You get what you paid for. That has been the go-to mantra whenever someone compares two products. In this case, it may hold true as the more expensive shocks seem to be better than the cheaper ones. But expensive does not always indicate a better product
Koni has been around for 70 years and Bilstein is a young 50-year-old company. Both know what they are doing when it comes to shock. Koni is a two tube system while Bilstein is a monotube set up. Which is better remains to be seen.
To learn more about these two shock brands, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can select the right shocks for your RV. Sometimes it is only a matter of price.
To be frank, there are a lot of good shock brands to choose from. Koni and Bilstein are not the only choices you have available. Top best lists are subjective in their analysis but they are a good starting point.
In one top 15 list, Bilstein was granted 5 spots while Koni only registered one. That was in third place behind the #1 shock which was a Bilstein model. On another list, a top 5 best, Koni did not even register while Bilstein was #3 behind AC Delco and Monroe
The AC Delco did not register on the top 15 list while the Monroes were listed at #14. If you go to the RV discussion forums though, you may find that the preferred shock is the Koni brand.
It will be a tough choice to make as there are great brands that produce great shocks for RVs. What will make the difference for you will be the weight of your RV or trailer and how the shocks were made.
One analyst said that the Foam Cell designed shocks were best for off-road activities in hot weather and very demanding terrain. The best set of shocks for you will depend on who you will believe.
Most RV owners that we saw preferred the Koni over the Bilstein and they may be correct. Their experience does provide a lot of weight to the discussion.
We are not going to say they are terrible. The Koni company has been making shocks for different vehicles for almost 3/4 of a century and they know a thing or two about creating a smooth ride.
They make several different types of shocks including ones that will adjust to fit your ride. These adjustable models are flexible and should fit just about every RV owner’s ride needs.
The Koni shocks are made to improve your handling which is always a good characteristic. Plus, they can be rebuilt and customized to meet individual situations. That is another plus for Koni.
But there is a major drawback and it is big enough to have RV owners shy away from buying this product. They are very expensive. A single Koni shock starts at around $140 and goes up from there. They may even start at $200 at some shops.
However, to offset the cost, Koni provides its customers with a lifetime guarantee. If we were to go by the owners on one specific RV discussion forum, Koni shocks are the next best thing to slice bread.
Yet, not all owners are sold on this brand and see no difference in the ride between this and other shock brands. They just do not see the need to pay over $1000 to get the same ride they can get for under $600.
There is another drawback that should be mentioned here that may put some RV owners off from buying the Koni models. They seem to be more difficult to install than the Bilstein shocks. Not everyone likes that difference.
One company that sells this brand says that Koni is ideal for suspension control and ride comfort. That is to be expected from a company that sells this brand of shocks. But they may not be exaggerating given what we have seen so far.
Many RV owners back up that assessment and state they will, and have replaced their Bilstein shocks and won’t go back. To highlight just 2 of their shock models you may get an idea of how good these shocks can be.
1. Koni Adjustable RV Shocks
What this version does is allow you to dial in the exact performance and ride quality you want. Having a choice is always a good thing. Then when the shock does wear down over time, you can dial it up a notch or two and get the same ride and performance. That extends the life of the shock
Some of the advantages are-
- Adjust To the Exact Level of Performance Needed
- Extend Shock Life By Increasing Damping Power
- 100% Range of Adjustment
The disadvantages will be their cost and the installation difficulties. Nothing will be perfect.
2. Koni FSD Gold
This is the model the majority of RV owners selected for their coaches. One reason they have done so is that these shocks are supposed to ignore minor bumps, etc., without sacrificing any performance
To do this, the company uses technology that was developed to build better shocks for Formula 1 race cars. The advantages of this model of shocks are-
- Ignore Small Impacts for Ultimate Comfort
- Excellent Control and Handling
- No Compromising
As we said, the RV owners that we saw who made the switch to Koni shocks picked this option and have no complaints against them. They did not mind the higher price tag.
From what we have been able to determine, Koni may have discontinued the FSD shock label back in 2018 or 2019. But that change may have come to Europe before reaching America.
It is hard to say but in any case, instead of seeing the FSD on the label, you may see the word Active instead. According to our research, the only difference between these two styles of shocks is the labeling.
The Active is very close if not the same as the FSD shock and performs the same tasks. You can expect the same amount of performance and comfort out of the Active shocks.
