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Chevrolet Truck Suspension Competition - Chevy Runaround

Posted in Events on January 1, 2007 Comment (0)
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Chevrolet Truck Suspension Competition - Chevy Runaround
Photographers: John LukarAlan Huber

We started the Chevy Runaround at 8 o'clock Friday morning in Southern California at the Azusa 4 Wheel Parts Center for tech inspection. We invited every eligible suspension company we could find(15 in all). Nine saw how valuable an experience it could be and had decided to participate. Some of these guys had driven from Tennessee, Louisiana, and even New York. A few of them looked a little worn already and we hadn't even started the program. All of the nine participating members had brought a '99-'06 Chevy and were here for a three-day program, each representing a different suspension company. They were all about to spend the next three days together driving their own trucks, each other's trucks, and watching while a cast of five very different judges try out every truck and give their opinion on it. Had we gone mad? Were we looking for eight simultaneous lawsuits once we announced an overall winner? Well, maybe yes to the first question, but there was a method to our madness: We'd come up with a strategy. We realized that everyone (including ourselves) had biases, and we wanted that to affect the program as little as possible. Along with our five judges, every single suspension representative was filling out an identical judging packet, so in fact we had 14 judges, not just five. And no suspension rep was allowed to judge his own suspension (just to keep it fair).

We'd specified for everyone to bring '99-'06 Chevy 1/2-ton extended cab trucks, Pro Comp Tire & Wheel worked with us to supply every truck a set of 35-inch Xterrains on 17x8 Xtreme Alloy wheels, and we had a little surprise called Shur Trax to help us simulate some typical truck driving.

What was the point of all this? First and foremost, we wanted to create a program where we could give you a true, legitimate majority opinion on how these suspensions worked in the real world and how they compared to each other. With the help of Pro Comp Tire, we made sure that the only differences in these trucks were their suspensions. We picked five very different judges, with different driving styles and different experiences with trucks. And we had nine different specialists who came straight out of the suspension industry. What better mix could we have to judge a program like this?

Besides wanting to create a friendly put-up or shut-up ride-and-drive competition, we knew it would be an invaluable opportunity for each company to really get a look at and feel for each competitor's suspension. Seldom do they have time to swap notes and ideas. We were making them all take a relaxing (not really) vacation together to do some good ol' country drivin'. And we're happy to report we abused the trucks and kits harder than any typical owner ever would, and still every single competitor finished the test.

Over three days, we were able to establish an overall winner, but the program was designed for more than just that. We were also able to come up with the best high-speed and dune performer, the best load hauler, the best kit on light trails, the best priced kit, the most impressive undercarriage, and the suspension that would give you the best bang for your buck.

Thanks again to CST, Pro Comp, Rancho, RCD, Rock Krawler, Rough Country, Skyjacker, Superlift, and Trail Master. Each company was willing to provide a truck and representative to participate in a brand-new program and help put together a truly unbiased test of the current aftermarket suspensions available for a '99-'06 Chevy 1/2-ton. Their time and money invested was no small act, as every truck had to be driven to the start of the event, ready to go. We really appreciate that.

Thanks also to Pro Comp Tire & Wheel, and SealPak Innovations. We wanted a tire that was very driveable on the highway, with an aggressive tread design that would get good traction in the dirt. We also wanted a wheel that was built with different finishes, but with the same weight, backspacing, width, and offset for every truck. Pro Comp was good enough to provide 35x12.50R17 Xterrains on varied black cast, powdercoated, and polished Xtreme Alloy 89 Series 17x8 wheels. SealPak Innovations provided us with some very cool water bags for the truck beds, called Shur Trax. These water bags were originally intended to be used as traction enhancing devices and can hold more than 400 pounds of water, but we found they worked great as testing devices to simulate a loaded pickup bed.

CST is one of the newcomers in this suspension game, but comes from a background of more than 30 years of off-road racing. The kit they brought out demonstrated just that. Dual Fox remote-reservoir shocks sit in each fenderwell, and did a heck of a job absorbing some pretty decent whoops sections in the sand dunes. The rear prerunner leaf packs from Deaver Spring soaked up hits on the light truck rear end, and kept things in control whether we were at 15 or 50 mph in the sand. The drop-bracket technology, used to lower the new upper A-arm instead of using a longer knuckle, had a few observers questioning the kit when up on the rack, but any question of its performance was quickly dismissed after driving this truck.

