and how do they impact your ride?
Which one offers a softer ride, a stiffer ride, or the largest increase in ride quality overall? How do these choices stack up against stock shocks?
Let’s get to it.
All Fox 2.0 shocks are made of powder-coated aluminum. This is a superior construction to the steel monotube design with zinc plating that Bilstein 5100’s and other shocks sport. This leads to three important improvements you have with Fox:
- First, we have a lightweight construction that doesn’t drag your suspension down, leading to limited suspension travel.
- Second, there’s the outstanding heat dissipation. Fox shocks will stay cool even in extreme situations – something that you want to see, as heat can sharply reduce shock life and even lead to the body cracking. This is supplemented by the fact that Bilstein 5100’s go for digressive valving, which causes heat-ups if you cycle them too hard. In other words, during more extreme dirt rides.
- Third, while 5100s have plenty of zinc coating, the custom-set powder coating of a set of Fox 2.0 shocks like these provides even further protection against debris, gravel – whatever you will be traversing over.
No joke – look what kind of stress are these manufactured to cope with:
Extended Lifted Vehicle Support
Let’s address some common questions on lift choices.
Fox 2.0 (non-reservoir) performance shocks come with a 2” spring lift by default (though it sometimes gets to 2.25”). Bilstein 5100 has lifted vehicle support, too, and they function well on the usual stock height for a daily driver right until you get to the 4” mark.
Above that, Fox reigns with it’s king shocks. The Fox 2.0 shocks will provide firmer control and better damping on higher-lifted trucks, leading to an overall increase in ride quality. The fit is also snugglier if you decide to go big with a 4-6 inch lift on your offroad monster. Rest assured, they’re precision-tuned to match aftermarket springs – so no need to dwell on that!
How much lift does Bilstein 5100 give? Bilstein 5100’s lift options range from stock to 2.5 inches.
Fox’s Recharge & Rebuild
OK, now this is the total no-brainer with Fox 2.0. That sweet nitrogen they run with means you can rebuild or recharge them anytime you need. Bought them once? Well, they’ll be sticking around for as long as your vehicle does! This makes a dramatic difference when it comes to the longevity of your shocks (and saving you some bucks over time).
I’ll mention one thing both brands have in common, though. They’re not cheaply outsourced to some random factories in China. Bilstein manufactures their shocks in Germany or the US. Fox sticks to American soil for their aluminum beasts when it comes to factory locations.
| Fox 2.0 Performance
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Reservoir Shocks: What Do Bilstein and Fox Offer?
Okay, let’s first move on to reservoir shocks. Here, Fox 2.0 meets Bilstein 5160. And it wins hard. With both, you have an external reservoir that gives you more oil/nitrogen capacity. Similar to the construction of the Fox shock itself, it’s made of aluminum and anodized. No danger of leaking, and it also doesn’t add much weight to the overall suspension.
Generally, Fox 2.0 has better construction, better long travel capabilities, and also looks cooler, to be fair. Looking for honest opinions of shocks? I’d go for a set of these over the 5160s. Fox 2.0 shocks are especially great if you have a Jeep that you want to turn into an offroad beast. If you plan on sticking to modest lifts (1.5” to 3.5”), check out this Fox 2.0 performance reservoir shock set. It’s the best choice, really.
Here’s a comprehensive video on these bad boys:
Coilovers: Fox 2.0 vs Bilstein 6112
What about the IFP Coilovers? In this regard, they battle it out with Bilstein 6112. And, let me tell you, things here get really heated up between these two. On the one hand, with Fox, you get aluminum coilovers that are rebuildable and refillable. You can literally do anything with these and adjust them however you want. They’re also complete coilovers (check them for Tacoma), unlike the strut + coil spring combo of 6112.
On the other hand, Bilstein 6112 has a bigger body (2.6” vs. 2”), a bigger piston (60mm vs. 48mm), and better height adjustments (up to 2.75″ vs. 2”). The bigger size allows for better ride handling and support for heavier loads. So, Bilstein takes the crown in the battle against body roll and emerges as the preferred choice for those who frequently engage in heavy hauling or towing tasks.
The Bottom Line?
Why are Fox shocks better in terms of coilovers? Here’s where I think the Fox 2.0 coilovers win the race:
First, the bushing. The upper mount of the IFP coilovers comes with a composite bushing that helps with noise isolation and reduces vibrations significantly with better bump absorption – something you’ll definitely need for a soft ride when you’re conquering those insane larger bumps out there in the open (unless you prefer a firm ride).
Second, the ease of installation and height adjustment we all crave. These are 100% bolt-on shocks with no modifications (or welding, Jesus!) needed. Bam! You’ll be done and have peace of mind within an honest hour of proper work.
Final Thoughts on Bilstein 5100 vs. Fox 2.0
Are Bilstein 5100 shocks better than Fox shocks? I’ve praised Bilstein a lot in some of my other articles, and I stand by my words. Especially the 5100’s – a classic for any offroad warrior, with some limitations. The newer Bilstein 6112 shocks fare way better in terms of overall durability with their newest-generation Eibach springs that are cold-treated and custom-engineered.
I’ve done a review on the 6112 vs. the 5100s, and there’s a reason why I insisted on them being more than worthy competitors to Fox 2.0 coilovers.
So, are Bilstein 5100 shocks worth the money? To sum it all up, Bilstein’s digressive valving is great, and their overall technology is better suited for traditional highway driving. Does Bilstein 5100 ride smooth? The 5100s, being the offroad-upgraded version of the Bilstein 4600, allows for a very good balance for an urban/offroad vehicle hybrid. But, are Bilstein 5100 shocks good for off-road? As I mentioned before, however, there’s a plateau of resistance here.
On ultra-extreme terrain, this digressive tech causes heating and a stiffer ride that’s stiff to the point of being uncomfortable, damaging your more extreme road ride quality. Compared to Fox shocks, Bilstein will be a bit smoother and offer a softer ride on the streets. If you want maximum versatility and mild offroad action, though – you might consider Rancho shocks, specifically the RS9000XL with its 9 adjustable settings.
There’s a reason why brands like BDS or newer-gen models like the 2019 Ford Raptor include Fox shocks in their lift kits (press release here) instead of another brand (Bilstein in this case). Stiff suspension? Not anymore. You get a premium, upgraded suspension setup, but you also pay a premium price for it.
The choice? All yours.