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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My Bella is a 147 diesel pre-facelift, the 16v engine.

Currently, I use stock shocks and KW lowering springs which provide -30mm drop, all on 17” wheels.

Unfortunately, the ride is very crashy and totally unbearable on uneven surfaces. My front shocks are blown and I need some recommendations for new ones.

I have a few options: Monroe Reflex, KYB Excel-G, Monroe Original, Koni STR.T.

They are all around my budget for a pair. Which would you pick of the lot, why and furthermore if not any of them, which one?

If someone has had experience with some of them, can you share/compare experiences?

P.S. Roads are in pretty bad nick in my country and I mean it, Very bad, bear that in mind. I want stability but nothing extremely firm either. Slightly firm should be more than enough.
 

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First off, the KYBs are for non sports suspension and are very soft.
Monroe Original are probably the same.

I fitted Monroe Reflex to a TS with Sportpack a few years ago. It was alright but nothing worthy of mention.

That leaves the Koni Str.T. As luck would have it, I fitted a front pair to the JTS last night. I think they are good. The ride is much better as there is much less crashy wobble or shaking. The other car, a TS has Eibach springs but standard dampers. The firmer springs impart a little more sharpness to the ride but are not really significantly worse due to the weight of the front suspension heaving around less. I think that combining the two would make for a nicer all round ride.

The Str.Ts are supposedly good for H&R springs so they should work well enough. Personally I'd prefer a little more damping but that may simply be my preference. That said, matched with updated springs, the ride may be better yet. Certainly coupled to the JTD's greater weight and in particular sprung weight against unsprung weight, I think these would provide a really good ride quality and even better, handle better than stock.

Finally the best news. These are £116 a pair from Larkspeed. I ordered mine at 3.30 on Monday and they arrived at 5pm on Friday. The are just a fiver more than I paid for the Reflex a few years ago and I think must be the best cost effective front damper for 156, 147 and GT series cars.
 

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It goes without saying the Koni Str.T dampers handle far better as well.

This one is a no brainer.
Enjoy.
 

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The only thing to be aware of is the piston thread of the STR.Ts is M12 against the standard M10 size. I used a 21mm socket and a punch to knock out the original strut top insert so I could fit the thinner walled Koni insert.

If aftermarket mountings are used, they may not have the insert. In that case, they would need to be drilled to 12mm. I also used a 12mm plain washer on the top.

I figure it is best to be prepared just in case.

Finally, as always beware the strut bottom pinch bolt and clamp. It's always a good idea to have an M12 bolt and nylock nut to hand just in case. The shank length is 60 or 70mm but I can't remember offhand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The only thing to be aware of is the piston thread of the STR.Ts is M12 against the standard M10 size. I used a 21mm socket and a punch to knock out the original strut top insert so I could fit the thinner walled Koni insert.

If aftermarket mountings are used, they may not have the insert. In that case, they would need to be drilled to 12mm. I also used a 12mm plain washer on the top.

I figure it is best to be prepared just in case.

Finally, as always beware the strut bottom pinch bolt and clamp. It's always a good idea to have an M12 bolt and nylock nut to hand just in case. The shank length is 60 or 70mm but I can't remember offhand.
Thanks Fruity for the detailed info.

May I ask If you were to compare the Reflex with the STR.T, how would you say they stack up against each other? You already mentioned it, but I'm seeking more in-depth info as stiffness handling comfort and such.
 

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The only thing to be aware of is the piston thread of the STR.Ts is M12 against the standard M10 size. I used a 21mm socket and a punch to knock out the original strut top insert so I could fit the thinner walled Koni insert.

If aftermarket mountings are used, they may not have the insert. In that case, they would need to be drilled to 12mm. I also used a 12mm plain washer on the top.

I figure it is best to be prepared just in case.

Finally, as always beware the strut bottom pinch bolt and clamp. It's always a good idea to have an M12 bolt and nylock nut to hand just in case. The shank length is 60 or 70mm but I can't remember offhand.
Genuine front top mounts are cheap as chips, so worth buying some of those instead of using aftermarket ones.
 

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How would you rate Bilstein B4s against the Koni Str.T ?
They are a bit dearer though.

The JTS handles like a bouncy castle, so needs some new dampers...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Genuine front top mounts are cheap as chips, so worth buying some of those instead of using aftermarket ones.
Pud, what would you in terms of shocks? Koni's or Monroe Reflex? I do enjoy a car which follows the road like a train but I use it as a cruiser around 90% of the time on awful roads in my country..
 

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Simple. Koni STR.T. There is an absence of bounce, rattle and even suspension sharpness.

They knock spots off Reflex and B4 is really just OE.

That's about all that needs to bw mentioned.

I'm planning to move the STR.Ts into the TS which has Pro Kit springs when Bilstein B6 dampers become available again. I'll add Pro Kit springs at the same time.

The JTS front springs have 9 coils whereas all the TS springs I'll seen have 10. They appear to be softer than TS springs.
 

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For more detail, the Reflex is probably more sophisticated than the B4. However, Monroe tend more towards ride comfort which doesn't work so well in the front of these cars. I think they really need to limit front suspension movement due to the inertia of it all. Conversely, it is probably better to go with a tauter set-up to stop the tremors from the front.

In short, the best dampers I've tried are the STR.Ts as they also reduce body lean. They also help body composure much better when pressing on along B roads as it is less floaty and hence grip is much more linear and predictable.

A certain sharpness is frankly a necessary evil of these cars if a decent ride is desired. It may sound like a contradiction but the alternative is that damn shaking which is an irritant and probably doesn't help bush life.

I wish I tried the STR.T years ago instead of the Reflex dampers which are comparable to the B4s.
 

