and remember this.
"Closed Course Professional Driver"
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!
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
on slalom course. Still photos on here are difficult to get
with digital cameras.
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.
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.]
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.
lines were fully extended at full-flex. Superlift now offers
a brake extension bracket to cure this problem.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Like a Record
Baby! Spin! Spin! Spin!
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.
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.
Pad and Spin Tests
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.
Dirt and Flex
course, we will take it out to the trail and see how it performs!
Results Are In --->>>