New A-arms? Yes
New CV shafts? No
New knuckles? No
New tie rods? No
Rear suspension Deaver leaf pack
CV-shaft bind?
No
Steering correction Drop bracket
New front sway-bar
links or brackets?
Yes
Remote-reservoir or
dual shocks?
Yes
Type Dual Fox remote-
reservoir shocks
Shocks included in kit?
Yes
Brake lines addressed? Yes
Front skidplate included? Yes
Emergency brake cable
length addressed?
No
Cut fenders to fit tires? No
Anything break this weekend? No
Base price $2,195
Price as tested $4,{{{200}}}
True additional height (measured from center of hub to top of
fender in inches)
6 1/8
Claimed lift (in) 7
Ground to subframe (in) 12 1/2
Track width (in) 67 1/2

Praises
Cool upper A-arm replacement to allow dual Fox shocks in front
Deaver leaves are nice option
Great truck in the sand

Complaints
* Don't like steering drop linkage.
* Why not a knuckle kit?
* Harsh sway-bar angle
* Complex installation

Rancho might be the first off-road company name you ever learned. The company's products have been the very definition of what a well riding kit is supposed to be, seen as the benchmark for many new companies over the years. The Rancho kit was probably one of the softest-riding kits in the program, though you could change a bit of that very quickly with the help of an in-cab adjustable shock controller that let testers stiffen or soften the truck's suspension as they got into different terrains. It was the kind of Cadillac cruiser kit that we would want to put on our daily driver through the harsh freeways of Southern California, and go out and run a trail or two with on the weekend. The kit was clean-looking, nothing hung too low on the undercarriage, and we knew that we were getting Rancho's off-road heritage and experience with years of lifted truck suspensions.

New A-arms? No
New CV shafts? No
New knuckles? Yes
New tie rods? No
Rear suspension Add-a-leaf, and block combo
CV-shaft bind? No
Steering correction Knuckle
New front sway-bar links or brackets? Yes
Remote-reservoir or dual shocks? Yes
Type RSX9000 remote-reservoir shocks with in-cab adjustability
Shocks included in kit? Yes
Brake lines addressed? Yes, new lines
Front skidplate included? Optional
Emergency brake cable length addressed? Yes
Cut fenders to fit tires? No
Anything break this weekend? No
Base price $1,667
Price as tested $2,788
True additional height (measured from center of hub to top of fender in inches) 5 1/8
Claimed lift (in) 4
Ground to subframe (in) 13
Track width (in) 69 1/2

Praises
* Easy in-cab shock adjustability
* Steering stabilizer is a good addition
* Clean package with good welds, and nothing hanging too low

Complaints
* Twin-tube reservoir shocks? How does that work?
* Add-a-leaf didn't look right
* Drove like a stock truck

The biggest surprise during this program had to come from the Pro Comp truck. They have been known for always having some of the most competitively priced kits in the industry, and sometimes we equate the "competitive pricing" label to the average performer tag. But the Pro Comp kit shocked us. The simple no-nonsense approach mixed with dual remote-reservoir MX6 adjustable shocks made this truck perform on the highway, in the dirt, and in the sand. Speaking of in the sand, the Pro Comp truck was a wonder out there once the shocks got dialed in, but unfortunately not all testers were able to experience that. The rear shocks were a bit out of adjustment until the later part of the day, and only a few of us got to experience how well that truck could work in the sand. The Pro Comp kit was also one of the only kits that kept the tires from rubbing in extreme compression instances in the sand dunes.

New A-arms? No
New CV shafts? No
New knuckles? No
New tie rods? Yes
Rear suspension Add-a-leaf,
block, and traction bars
CV-shaft bind?
No
Steering correction Drop
steering linkage
New front sway-bar
links or brackets?
Yes
Remote-reservoir or
dual shocks?
Yes
Type Dual MX6 remote-reservoir
adjustable shocks
Shocks included in kit?