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Shortly after I bought my 147 I fitted four new TRW 'stock rate' dampers to it. On the front they were hardly any better than the OE dampers that I had assumed were clapped out. They weren't worn (much), just that the stock Alfa rates are way too soft, mostly because these front suspensions are excessively heavy (largely that massive upright forging I think), so a lot of unsprung mass to be controlled by the poor damper.

Replaced the front TRWs with Bilstein B6, much much better, but even so not quite stiff enough IMO (I suspect the rebound rate would benefit from being at least a bit stiffer). I too drive on quite poor roads (dirt and bumpy bitumen), and find the B6s are not too harsh on these roads, but struggle to fully control oscillations on these poor surfaces (it's not bad, just could be better, as it was with my previous Honda Accord fitted with Koni Yellows, i.e. the Konis, set quite stiffly, handled the rough roads with better control than the B6s).

IMO anything softer than the Bilstein B6 is likely to significantly struggle with bad roads.

The stock rate rear dampers (new TRW) are much better on the rear suspension though, quite acceptable (unlike the front ones, which are hopelessly too soft). I'd still like stiffer rear dampers though, for flatter transient cornering and better steering response.

For very bad roads, you might be better off with a different wheel / tyre size combination. A taller sidewall will help absorb harsh surface irregularities more than the shorter sidewall of the tyres that go on the 17" wheels. You'd also be at less risk of damaging the wheels. Also, smaller wheels with narrower tyres will probably weigh significantly less, so the dampers will have less unsprung mass to deal with...

This page has listings of the 147 wheel / tyre sizes:
https://www.wheel-size.com/size/alfa-romeo/147/2000/
You might be able to swap your 17" wheels for something a bit less 'ambitious'?

Lowered suspension won't be helping, you'll be hitting the bump stops a lot more easily, especially with soft dampers...

Regards,
John.
 

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Interesting guys!
Which top mounts do you with the Str.t ?
I have noticed one can buy a kit containing the dampers and lowering springs, which is good idea, but I also need new top mounts...
 

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Interesting guys!
Which top mounts do you with the Str.t ?
I have noticed one can buy a kit containing the dampers and lowering springs, which is good idea, but I also need new top mounts...
Get genuine Alfa top mounts. I've tried a lot of them over the years and none last like genuines. Genuine front top mounts are cheap, genuine rear top mounts are pretty expensive, but still worth it IMO.
 

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I just noticed the front suspension seems to now be sitting higher.
I went out and measured it and found the STR.T dampers increase the ride height by 20mm.
 

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I just noticed the front suspension seems to now be sitting higher.
I went out and measured it and found the STR.T dampers increase the ride height by 20mm.
So, the spring seat must be attached to the damper body higher up than it is with the OE dampers. Koni should be doing a lot better than that...

My nephew fitted a pair of STR.Ts to the front of his Civic, and we both found them quite disappointing. They were very soft, though better than the shagged out OE dampers. We didn't notice any difference in ride height.

I've had Koni 'Yellows' fitted to an Accord (front and rear), and had no significant problems with them. I liked them a lot, but only when set quite stiffly in their adjustment. The adjustment on these dampers is supposed to only affect the rebound rate, but in practice this doesn't seem to be the case. Set stiffly (toward 'full stiff' but not completely) they certainly felt stiffer in bump as well as rebound, both when driving and stationary when pushing down hard onto the fenders. Set softly it was easy to push down and make the suspension compress significantly, set stiffly it was much more 'solid' in bump.

The front pair did start leaking after some time, and lost their gas pressurisation, but despite this still felt to be working very well.

Regards,
John.
 

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After a look about, it seems Koni FSDs tend to raise the ride height on these Alfas by around the same 15-20mm. As the STR.Ts do this, I expect the yellows to be the same.

I don't necessarily see this as bad. It gives us more ride height options without having to resort to coilovers. That said, I've read KW coilovers ride well but that is more money.

Put it another way, STR.Ts would provide 15-20mm extra height. Eibach Pro Kit is a 30mm lowering from a Veloce. That would provide a TI ride height (15mm net) which is really what I want. It should also ride better than standard but certainly does with just the STR.T dampers.

The STR.T dampers do not feel firm but they do work and control things better than a push and pull of the damper rod suggests. They probably aren't as firm as Bilstein B6 dampers but I think probably give an option for those more interested in good ride quality especially when coupled to Pro Kit springs.

I can't confirm yet but I have plans to fit these springs. I other plans are B6 dampers on the other car when they become available. Then I'll know for sure.
 

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The Koni 'Yellows' that I've seen have two or three positions at which the spring perch can be set, so providing some choice in ride height. This is possible because the spring perch is seperate to the damper body (not welded on as is more common with other dampers). There should be several grooves machined into the outside of the damper, into which fits a square sectioned snap ring (into the groove of your choice). The ring protrudes from the damper and the perch rests on the ring.

Regards,
John.
 

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The Koni 'Yellows' that I've seen have two or three positions at which the spring perch can be set, so providing some choice in ride height. This is possible because the spring perch is seperate to the damper body (not welded on as is more common with other dampers). There should be several grooves machined into the outside of the damper, into which fits a square sectioned snap ring (into the groove of your choice). The ring protrudes from the damper and the perch rests on the ring.

Regards,
John.
Thats not the case for the Koni yellows for the Alfa 147/156/GT. They use the same damper bodies as the Koni FSD & Koni STR.T with welded on spring perches.
 

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Thats not the case for the Koni yellows for the Alfa 147/156/GT. They use the same damper bodies as the Koni FSD & Koni STR.T with welded on spring perches.
That is rather disappointing. It was useful the have the ride height options provided by the seperate spring perches. I can only assume they were deleted to save a Euro or two, damned accountants (apologies to any accountants here...).

Regards,
John.
 
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