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Upgrading the Jeep Wrangler JL’s Ride Control on Trail

Upgrading the Jeep Wrangler JL’s Ride Control on Trail

4x4, big bear, fox, icon, jeep, king, offroad, overland, trails, wrangler -

Eric's 2019 Wrangler JL is equipped with a Metal Cloak 3.5” lift kit, sitting on their proprietary Rock Sport twin-tube shocks. He didn’t have any complaints about the current ride quality on the Jeep, but wanted to see if it could get better in aggressive terrain or a heavy pedal - body roll, step outs, nose dives, those kinds of behavior could always be improved. Fox 2.0 IFP Performance shocks were on the upgrade menu and we’d be taking care of the install right on the trail.

Intalling Fox 2.0 Performance Shocks - Jeep Wrangler JL

While we were preparing for the installation on-trail, time wasn’t too much of a factor due to the ease of access to the Wrangler’s shocks. One thing we didn’t account for at first was the shock mounts of the Metal Cloak lift kit, which offsets the lower shock mount in the front. There are both ½” and 9/16” bolt brackets that come available with their kits, the 9/16” being the factory bolt size. Once we got that bushing size sorted on the Fox shocks being installed, the Wrangler was ready for round 2 of trail runs.

Gold Mountain trail consists of numerous rock gardens, some containing large obstacles that can typically only be completed on 35” or larger tires. 33” equipped vehicles with lockers can also make the climb, and some other skillful drivers as well, but be forewarned before attempting - its a difficult trail. One of the largest obstacles are the 2 “waterfalls” - very large stepups that require some precise lines of travel to climb with little to no vehicle damage. To make it even more interesting, mother nature covered the trail with snow, ice, and slush prior to our arrival, thanks winter!

Route 3N16 is a heavily traversed fire road, with easy terrain that can be done in almost any vehicle, 4WD not required. One of those roads you get to know fairly quickly, it serves as a starting point for many of the difficult trails in the area. If you want a scenic forest drive, this is a great option. We didn’t use this trail specifically for testing, but with the large amount of snow and puddles present, it provided a variable of unpredictability to the trail that tested changes in perceived vehicle response.

One of the biggest feedback points we heard is the improved responsiveness when turning or on rough terrain. With the Fox 2.0, more road feedback is expected with low speed actions (gravel, ruts, typical trail terrain), but this also means less body roll with vehicle manuevers. This also translates to more predictable behavior in step-outs, since there’s greater rebound damping in the new Fox shocks.

Step Out - when the terrain suddenly disappears from the tire(s), usually through ruts or washouts, resulting in the tire dropping suddenly from the vehicle. “Jolty”

During the limited high speed testing, the Wrangler was pushed at a good pace going over unknown terrain ranging from predictable easy packed dirt roads, washboard trails, and frequent whoops in the open desert. One thing we’re looking for is bottom out control and top out behavior when hitting whoops or ruts that max out suspension travel. Eric said he didn’t feel any jolty or clanky behavior within the suspension during the hard terrain hits, “definitely driving faster than I usually do.” This is good news, the Fox are adequately slowing down the nose dive of the Wrangler under a hard hit.

In our experience, most Wrangler’s are slow-cruising through trails and open terrain, rarely needing high speed damping ability. The valving inside Fox shocks typically lends itself to cushioning the vehicle in hard hits, where 80-100% of the shock travel is used, opening up the shim stacks for a smooth response. So in slower terrain, we wouldn’t expect anyone to feel a ‘smoother ride’.

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