Yes
Brake lines addressed? Yes
Front skidplate included? No
Emergency brake cable
length addressed?
No
Cut fenders to fit tires? No
Anything break this weekend? No
Base price $1,450
Price as tested $3,{{{100}}}
True additional height (measured
from center of hub to top of
fender in inches)
4 3/4
Claimed lift (in) 6
Ground to subframe (in) 13
Track width (in) 67 3/4

Praises
* Killer adjustable dual remote-reservoir shock setup
* Minimal rebound
* Worked great in dunes once suspension got dialed in

Complaints
* Old-school drop-bracket technology instead of knuckle kit
* Front bumpstops don't work
* Rear does not keep up with front

Rough Country brought a unique No Torsion Bar Drop (NTD) kit out for us to play with for the weekend. The kit uses the common knuckle-replacement design and stayed within stock-style suspension parameters, but the company made a few impressive changes that set this kit apart. The torsion bars and crossmember were not dropped, and instead had a third pivoting arm and link that attached to the end of the torsion bar and the lower A-arm (the torsion bar usually slides into the lower A-arm). We really liked two of Rough Country's kit options; new billet upper A-arms and new CV shafts which could be adapted to almost any suspension kit, stock or not. The billet-aluminum upper arms were stock style but stronger, much more appealing, and able to take a triple shock setup. The CV shafts are something that we have been waiting for someone to make since Chevy came out with IFS trucks. With the triple shock setup, it felt like there was a bit too much valving to give a smooth ride in the rough dirt, but it made the on-road ride and handling incredible.

New A-arms? Yes
New CV shafts? Yes
New knuckles? Yes
New tie rods? No
Rear suspension Rear block
CV-shaft bind?
No
Steering correction Knuckle
New front sway-bar
links or brackets?
Yes
Remote-reservoir or
dual shocks?
Yes
Type Triple {{{Fox}}} emulsion shock setup
Shocks included in kit?
Yes
Brake lines addressed? Yes
Front skidplate included? Yes
Emergency brake cable
length addressed?
Yes
Cut fenders to fit tires? No
Anything break this weekend? Bushing was squished and replaced
Base price $1,990
Price as tested $3,{{{600}}}
True additional height (measured
from center of hub to top of
fender in inches)
5 1/8
Claimed lift (in) 6
Ground to subframe (in) 16
Track width (in) 71 1/8

Praises
* Completely bolt-on suspension with options like billet A-arms
* Good ground clearance
* Like how the torsion bars are dropped and new CVs are offered

Complaints
* Too stiff on dirt roads
* Bushing on NTD link got wasted
* One shock touches A-arm at full droop

RCD, or Race Car Dynamics, has always had an excellent name in suspension and were leaders in the industry with IFS knuckle kits. RCD kits have always been of the highest quality, and they were the first to work with Bilstein to offer 5100 shocks as standard kit equipment. RCD also had a nice traction-arm option made out of 304 stainless steel. The traction arm was designed to prevent axlewrap while not inhibiting any rear suspension travel. RCD did well during this program, finishing in the top three classes in every category except price, and showing us this kit was made for off-road abuse. We'd venture to say that the folks at RCD abused their own truck more than anyone else did, hammering it constantly in the dunes or on the dirt trails, confident that their equipment could take it. To us, that said a lot about the way the kit was designed: to take a beating and keep on wheelin'.

New A-arms? No
New CV shafts? No
New knuckles? Yes
New tie rods? No
Rear suspension Add-a-leaf,
block, and traction bars
CV-shaft bind?
No
Steering correction Knuckle
New front sway-bar
links or brackets?
Yes
Remote-reservoir or
dual shocks?
Yes
Type Triple Bilstein 5100 shocks
Shocks included in kit?
Yes
Brake lines addressed? Yes
Front skidplate included? Optional
Emergency brake cable
length addressed?
No
Cut fenders to fit tires? No
Anything break this weekend? No
Base price $1,899
Price as tested $3,786
True additional height (measured
from center of hub to top of
fender in inches)

5 5/8
Claimed lift (in) 6
Ground to subframe (in) 12 7/8
Track width (in) 69 1/2

Praises
* Impressive ball-jointed stainless sway-bar links that allow free movement
* Cool that the crossmember ties the shock hoops together
* Handles abuse no problem

