It’s unanimously agreed that suspension upgrades are one of the most critical modifications to any four-wheeler. Aside from aesthetics, suspension upgrades come with many benefits; they can be used to clear larger, aggressive off-road tires which result in additional ground clearance and traction. It can also increase suspension travel which is a priority for many off-roaders. Your vehicle’s suspension components are being used 100% of the time while driving; you might as well make it comfortable.
A key factor to suspension upgrades that is often missed is added load capacity. Over the course of ARB’s 47-year history, off-road accessories and their uses have evolved. Enthusiasts carry and load more accessories and gear in their 4WD than ever before, and with each addition, the vehicle’s suspension slowly begins to compress, often to the point of no return. This added weight compresses the springs and shocks which limits the available travel and leaves passengers feeling every bump in the road. This uncomfortable ride occurs because the vehicle’s suspension does not have the capacity to absorb impacts caused by potholes, obstacles, or rocky terrain off-road.
CONSTANT WEIGHT VS. LOADED WEIGHT
Two factors that should play a role in your suspension decisions are whether the vehicle is a daily driver and weekend warrior, or strictly an off-road vehicle. During the week, many 4×4’s that are driven as commuters will maintain their installed gear such as bumpers and racks but will unload certain gear such as tool bags, fridges, and tents. In comparison to strictly off-road vehicles which will likely have all components loaded at all times.
We recommend that daily drivers consider only constant load while strictly off-road vehicles can consider both constant and gear load.
Although suspension comfort is subjective, most of us aim for an enjoyable ride. In order to maximize comfort, it is best to prioritize the constant weight when choosing your Old Man Emu suspension. If you choose a suspension that is “heavier” than the constant load, this will likely result in a stiff and unpleasant ride.
Rather than settling for a one size fits all lift kit, Old Man Emu offers a wide variety of suspension options that can be tailored to suit load capacities amongst different vehicles and applications.
When building an off-road vehicle, it’s best to notate the heavy parts that you plan to add, whether it be soon or in the future. Heavy components will slowly begin to compress your suspension which results in vehicle sag. In order to avoid ride discomfort and having to change components down the road, plan ahead for future additions. This saves you time and money changing suspension down the road.
CONSTANT WEIGHT COMPONENTS THAT SHOULD BE ACCOUNTED FOR WHEN
- Front bumper
- Dual battery kits
CENTER (DETERMINE WHERE THE WEIGHT IS DISTRIBUTED; FRONT, REAR, OR BOTH?)
- Side steps
- Rock sliders
- Skid plates
- Roof racks
- Awnings (constant or loaded)
- Roof top tents (constant or loaded)
- Rear bumper
- Tire carrier
- Spare tire and wheel (constant or loaded)
- Fridge (constant or loaded)
- Storage Drawers
- Tools and various gear (constant or loaded)
As mentioned above, in order to maintain an enjoyable street and highway ride, we do not recommend considering loaded weight in your spring selection. However, if you wish to prioritize off-road over on road driving, loaded weight can be considered to a degree.
An alternative to consider for loaded weight is air bags. Many enthusiasts will pair our heavy springs with aftermarket air bags. With this setup, our springs will manage the constant load, while the air bags will account for the loaded weight and/or trailer.
ARB’s Air Compressor and LINX Vehicle Interface are compatible with air bags and also allow the user to input presets which adjust the airbags with a single touch; unloaded, loaded gear, boat trailer, camping trailer, etc.
Old Man Emu offers an adjustable bypass suspension system called the BP-51’s which are available for many applications. For independent front suspension vehicles, we offer adjustable coilovers that can be adjusted to suit different load ratings. This adjustability allows the users to compensate for their current setup and future setups without the hassle of replacing coil springs.
Compression and rebound can also be adjusted on each of the BP-51 coilovers and shock absorbers. Added loads may impact the suspension differently off-road in comparison to on road. The compression and rebound adjustments allow the stiffness/softness to be adjusted on the fly. Enjoy your preset on road settings; then once you hit the trailhead, easily adjust the shocks to match the terrain you plan to conquer with just a couple of turns.