Lifts/Shocks

When it comes to modifying our Jeeps, selecting a lift is one of the first big decisions a Jeep owner faces.

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Which lift should I buy? How high should I go? Should I go long arm, short arm? What's the best lift for me? The list goes on and on.

This can be a daunting task. Consider that your suspension is key to the way your Jeep drives, both on and off the road. This really is a key decision in your build process. I have learned previously through building up a Jeep XJ, that cheap is not the way to go. On that build, as I began to understand the importance of quality parts, I ended up replacing nearly everything that I had previously done. We also need to be thinking along the lines of not un-engineering what Jeep engineers have worked so hard at, to give the Jeep it's trail rated badge, and decent on road driving manners.

I think for most of us, our Jeeps spend ninety percent of their time on the road, doing daily driving duties. When it come to selecting a lift for your Jeep, don't forget that last statement. For myself, my build ethos was better than stock, and keep the weight in check (more on this later). I want my Jeep to be able to cruise comfortably down the interstate at high speed, and then confidently tackle some of  the toughest off road trails. I was looking for the best of both worlds, great ride and handling, great articulation. 

I spent a lot of time online researching lifts, reading reviews, etc.. What I came away with was a short list of lifts I was considering. All these potential lifts had the characteristics of what I was looking for. Compliant ride and handling that matched or exceeded what the factory engineered, and great articulation for the trails. Through my research and previous experience with modifying an older Jeep XJ, I also new I wanted to go with a lift manufacturer that used a very durable coating on the parts. after all, I live in the Midwest, and the Jeep will be exposed to the rigors of a Chicago winter, salted roads, etc..

All this research lead to my final descision to go with MetalCloak for my lift purchase. 

 

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Here is why I chose the MetalCloak lift. There are three reasons actually.

1) Dual Rate Coil Springs

2) Duroflex Joints

3) Zinc Coating on all parts

Let's talk first about the dual rate springs. Why is a dual rate spring important. When a Jeep is flexed, and you have one wheel compressed, the other wheel is dropping down, allowing the spring on that side to fully extend. If your axle drops more that the length of the spring, the spring can actually unseat and fall out. The dual rate aspect of the MetalCloak spring uses a relatively soft coil that only comes into play during these full extension conditions, allowing the spring to continue to lengthen, keeping it fully seated in the spring perch. I have a pic below to illustrate suspension droop and spring extensionJ

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The next part of the MetalCloak magic is their Duroflex joint. The design of this joint allows for the Game Changers amazing flex, and quiet, compliant on road ride and feel. The Duroflex joint is great at canceling out NVH. Here's a chart to compare the various joints available on lifts.

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The third reason for choosing to run the MetalCloak lift was their zinc finish. As I stated earlier, my Jeep is daily driven, and is exposed to Chicago's brutal winters, which include running a lot of salt. The lift has been on my Jeep for roughly two years, and the finish has help up extremely well. This is a recent pic from running some trails in Moab last October. As you can see the lift components still look great...

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Here's a look at the install...

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So how does the Game Changer lift drive? All aspects of driving performance on road have been improved. The brake dive is gone, it corners nearly flat, it's absolutely silent and the quick up/down motion of the stock suspension is gone. I have had the opportunity to wheel off road in Moab a couple of times, running 5-7 rated trails. The flex and articulation are outstanding. To say I'm happy with this lift would be an understatement. As a note, MetalCloak rates the height/lift of their springs based on a fully built (read armored) Jeep. I have been conscious of the weight of my additional accessories, and I have netted ~4.25" of lift from their 3.5" springs.

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Shocks

When I ordered my MetalCloak lift, I chose their proprietary Rocksport shocks. My thinking here was this, if MetalCloak designed and built the shocks, they should be tuned perfectly to the springs. I was right, they were a perfect match, and undoubtedly one of the reasons the game changer lift rode and performed so well. 