Complaints
* Exposed diff due to lack of skid
* Bumpstops were too small
* Traction bars get in the way

With front and rear coilover shocks and a trailing-arm setup that totally deviated from any stock-style leaf-spring setup, Rock Krawler definitely had the most radical (and highest priced-nearly double most kits) suspension brought to the program. This is the kit for the guy who wants to replace almost all the factory junk with heavy-duty aftermarket equipment. New rod-end steering links, fabricated knuckles, upper A-arms, coilovers, and trailing arms allowed this suspension to be hammered possibly harder than the truck it was on could take. And no one's truck and kit saw more abuse than the Rock Krawler one. We're still not sure what happened, but in the midst of dune running, the differential housing's passenger tube snapped in half during what might have been some in-flight testing. We were later called and told that the front framerail was bent and had to be straightened as well, which further confirms suspicions of in-flight testing. The suspension held steady through it all, though.

New A-arms? Yes
New CV shafts? No
New knuckles? Yes
New tie rods? Yes
Rear suspension Trailing arm
and coilovers
CV-shaft bind?
No
Steering correction Knuckles,
tie rods, steering drop link
New front sway-bar
links or brackets? N/A, removed
Remote-reservoir or
dual shocks?
No
Type Rock Krawler emulsion coilovers
Shocks included in kit?
Yes
Brake lines addressed? Yes, new
rear lines
Front skidplate included? Yes
Emergency brake cable
length addressed?
No
Cut fenders to fit tires? No
Anything break this weekend? Front differential housing upon
dune launch—oops!
Base price $7,499
Price as tested $4,999
True additional height (measured
from center of hub to top of
fender in inches)
9 1/8
Claimed lift (in) 8 1/2
Ground to subframe (in) 12 1/4
Track width (in) 71 3/8

Praises
* Uniball on fabbed upper A-arm with everything fabricated (even the knuckles)
* Whole different level of truck
* Awesome in the dirt

Complaints
* Only an emulsion coilover.
* Why no reservoir?
* Dual-CV front driveshaft required
* No alignment cams

Skyjacker, known as "the bear of suspensions," has always had no-nonsense, functional kits, and this one stayed true to form. During this weekend, we'd have to call them "the workhorse" instead as they carried gear for some of us and were nice enough to lend a winchline to some stranded Super Duty that got in way over his head (and axles) in the sand dunes. We noticed the kit seemed to support the winch and brushguard combo very well, never drooping in the front end, even after all the rough stuff we put this truck through. And though this truck was never intended to be a sand duner, we think it surprised even the Skyjacker reps at how it could handle a little high-speed romping. There were no shiny overpriced pieces, no extreme shock setup, and no extreme price tag, but the Skyjacker kit stayed comfortable throughout the weekend and we never felt any fade with the twin-tube single shock setup.

New A-arms? No
New CV shafts? No
New knuckles? Yes
New tie rods? No
Rear suspension New leaf springs
CV-shaft bind?
No
Steering correction Knuckle
New front sway-bar
links or brackets?
Yes
Remote-reservoir or
dual shocks?
No
Type Skyjacker Hydro 7000 shocks
Shocks included in kit?
Yes
Brake lines addressed? Yes
Front skidplate included? Yes
Emergency brake cable
length addressed?
No
Cut fenders to fit tires? No
Anything break this weekend? No
Base price $1,438
Price as tested $1,888
True additional height (measured
from center of hub to top of
fender in inches)
5 1/4
Claimed lift (in) 6
Ground to subframe (in) 12 1/4
Track width (in) 70 5/8

Praises
* Moves front diff towards center
* Nice skidplate package
* Good knuckle design

Complaints
* Twin-tube shocks
* Bumpstops too small
* New leaf springs, but still kept stock block

We think the Superlift crew had more competitors rooting for it than anyone else had. The Superlift kit came in as one of the cheapest in the running, but went out being one of the program's best performers. Perhaps the biggest attributes to the kit's performance came from Superlift's impressive air-impregnated bumpstops, which absorbed hard hits almost as well as a hydraulic bumpstop. The SSR shocks, which have got to be one of the cheapest upgrade options of any of the kits, performed beautifully and continued to absorb hits in the sand dunes without any noticeable shock fade. Overall the Superlift kit performed fantastically, and rightfully earned the respect of anyone who drove its truck. We knew Superlift was bound to place high in our little program. What we liked most was how much of a performer it was considering that its price was so low.

