Let’s start with the basics. Stance – Stance refers to ride height of a car relative to the ground. To achieve the stance look one has to lower their car as low as it is practically possibly. A wider interpretation of stance would include wheels and fitment however this is secondary and stance is achieved primarily with playing around with ride height. There are two main ways in which one can achieve the stance look. The first is the traditional springs (springs in the context of this article refers to coil springs as these are the most common springs currently found in cars today) this is the static setup. The second are the automatic airsprings that is the bagged set up. The main difference between this two is that with air suspension you have the convenience of pressing a button or even tapping your screen on a smart phone and adjusting your ride height meanwhile with static you’re committed to the height you choose and have to stick with it.
To ensure that this blog post is both as real and comprehensive as possible we have decided to make it a collaborative effort between two of MzansiRide’s scribblers, LB and X. With LB owning no less than 10 bagged cars (possibly the biggest collection owned by a single person in the country) and X who is pro-static and drives one really low static bakkie with a whole lot of weird custom set ups.
Getting air suspension is like getting stick-on tattoos. You want to have the look without the pain. Sure you get the look but as soon as the rain comes your tattoos wash away and you lose all of your “coolness”. This is exactly what bags are like. You only air out when you are parked and that’s when you get to have your car look good. As soon as we start driving you’re no longer looking good or part of stance. I can already hear someone saying ‘’yeah but I can drive at the same height as someone that’s static’’. Anyone that says this is surely confused! So you spend so much more money to get the convenience of bags but still choose to drive low and risk damaging your car? Uhm …
For some of us, stance is a culture! Something that we love, respect and is part of us. It’s quite laughable how one can say that they’re part of this culture when the only time that they are ever low is to park and take pictures. Imagine being part of a biker crew and you have stick-on tattoos that you wash off after every event. Would anyone take you serious in the crew? Exactly, so why should we, in the stance culture.
I can’t come here and argue that static is not a pain at times. It is! Many of you may have already seen a video where I had to take speed humps in reverse, does it get more painful than that though? With any culture or movement there will be advantages and disadvantages. Imagine being part of the military and saying y
ou only want to be part of the fancy drills but when it’s time for war you run away. This is convenient is it not? My argument is that convenience cannot be put above the essence of a culture. It’s convenient for an individual soldier to run away during a time of war but it drags down the whole army. In the same way that bagged cars look awesome while parked but as soon as they air up they become ridiculous looking because it’s a high car driving around with big wheels and all the accessories that come with stance. When ordinary people see you driving they recognize you and your high car as part of the stance culture because that’s what you also believe, does this not bring the whole culture into disrepute?
Does it make sense to reduce the stance culture to only being a culture that is aimed at parking low and getting pictures for social media likes?
How do you use words like ‘low life’ when you have no idea how it is like to drive low? Your only experience of the “low life” that you claim is pressing a button.
“Yeah well I can afford bags why not?” Yes the very same way one can say I can afford to put on stick on tattoos to feel bad ass for a weekend and wash it off on Monday so why not. I also realize that people that have never driven a seriously low static car do not understand the work and money it takes to get your car drivable at these heights. It includes lots of fabrication, moving around things like silencers, oil pans (or bolting on guards to protect it). Depending on the car the totality of this all often adds up to be more than an entry level manual air-install. For most people after paying the price for an air-install this is the end of it all while with static cars the price of the coilovers is only the beginning you will still have to spend more money and time figuring how to drive at those heights without breaking stuff. But i have to admit that a lot of bagged people that started with really low cars know this and hardly use silly sayings like “static is for poor people”.
LB writes that “Static” started this Stance Culture. So why would anyone find it weird when static guys protect it from being reduced to “park – get low – take pictures for social media likes and then live the rest of your life high. Anyone that has started anything will tell you how they use all their might to protect what they have started from turning into something which is at odds with their vision or original intentions. Where do we get our mandate? As with any culture it is passed down from one generation to the next and from learning from the previous generation how and why they did things we should then incorporate current innovations without losing the essence of Stance.
Let’s briefly look at performance. There is a reason why majority of all professional races use coil springs. They simply do the job better. I recently watched a video where one of the leading air-ride system brands came and claimed that the performance of air-ride systems have improved to such an extent that it is as good as traditional springs. Although many people dispute this, I’m not going to. Why? Because that simply shows us that air-ride aspires to prove that it can deliver the same performance as static cars. Whether they did indeed achieve this is immaterial because they are actively intending to replicate the performance of the static set up.
Sure bags are a cool party trick. And if you’re not really about the stance culture, get them. But for those that believe in this glorious culture that everyone loves to hate don’t conform! I think Mike Burroughs from StanceWorks summarised it properly when he said
“There’s something inherently more impressive when two cars sit side-by-side, with mind-blowing wheel and tyre fitment, and you discover that one is on air and the other is static. While both cars look phenomenal. The air-ride owner simply pressed a button to achieve his look while the coilovers owner is committed to his look. There’s no ‘drive height’ and ‘show height’ they are one and the same.”
I am not against convenience and simplicity, in fact I am a strong advocate for simplicity, why work harder when you can work easier and achieve the same result. What I am against is putting convenience above principle. Where convenience takes away the fundamental essence of something then it should be avoided. And if you, like me, believe that the Stance Culture is more than just parking low for shows and social media likes then static definitely makes more sense.
Mr Low Benz
This is a universal topic at braais and car meets. Is air better than static, is static better than air? What amazes me is the sense of ownership the static guys have over the stance scene. Are you actually going to take ownership of the stance culture because you were able to cut a few loops off your springs?
