Jeep Wrangler JK ARB Old Man Emu Suspension - Australian OutfittersPosted in How To: Suspension Brakes on June 1, 2009
ARB, known for rugged products developed for the Australian Outback, is one of those rare companies that have a cult-like following. Everywhere we go, there is always someone who swears by the brand and its product. Over the years our experience has been in line with that thinking as well, sampling products that have always exuded quality and OEM-like craftsmanship and precision. ARB also does real-world development and testing in the harsh environs of the island continent, and it stands behind its products.
With the popularity of the Jeep Wrangler JK, ARB quickly went to work to offer a complete line of products for the hottest thing in wheeling since the TJ. In addition to its well-known Air Locker and differential covers, ARB also has two styles of front bumpers; a rear bumper, rock sliders, and its own Old Man Emu brand lift kit. And while we are at it, don't forget that they also offer lighting options under the IPF brand.
ARB was along with its JK on our Rubicon trip last summer, and after watching the ARB company Wrangler take on the infamous trail, we were convinced its newest products were a fit with our readership and contacted ARB about doing a product installation and review of its offerings.
With ARB on board with their sliders, bumpers, lights and suspension system, and a donor Wrangler available we headed over to Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California, for the install. Follow along to view our donor Jeep go through a transformation from stock to Outback-rated.
The owner of this JK was looking for an aggressive-looking mud tire with excellent street manners. We recommended Toyo's Open Country M/T, which we have had extensive experience in all types of terrain, including Moab. Thanks to an aggressive design that includes scalloped shoulder blocks and sidewall lugs, the Open Country M/T features great traction on the trail and has the added benefit of siping for wet pavement performance and with three plies, it is plenty tough. Because this Jeep's main purpose was a daily driver that can hit the trails on the weekend, we decided to only go up in size slightly to Toyo's LT295/70R17, which works out to be a narrow 33 at 33x11.50, perfect for a Wrangler running stock wheels.
How It Works
While the ARB-equipped JK now sports a much improved stance and looks like it should have from the factory, we were concerned that the flex of the ARB kit would be compromised because it doesn't have extended sway bar endlinks, but we were surprised to see that on Off Road Evolution's 30-degree RTI ramp, it actually scored over 11-percent better than stock with a 20-degree equivalent score of 577 for the ARB modifications versus 517 for the stock Jeep.
The owner has reported that the Jeep ride is a bit firmer and overall better than stock. He says he couldn't love the upgrades any more and would recommend them without hesitation to anyone. With this setup, we gained 1 inche of ground clearance, and approximately 3 inches in overall lift. We think it is impressive that you get this kind of performance from a suspension upgrade that goes for less than $800.
ARB's front Deluxe bumper retails for $995.96, the rear bumper for $745.45, the Rock Sliders for $593.95 ($538.30 two-door), and the IPF 900SX lights for $285.88.