Raptor Refresh: King’s Bolt-In Shocks Make Ford’s Greatest Off-Road Pickup Even BetterPosted in How To: Suspension Brakes on April 6, 2017
When it comes to out-of-the box 4x4s that can go fast off-road and not rattle your teeth out, there’s none better than the Ford F-150 Raptor. Currently in its newest generation with the ’17 model, the Raptor platform has proven that it’s not just another basic sticker package.
As the original generation Raptors age, the need to replace and/or upgrade some of the core components becomes more recognizable. One of the areas that Ford did a great job with out of the box was the Raptor’s suspension. But, just like anything else, there’s always room for improvement. Maybe one of the largest complaints for Raptor enthusiasts who push their trucks hard off-road is the fact that the stock shocks, while they work well, can often fatigue and feel under-damped. Another common complaint is the dreaded frontend clunk typically associated with some Raptor front suspensions. If you’re unsure what we’re referring to, Ford even mentions it in the supplemental guide that comes with the Raptor. Whether this is just a characteristic of the internal-bypass shocks or something that Ford engineers did to drive Raptor owners and nit-picky journalists like ourselves crazy remains to be seen.
When it comes to upgrading the Raptor suspension, we’re not referring to a lift kit, but rather performance-oriented shocks. For our daily driven ’12 Raptor, this suspension upgrade came via King Shock’s Performance Series shocks. The Performance Series shocks from King are designed as factory-replacement shocks with a wide-array of vehicle-specific absorbers to fit a host of late-model trucks and SUVs. Our specific kit was designed for the ’10-’14 Raptor platform.
This particular setup provides the Raptor with massive 3.0 front coilovers affixed with a remote reservoir and quick-turn compression adjuster, along with 3.0 triple-bypass shocks for the rear. While King does an incredible job of getting the Performance Series shocks tuned for the Raptor, the company also understands that many off-road enthusiasts like to be able to adjust their own shocks. Given the external bypass tubes and compression adjusters are easy to dial in, you can fine-tune the shocks to suit your driving needs.
To get a better idea of what it took to toss these on, we put our truck on the rack at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina. There, we knocked out the four-shock upgrade in just a couple hours. While we’ll rank this as easy on the install chart, we’re going through some of the details on why going with Kings is a smart investment for your truck.
Getting In TuneOut of the gate, we instantly noticed that the floaty nature of the Raptor was gone. This for us was a major improvement as it gave the truck a more planted sports car–like feel, which is something we greatly enjoy and would never expect from an off-road–oriented F-150. In a more practical sense, we’ll slay speed humps and poorly maintained roads like a trophy truck in the desert!
Having put thousands of miles on our truck over the past six months, we can tell you that a little bit of adjustment in the bypasses and turns of the knobs up front can make a significant difference. Stability in the dirt and big hits are really where you’re going to notice the Kings. While the overall travel remains approximately the same, what you’re really gaining here is control and heat dispersion. While not the most inexpensive upgrade, it’s by far one of the most worthwhile for those looking to improve the off-road performance of Ford’s greatest 1/2-ton wheeler.