It’s like a guy that is actually arguing over keeping his Telkom fixed landline in his house because it costs him R99 a month versus using a mobile phone (icellular bafowethu) because he is
- Stuck in the dark ages
- He is a penny pinching miser who hates the fact that if he had spent less on wheels and coilovers he would also be on air #smh
Let us get literal. Stance according to my dictionary means and is defined as the following
the way in which someone stands, especially when deliberately adopted (as in cricket, golf, and other sports); a person’s posture.That translated and without being too technical just basically means to a vehicle how a car sits on its wheels versus the distance from the ground and its wheel arches. There are a number of ways to perfect this look including wheel size and offset, shock absorber size, tyres etc but the primary drivers to the vehicle’s height are either the size of its coils/springs or the extent on inflation or deflation of its air bags if the vehicle is fitted with air ride suspension
Now, because the air suspension systems were developed for the high end luxury market, they have traditionally been expensive and out of reach for the majority of the motoring public as they were primarily developed for military use in aircraft and heavy trucks and completely. They only saw introduction into cars in 1957 on the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham and were made commercially successful by Mercedes Benz. Air ride has absent from the custom car scene because of cost until the advent of the new age. Technology has made manufacturing and management of the systems easier and mass production has made to a point almost as close to coilovers as a penny with a hole in it depending on brands.
So I will give this to you static guys. You started the stance/lowered scene and thank you very much for that, but you certainly don’t own it. Car customisers have learnt from years of butchered cars and refined air ride installations to a point where they can now simply bolt on and off. Yeah, some people like scrapping along the road and sending out sparks in the same way some people like beer and others are whisky drinkers and others are quite happy to wear bum shorts and others are into miniskirts. It’s a matter of choice, and taste.
Us guys on air can ride low, just like you. We don’t have to reverse over speed humps; there is a pre-set button on my control unit to clear that obstacle Mr. Landline. I don’t need to load 10 people into my car for the low limbo competition (that’s cheating by the way), there is a button for that too. I dare anyone to tell two cars parked next to each other apart, one static and the other on air when they are both sitting low, wheels tucked, oil pans on the ground, wheels gleaming under the African sun. You can’t tell them apart. They have both achieved the perfect stance by taking two very different routes. One went to Durban from via Polokwane and through Richards Bay and the other got on the N3 and cruised straight to the beach.
There are some very interesting ways to tell them apart though.
- Watch them arrive at a park off. The one out of which all passengers must disembark before the car can get up the kerb is static
- Listen to the engine note. The one which sounds like it has a hole in the muffler or cracked manifold does indeed have one of those ailments, because it is static
- When it is time to renew the roadworthy certificate, the guy that goes to put the old springs on so he can pass the test is static
- The car with the hissing sound like it is about to unleash the dragon on you is on air ride
To paraphrase my very good friend Zain from Mz’s CustomGarage
‘Air is the paradise of stance merely because while rolling static, your car is at war with the road, gaining bruises of trying to be rolling as low as possible and this is where air has set the benchmark of stance consisting of fitment and convenience all the time. Air allows one to only focus on general maintenance of an everyday show car that is both safe and ready for any road trips whilst ready dump its air in your face sparky.’
I don’t need tattoos to look cool so I will let the rain wash off the fake ones. I need my car to look cool and not break my back and there is nothing cooler than taking out my cellphone and making my car dance to the sound of air hissing out of the tank #bagallthecars. That hissing sound by the way is the airbag doing one thing that a static coil can’t do. Its squeezing out the last bit of air to bring my car closer to the ground or in some cars right on the ground whilst remaining drivable at the flick of a switch, press of a button or tapping of my smartphone screen (try doing that on your Telkom Landline. Hello, is that my Chevy Utility? Do you mind getting closer to the ground please?)
“I don’t need to carry around Col’drink money because the Traffic Officer will forget he’s thirsty the moment I air out next to him” says my mate Stratten from FS Projects (finest air installer in town). He incidentally used to take a route 30 minutes longer to his house to avoid speed humps in his previous car.
There are a lot of pros to having air ride and some cons too (like having an idiot do your installation) and those deserve an article dedicated to the subject. Performance is a subjective issue. I like my cars to ride smooth and comfortable and air ride gives me just that. It is not bouncy. I don’t need a neck brace after a day of driving and I don’t have to pop headache pills after a drive to the shops. I definitely wouldn’t go racing with a car on air because that isn’t what that set-up is for. Yes there have been times when I act a fool for the fun of it and drag the car along all aired out for a photoshoot or video but it will not be happening again after replacing an air bag from my shenanigans.
By both X and Mr Low Benz
Static or bagged? Who the heck cares! We are all car enthusiasts! Who believe that the point of a car is not A to B but the car is the point itself. There is honestly not one that is better than the other when it comes to Static and Air. It is simply a choice that one makes based on preference. While there are pros and cons with both ultimately it’s upon the individual to choose which one best suits his environment and what he faces on a daily basis. We also wish to highlight the fact that it is okay to prefer one over the other. It is also okay to have harmless fun and poke jokes at the other one. However it is actually people that say things like “static is dead” and “the hardest part about getting air suspension is telling your family that you’re gay’’ that aren’t part of this glorious culture. Anyone that says this in a serious tone with the aims of splitting this culture which is already hated on should get a response filled with the condemnation that it deserves. Both of us, the writers of this blog post, love static and bagged cars. We also encourage harmless fun, we should not be a bunch of sissies that tip-toe around this topic. Instead we should have a whole lot of fun about it as we at MzansiRides always do.
Collaborative article by
X (Marcus Phathwa) and Mr Low Benz
Ed: Thandeka Mchunu