New Long-Travel Shock: Modern Technology or Gimmick?
If this were a self-help magazine, you’d be reading about how to get six-pack abs in four minutes on a diet of corn chips and tuna. Fortunately, it’s not—we don’t care if you have a few extra pounds and neither does the 6Pak shock from MetalCloak. Upon first inspection you’ll probably think the new 6Pak shock looks gimmicky, and quite honestly, so did we. But once you get past the strange unorthodox looks you start to understand its benefits. Ultimately, it’s a somewhat complicated engineering solution to a simple problem on a product that hasn’t changed much in nearly 100 years.
For us, it all started over a year ago when we went on a Death Valley, California, wheeling trip with some friends. A buddy rolled up in one of MetalCloak’s Jeeps and we noticed the odd-looking shocks. So, of course, the picture taking and prodding for info ensued. What we found out was that the 6Pak shock really wasn’t much different than a conventional shock, it was just laid out differently to allow more wheel travel in a given application without the need to modify the shock mounts.
How It Works
There are six chambers in the 6Pak shock. Four of these are simply small shock absorbers (two extending out at each end in opposing directions). The two remaining chambers are for the reservoirs and floating pistons. For the most part the 6Pak shock functions like a typical monotube shock. Since the four shock shafts and pistons are parallel and pass each other in the floating body of the shock, the design allows more wheeltravel in a given application. It sounds complicated but it’s not. Most people don’t quite understand the floating shock body. It floats in the middle because all six shock tubes are pressurized with nitrogen.
A stock ’07-up Wrangler front shock offers about 7.5 inches of shock travel. When collapsed the stock shock measures in at 15 inches long and when extended its 22.5 inches. The MetalCloak 6Pak shock that bolts into the factory ’07-up Wrangler shock mounts is also 15 inches long when compressed. However, when extended the 6Pak stretches to 31 inches for a total of 16 inches of shock travel. That’s a gain of over twice as much potential wheel travel simply by bolting on a pair of shocks. And if you fancy tinkering with the valving you can do some pretty cool things with the 6Pak shock, things like two-stage valving, similar to what you would be able to accomplish with a bypass shock.
No Free Lunch
More wheel travel and advanced valving with a simple bolt-on product—what could possibly be wrong with that? Well, the 6Pak is not necessarily more complex than a typical shock, it just has a lot more parts than one. There are essentially four shocks in every 6Pak. So instead of one main shaft seal there are four, along with four shock shafts, four shock pistons, and all of the other associated components. There are some pretty high-zoot materials inside the 6Pak shock to keep it working properly for a long time but we can’t deny that there are certainly quite a few more wearable items to be concerned about. Also, once the 6Pak shocks are installed on your 4x4 you’ll have to pay close attention to the suspension and brake components that will be affected by the additional droop. This would include driveshaft and steering linkage binding and overextended brake lines. Current applications include 12-, 14-, and 16-inch-travel 6Pak shocks. There are also a few bolt-in applications with more on the way. Check the MetalCloak website for application updates.