Viking Performance: The Future Of Shocks?

Active Shock Management with Viking Performance

When you’re driving down the road, wouldn’t you love to be able to change the valving in all four of your shocks one-thousand times per second? If you could, wouldn’t that be the ultimate ride for comfort and, more importantly, performance? 

While this may seem like a far-fetched reality, that’s the Berserker Active Shock Management (ASM) system from Viking Performance. In short, the Berserker system actively adjusts the damping up to one-thousand times a second, reacting instantaneously in real time to events, while driving down the road. The system includes a 3-postion selector switch that allows the driver to choose between a Street, Performance, or Track mode setting on the fly. Want to change any or all of the factory tunes in the selector switch? No problem. The Berserker tuning tool allows you to do that with ease.

“We install a controller on each corner.  Each of these controllers is connected to the master controller, and they communicate back and forth,” explained Viking’s President, Chris King. “In short, each controller is sensing the road conditions and giving a recommendation to the master controller to determine the best shock valving for each corner at that particular moment, in real time,” continued Chris.

The made-in-the-USA, patented Berserker ASM™ (Active Shock Management) system utilizes hydraulic shocks with computer-controlled, electrically-actuated valving, corner controllers, a master controller, and steering and wheel position sensors, along with an optional speed sensor. It delivers ultra-high performance suspension control with greatly improved ride quality, and without the need for the driver to adjust anything on the shock absorbers. This smart suspension management system is the only aftermarket system that monitors chassis inputs and reacts to it by automatically adjusting shock valving up to 1,000 times per second to accommodate driving style, road conditions and more.

The technology in the Berserker ASM™ system uses a suite of sensors and the controllers to monitor a wide range of chassis inputs including yaw rate, suspension position, shock piston speed, vehicle chassis acceleration/deceleration and steering positions to find the perfect damping rate for any event encountered. The Berserker ASM™ includes a technological built-in bump stop to prevent the shocks from topping or bottoming out, and automatically adjusts to absorb potholes, speed bumps, rough terrain, wheel stands and so on. Think of it like having a vehicle chassis engineer at each corner turning the knobs to adjust rebound and/or compression in real time while the vehicle is traveling down the road, but much faster than humanly possible…1000 times per second.   

How It Works

Each shock has its own electrically actuated valve and controller, which maximizes performance for each individual corner. The damping valve is a unique patented design that can change positions fast enough to go from minimum damping to maximum damping in less than 10 milliseconds.  The result is real time control of the shock damping force output. Depending on the application, the valves are either remote mounted on a manifold via (2) two foot hoses for clearance around chassis and suspension components, or piggybacked onto the shock body. If the valve is remote mounted, the manifold also includes a nitrogen gas canister to prevent lag/cavitation. In addition, a master controller is mounted on the chassis and monitors and optimizes the complete suspension system in real time. The system also includes a steering sensor, a wheel position/ride height sensor for each corner, a 3-position ride selection switch, a status LED, and all necessary wiring. Installation is not overly complex and is similar to wiring a stereo. The most difficult task of the install is the proper placement and fitment of the ride height sensors.

The master controller, equipped with an accelerometer and mounted to the frame, also collects accelerometer data from the corner controllers to sense where the energy is stored in the system, determines whether the vehicle is in heave, pitch or roll, and sends out commands to the shocks to change damping forces to manage the chassis movement. Information on steering position is fed to the master controller, allowing the system to control body roll during handling events by stiffening the shocks in compression on the outside wheels and rebound on the inside wheels to act as a virtual sway-bar by providing excellent turn in on corner entry.  The controllers at each corner of the vehicle have ultimate authority of the shock valving, as a particular corner may be experiencing its own event, such as a pothole that it needs to handle accordingly. The corner controller considers all data and changes the electronic damping valve within 10 milliseconds, while also preventing the suspension from bottoming or topping out. The result is a vehicle that provides superior ride quality and razor-sharp handling without compromising either.

Installation

We had the opportunity to hang out at the Viking Performance facility recently and watch as they installed one of these systems on a second-gen Firebird. On the surface, installation is pretty straight forward – it’s almost as simple as swapping in a set of coil overs. However, there are a few more complicated pieces that have to be installed correctly in order to make it all function properly.

On this Firebird, we used a remote mount front set-up and a piggyback configuration in the rear. After getting the wheels off and the car up in the air, the experts at Viking took off the old coil spring set up. With no springs in the suspension, they were able to cycle the suspension to determine the minimum and maximum travel of the new Berserker shocks. This also allowed them to find proper placement for the ride height sensors, ensuring that they could freely move through the range of travel without interference. For both the front and rear, they simply tapped the control arm and mounted the sensor to the frame rail. During this process, they moved the suspension up and down numerous times to ensure there was no binding or interference between parts.

 

While this was going on, they also mounted the corner controllers. These are weather-proof computers, but you still want to mount them in a protected area so they won’t get damaged or destroyed by flying debris. Careful planning prior to running the wires made for a clean install. Before installing the new coil overs, the team also tackled the steering shaft sensor. In the majority of applications, the steering sensor is mounted to the end of the steering column where it exits the firewall and enters the engine compartment.  Alternatively, the steering sensor trigger wheel can be mounted anywhere along the steering shaft (rotating shaft that exits the end of the steering column) and the sensor held in place using a custom bracket. Care must be taken during this process, as improper installation could result in interference with the operation of the vehicle steering system.

One cool thing about Viking Performance is they build all their shocks in-house, right here in the USA. The Berserker is no different. We watched as they put all the required parts into the shock body, and dyno tested the shocks to ensure they are working properly. In fact, every single shock they produce is dyno tested to ensure it’s working properly before ever leaving the building.

Finally, they mounted up the shocks minus the springs, again stroking the suspension a few times at each corner to ensure everything was working in harmony. Last, they installed the springs and adjusted the ride height.

Finishing Touches

Once the wheels were back on and the car was on the ground, a few more items had to be completed. The main computer was installed into the trunk to keep it out of the way and safe. The ride selection switch was added to the dash. Chris then connected a simple USB cord to a laptop, and went through a wizard style set up to get everything working properly. Don’t let this part be intimidating – this was very simple and the instructions are very thorough. After a few screens, everything was set up and the home page was up and ready to go. 

The program itself looks sort of like a video game with sliders and pictures. It’s very intuitive and it is easy to navigate and make adjustments. “What’s really great is that you can dial in your tune for a particular track and save it. A year later, you can re-load that same tune and hit the ground running instead of having to start from scratch,” continued Chris. Users can get as detailed as they want with adjustments or, of course, they can leave the thinking to the Berserker ASM and go with the pre-set factory tunes.

The Future

How do you make adjusting your shocks even easier than this? Viking Performance has that figured out as well. They recently launched a Bluetooth app that allows you to adjust the valving on the fly. Now you don’t even need to pull out the laptop to adjust your Berserker ASM system. You can sit in your car between runs and adjust the valving while waiting for your next turn. Imagine being able to do a few hot laps, pull off into the pits, move a few sliders and then hit the track while your tires are still warm. The Berserker ASM is truly the most adjustable, responsive system on the market.