Best Shocks For Class A & Class C Motorhome
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Unplugging from urban life with a motorhome is one of the most liberating experiences. There’s a reason why roaming around the highways in search of nature and peace is becoming more popular.
There is, however, nothing liberating about worn-out suspension. If you feel your setup sinking too much for your taste, here are the best shocks for class A and class C motorhome:
- Best overall value for both classes: Bilstein B6 HD. Remember it’s silver over yellow for the heavy-duty version optimal for towing and off-road.
- Best premium comfort for both classes: Koni FSD. A unique approach to damping, unlike any conventional gas shocks. Mild damping for passenger comfort; stiff control for pothole handling.
- Best budget pick for Class A: Monroe Magnum. Cheap RV shocks which are OK for more modest setups and achieve a similar-to-OEM ride feel.
- Best budget pick for Class C: KYB MonoMax. Affordable solution to your towing needs, balance between comfort/control, and improved cornerning.
Here’s a quick table comparison before we dive deeper into the world of motorhome suspension.
Discussing the two leaders in motorhome/RV shocks
If you’ve checked any RV community discussions, you’ve probably noticed something. It’s Koni or Bilstein all the way, every single time.
Is it nauseous marketing? Are people just parroting what they’ve seen elsewhere?
Not really. The truth is: not many manufacturers turn their attention to RV shocks. It’s different than sedans where the barrier to entry is easier and cheap knock-offs can swarm the market.
One of the fundamental reasons why Koni and Bilstein are that prominent is manufacturing. In a world of cheaply outsourced products, Bilstein sticks to its plants in Ohio for its North American branches. Koni follows its traditional manufacturing procedures in the Netherlands for equally great R&D.
This fundamental similarity precedes some basic differences in suspension, though.
Bilstein B6 – a classic
Bilstein manufactures two kinds of B6 shocks for motorhome class A or class C. One B6 is yellow-painted, and the other has a silvery body.
What’s the difference?
As I mentioned earlier, the silver paint signifies these are heavy-duty (HD) shocks. Generally, for bigger motorhomes – say, 26’+, you’d really want the HD version.
The silver Bilsteins are better if you need suspension for heavy hauling, off-road performance, and prefer a firmer approach to damping. If you get the yellow on heavier loads, they’ll perform fine too – but most probably they won’t last as long.
On smaller motorhome setups and for intrastate use with less extreme terrain adventures, the yellow B6 will be enough.
Lots of people say Bilstein’s RV shocks ride stiffer, but I don’t agree completely. You’ll feel them riding firm only if you run on light loads or your tank is emptier than usual.
In most other situations, Bilstein’s B6 has a balanced approach to damping.
In combination with the made-in-the-USA manufacture and a good price, these are the best overall best value shocks for motorhome class A or C.
Koni FSD shocks for motorhome
Believe it or not, Koni didn’t introduce their FSD shocks to some motorhomes up until 15ish years ago. A notable example would be the Ford E350, one of the most popular class C motorhome setups.
This is important, because earlier on Koni used standard red shocks for motorhomes. These were pretty much comparable to KYB MonoMax or felt like a subpar Bilstein B6.
The FSD abbreviation stands for Frequency Selective Damping. While it sounds like some marketing mumbo jumbo, it does feature a unique approach to suspension damping.
In short, the FSD shocks for motorhome achieve minimal damping for passenger comfort, while retaining stricter, firm damping over the road conditions.
The duality between smooth comfort and stiff control is what conventional gas shocks struggle with.
Koni FSD solves that by tackling different frequency + force obstacles alike in an optimal way. I drew a chart to illustrate the two main areas where FSD shocks excel:
Speaking more practically, the FSD motorhome shocks will feel great even on light loads or emptier tanks, unlike Bilstein B6. You don’t need to concern yourself with such trivial limitations.
FSD suspension achieves better cornering, equally comfortable ride on the interstate or rougher terrain, and exhibits less body roll than competitors.
The only drawback here is the price. Koni FSD shocks are twice the price of Bilstein B6, and easily triple the price of cheaper Monroe or KYB alternatives.
Still, they’re a truly premium take on the best shocks for class A motorhome running on an F-53 chassis, or class C motorhomes like Ford E350 or E450:
Recommendations for those on a budget
In case you want your motorhome to feel comfortable again but you’re also a bit tight on money, there are cheaper alternatives than Bilstein or Koni.