New A-arms? No
New CV shafts? No
New knuckles? Yes
New tie rods? No
Rear suspension New leaf springs
CV-shaft bind?
No
Steering correction Knuckle
New front sway-bar
links or brackets?
Yes
Remote-reservoir or
dual shocks?
Yes
Type Superlift SSR remote-
reservoir shocks
Shocks included in kit?
Yes
Brake lines addressed? Yes
Front skidplate included? Optional
Emergency brake cable
length addressed?
Yes
Cut fenders to fit tires? No
Anything break this weekend? No
Base price $1,725
Price as tested $2,147
True additional height (measured
from center of hub to top of
fender in inches)
6 1/8
Claimed lift (in) 6
Ground to subframe (in) 13 3/4
Track width (in) 70

Praises
* Nice air-impregnated bumpstops
* Great inexpensive kit that rides awesome
* Uses skidplate to brace drop cradle, not kicker (aft) braces

Complaints
* New rear leaf spring doesn't eliminate factory block
* Use of washers as spacers
* Grade 5 hardware

We've been seeing the Trail Master name on trucks since before we could walk, and the company has recently gone through some major revamping, coming back after being M.I.A. for a few years. Trail Master is just starting to ramp up production of all new suspension systems and accessories, but did not have its new remote-reservoir shocks available in time for testing. Even without remote-reservoir shocks, the truck performed well and bombed the bumpy dirt roads in comfort. And we like that they were in fact the only ones to show up to the challenge with their base-priced kit, having full faith that it would be able to keep up and compare with all the other companies' top-of-the-line kits. That's what you call confidence in your own product.

New A-arms? No
New CV shafts? No
New knuckles? Yes
New tie rods? No
Rear suspension Add-a-leaf
and block combo
CV-shaft bind?
No
Steering correction Knuckle
New front sway-bar
links or brackets?
Yes
Remote-reservoir or
dual shocks?
No
Type Trail Master SSV shocks
Shocks included in kit?
Yes
Brake lines addressed? Yes
Front skidplate included? Optional
Emergency brake cable
length addressed?
Yes
Cut fenders to fit tires? No
Anything break this weekend? No
Base price $1,485
Price as tested $1,485
True additional height (measured
from center of hub to top of
fender in inches)
4 7/8
Claimed lift (in) 6
Ground to subframe (in) 11 3/4
Track width (in) 67 7/8

Praises
* Nice sway-bar links with set-pressure bushings
* Front skidpan hides the diff from harm
* Easy kit to install

Complaints
* Little soft in front; too mushy in high-speed duning
* Mix of Grade 5 and Grade 8 hardware
* Bumpstops too small

We used numerical values to answer a series of questions about the suspensions. The testing we did was designed to simulate the way a typical Chevy truck owner would use his truck, not to see what Chevy IFS kit is the best hard-core trail kit. With the results we acquired over the three-day program, we were able to come up with a number of categories to help you better decide which kit might be best for you.

We were going to tell you that we took the total scores of each suspension and cross-referenced them with the price of each kit (as tested) using some special formula and equation, but once we started looking at numbers, this was a no-brainer. At a total testing price of $2,147 and coming in second place by fewer points than you have fingers, the Superlift kit absolutely was the best bang for the buck that you could get. And since the overall winner of the Chevy Runaround was a drop bracket and new upper A-arm kit, we can definitely say that this was the number one knuckle kit in our test program.Winner: Superlift with 1,029 points total and coming in at $2,147

