Project MKVII Golf R: Part 2 - Bilstein Clubsport Suspension

by Isaac Sandoval


Project MKVII Golf R has been doing an absolute killer job of being a boring daily driver for the past few months while we slowly decided which aspects of the car needed to be addressed and with which components. While we didn’t have the opportunity to make it to many driving events, we did manage to get some initial shakedown runs in at Adams Motorsports Park at one of their grip events. During that event we got a feel for the car and quickly decided to address the suspension first. The stock suspension on the Golf R is more than adequate for a daily driver and weekend drive fun, but we are going for serious on track performance.


Adams Motorsport Park is a fun place to drive your car fast in a safe setting. This track is actually a go kart track that is large enough to allow cars to run on it. If you are in So Cal and have a chance to go here, it is definitely very fun.

Close to the limit, the car feels a little sluggish on transitions and generally a bit soft and pushy. The car is easy to drive at the limit, but we want to sharpen things up. The stock suspension adjustments are limited on this car, so we wanted to select something that would provide us with some more adjustability as well as more control of body movement.


We reached out to our friends at Bilstein and asked if they would send us their most track oriented Golf R suspension. Bilstein responded with their Clubsport suspension. The Bilstein Clubsport suspension has everything we could have asked for and more. These dampers were developed on the Nurburgring and have some serious track oriented features like spherical bearings on both front and rear shock mounting locations, height adjustability, front camber plates, and independently adjustable compression and rebound settings. We are pretty confident these will help us dial in the Golf R exactly how we want it.


Bilstein spares no expense when it comes to manufacturing their suspension systems, and this high-end Clubsport package is no exception. The monotube shock bodies feature a highly corrosion resistant Triple-C coating that will make sure these dampers will provide years of reliable use. The adjustment knobs are some of the best that we have seen on any suspension. They are large and color coded with 10 adjustments each for damping and rebound. Each adjustment position is clearly marked with large numbers and the adjustment detent has a perfect feel, so it is easy to feel the changes when you are turning the adjusters.
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Monday, April 03, 2017 8:20 AM
The spherical bearings are a really nice feature.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, April 03, 2017 11:32 AM
two things are great, the inverted shaft and the easily accessible double adjusters. People don't realize how important that is until they have to set a car up trackside. Some Koni's and even Penskes are just about impossible to set in the field without a crew. The shocks have to be removed from the car, etc.
Monday, April 03, 2017 1:54 PM
how do these compare to something like JRZ and MCS (damper quality only)? at $4k thats what the competition is.
I've driven on those and they're pretty close to magical for what they can do, but the only Bilstein's I've driven on are PSS9's and the Bilstein motorsport damper that LG uses in their coilovers (equal magicalness to my butt dyno to JRZ/MCS).
Are the Clubsports closer to the PSS9/10 damper (for example a PSS10 with compression adjustment added) or their motorsport damper?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, April 03, 2017 2:00 PM
The biggest advantage KW has is their Pfeiffer compression valve. The needle for the bypass is spring loaded which makes the damper pretty frequency sensitive. It's what gives KW the ability to not shock the tires too much even with a lot of control force.
Monday, April 03, 2017 2:10 PM
Kinda sounds like Ohlins DFV thing... Is it 2 manufacturer's tackling the same problem with their own solutions?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, April 03, 2017 3:22 PM
It's the same sort of idea, on the KW the fluid can bypass the needle, on the DFV the fluid can go backwards through the rebound ports and blow off a valve on top of the piston on the rebound side.
Monday, April 03, 2017 4:40 PM
Seriously, how did Howard cut out a perfect circle with a cutoff wheel? That's pretty serious level of difficulty. I'm limited to carbide cutters to get that kind of cut, which cost at $40-100. I would love to do that with a $2 cutoff wheel.
Monday, April 03, 2017 4:43 PM
Did he just press the face of the disc through the metal? That would be awesome! I'm going to try that sometime...just need a hole to guide the center, which technically was already there in this case. That's genius. I really would never have thought you could do that.
Tuesday, April 04, 2017 12:23 AM
A little fyi from several VW mkv alignment and suspension changes. There are very little gains to be had with significant change in camber if you don't decrease caster. The caster angle is a significant factor behind the low camber.

The max I've noticed to be helpful was -2.0 degrees on the front. Anymore without decreasing caster is pretty useless. Certainly with tires smaller than 255's. Although the golf r's are lighter than my r32. The weight balance is still 60/40 F/R. There no level of camber that is going to help this problem. You might help turning response. But it will overall net very little overall traction. ✌

I'm using pss10's. Bilstein screwed this model with poorly matched springs. I went with eibach springs front and rear. 550 ib/in x 5 in the front with tenders and 350 ib/in x 8 in the rear. Significantly improved grip and turning response.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, April 04, 2017 12:28 AM
I am not sure I agree with you.
Tuesday, April 04, 2017 12:39 AM
Mike, well next time you guys have the car aligned, check the camber gain at full lock at -1.0 degree and see how much it changes.

Unfortunately I'd show you the data i gathered from my previous alterations and tire usage, but i lost my phone with that info.

Nonetheless you can have the discussion with much more professional tuners, such as those who build rally cars, and they'd say the same. The golf has a very similar design approach as you find on the wrc race cars. High levels of caster and low levels of static camber. Unlike that you'd find on touring cars. Caster/camber plates are essential when trying to add in addition degrees of negative camber. Jon at JIC magic even went over this with me. They offer such a product for this reason.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017 10:50 AM
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