Manufacturer Spotlight – JKS Mfg

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If you own a Jeep, and you do more with it (or at least hope to) than drive it to the grocery store, chances are you’ve at least heard of JKS Manufacturing.  For those unfamiliar, we want to take a few moments of your time and fill you in on this company that specializes in Jeep suspension upgrades.  Due to their name, many believe that JKS gained its start from offering suspension kits and components for the widely popular Jeep JK that began production in 2007, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

JKS Manufacturing has been designing, building, and distributing quality Jeep suspension since 1989 with the release of their original Quick Disconnect, a unique sway bar disconnect that sent shock waves through the industry.  Fast forward 27 years, and JKS is at the forefront, still developing cutting edge parts for Jeeps of every kind and used for nearly any purpose. wj end links

What really sets JKS apart from the competition, besides their forward thinking components, is their grasp on the notion that most Jeep owners truly use their vehicles for nearly everything, and need their Jeep to perform just as well careening up a mountainous ascent as flying down the freeway.  And that’s the premise they’ve always taken, which is what led to the original Quick Disconnect.  This kit allowed Jeep owners the ability to easily disconnect their sway bar for maximum off road articulation, yet quickly reconnect for superb street manners without excessive body roll that is typically associated with Jeepers that opt to remove their sway bar.  And now in 2016, with those years of experience under their belt, the masterminds behind JKS have released their latest offering, the JSPEC 3.5” J Konnect Suspension System.  The J Konnect takes all of the experience JKS has accumulated and literally dumps it all into a comprehensive suspension system, ready to tackle whatever adventure you fathom.

And we at Off Road Power Products put the J Konnect to the test!  As we covered in our previous blog post, found HERE, we recently outfitted a 2016 Jeep Wrangler JKU JKS-109K MainRubicon two weeks before the highly acclaimed Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.  Once our JKU was finished, we literally loaded it with gear and hit the long road to Moab, wheeled it on the red rocks for a few days, and headed back home.  To say the J Konnect kit performed well in all situations would be a complete understatement.  We’ve frankly never driven a JK that you could set the cruise control and forget you were in a Jeep, then hammer so hard in the dirt, and still drive home in.

Another important aspect regarding every JKS kit and component we have ever installed is the ease in which it installs.  Some kits require some tweaking here and there, or they do not include a brake line relocation tab or other minor components, but not with JKS.
Sure, some of JKS’ FAB components require welding, but there’s simply no other way to install it onto the vehicle.  And you can rest assured that when it comes time to weld, its JKS-2450-4going to fit perfectly.  And as a huge perk, their kits are priced quite competitively with most of the “lesser” systems found on the marketplace that by no means perform as well. Oh yeah, and their packaging is hands down the best in the industry.  This may seem like something minor, but if you’ve ever ordered something online and had it shipped to you,
only to unbox and find damaged contents, you know how big of a deal this really is.

So if you’re in the market for upgrading your Jeep’s suspension, you really need to look at JKS, we promise, you won’t be disappointed.

To see our full line up of JKS, click the below link:

http://www.offroadpowerproducts.com/m-404-jks-manufacturing.aspx

To check out the video coverage of our journey leading up to and during Easter Jeep Safari 2016, click the below image:

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Taking a 2014 Toyota 4Runner from Zero 2 Hero

 

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The Toyota 4Runner was originally introduced in 1984 as a spinoff of the Japanese version, the Hilux Surf. In its infancy, the 4Runner was basically a Toyota pickup with a fiberglass shell over the bed. Over the years and five major redesigns, the current model 4Runner really only shares one major facet from its original design: the name. Today, the 4Runner can be classified as a mid-size SUV available in several trim packages and engine choices. This widely popular vehicle is mostly served to the general public as a stylish commuter with some leg room and storage space for getting the kids to soccer practice and loading groceries.

For 2014 model years, Toyota released an optional TRD Pro Series package to appeal to the offroading community. And while this package has some styling cues and basic upgrades to better outfit this 4Runner for very mild offroad use, it still leaves plenty to be desired for most that would have interest in a TRD model.