A limited number of other brands do exist, but I feel the best affordable options would be KYB and Monroe.
As I mentioned, I’d divide them like this:
- Monroe Magnums are the best shocks for F-53 motorhome (and other Class A) on a budget.
- KYB MonoMaxes are the best shocks for Ford E350, E450 RVs (and other class C) on a budget.
Obviously, you can swap them with each other and go KYB on A or Monroe on C. Both brands manufacture RV shocks for all classes. I do feel the setup I recommend is optimal, though.
Let’s be real. Neither will achieve the same performance and level of comfort as Bilstein or Koni. The price being twice to thrice cheaper reflects that.
So, what’s to be said here?
Monroe Magnum is your typical gas shock. Its ride feels closer to OEM and on smoother terrain – like highways or interstates, the Magnums perform really well. Issues start appearing whenever you traverse over rougher terrain, where the shocks start struggling.
Monroe boasts reinforced, coated bearings and advanced welding techniques on the shock’s loops.
The truth is, the Magnums will bottom out way faster than any Bilstein or Koni. Especially if you tow more, or your motorhome is a bigger-sized one with a considerable haul too.
The cheapest option for class A motorhome that sticks mostly to highways. OEM ride feel.
KYB MonoMax is the Japanese brand’s lineup dedicated to trucks and RVs. It starkly differs from the Excel G they use on sedans by applying a towing-ready, heavy-duty monotube design.
An important feature here is the stainless steel piston ring that’s been reinforced by zinc. Should you ditch the interstate for off-road roaming, this design will provide a secure seal for your shocks.
The MonoMax shocks for motorhome follow a similar logic to the Bilstein B6. The higher the load, the more comfortable they feel. On very light motorhome setups they might feel too firm, even uncomfortably so.
A neat, improved factor here is how the KYB shocks handle cornering. You’ll feel your motorhome improve in this aspect. Obviously, it won’t be as great as FSD or B6 suspension, but the cornering with MonoMax is a cut above similarly priced competitors.
Decent budget alternative for towing class C motorhomes. Features improved cornering and a more durable shock body, coated in zinc.
Suspension DIY time:
Replacing the old with new
Are motorhomes easy to DIY? That depends.
I’ll admit that class C motorhomes such as the Ford E450, for example, can be a pain in the butt to deal with at the front. The rear is significantly easier.
The process will differ in terms of difficulty depending on the maker you’ve chosen. Ford-based motorhomes, for example, are a bit more complicated than alternative manufacturers.
This video showcases the installation on a class A motorhome running on a Chevy 1993 P30 chassis. Notice how the Bilstein B6 rear shocks are longer, while the fronts are more compact.
I guess it could feel a bit off to see little variety in your suspension options. I don’t think it’s that much of a bad thing, though. The beneficial side of motorhome shocks is the self-regulatory aspect of this market niche.
More stringent R&D means fewer competitors, but you also know that the ones who’ve broken the barrier to entry offer good cost performance overall.
In this sense, you have these 4 brands and maybe the occasional Sachs or RoadKing shocks as main suspension players.
The niche is even narrower with steering dampers, where it’s mainly Safe T Plus and Roadmaster. A similar situation can be observed with trailer hitch brands: realistically speaking, there are 3-4 market leaders and that’s it.
The choices I’ve listed cover all motorhome setups, by the way – as long as they’re Class A or Class C:
- This includes all Class A motorhomes that run on an F53 or F10 chassis.
- Also includes Class C motorhomes running on the Ford E350 or E450 chassis. For alternatives such as Chevy 3500 or Sprinter chassis, make sure to double-check the fit.
If we’re talking brands, the 4 motorhome/RV shock picks fit anything from Winnebago to Holiday Rambler, Leisure Travel, Airstream, or the now (unfortunately) bankrupt Bigfoot beauties.
It’s also particularly great to see Bilstein being that active in the motorhome segment. As I mentioned, the company completely skips out on sedan suspension (including struts). Generally, Bilstein focuses on bigger vehicles like RVs, bigger SUVs, or heavy-duty trucks.
Koni has also carved a niche focusing on racing cars and motorhomes exclusively. Monroe and KYB are the most all-encompassing manufacturers, as they cover vehicles of any size or purpose.
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