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Notes From The Dirt

Posted in Features on June 1, 2004
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We get quite a few e-mails and letters patting OR magazine on the back for the service it provides to its readers. The staff enjoys the recognition, but we also realize that it's time for some changes. We enjoy the magazine as much as you do, but feel it could become something more important and better than it already is. To that end, you'll notice a few changes in the way we'll be presenting information to you in the next few issues. Don't worry; the changes are not a monumental revamping of your favorite source for race coverage, technical information, or feature-truck coverage. You'll still get the same dose of your favorite desert races, high-end off-road trucks, and yes, the bling-bling, high-as-the-sky street pounders.

The first thing we intend on changing is the way we present lift kit installation stories. We've been kicking this idea around the office for quite some time now and have decided that we don't need to show you another step-by-step suspension lift install. The reasons for this are many, but here are the most popular. First off, if you have the cash to go out and buy a brand-new Chevy HD or Ford Super Duty pickup and lift it on massive rubber, then you probably have the coin to pay someone else to do the installation for you. Most of the kits on the market today require a substantial amount of time to install, and a hydraulic chassis lift isn't something most folks have at their disposal to make the job go quicker, so it makes little sense for us to show you how to do a job that is better left to the professionals. Finally, most lift kits install in the same basic fashion, so it does a great disservice to the reader to waste pages in the magazine showing how to remove a ball joint from a spindle. If you haven't figured out how to remove a ball joint by now, you can just flip back to an issue of OR that's been printed in the last 10 years and read how.

Right about now you're thinking, "Does this mean OR isn't going to do lift kit stories anymore?" Of course we are. But instead of showing how bracket A is bolted to antisway bar B, we're going to focus on providing you with more relevant information. In the next few issues of OR, we're going to roll out a new lift kit article format in which we'll show you what the stock suspension of each truck is composed of and what changes the lift kit will make to the truck. We'll show you where the new parts go, what they're made of, and how they affected the truck after the installation. Finally, we are going to road-test each vehicle and give you our driving impression. This will go a long way toward helping you make a decision on what tires you'd like to buy, how big of a lift kit to purchase, and where you'll be able to take your truck once the parts are installed.

OR's driving impression will include notes on the truck's handling, braking, and acceleration. We'll also take notes on the performance of the tires and shocks. We'll tell you flat out if the tires were too loud, or if the braking performance suffered because of a heavier-than-stock wheel and tire combo. OR will also classify the lift kit so you'll know ahead of time if a particular lift is better suited for street duty or light off-road use, or if the kit is a full-tilt off-road piece that will enable you to abuse your truck in the dirt and come home without the aid of a tow truck.

OR's new lift article format will also include a gear recommendation chart. We'll tell you what gears are in the differentials of our subject vehicle and if there were any optional ratios available from the vehicle manufacturer. Our driving impression will let you know if the larger wheels and tires hindered the truck's acceleration. If it did, we'll give you a regearing recommendation and a recommendation for any other parts that may help put the grunt back in the truck's performance.

Our new outlook is a win-win situation for you. You'll get important real-world information on all the newest lift kits, tires, and wheels. You'll also gain more content in the magazine because we won't be wasting a ton of pages explaining how to install an extended antisway bar endlink. Check out our review of Full-Traction's new 6-inch suspension lift kit for GM's HD pickups to see exactly what we mean. Until next month, enjoy the magazine.

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