So, one question that seems to find its way in every conversation around the campfire is “What is the first modification you would do to your Overland Vehicle?”
Blanche Lamprecht (a_jeep_in_africa) explains how the Ironman 4×4 Suspension Upgrade changed his overlanding experience for the better:
Well this is just my personal opinion from what I have experienced in the past on some of the trips we been on, with many different people and vehicles, the first thing I would do is suspension.
When doing any form of overland travel, we tend to load the vehicle, I am not talking when it comes to winches and rooftop tent, battery systems and, I am just talking about things we pack when starting out with this lifestyle. We don’t realize the weight we are loading into these vehicles, and the strain we are putting on our suspensions. My first ever trip was in a stock jeep no fridge, no battery system nothing, just a ground tent and a cooler box, blow up mattress and some bedding, and the car was loaded to the brim. There was hardly space for Amy and me in the car, we took everything except the kitchen sink. The poor car was drooping in the back with all the weight I’d put in it. As time goes on, we start packing better and leave the stuff we don’t use, but there is still a lot of weight carried by the vehicle if we are going on 10 – 15-day trip.
Now, this is some serious weight you are packing, with the standard suspension and not even fully loaded the car was losing 30 mm in ride height. Now imagine adding a full tank of gas, food for a week, clothes, cookware the list goes on and on. It was so bad that we were scraping the bottom of the Jeep on very easy tracks and so was our friends who was even lower than us in their Jeep Cherokee limited. As we got more confident and really taking to this 4×4 / Overlanding lifestyle we wanted to do more and go more remote, so we invested in fridges, better tents, awnings, we even built our own draw systems and without thinking about how adding a fridge of 30kg, a battery of 25kg will affect the cars handling. I mean it’s just a battery and a fridge, but boy o boy it does. For you to carry all the things you need to upgrade your suspension and your loading capacity. You don’t need to go crazy with regards to amount of lift, the sweet spot for me is 2inch to 2.5 inch, anything above that is overkill and to accommodate anything more than a 2.5 inch you will need to make a lot modifications to your car for it to run properly, which will cost more unnecessary money, we talking driveline upgrade, offset wheels, bigger tyres and the list goes on. For me a good touring setup is a 2 -2.5 lift with heavy duty coils.
After installing our Ironman 4×4 suspension our Jeep fully loaded was sitting 70mm higher than on the standard suspension when measured. That just show how important heavy-duty coils are on an Overland vehicle. Our Jeep is pretty much on GVM when loaded fully as we now running a rooftop tent, which put the weight high on the car, but with the heavy duty coils I don’t even notice the tent. Our new suspension setup allows us to carry an extra 240kg on the back and 120kg on the front for when you are adding winches and off-road steel bumpers. You cannot build an Overland Vehicle with out upgrading your standard suspension.
We have been testing the Ironman 4×4 suspension on our Jeep Wrangler for about 4 months now and so far, so good. Our last trip big trip was end of June where we tackled 3 world heritage sites in one go, which forced us to put the Jeeps new suspension to the test. In this trip we’ve experienced a bit of everything from sand driving, tar, rocky climbs, very corrugated gravel roads, which will carry on for miles at a time to very good gravel roads, and I must admit the suspension was handling everything we were throwing at it. There were no signs of the shocks fading or the feeling that were losing control of the vehicle, even when we went over the Kouga mountains via the Jeep Track leading into the Baviaans, the Jeep was stable on and off camber climbs and rock steps, even with the rooftop tent on there.
I’ve seen this time and time again, when coming back after a trip people in our convoy upgrade their suspension the following week. On our most recent trip mates of ours Myles and Fiona drove their stock standard Jeep Wrangler and after every day’s drive Myles came to me and said he needs to do his suspension. We’ve been on 4 trips now in the recent year and after every trip someone in our convoy upgrades their suspension after getting back. That must stand for something.
To get back to the question, before you go and spend a fortune on spotlights, lightbars and off-road bumpers it’s important to get your car ready to carry all the extra’s you will be adding by getting a proper suspension installed. It’s like building a house, you need to get a solid foundation first before you can build on it, and it’s the same when building an Overland tourer, you need to have a good base to build from. Thus, saying by adding a good suspension it will make your car not only drive better but will prolong your vehicles longevity.
Now the fun begins as you can now add things to your truck because it’s now the car will be able to carry everything you throw at it. And don’t go for a body lift or spacers, you need HEAVY DUTY coils, something that is designed to take extra weight and designed to take the punishment we put these vehicles through. Your standard suspension is not designed to carry 4 people, fridges, extra batteries and a weeks’ worth of gear and then go and tackle serious terrain. Get your vehicle ready to take on anything with a good suspension like the guys Ironman 4×4 provide.
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