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What's Brewin' on the Bayou at Superlift?

ROCKCRAWLER.com
What's Brewin' in the Bayou?

By Michael Cohn

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Back to Metalforms we went where I was led to a Jeep Wrangler YJ and Bret's father's CJ-7. What could possibly be new and Earth-shaking about these? I was about to find out, as one of Kevin's happy elves pulled the white YJ with "X2" decals all over it outside to the RTI ramp.

Up it went...and up...and up...and up...

Umm...that's certainly not a stock Wrangler!

Indeed it was not. As I circled the ramped YJ, I peered underneath to see what was afoot. Providing about 9 inches of rear travel were good ol' leaf springs with three military wraps around the bushings. In addition, an anti-wrap bar ran from the rear axle to the custom belly pan. Up front, things looked a little more familiar. Since Superlift owns Black Diamond, the front end is based on the XCL kit - thus the X2 name (as in Generation 2).

Superlift Suspensions
One glance and you know this isn't the same old YJ kit!
Superlift Suspensions
The rear flex from these leaf springs was amazing.

The front end is a coil-over shock setup with long control arms - far from the standard leaf spring setup. The Black Diamond logos on some components do hint that this will be part of that lineup.

One after the other, I was handed the keys to both the YJ and the CJ and took them out back for a whoopin'. Running along the backside of the building is a rather deep drainage ditch. I was able to play for a while going across it and through it at various angles in order to feel the suspension work.

Superlift Suspensions
The CJ was just as impressive on the ramp.
Superlift Suspensions
A good look at the front suspension arms.
Superlift Suspensions
The front of the CJ suspension.
Superlift Suspensions
A shackled anti-wrap bar is attached to the rear axle.

It was immediately evident that the setup, though still in the design phase, was on the right track. Like a TJ, the Jeeps flexed out and followed the terrain wonderfully. But, since they utilize leaf springs in the rear, the Jeeps didn't have the tendency to flop over on side grades like TJ's sometimes do. The feeling was of complete control at all times. I even took the ditch lengthwise and had the Jeeps way over on the driver side without them ever going over. As I exited the ditch, the Jeeps came back to level ground safely without any surprises.

Superlift Suspensions
Kevin and I took the YJ out back and had fun playing in the ditches.
Superlift Suspensions
The YJ felt stable in control at all times.
Superlift Suspensions
The CJ was just as much fun to play in the dirt with.
Superlift Suspensions
The suspension was compliant and felt right at home.

The kits still have a good ways to go. Street tuning still leaves a lot to be desired and the gang is looking for some near-new condition Jeeps to do further testing on as these poor things have been to Hell and back. We can probably expect to see these kits in 2006 and Rockcrawler.com is already lined up to do some testing once some kits become available.

There is more to the Superlift story, though.

Superlift not only produces some of the best suspensions on the market, but they also go far beyond what other manufacturers do when it comes to product support and information. Their website and catalogs have a wealth of information, both general and product-specific that you won't find anywhere else. They also have installation videos produced at their own off-site studio, which is also home to the Outdoor Channel's Superlift's Off-Road Adventures. Airing several times a week, the program features off-road trail rides and tech segments and showcases Superlift product installs.

Superlift Suspensions
Bret Lovett doesn't always have this look on his face. Really. Seriously.
Bret has also turned his love for off-roading into another branch of his business. Along with some other investors, in 2001, he opened the Superlift Off-Road Vehicle Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Covering 1254 acres of wooded terrain, the park is open year-round and features plenty of trails for everyone from novices to the near-insane. All the trails are well-marked and park has more than enough parking and camping to host large events.

So what did I come away with from my visit? I learned how a 15-year old boy who was washing trucks and changing tires at a four wheel drive shop turned several opportunities into a life-long trailride and become the owner of an aftermarket automotive powerhouse.

Through his hard work, dedication and innovation, Bret Lovett has been one very busy man and is taking Superlift to the next level by not only following trends but being a trendsetter. Innovations like the F.I.T. Kits, his use of computer technology, and even redesigning older systems are what will keep Superlift at the top of their game.

All this while staying completely slothful-casual.

RESOURCE

Superlift Suspension Systems
300 Huey Lenard Loop
West Monroe, LA 71292
(800) 551-4955

www.superlift.com

 

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn is the Editor here at Rockcrawler.com. Michael jumps at any chance to beat up someone else's rig - especially when he doesn't have to clean it or fix it afterward. Thanks to guys at Metalforms who had to clean up after Michael's test runs.

Contact Michael at comments@rockcrawler.com

 

 
 

 

 

 

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