ICON Stage 8 - 60k Mile Review & What's Next

ICON Stage 8 - 60k Mile Review & What's Next

The Shock Surplus 2006 Tacoma 4x4 is going under the knife again, getting the suspension gutted for the 5th time. The most recent setup from ICON Vehicle Dynamics featured the 2.5 Coilovers with CDCV adjustable reservoirs, along with 2.5 CDCV reservoir rear shocks, the RXT rear leaf pack (one of the first off the line), and hydraulic bump stops. This entire system has been fantastic, and will be hard to beat.

Our previous experiences included the Bilstein 5100 adjustable height struts, the Fox 2.0 coilovers, and then the ICON system. The most significant differences when moving into the ICON setup were the speeds that the truck still felt planted and in control. There’s a reason why shocks like ICON, Fox, and King are categorized as race shocks with racing parts, there’s a point where the faster you go on tough terrain, the shocks and suspension begin to feel much smoother. That was certainly the case in the southern California deserts and Baja, where the terrain was rough, but semi-predictable enough to where going 40-60mph is scary but exhilarating.

Daily Driving with the ICON 2.5 at the middle CDCV setting were noticeably firmer than factory or Bilstein, but not in an uncomfortable manner, just sportier. You could get a little more plush by backing off the compression settings, which resulted in noticeably more body roll.

On slow trails with a lot of rocks or obstacles, you could feel everything, and regardless of CDCV settings, there was no escaping it. Small and medium rocks were felt on compression, and a tad jolty on rebound. If you're up for a bumpy, but controlled ride, you could also just speed up through the rocky sections and the suspension wouldn't have a problem eating it up, but it's not plush by any means.

Once again, speed is where these shocks excel at. We could run all day long in the open deserts of Utah, California, and Nevada without worrying about the suspension fading, no matter how tough the terrain got. 

ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 8 Shocks and Suspension Kit
ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 8 Shocks and Suspension Kit
ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 8 Shocks and Suspension Kit

The RXT leaf pack system in the rear dramatically helped while camping off the grid and carrying heavy gear loads on tough terrain. We frequently loaded the vehicle with anywhere from 500-1000lbs of gear, whether that was a full passenger load of adults with ski gear for a week, or packed to the brim for 10 days in the Black Rock Desert for a little thing called Burning Man. Not only could the RXT leaf pack handle the loads without significant sag, the adjustment on the CDCV shocks turned up to firm can control the rear end perfectly over rocky mountain terrain, and even at decent desert speeds.

The decision to include hydraulic bumpstops was mostly vanity at the beginning, might as well go all the way right? If we were going to be doing the stage 8 system, we might as well get the hydraulic bump stops, even if we didn’t know they would be utilized that much. In the end, they got tons of use and abuse, the bumpstops were a significant factor in handling the heavy loads at decent speeds, the bumpstops would significantly dampen the loaded rear end under aggressive obstacles, preventing topping out on the shocks (shock longevity).

Toyota Tacoma with ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 8 Suspension Kit

Starting about a year ago, or roughly 40k miles into the shocks’ life, we started noticing and picking up slight behavior changes in the shock performance, mostly in how softer the rear end had become. This was the point we knew the shocks needed rebuilding and servicing, but since we had moved to a new climate and different local terrain, we left them on since they were still performing how we needed on mountainous terrain.

The ICON has been a fantastic setup for the Tacoma, the shocks are currently being rebuilt and tuned for slightly different terrain, and may see themselves back on the Tacoma in the future to refresh our perspective against competing options. But in the mean time, we’ve installed the Old Man Emu BP51 Internal Bypass shocks and coilovers, which also feature rebound and compression damping adjustments. These are a much different kind of shock compared to the ICON setup, so we’ll be bringing you those comparisons in a future write-up and video.

ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 8 Shocks and Suspension Kit
ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 8 Shocks and Suspension Kit
ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 8 Shocks and Suspension Kit

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