If you are talking about how long will the Koni shocks will last, that will depend. Ideally, they should last up to 100,000 or more miles. But not everyone drives in ideal conditions or handles their RVs in an ideal manner.
In those cases, you should expect those shocks to wear out long before 100,000 miles are on the odometer. Just one word about the lifetime warranty. Do not be surprised if Koni is selective about which shocks they will replace if they malfunction under normal circumstances.
Their lifetime warranty is not truly a lifetime warranty and is subject to the opinions of the Koni techs. One repair shop found this out the hard way. When they did, they stopped working with the company.
A lot of people will brag about the Koni shocks but so far we have seen very little that makes them better than other top shock brands.
If you believe in the top best lists, then Bilstein shocks are the best options to buy in most cases. Koni is barely on their radar. If you believe the different RV owners, then you may be persuaded that Koni is the best to get and Bilstein shocks are just junk.
We highlighted 2 Koni shocks earlier so for comparison value here are 2 Bilstein shocks so you can make your own decision:
1. B6 4600 Heavy Duty RV Shocks
Works with 361 PSI of nitrogen combined with a digressing valving system that provides a tight, controlled ride. These shocks are also supposed to give you precise handling control and eliminate sway and wallowing. Plus, they are going to be cheaper than the Koni options.
Some of the advantages are:
- Monotube Design Will Not Fade Even In Harshest Conditions
- Digressive Valving Ensures Precise Handling At All Times
- Firm Ride Provides Reassuring Feeling of Control
Then they are easier to install which makes them cheaper on the labor costs as well.
2. B6 4600 Comfort RV Shocks
This model is not for every RV out there. Its claim to fame is that it uses softer valving to boost ride comfort. It does not add to your control and is not for high-speed or off-road driving situations. The advantages of this model are:
- Bilstein Monotube Design
- Softer, More Forgiving Ride
Then in a side-by-side generic comparison, here is a nice table to get the information you want at a glance:
|Specialty||Monotube gas pressure technology||Improves handling|
|Set up||Direct fit||Customizable for special fits|
|Models||Bilstein 5100, Bilstein 4600 shock||Koni Sport Shock, Koni Special D Front Shock, KONI FSD RV Shock|
|Color||Silver, yellow||Yellow, red, silver, gold|
|Installation||Easy to install, no modification needed to install||Difficult to install|
|Cost||Starting at $80 and goes up from there||Starting at $140 and goes up from there|
** information taken from https://suspensionlist.com/bilstein-vs-koni/
On one website the reviews are mostly positive. The Bilstein got 4.6 out of 5 stars and the comments have been very favorable. The biggest complaint we saw was due to poor customer service.
One owner gave them a 1-star because his failed after 5 years and Bilstein refused to honor their lifetime warranty. Then if you believe the top best list reviews, Bilstein shocks are some of the best options you can buy.
They outstrip Koni’s by far and get some of the best ratings possible. With 5 out of 15 on one list, either there was some bias involved or Bilstein makes great RV shocks.
When you read the different discussion forums for different RV brands, Bilstein receives fair reviews with most owners opting for Koni. Some think Bilstein shocks are trash and should not be put on an RV.
Others take a different viewpoint and love their Bilstein shocks as they do not see any ride difference between those and other brands.
In one poll, 77% of the voters gave Koni 5 stars. This result seems to reflect what the top best lists are saying. They do not feel that Koni shocks are the best you can buy.
Or they are influenced by the higher price and the difficult installation. But when you read the RV discussion forums, Koni seems to be the best of the best. They will easily spend the extra money to have Koni shocks on their RV.
Koni is said to be an industry leader when it comes to shocks and their product is probably quite good. The overall opinion may reside on the level of customer service.
Koni seems to be like Bilstein and is very selective in how they apply their lifetime warranty. This is a big factor for any company and they both will lose customers depending on how they honor their warranties.
The biggest drawbacks to the Koni are the higher price and the hard-to-install shocks. These factors may be the reason they are not appearing more frequently on the top best lists.
Which shock you use is a matter of preference as well as budget. If you want to pay more for the Koni shocks then put them on your RV. It is doubtful you will be dissatisfied with your ride and comfort, etc.
If you want to save a little money, you are not missing out on anything if you install Bilsteins. Both companies have been around for a very long time and produce good shocks.
Of course, you are not limited to just the two brands. You may want to check out their competition.