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These are the parts of a rebuildable Bilstein shock with two disk stacks (right) to control valving. The vertical stack to the left is for a linear shock, the stack on the right is for a digressive shock. You can see that either way its a fairly simple assembly, and many shock manufacturers actually encourage their customers to learn how to rebuild their own shocks to help their racing program. Other shock manufacturers use different devices to control compression and rebound characteristics, but if you can read a shock dyno sheet the end result is all the same.