Carli Suspension Stages
- Commuter - Fox 2.0 Shocks
- Backcountry - Fox 2.0 Reservoir (this review)
- Pintop - King 2.5 Reservoir Shocks
- Dominator - King 3.0 Reservoir Shocks
We’ve put in significant miles on our own 2020 Ram 2500 Power Wagon with the Commuter system that utilizes the Fox 2.0 IFP shock. Read our review of the Carli Commuter Fox 2.0 System. In short, the Carli Suspension system is a night-and-day difference between the factory ride setup.
Carli Suspension Backcountry System
The question on everyone’s mind is, “Are Reservoirs worth it?”
We dive into this exact question around the Carli kits, not only comparing the Fox 2.0 reservoir vs non-reservoir setup, but also the King 3.0 vs King 2.5 question - does going bigger really make a difference?
When we’re comparing the Fox 2.0 IFP and Reservoir options, we’re judging it based on how it handles many different terrains and speed-environments. A very small percentage of Ram 2500/3500 owners are ripping around the desert at 40mph+. We occupy that space occasionally since this Power Wagon frequents the Nevada and SoCal deserts. On the other side of the off-road spectrum you’ve got mountain trails, forest service rounds, rocky slow-going scenic drives - where a lot of people play and enjoy their time in their trucks.
Our Power Wagon is often spotted around Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe National Forest of Northern California.
Baseline Behavior Differences
One specific behavior that colors this comparison of the IFP vs Reservoir option is the goals of the shock and what Carli has in mind for the driver and what they’re looking for. Right off the bat we noticed the reservoir option being a tad softer on the pavement and low-shaft-speed environments (including forest roads, small rocky trails).
This translated to more body-roll in everyday driving conditions; not something we were particularly fond of since our Power Wagon is regularly loaded with camping gear / recovery equipment / extra fuel & water.
In the higher speed off-road environments we have a couple specific locations that we’ve been repeating on different shock options to gauge performance. The two spots we frequent that bottomed-out the Bilstein, Rancho, and Fox 2.0 shocks - also bottomed out the Fox reservoir shocks. We were expecting a little more high-shaft-speed resistance, but there was no real change on the large inputs we tested around the desert.
So what exactly are the reservoirs best for? Long sustained periods of moderate off-road use. This is the kind of speed and terrain that sees 50-80% of suspension articulation in the rutted out desert, the unpredictable terrain with washes, and everything in between that makes the suspension really work. This is categorized at medium-shaft-speeds, and what a lot of performance shocks tune for - mid-speed support.
Most setups that see high-speed inputs are running aftermarket bump stops to slow down the suspension during large actions.
In the real world we never felt any shock fade on the Fox 2.0 IFP in our usual desert terrains and speeds we normally drive at; certainly no shock fade in the mountains. With that said, the benefit of the reservoirs was lost on us and 99% of the driving we do.
If you have found yourself in higher speed environments and losing confidence in the vehicle, or feel it unsettling often where you need to reduce speed to maintain composure - then the reservoirs would benefit you. When you start to crest certain shock temperatures, which are a byproduct of faster shaft speeds from tough terrain, handling can quickly get out of hand as the oil cavitates in the shock. The reservoirs give sustained performance before this happens.
On-Deck - King 2.5 Pintop
The next stage for the Power Wagon will be on the King 2.5 Reservoir shocks, which we have high expectations for. We’ve heard mixed feedback on this system, everything from “the best riding truck i’ve ever owned” to “not what i expected, it's way firmer on-road than I want.” We hope it's a sharper response on-road to alleviate the body roll we’re experiencing on the Fox 2.0.