The whole reason we buy trucks is to have a bed to haul tools, toys, or other equipment, right? At the 4 Wheel Parts Center in Azusa, California, we filled up a Shur Trax water bag for each truck in the program. The Shur Trax water bag holds more than 400 pounds of water-enough to simulate a loaded-down truck bed, and enough to change the way each truck drove. We were looking to find what truck handled best on the highway and backroads with a utilized truck bed. Trucks were made with suspensions designed to haul big loads and we wanted to make sure that the winner of this section was staying as close to its roots as possible.
Winner: Rough Country with 305 points
Runner-up: RCD with 284 points
Second Runner-up: Superlift with 282 points

We spent the final day of the program at the sand dunes, getting a feel for how these trucks handled being thrown in the sandbox and at higher off-road speeds. The sand is somewhat soft and forgiving, but can be very dangerous if care is not taken. We did all sand testing with 12 pounds of pressure in the tires.
Winner: CST with 340 points
Runner-up: Superlift with 326 points
Second Runner-up: RCD with 311 points

Some fire-road and dirt-trail driving gave us good feedback about how these trucks handle in the dirt. Though they are by no means hard-core trail rigs, the trucks handled the light wheeling we did with them very well, and were actually pretty fun to drive on the fire roads. The good on-road abilities of these trucks and suspensions gave them similar characteristics when whipping around rough dirt roads. The best dirt performer was going to have a nimble feel to it, while being able to absorb some big holes, ruts, rocks, and roots that were in the path.
Winner: CST with 250 points
Runner-up: Superlift with 245 points
Second Runner-up: RCD with 226 points

Simple enough: We looked at the price of each kit as tested. In the specs for each suspension, you'll be able to find the base price of each kit and the price of each kit as tested. We used the price as tested to come up with the best bargains in the suspension pack.
Winner: Trail Master at $1,485 (base price of $1,485)
Runner-up: Skyjacker at $1,888 (base price of $1,438-the best base price)
Second Runner-up: Superlift at $2,147 (base price of $1,725)

At the beginning of the program, we all met at the 4 Wheel Parts Center in Asuza, California, to examine how each suspension looked on the undercarriage. We looked at what components were utilized, the quality of them, the way they were put together, and what possibly hung too low. Judges and suspension reps noted their likes and dislikes, and we factored the complexity of each kit into the score as well.
Winner: Rancho with 192 points
Runner-up: Rough Country with 189 points
Second Runner-up: RCD with 183 points

Bright and early Friday morning, the participants came creeping in, ready to be judged and compared to all their competition. We held a meeting at 4 Wheel Parts Center in Azusa, California, where all nine truck went up on racks so we could all inspect the undercarriages, the quality, and the design of each kit. With the help of Richard Kale, we racked every truck, judged each suspension, and then readied them with some Shur Trax water bags for the highway and mountain roads drive up the California coast. Each Shur Trax bag was time-filled with a hose to be as equal as possible. We would love to tell you we measured out 50+ gallons of water into each bag, but we all agreed it was scientific enough to just hold a stopwatch to each one as we filled for five minutes.

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From 4 Wheel Parts, we headed north with the loaded truck beds to an offshoot from Hwy 101 that took us into some dirt and along some amazing ridgeline roads that traced a coastline mountain range. We spent the rest of the day there, wearing out our crew of judges and already overtraveled suspension reps. If you asked the reps, they'll tell you that the most truck-abusive part of the program had to be the winding mountain road in and out of the dirt we played in that day. The potholes were big enough to eat a Volkswagen, and deep enough to trap a 2WD truck if it ever stopped in one, but the group pressed on. Every truck performed well and every truck survived, and we were starting to notice the slight strengths and weaknesses of the different suspensions by the end of the day. It was past 10 p.m. by the time we hit the freeway again and headed to our hotel for the night. Half the crew was almost asleep at the wheel, and the guy who was supposed to be leading this whole event had just passed out in the CST truck after mumbling some vague directions to the truck's driver, Mike Emerson. We knew we had to take it easy on Saturday so we wouldn't lose any judges or reps before the weekend was out.

A good night's sleep and a breakfast at Luisa's Place got us ready for day two, which took us through San Luis Obispo County, and a tour of some backroads and mild dirt passes that gave us more opportunities to try out the suspensions. The plan (which we were able to stick to for once) was to get some seat time in until the afternoon, but not until after a quick stop at Cottaneo Bros. Jerky shop for some road snacks. That jerky shop has provided us with years of sustenance, especially during long road trips for work.

