What is primary and secondary ride?

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In automotive NVH circles, ride behaviour is often referred to as primary and secondary ride, but what do these terms really mean.

In short, primary ride would describe something like a large bump, which generally would consist of a high amplitude and low frequency event. Often variations in the road surface that are visible to the human eye whilst driving, these variations would be categorised as primary ride.

More technically, primary ride is involved with the suspension movement over undulations, that is primary ride is related to the bound and rebound of the dampers in the vehicle.

Secondary ride is the small imperfections, usually a low amplitude, but at a higher frequency. These can not be seen from a moving vehicle generally.

Again, from a more technical standpoint, secondary ride is a combination of damper and bush control. Generally secondary ride tuning involves the bushes working well with the dampers.

In general, a vehicle at low speed will have good primary ride, but noticeable secondary ride issues. Then, at higher cruising speeds, primary ride issues will feel like a wallowing effect to the occupants, but the secondary ride will be very smooth or perfect.

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James Wren

Former Sales & Marketing Manager at Prosig
James Wren was Sales & Marketing Manager for Prosig Ltd until 2019. James graduated from Portsmouth University in 2001, with a Masters degree in Electronic Engineering. He is a Chartered Engineer and a registered Eur Ing. He has been involved with motorsport from a very early age with a special interest in data acquisition. James is a founder member of the Dalmeny Racing team.

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