Long-travel rear suspension.
In last month's installment, we showed you how to extract nearly 300 hp from your Ford's SOHC 4.0L V-6 with the help of an Explorer Express supercharger kit. This month, we turn our focus to heart of our buildup--our new long-travel suspension system, designed and installed by Dixon Brothers Racing in Lompoc, California.
Long-travel suspension systems were born from desert racing and allow large amounts of controlled movement to soak up terrain at speed. Since long-travel suspensions have to be supple enough to absorb bumps, with the right shocks and spring combination, they also articulate well, which makes long travel just as ideal for slow crawling. Think of it this way: Long-travel suspension will allow you to bomb down a desert wash one minute and crawl up a rocky trail in low-range the next. Travel is your friend, and you'll have 'wheelers jealous of your capability. Also, since long-travel kits don't raise the vehicle's center of gravity and usually have a wider track, they are very stable platforms to wheel with at any speed.
Until now, suspension options for four-wheel-drive Ford Rangers were limited to just a few companies, none of which increased travel a significant amount. And the selection of long-travel suspension systems for Rangers was limited to two-wheel-drive models. Fortunately for us, Dixon Brothers Racing has developed a kit that will just about double stock front wheel travel to 14 inches (while retaining four-wheel drive), and in the case of our rear setup, give 17 inches of travel. The main selling point of the Dixon Brothers suspension system is that the level of capability doesn't come at the price of everyday streetability. The truck rides better than stock and is more than comfortable enough for a daily driver.
In this article, we'll focus on the rear suspension, which was built around a pair of awesome 17-inch-travel, 2.65-inch Bilstein 9100 reservoir shocks.
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No suspension system is complete without a proper wheel and tire package. BFGoodrich gave us a set of 305/70R16 (33-inch) All-Terrain tires, which we had the professionals at Big O Tire in Huntington Beach, California, mount on a set of black 16x8 Pro Comp Xtreme Alloy Series 1023 wheels with 4 inches of backspacing. These wheels are rated to 2,200 pounds each and feature a cool-looking "streetlock" design.
Our beat-up bedliner didn't look right with the shiny new bed cage and shocks, so we had the truck re-sprayed by our friends at Line-X of Huntington Beach, giving our bed the fresh look we were after.
In Part 5:
If you think the rear suspension setup is impressive, check out Part 5, where we'll blow you away with the awesome front suspension that Dixon Brothers Racing offers for 4WD Ford Ranger and Edge owners. When it comes to long-travel four-wheel drive for Rangers, Dixon Brothers Racing is the only game in town.