After visiting Los Angeles for a week, it was time to bounce up north and find somewhere to run the Old Man Emu BP-51 shocks. Somewhere mountainous and forested was preferable, crisp morning air to recharge the battery. After staying around Kennedy Meadows on night one, we accidentally happened across the Monache Meadows trail area and figured we’d head up to hunt for the next camp spot.
We’ve heard of the popularity of this place, but we were hoping by arriving on Sunday we would be able to avoid most of the crowds. There was a ton of traffic coming out of the area while we were going in, a stuck Subaru was the cherry on top. Patience and scouting lines on obstacles is a necessity, dont floor it without a plan, lest you end up with massive body damage and clogging up the trail. With that said, I could easily come to love this trail, long wide open scenic sections with smooth undulating dirt that feels cushy under any shock. Sand dunes, river crossings, and mountainous backdrops in the far corners of the meadows are some of the surprises you’ll come across.
We did a lot of settings adjustment on the new BP-51 shocks, there’s quite a few features, here’s a quick summary to bring you up to speed:
- Internal Bypass, helps with comfort in the normal ride zones of the shock
Rebound and Compression damping adjustment gives tremendous control over shock response in every terrain and driving scenario
- Rebound adjustment for when the rear end loses traction over corrugated roads in the turns, the wheel is probably hopping, this can be improved with by decreasing rebound.
- Compression adjustment for fine tuning how much shock travel can be allowed under hard hits, decreasing compression will result in the shock and spring compressing further, utilizing that travel with less harshness.
- Remote reservoir helps out with the medium to higher speed environments where the shock gets much hotter due to friction, the reservoir helps with operating pressures and heat, among other things.
This trail doesn’t really lend itself to going fast at all, so I was looking for settings to maximize comfort while not giving up too much medium speed control and low speed body roll. By increasing compression damping, you can keep a tighter turn without body roll in turns. Wanna get some air? Decrease rebound all the way, those wheels will droop out much slower than anything you’re used to. (We don't condone jumping.) You can feel a difference in wheel response most dramatically on washboard surfaces with different rebound settings.
Safety First: Forest Services Alerts & Fire Restrictions
Be ready when you venture up beyond Kennedy Meadows, there’s no cell services, water, or facilities anywhere. Also be prepared to take it slow on the tougher obstacles if you aren’t high-clearance enough. We encountered a troupe of Subies coming up, only to be bottlenecked by a lone-Outback stuck on a rock. With the right line, you should be able to get through anything, even with the 9” of clearance of most Outback, Forester, or Crosstrek platforms.