In our latest Zero 2 Hero build, we took one of these docile 2014 4Runners that could easily blend in with the crowd, and transformed it with some easy to install upgrades for a better appearance and suspension prowess. At the center of this build is an ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 1 Suspension System. While this kit may be dubbed a Stage 1, it by no means compares in any regard to a typical “lift” one would find at your local tire store. At the front, the vehicle gains some altitude from a set of ICON’s custom valved 2.5 adjustable coilovers. These are not only responsible for raising the front end for additional ground and tire clearance, but also deliver an astounding difference in ride quality, both on and offroad. To assist with proper axle movement in the front, a simple pair of sway bar drop brackets are slid in between the mounting points of the factory sway bar.

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In the rear, the theme of altitude and ride quality is continued with a pair of ICON’s own custom wound 2” coil springs and 2.0 shocks. The coils lift the vehicle 2” over factory to provide a level stance when paired with the front adjustable coilovers. Further, these coils completely complement the V.S. 2.0 Aluminum shocks that ICON has precisely tuned for the weight and articulation of the 4Runner.

To finish off the suspension, we opted to add in a set of Camburg’s Performance Balljoint Upper Control Arms. When lifting nearly any vehicle, it is imperative to add additional caster for correct steering geometry. The best way to do this is by replacing the upper arms, plus these arms will also deliver increased wheel travel to better mate with the ICON front coilovers. Many may wonder why we opted for an upper arm that reused the factory balljoint, as opposed to a uniball style arm. The answer was simple on this build. This specific 4Runner is going to see considerably more pavement than trail, and uniballs, while being notable stronger than balljoints, can have a tendency to being noisy and sticky if not properly lubed on a regular basis. This coupled with the fact that this generation of 4Runners received substantially stronger balljoints than previous years, we felt that these arms were the right choice for this particular vehicle.

Finally, you can’t go to the dance if you’re not wearing the right shoes. A set of BFGoodrich All Terrain tires were wrapped on four ATX black simulated beadlock wheels to give this Toyota the appearance and aptitude of trail use, even when picking up the kids from soccer.

EcoBeast – Offroad Power Products 2013 Ford F-150 EcoBoost

EcoBeast-01Earlier in the year, we purchased a Ford F-150 EcoBoost that we had plans of transforming into a Raptor killing machine. The EcoBoosts have always intrigued us due to the lengths that Ford went through to produce a powerful, yet still efficient engine, that was designed to take a beating. Our basic plan was to upgrade several of the factory components that would allow us to then utilize a multitude of aftermarket components actually designed for the Ford Raptor SVT’s, and so we did!

EcoBeast-02EcoBeast-03The biggest changes to the truck were definitely in the suspension, thus we enlisted the help of ICON Vehicle Dynamics, Camburg, and ReadyLIFT in order to create a combination of parts that would make the heaviest built Raptors blush. As with most of our builds, our focus was to have minimal lift with as much wheel travel as possible to maximize the handling and capabilities when off road. Up front, we hooked up the EcoBoost with a set of ICON’s Raptor 3.0 1”-3.5” Adjustable Coilovers with Compression Adjust and Hydraulic Bumpstops. To allow these coilovers maximum travel, we looked to Camburg’s Raptor Performance Dual Shock Lower Arm Kit that is a complete work of metallurgical art to say the least. Built with 1.0” and 1.5” PTFE lined uniballs, these boxed lower arms are unstoppable. And because we knew this truck would be running at least 37” tires and would see a beating off road, we installed a ReadyLIFT Heavy Duty Steering Kit that upgrades the tie rods with 17-4 stainless CNC machined inner clevis’, hard anodized 7075 aluminum tie rods, 7/8” outer heims, and ¾” inner heims. With this combination, the steering would be unbreakable, and the front suspension would afford tons of wheel travel while producing exceptional handling, on or off road.

IEcoBeast-rearn the rear, we looked to balance out what had been done to the front end, thus the ICON Raptor ZETA 3.0 Piggyback Reservoir Bypass Shocks were a no brainer. And to ensure the rear was as protected as the front, another set of ICON Bumpstops were added. The rear bumps are a much more involved assembly in comparison to the front as they have an integrated cross member and tension rods that will prevent frame twist under extreme impacts. To ensure the rear had as much travel as the front, we installed a set of Deaver Progressive Leaf Springs designed for the Raptors. Finally, we had Crown build us a set of their Kevlar lined brake lines to avoid overextending the lines at full droop. As an added benefit, there is a noticeable increase in braking responsiveness because these do not swell like the factory lines do.

