Suspension is a crucial aspect of any vehicle that can impact its performance, safety, and comfort. At its core, the purpose of suspension is to keep the tires in contact with the road and isolate the chassis from terrain. However, the priorities and design considerations for suspension can vary greatly between road cars and motorsport vehicles.
- Road Car Suspension
- Motorsport Suspension
- Key Terms and Definitions
- What are the primary differences between suspension in motorsport and road cars?
- What are the key terms and definitions associated with suspension?
- How does suspension impact a vehicle’s performance?
- Can suspension be adjusted for different driving conditions or preferences?
- Why is it important to understand suspension in motorsport and road cars?
Road Car Suspension
In road cars, suspension design prioritizes passenger comfort, lower cost, ease of manufacture, stability, durability, and cabin space. While some effort is put into performance, it is usually heavily compromised in favour of everything else that goes into a good road car suspension. As a result, a suspension designed for a road car may not perform optimally in motorsport applications.
In motorsport, the priority is purely performance with a focus on maximizing both lateral and longitudinal grip of the tires, quick response to driver inputs, high tunability, and an ability to control the chassis to optimize aerodynamics. All the things that we try to maximize in motorsport have a detrimental effect on the design priorities of road cars. Thus, the suspension design of a well-optimized road car is a vastly more complex task than that of designing something for motorsport use only.
Key Terms and Definitions
Before delving deeper into suspension design, it’s essential to understand some commonly used terms and definitions. Lateral refers to the side-to-side direction of the car, while longitudinal refers to the forward and aft direction. Heave, roll, and pitch describe the vertical, longitudinal, and lateral rotations of the chassis, respectively.
Compression and jounce refer to the suspension and wheel moving upwards towards the chassis, while rebound and droop refer to the suspension and wheel moving downwards away from the chassis. Ride height is used to describe the height of the chassis above the ground plane, typically defined by four points, two at the front and two at the rear.
Static and dynamic refer to measurements or parameters when the car is at rest and in motion, respectively. Kinematics describe the motion of different parts of the suspension without any forces involved. Stiction refers to the friction that occurs in a sliding component, while independence refers to one side of the suspension being able to move without directly affecting the movement of the other.
Compliance is the deflection of components that we don’t usually want to deflect, typically considered a bad thing. In high-level motorsport, compliance is intentionally designed into components to achieve different handling characteristics. Steady state refers to the car being settled and running at a consistent state, while transient refers to a state where driver inputs are changing over time.
In summary, the purpose of a motorsport suspension is to maximize tire grip, quick response to driver inputs, high tunability, and help maximize aerodynamics. The goals of a road car suspension are different from what is needed in a motorsport setup. Thus, it’s crucial to understand the commonly used terms and definitions in the motorsport world before delving deeper into suspension design.
What are the primary differences between suspension in motorsport and road cars?
Motorsport suspension prioritizes performance with a focus on maximizing tire grip, quick response to driver inputs, high tunability, and optimizing aerodynamics. Road car suspension design prioritizes passenger comfort, lower cost, ease of manufacture, stability, durability, and cabin space. Source: 1 2
What are the key terms and definitions associated with suspension?
Some key terms and definitions associated with suspension include lateral, longitudinal, heave, roll, pitch, compression, jounce, rebound, droop, ride height, static, dynamic, kinematics, stiction, independence, compliance, steady state, and transient. Source: 3
How does suspension impact a vehicle’s performance?
Can suspension be adjusted for different driving conditions or preferences?
Yes, suspension can be adjusted for different driving conditions or preferences. This can include adjusting ride height, changing the stiffness or damping of the suspension, altering camber and caster angles, and adjusting other suspension geometry settings. Source: 2
Why is it important to understand suspension in motorsport and road cars?
Understanding suspension is important because it can impact a vehicle’s performance, safety, and comfort. It can also affect the lifespan and durability of various components. Additionally, knowledge of suspension is critical for fine-tuning a vehicle’s handling and achieving optimal performance in motorsport applications. Source: 1 3
- Motorbiscuit: How does a car’s suspension work? (https://www.motorbiscuit.com/how-does-a-cars-suspension-work/)
- RacingJunk: Suspension Set-Up (https://www.racingjunk.com/news/suspension-set-up/)
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Suspension (https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/suspension)