The Advantages (and Disadvantages) of Monotube Shocks

Aaron Lambert
Post by Aaron Lambert
December 13, 2021
The Advantages (and Disadvantages) of Monotube Shocks

Successful drivers know that once they’ve done all the work they can under the hood, their focus switches to getting the best performance out of their vehicle overall.

A well-tuned suspension provides performance upgrades that you can’t ignore. But, with a plethora of information on car forums, internet searches, and car experts, which shocks are the best?

Before you decide to invest in an expensive yet rewarding shock setup, you’ll need to determine which shocks will enhance your vehicle performance, gel with your driving preferences, and ultimately shave seconds off your lap times.


What are the Advantages (and Disadvantages) of Monotube Shocks?

As suspension technology advances, monotube shocks have become the standard for many racing applications. 

Twin-tube shocks are used on everyday streetcars, light trucks, and SUVs. They are cost-effective, easier to manufacture, and provide fantastic handling and control characteristics for most “everyday” driving conditions. But when it comes to getting the best performance possible, mono-tubes are used most of the time.

The advantages and disadvantages of the monotube design and how it affects your application and performance are critical to your decision-making.


Check out our ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Top 10 Most Common Suspension Issues & How to Resolve Them

In this free webinar, we review the most common suspension issues you're likely to encounter and tips for how you can resolve or avoid them altogether.



The Advantages of the Monotube Shock Design

In monotube design, a floating piston entirely separates the oil and gas chambers. There is no aeration or foaming, and the hydraulic valving becomes more responsive. The single-valve assembly distributes pressure evenly over the entire shock, putting less stress in a particular area.

Higher gas pressure offers additional resistance, giving the monotube variable performance based on driving conditions. Increased performance just when you need it!

Because the gas itself becomes part of the spring action, it compresses better over more minor bumps and quicker through bigger hits, which improves control and response.

Monotubes also have a larger surface area to spread the load, distributing pressure evenly over the entire shock.

There are no restrictions when installing a monotube shock, including installing them upside down, unlike most twin-tubes.


The Disadvantages of the Monotube Shock Design

The main disadvantage to a monotube is the overall length vs. stroke. For example, looking at “vintage” cars, they may have a 12” overall length shock with 4” of stroke. In a modern monotube design, you may have a 12” overall length with only 2.5” of stroke. 

You’ll also get a stiffer ride because high-pressure gas is required in the structural design. The high-pressured gas might lead to higher stress on seals, causing more friction.

Because of its one-tube design, external damage to the shell case also affects the inner cylinder.


Learn more about Monotube vs. Twin-Tube Shocks: Which is Best for Performance


Do the Benefits Outweigh the Drawbacks?

95% of racers have monotube shocks installed on their vehicle. And for a good reason.

While twin-tube shocks are cheaper, monotubes provide better performance capabilities, are easy to install, and are preferred by racing teams and shock manufacturers.

A monotube will generally respond quicker, giving the driver a better feel of what the car is doing. 

Because the shocks perform at a higher level, the user may feel a performance drop-off. Where a twin-tube lacks performance, the user may never feel a drop off in performance, simply because it can’t perform at a high enough level to differentiate between good and bad. 

You might need to maintain monotubes more often, but if you work with a shock manufacturer who provides continued support, you’ll be in a better position.


Purchasing Your Shocks

Hopefully, now you know whether the monotube or twin-tube design will be best for your application.

If you’re still not sure, speak to Penske Racing Shocks. Rather than buying a set of shocks that are configured to work for everyone, you will work directly with the Penske Shocks team to begin the setup optimization process BEFORE purchasing anything.

Customizing the hardware selection and setup process to your specific application and your particular needs ensures you get more out of your shock setup faster.

After you purchase your shocks and customize your setup, you’ll receive continued support from the Penske team. To learn more about our S3 process (Shocks + Setup + Support), reach out to us here and get the ball rolling.

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Aaron Lambert
Post by Aaron Lambert
December 13, 2021
After completing high school, Aaron joined Penske Racing Shocks in 2000 as a damper technician. Since then, Aaron served in multiple management and technical rolls in the company and oversaw all major sales markets including Short Track, NASCAR, Sports Car, and IndyCar. He spearheaded the company’s successful return to the Late Model market as well as the new S-link shock dyno product line. In addition, Aaron handles all dealer relationships and has been a driving force behind Penske Racing Shocks’ long term in-house manufacturing strategy . Aaron was promoted to General Manager in 2019, a position he currently holds.
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