To balance the new stance of this build, we went shoe shopping and opted for a set of 37” Maxxis Trepador Radials mounted to KMC Enduro Beadlocks that we then had powdercoated charcoal to complement the exterior color of the truck. With the large upgrade in tires, we knew that regearing the truck would be a necessity, thus a set of 4.88 ring and pinions from Nitro Gear & Axle made their way into the cases, coupled with a Nitro Girdle Rear Differential Cover to protect against any rock damage. You may ask how we were able to fit 37” tires with the minimal amount of lift we have. That leads us to our next phase: body work.

Cherokee-Chief-Update-6Boatec has adopted a name for themselves in the Raptor community for building the best fitting fiberglass fenders and it made this an obvious choice. Front and rear glass fenders not only provide for ample clearance, but also deliver a very factory-like finish. To replicate the Raptor theme we were after, we fitted the truck with a factory Raptor hood, grill, and lower valance. In order to aid in overland excursions, the truck was next fitted with a Leer 100XQ canopy to keep cargo secure, as well as providing a dry place to sleep in the event of an overnighter. While we’ve found that having a canopy is beneficial in many ways, it also makes getting cargo out of the truck bed difficult, thus a call to BedSlide was in order. For those unfamiliar with a BedSlide, they are similar to a drawer in your kitchen, but for your entire truck bed. This system makes loading and unloading equipment, groceries, or whatever a breeze by unlocking the latch and pulling out the “shelf” on the ball bearing casters. We opted for their 1000 Pro SE due to its multiple tie down points and rubberized decking.

Power, what about the power? While the 3.5L twin turbo EcoBoost engine has made quite a name for itself for having a remarkable power to displacement ratio, more is ALWAYS better. For programming, we looked to SCT due to their ability to load custom tunes, giving us the ability to remove traction control, adjust for gear ratio changes, and much more. The SCT Livewire seemed like a perfect choice with its fully integrated interface and then had MPT build us a file that would suit our build. While the program that was built for us delivered outstanding throttle response, we wanted a little more to keep our 37’s rolling with the flick of the throttle. To accomplish this, we also plugged a Sprint Booster into the factory throttle position sensor to liven it up, and it made a HUGE difference! There are three setting, from stock to mild to wild, but in our eyes, there’s really only one setting…..WILD! To get the engine breathing, we started at the front of the truck, the very front. The factory intercooler, while fairly efficient, lacks the volume we were after in the likelihood that we would upgrade the turbos, but also hangs down behind the factory front bumper. With this location, it would immediately lend itself to getting smashed in the rocks of Moab. Our friends at Full Race build a completely upgraded intercooler that is positioned behind the grill and comes with all of the necessary hardware for the retrofit. Next, an AFE Stage 2 Magnum FORCE Cold Air Intake would further assist in getting cold air in. Now, to get the engine exhaling, AFE lined us up on one of their new 3.0” to 3.5” Y-Pipes that we mated to a Magnaflow Off Road Pro Series 3.0” Exhaust. We opted for this particular exhaust system because it dumps prior to the rear axle, meaning the exhaust would not be a limiting factor to rear axle articulation. Finally, we upgraded to a 170 degree thermostat to make sure the truck stays cool, even on the hottest days of crawling through desert terrain.

And finally, what kind of off road battle ram would this truck be without some gnarly lighting to keep the road-less-traveled well lit for us? With the help from Baja Designs, we can now have utter daylight 24 hours a day and wheel in confidence. A single 37” OnX Arc Series 5 Cell LED Light Bar sits atop the front bumper, delivering 21,500 lumens of light, while consuming only 210 watts.

You may ask what this truck will be used for, well….everything! Like the majority of our in-house builds, we build them to be able to handle nearly anything we can throw at them, and this one is no different. Its already seen some major wheeling in Moab, towed some trailers, and pounded plenty of pavement.