Author: Jordan Powell Photos: Jordan Powell
If you’re in the market to upgrade your stock suspension components, you can easily be overwhelmed by the abundance of options. Lift spindles can take away that horrendous stinkbug look, but for some more serious weekend warriors, something more is desired. This is where the decision process can be difficult. Do you get an upper arm replacement with a uniball or do you go simply with an aftermarket coilover? To make things even more difficult, many off-road fabrication companies offer a long-travel suspension system as well. Performance-wise, a long-travel kit will bring a smile to your face that goes from ear to ear. Money-wise, it can have you in tears after you see the damage to your bank account. So what do you do? Do you sacrifice performance to soften the blow to your wallet, or do you go all out and worry about the repercussions later? If only there were a happy medium. Luckily for you, there is, in the form of a mid-travel kit. It will give you all of the necessary components to tackle some of the desert’s toughest terrain, at a more affordable price.
When it comes to off-road long-travel systems, Chris Mazzulla is no stranger to the game. For over 10 years, Chris has transformed his fabrication hobby into a full-fledged business that has catered to the upper echelons of our sport. If you were looking for a long-travel suspension system for your Chevrolet Silverado, Mazzulla Advanced Off-Road Engineering had it. However, a struggling economy forced him to think outside of the box, and in 2010 Mazzulla introduced a mid-travel kit. Without sacrificing quality, Chris was able to produce a suspension kit that not only met his high standards, but also catered to a broader crowd. Long-travel kits are fun, but for many in the off-road community, they’re not practical. With Mazzulla’s mid-travel kit, though, 14 inches of travel is more than enough for the desert trails, and you won’t have to take out a second mortgage on your house to pay for the costs.
We recently had the chance to head out to Highland, California, to check out where it all began for the young entrepreneur, and also got a closer look at the work that goes into a Mazzulla Off-Road mid-travel kit. The system is available for 2007-’14 Chevy Silverado 1500s in either four-wheel or two-wheel drive. There is also a Performance Kit and Race Long-Travel Kit available to cover a variety of budgets and needs. Mazulla also has systems for 1996-’06 GM trucks as well. Follow along as we take a closer look at his mid-travel system for late-model Chevys.
Before the upper and lower A-arms become an actual prototype, countless hours are spent behind a computer designing a realistic model. From this mock-up, Mazzulla can determine the load the components will experience, and figure out the range of motion by cycling the full system—all by the click of a mouse. When everything is up to par, the drawings are sent to R&D, and the build process begins
As you can see from these photos, the upper and lower A-arms are internally gusseted, creating an exceptionally strong part. The 3/16-inch cold rolled steel is also laser cut and formed to the specifications. From Mazzulla’s standpoint, “It just really boils down to the aesthetics. We form the rolled edges, and we eliminate welds wherever we can. In my opinion, stuff just looks better when it has a lot of forming and shape added to it.”
A lot of effort is also put into welding. “The weld quality and fitment is so huge for Mazzulla Off-Road because, in my opinion, I feel like that is something that gets overlooked with other companies,” explained Mazzulla. “Everyone is so concerned about how fast they can make a part, and how quick they can make money off of it. Our philosophy is to build quality parts, and we don’t care how long that takes. What we’re worried about the most is making sure a part is right, and that it’s worth the money you spend to buy it.”
Once the arms get shipped back from powdercoating, Delrin bushings are inserted into the machined pivot cups. “When companies build pivot cups like this, they’ll use an automated saw, which is probably within 6- to 10-thousands of an inch on the cut, and there’s no chamfer. Plus, they’ll use some sort of polyurethane bushing,” explained Mazzulla. “Our pivot cups are a quarter wall outside, and the whole part has been turned on a CNC machine, bringing our tolerance within a thousandth of an inch. After the part has been completed, Delrin bushings are inserted, which reduce slop.”
Mazzulla’s mid-travel kit is 100-percent bolt on. Technically speaking, you can even have this kit installed and be ready to go in half a day, right from the comforts of your driveway—which was Mazzulla’s goal. No heavy modifications are required, and components easily slide into the factory pivot points.
Feast your eyes on this beautifully crafted spindle. While it’s not mandatory to run a lift spindle—the kit is completely modular, and you can run a stock spindle to save money—it will grant you some extra inches of travel. “The reason our spindle is different from everyone else’s is that we use a piece of two and a quarter inch billet steel for our bearing surface plate,” explained Mazzulla. “On all of the other fabricated spindles we have seen on the market, stuff cracks right around the area underneath the steering arm where it welds onto the spindle. So, we eliminated that by CNC machining that whole part, and then we used 3/16-inch formed plate on the steering arm and the upright to hold the uniball. Also, our spindle is designed a little more heavy duty than the average fabricated lift spindle, and it’s also a lot better than the cast stock spindle.”
Although this kit is only currently available for 2007-‘14 Chevy Silverados, it is available for both two-wheel and four-wheel drive models. Some slight adjustments were made for the four-wheel-drive kit so that the components could clear the axles, limiting the travel to 11 inches. However, there were no restrictions with the two-wheel-drive version, and Mazzulla was able to squeeze 14 inches of travel out of it.
You can run the stock or an aftermarket coilover for this kit, but if you want the most travel and comfort from your mid-travel system, you’ll want to run Mazzulla’s coilover that was designed by King Off-Road Racing Shocks. This coilover has more than 500 hours of research and development put into it. However, it’s designed to be used with a Mazzulla fabricated spindle.
After everything is installed, this is the stance your truck will have. The track width will increase, and it will be mandatory to run fiberglass fenders. As for tire sizes, that will all depend on whether you run a lift spindle or not. A lift spindle will allow the use of a 37-inch tire, and a stock spindle will allow the use of a 35-inch tire.
On a paved road, the truck will be very stable, and will respond correctly to any road condition. On the dirt, you’ll be in for a real treat as this kit handles unbelievably well. We put the Mazzulla mid-travel kit through the ringer out in Beaumont, California, and we were beyond amazed at the performance. Not bad for a 100-percent bolt-on kit, and our hat is off to the team at Mazzulla Advanced Off-Road Engineering for their efforts. Well done.
Source: Mazzulla Offroad (909) 708-6540 www.mzoffroad.com