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Superlift 4" Rock Runner Suspension

By Cole Ford
Superlift Rockrunner
Please read and remember this.

Warning! "Closed Course Professional Driver"
Growing up as an auto enthusiast has eventually landed my here writing to you today. It has also taken me to many victories on the race track and a career teaching performance driving skills. Yes, this does mean that people actually pay me to teach them everything from race car driving to winter and beginner skills. Over the years I have become very familiar with the handling dynamics of a car, suspension design, characteristics, etc.. All of this means that I tend to drive my Jeep like a sports car most of the time and the on-road handling means a lot to me. After all, I have to drive it to work 5 or more days a week.

So how does this affect you? This means that I have access to a "skills training" facility full of handling courses that we'll use to put the Superlift kit through the wringer. I have narrowed the choices down to specific exercises that should give us an excellent idea of how well this suspension is going to work for our project. I should insert a disclaimer here, of course. All of the tests were done by professional drivers on a closed course. So, don't go out and try to do this on your own!

The Course
To gain a well-rounded opinion of how the Jeep is going to perform, we will put it through a series of high dynamic, low to medium speed tests. We will do the tests both in stock trim and with the new Superlift system in place. I have even taken the liberty to do some QuickTime videos of some of the tests so that you can see what they look like.

Superlift Rockrunner
Jeep parked on slalom course. Still photos on here are difficult to get with digital cameras.

TURN! TURN! TURN!
The slalom course is always a blast to do. You can really tell a lot about how a vehicle handles here. The many repetitive and consistent turns really give you a feel for how the Jeep performs and its tendency toward oversteer or understeer. The Jeep with the stock suspension is great in the slalom. It turns in very quickly and is fairly predictable. It is, however, very soft and gives a bit of an uneasy feeling when you really push it.

The first run with the Superlift Rockrunner installed was a whole different story. The Jeep was now very predictable and ran through the course with much less sway to it. The Dunlop Mud Rovers stuck to the ground very well. We found that we could actually run the slalom at higher speed after the lift was installed. The Jeep remained very level during all of the turns, and it had no problem with lifting the front tires off the ground. I did actually try to induce tire lift, and it required me to almost totally dump the clutch with the wheels pointed all the way left. Under this circumstance, the front left tire would lift off the ground slightly. It stayed right where it was supposed to at speed in the turns.

[Editor's Note: Lifted TJ's are notorious for "tire pick" and other Jeeps with similar suspensions have been known to lift tires as much as a foot off the ground on hard left turns.]

Slalom
As you probably already know, a slalom course is simply a straight line of evenly spaced cones. Turning left and right through the cones is similar to making quick lane changes. This course will give us an idea of how the vehicle responds to quick movements and a dynamic feel for body roll.

Superlift Rockrunner

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Superlift Rockrunner
Our brake lines were fully extended at full-flex. Superlift now offers a brake extension bracket to cure this problem.

BRAKE TIME!
The braking and handling exercise is not quite as much fun as the slalom, but it does open your eyes as to the braking limits and dynamics of the Jeep. I have been very displeased with the performance of the Jeep under hard braking in the stock form. It brakes in a straight line with little to no wander, but dives forward so hard that it almost feels like you are going to cartwheel it. Not to mention, that it shifts all the weight to the front tires and leaves almost nothing on the rears. This is really a bad situation when it comes time to do emergency braking and/or turning. The actual power of the brakes themselves is just fine.

The braking characteristics have totally changed with the Superlift installed. I have lost some overall stopping power due to the larger tires. However, the performance of the Jeep under hard braking has greatly improved. The Jeep stays much more level and controlled, even under the hardest braking and turning we could create. Keeping it pointed in a straight line was very easy.

Sometimes, lifted Jeeps tend to pull to one side or the other under heavy braking. The Jeep outfitted with the Superlift tracked nice and straight. The QuickTime video of this exercise just does not show the dynamic forces involved. When you watch the stock Jeep it appears to stay fairly level in the video, however, the feeling from the drivers' seat was a whole different story. The confidence level with the Superlift kit fitted has gone way up. It feels much safer now under the same circumstances.

Braking
We will simply be testing how the suspension reacts to heavy straight line braking and braking and turning at the same time. This will give us a feel for any odd characteristics in the suspension when loading the weight to the front tires or just one front corner. This is a very important part of the testing. Imagine back to childhood and your little red wagon. What happened if you turned it too hard? It fell over right? The purpose of the suspension is to allow you to make these kinds of maneuvers while keeping all four tires in contact with the road for control.
Superlift Rockrunner
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Like a Record Baby! Spin! Spin! Spin!
The Skid Pad! This is the most fun place to play in our on-road testing. It's a lot like doing doughnuts in the parking lot with Dad's old Chevy. The skid pad can tell us a lot about how the Jeep will handle if we totally upset its dynamics. If there are any strange handling quirks, here is where we will find them.

The stock Jeep was very easy to control in both a skid and a spin. It was fairly predictable. The soft springs made it feel a bit top-heavy, even though that was not the case. In the QuickTime video you can see one of the Master Drive instructors doing both skids and spins in the stock Jeep. She made the whole thing look effortless.

Once again, there was a dramatic improvement in comfort level with the new suspension in place. So much so, that all I could get my test pilot Jeff Groff to do were 360s. The Jeep was incredibly stable during all of the skid and spin tests. We played with it a lot. It was incredibly stable and accurate and went right where we pointed it. You can see in the video how level the Jeep stayed during the spins. The sensation was that of riding in a sports car during the spins.

Skid Pad and Spin Tests
Yes! This is just like you see in television commercials with the car sliding sideways. This exercise is a ton of fun to play on. We just wanted to see how the lifted Jeep handled being tossed into and out of skids. This will give us an idea if there are any other handling quirks.  
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Rocks, Trails, Dirt and Flex
Of course, we will take it out to the trail and see how it performs!

 

The Results Are In --->>>