As my Jeep evolved, I was looking to increase the performance aspects on any and all levels. Enter the Falcon 3.3 shocks. I jumped in early, right after they were released. In fact, while on a trip tp Salt Lake City, I was able to stop by the TeraFlex facility and was given a very gracious tour of their operations by Joe thompson, their head of international marketing. During that tour, I was able to get a look at the state of the art manufacturing areas TeraFlex had added to build the Falcon line of shocks in-house. While I was forbidden to photograph any of the equipment, I was able to see and handle one of the early prototypes.

Pic of an early production Falcon from my tour of TeraFlex...

Pic of an early production Falcon from my tour of TeraFlex...

I knew right then and there, I wanted a set of these on Rubi. THE FALCON 3.3 SERIES SHOCKS feature a three-position fast  adjust knob. They also are a unique design that have a piggyback reservoir for increased oil capacity and 6 times better flow. This allows them to be tuned in small increments, allowing you really dial in the ride/compression/rebound of the shock. The Falcons are corner specific shocks, built directly for use on modified JK(U)'s. They are now upgradable to an on the fly in-cab switched upgrade kit.

Falcon 3.3 Adjustable shocks...

Falcon 3.3 Adjustable shocks...

 

Falcon 3.3 Series Features

 

- Fast adjust knob w/3 compression settings for large dampening adjustments.

- Micro position dial w/8 compression settings for finer dampening adjustments.

- 6061-t6 aluminum alloy shock body for superior heat dissipation

- 2.25" shock body

- 3/4" induction hardened chrome plated shaft resists rock damage and corrosion.

- Red Line full synthetic shock oil with high velocity index of 519 for consistent  performance.

- 1000-hour salt spray corrosion resistance test on all hardware.

- Servicable and rebuildable.

- 3 year warranty

- Built in-house at the TeraFlex falcon shocks division.


Here's a look at my install...

Beautifully packaged...

Beautifully packaged...

How's this for cool? hand signed by the techs who built these shocks...

This says it all...

This says it all...

This is one of the aspects I really appreciated about this upgrade...the details...

Each shock is corner specific, dated, and a manufacture number...

Each shock is corner specific, dated, and a manufacture number...

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Side by side with my RockSports...

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This is a direct bolt in upgrade. If you can turn a wrench, you got this...

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Out in Moab testing the Falcon's on Kane Creek trail...

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As you can see, the Falcons are beautifully made. So how do they work in real life?

 

 

on the street

 

Here's how I went about testing the new Falcons. Each day on my way to work, I would dial in a new setting on the shocks. My commute would have me traveling Chicago's rough city streets in the morning, and then I would hop on the freeway for the trip home. This gave me a good feel for the shocks at each setting. What really impressed me was this, I could feel the difference in ride quality with each setting. I was skeptical at first that this would be possible, thinking that all that adjustment might just be a lot of marketing...not so. Every setting would adjust the ride quality. It plays out like this. On the softer settings, #1 for instance, the ride is uber soft/compliant. When you get on setting #2, you then have 8 sub-sttings. As you dial up the firmness, what you will notice is the ability of the shock to dampen ride motion is increased. At the higher settings, the shocks will arrest any motion quicker, settling the vehicle faster. 

Another aspect of tuning these shocks is tire pressure. take a look at the supplIed chart below...

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So how do I run mine on the street? For day to day pavement use, I run them at setting #2, micro dial #3. I've found this to be a great blend of comfort and control. I run my 37's at 28psi on road.

 

offroad settings

When I am wheeling, say out in Moab, I will adjust the shocks to full soft. With my sway bar discinnnected, tires aired down, this allows for an amazing amount of articulation. Rubi then feels like you are riding on a completely new suspension. The sensation is akin to floating in a boat on a lake. While I'm crawling over boulders and coming down off of them, you can actually hear the oil moving through the shock body. 

Waterfall, Kane Creek...

Waterfall, Kane Creek...

On "Top of the World" trail...

On "Top of the World" trail...

When I'm going to be running very long stretches of interstate, say driving from Chicago to Moab, Utah, I will dial up more firmness on the shock. In situations like this, I will flip the switch over to #3. This really tightens down the ride, giving me rock solid confidence at higher speeds. 

This upgrade remains one of my favorite mods, having the ability to change the character of the handling is a huge asset. My Jeep is really a multi use vehicle, the Falcons give me a multi use performance.