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A few hours of street and dirt-road driving would give us more opportunities to try out different suspensions, and eventually bring us to a late lunch at the Pozo Saloon. The saloon is a throwback to the early days of California and one of the oldest working food establishments in the U.S. The bit of relaxation was well deserved after the first day, and we were pleased to see everyone getting along like old friends, not like competitors in a multimillion dollar suspension industry. After lunch we released everyone go do their own thing until the next morning, but every individual involved in the program showed up to go to dinner together that night (they didn't invite us until the last minute, though). It just goes to show how tightly knit this industry is.

We specifically waited for the last day to be in the sand dunes for a few reasons. One being that we knew these trucks were going to be flogged in the dunes. Judges and suspension representatives would quickly get a feel for how well all these trucks would perform with aired-down tires in the Oceano Dunes (better known to some of us as Pismo), and we guessed that some overzealous duning would probably get the better of at least one or two trucks.

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What better way to spend the day than on the beach with your shoes off, lunch being delivered, and driving a bunch of trucks that you don't own? Heaven can't be that far off. We ran the tires at 12 pounds of pressure in the sand, and had to make sure not to get overconfident and take a turn that would rip the low-pressure tire off the wheel bead. Our judges and reps were very careful, and only one tire came debeaded the whole day.

We also had one big break out in the dunes, but it was not any suspension, and it was not something that prohibited the truck from driving home at the end of the day. It is a good example that points out that no matter how strongly or well you build a suspension, you can only abuse a factory-built truck so much before something gives out on you.

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At the end of the program everyone was asked to answer a few questions about their favorite suspensions in a few different categories. Now this was based solely on the opinion of each judge/rep, and how they felt about the truck at the end of the week. This has nothing to do with any of the actual judging and scoring that went on, but we realize that sometimes a person's overall impression can't just be summed up with numbers. If we were buying truck stuff, we'd value an experienced opinion on it almost as much as a bunch of numbers some field test came up with.

We think this spot might really have come down to whoever had the most impressive valving in the shocks. And the CST truck had the valving in its Fox shocks just right on. The valving abilities no doubt comes from experience in off-road racing, which seems to have paid off in the form of a very good riding kit. Superlift earned a very close runner-up position. The kit had displayed excellent ride characteristics as well, thanks to some very impressive bumpstops and remote-reservoir shock combination.

Why would you own a truck if you didn't have stuff to haul? Therefore we wanted to simulate driving on road with a loaded bed, and we did this using the Shur Trax water bags. Loading down the beds actually improved the rides of most trucks but made them a little less manageable around tight corners. The Pro Comp and Superlift kits tied for top honors here, both showing admirable driving abilities with loaded beds that seemed to have had many judges and reps impressed. These two might be especially appealing to guys who constantly use their trucks as a loaded-down workhorse, and demand a suspension that can handle it.

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This portion almost felt like a gimme for the Rock Krawler kit. With coilovers front and rear and a converted rear link setup, this suspension stood out as more radical than all the others. There was pretty trick stuff on some of the other trucks too, but coilovers, new upper A-arms, and new rod-end steering links helped cinch the deal. Rough Country was right on its tail though. The NTD kit impressed many judges, and the machined-billet upper A-arms were not only strength overkill, but also looked incredible.





Our winner for the Chevy Runaround deserved the crown. The decision was based solely on the point score of judge and suspension-rep observations made during undercarriage inspection, in the sand dunes, on dirt roads, and on the highway. No price was factored into this overall winning position, because we wanted everyone to bring out the most impressive kit they had to offer.

CST built an outstanding kit that worked well in every area we tested, but excelled in the sand dunes far enough to give them the win. We realized early on in the program that almost all of these trucks had a very similar suspension design and that it really was going to come down to who had the best valving and shock package. Though lots of guys had done their homework and provided some really well working shocks, the CST guys had their valving right-on for the program we put on that weekend. Their shock package mixed with some prerunner Deaver leaf packs made this truck take to the dirt (and sand) like nobody's business, while giving a pretty darned good highway ride to boot.

Congratulations, CST. You deserve it.

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