Ford Performance Suspension Kit for 21+ F-150s... Worth the wait?

Posted by Colton Haeffner on

So, you are looking to upgrade the suspension on your 21+ F-150, and the Ford Performance kit by Bilstein has caught your eye. You find yourself calling around... Every place you call is out of stock for the foreseeable future (including us), and you begin to wonder, "What's the difference between this kit and the standard Bilstein 6112/5160 setup?"  You're in luck, as we're going to help you figure out exactly that.

We're going to talk about the differences in Aesthetics, Lift, Build/Construction, Performance, Warranty, Pricing, Availability, and more, so buckle up – we're going for a ride.

Aesthetics - From an outward perspective, here are the primary differences:

  • Finish - The standard 6112/5160s have a "brushed" steel finish and a light clearcoat. The Ford Performance Bilstein units have a gray paintjob with a clearcoat finish on them, as well.
  • Labelling - The standard 6112/5160s have black labels with the model of the shock written on it. The Ford Performance units have "Tuned by Ford Performance" stickers on them in bold black and red lettering.

Lift - The Ford Performance kit comes as shipped at a +2" levelling setting up front. This lift amount is typical for a 3.5L Ecoboost 4x4 truck. These values will change depending on engine weight, 4x4 vs 4x2 – for example, this kit as shipped will lift a 2.7L truck 4x4 2.4". These shocks also have a secondary notch, allowing them to be moved to +2.5" up front.

The standard 6112s allow for lift settings from 0" to 2.5" using 6 circlip settings. To put things into perspective, the Ford Performance 6112s have only notches 5 and 6.

*Tremor Note - This kit WILL fit on F-150 Tremor models. However, given that Tremors come with 1" more front lift height than a standard F-150 you should note that Bilstein 6112 kits will only increase ride height 1-1.5" from standard Tremor ride height.

Build/Construction - From an outside build perspective, these shocks are effectively identical. I know that there has been a lot of discussion about how the Ford Performance fronts have a 2.6" body whereas the standard 6112s have a 2.5" body. I can positively confirm that BOTH the Ford Performance variant and the standard Bilstein 6112s have externally 2.6" tubes, verified with calipers, with 60mm internal pistons (found on technical documents). This discussion/confusion is actually what inspired us to put this comparison together in the first place!

  • The free-standing length of the Ford Performance 6112/5160 shocks are identical to Bilstein 6112/5160.
  • Bushings and hardware are identical across all shocks. The ONLY visible discrepancy across all hardware is the cap on the 5160 reservoirs has a slightly different finish. On the Bilstein version, it's a black anodized cap whereas the Ford Performance 5160 has a textured finish on the reservoir cap.
  • The springs used on the Ford Performance 6112 and the Bilstein 6112 are identical (Bilstein Part Number: E4-FD1-Y441B00).

Performance - Here's what you're really here for. Bilstein holds their rebound and compression values close to the vest. However, I was able to get a tech to pull up the data sheets and do some comparisons for us, without actually sharing with us what the values are. After peppering them with questions, here are the takeaways:

  • 6112s - Bilstein 6112 and Ford Performance 6112 have exact compression values. Bilstein 6112 has slightly higher rebound than the Ford Performance 6112. The difference in rebound is roughly 2%.
  • 5160s - The tech advised that the Bilstein 5160s have nearly identical compression/rebound valving as the Ford Performance 5160s. He indicated that the values are different, but they are within 1% of one another. That said, the higher compression and rebound values belong to the Bilstein 5160, for clarity's sake.

Warranty - The Ford Performance suspension offers a 3yr/36,000 mile warranty from vehicle in-service date if installed by Ford Dealer or certified ASE tech. So what is the warranty on them if they are installed at 35,000 miles? For that, I am unfortunately unsure, as I have been given 2 different answers when contacting Ford Performance directly so I don't want to speculate.

The Bilstein 6112s carry a limited lifetime warranty. The 5160s carry a 2-year warranty. My experience with Bilstein warranty has been that, should there be a warranty claim, they will generally replace the product without issue if it's within the first year or so, after which the discussion comes up about mileage, use, etc. All of our customer's failures with Bilstein products (fortunately very few) have shown up within the first couple of weeks after installation, and we haven't had to truly test this warranty regarding longterm issues.

Pricing and Availability - As of writing this (2/6/24), the Ford Performance units aren't expected to have availability until at least July of 2024. This is an update on orders placed back in August of 2023. Bilstein 6112/5160 kits are currently available nationwide after a short backorder window that occurred in the summer of 2023. Pricing will change over time. Please see links below for latest pricing and ordering details.

Bilstein 6112/5160 Kit 

Ford Performance 6112/5160 Kit

Conclusion - Our takeaway here is that if you're shopping between the Ford Performance 6112/5160 Kit and the Bilstein 6112/5160 Kit, you are in good hands either way. They are effectively identical products with the mildest of internal differences, plus a different paint job. The Bilstein version of the 6112 does provide some more flexibility in terms of ride height, but if you're looking for 2"+, then they will be offering the same options. One benefit of the Ford Performance Kit is that they do come pre-assembled from the factory. That said, Hotshot Offroad offers assembly services of the 6112s to allow for easy installation once you pull your OEM units out.

I hope this brought you clarity regarding the differences between the Ford Performance 6112/5160 Kit and the Bilstein 6112/5160 Kit. Comment below and let us know if you have any questions that we can answer!

Check out the video below to see just some quick highlight clips comparing the two units!

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