Every so often a new product comes along that we simply can’t wait to get our hands on. In the case of JKS’s new Jeep sway bar, the drool factor was high and our patience would be tested. It was hard not to notice the SwitchBlade sway bar with its polished aluminum elements and funny-looking arms, when we first laid eyes on it at the vendor show during Moab’s annual Easter Jeep Safari event in 2009. Back then, we were told that the new product was due in stores the following spring. However, field testing uncovered some potential issues that JKS’s owner, Jim Nicolet, couldn’t live with. So, the launch was pushed out and the product was refined further. As testing continued, we started to get anxious. We’d check in every so often and listen to Nicolet banter about how every last part of the system had to be perfect. A year later, the result is a unique sway bar system that combines traditional broached torsion bar technology with multi-position spring arms that feature five-way adjustability. The product joins the ranks of JKS’s game-changing sway bar disconnects as an industry first. Check out the highlights from our installation as they took place at Overkill Jeep Fabrication in Campbell, California.
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Our Take: On the Trail
When compared to the flex afforded by a factory sway bar in the disconnected position, the SwitchBlade is always the sure loser. However, there is more to off-road travel than articulation alone. When you consider that the SwitchBlade was designed for dual-purpose Jeeps with moderate suspension flex and the fact that it provides adjustable progressive resistance throughout the entire range of articulation, the benefits of the system are easy to understand. Unlike a disconnected factory sway bar, the adjustable SwitchBlade system allows sway control in all off-road situations. And when set to a less firm setting, it helps improve articulation over staggered holes and jumbled rocks without sacrificing side-hill stability.
On the Street
The coolest part about running the SwitchBlade sway bar on the street is how easily it adapts to the particular driving scenario. The unit feels stiffer than the factory setup when both swing arms are orientated in the vertical position. This provides an improved feeling of roll control during normal cornering and is especially welcomed for times when evasive maneuvers are required. We also like this position for times when the vehicle is loaded up with gear for a weekend camping trip. For other instances; let’s say a nice hot summer day when you’ve removed the factory hard top, sporting a roof rack, you may discover that the vehicle feels too stiff. Simply set one or both swing arms to the diagonal position and stiffness diminishes. The five-way adjustability provides a functional setting for virtually any driving condition Another thing we love about this setup is the fact that it doesn’t require any small parts as with other types of disconnects. No more dealing with spring clips or zip ties to secure disconnected end links for the trail. Adjusting the system for trail or street use is a breeze when compared to other dual-rate arrangements we’ve tested. We also appreciate that the only maintenance requirement is an occasional pressure washing and that the unit is made entirely in the U.S.A.