Part 5: Dialing In Our Brute's Rear Suspension
By now, most of you have probably noticed how our Teal-J project has been reborn into a trick AEV Brute Pickup. Fortunately for those of you who are saving up, the folks at AEV still offer the Brute conversion directly via www.brute-conversion.com or through well-known mail-order catalog Quadratec. We could go on and on about how the Brute Pickup conversion makes any plain-Jane TJ extraordinary, but this time our subject is suspension. It just so happens the guys from DC Customs of Ukiah, California, know a thing or two about setting up suspensions. And after they performed our Brute conversion, we asked if they could help fine-tune Teal's underpinnings for real-world moderate-speed trail use. The shop's owner, Dustin Chernoh, agreed to take on the project. Dustin convinced us that a larger tire would help flatten out bumps as well as make the rig look more grown-up. We agreed with his logic and concluded that a larger tire would also address a couple of Brute-specific shortcomings.
For instance, on 37-inch tires a steep break-over or sheer drop-off required some very tactful driving to avoid snags. Don't get us wrong, climbing steep ledges that might have normally made us think twice are now a cakewalk in the longer configuration. All in all, we've deduced that a slightly larger tire would in fact restore Teal to the point-and-shoot machine she once was (prior to this story, Teal rode on 37x13.50-17s). However, installing larger tires is not a simple bolt-on affair. Usually, larger meats mean more stress to drivetrain components, not to mention the stereotypical noise and ride harshness associated with aggressive treads. Bigger tires almost always require more lift and, at the very least, stronger steering and braking components. Luckily for us, Teal Brute already has 1-ton axles and a hydro-assist steering system to relieve a lot of steering stress. So basically all we needed was a little elevation change, new gears, and a suitable tire. Like many of our readers, we wanted a tire with good street manners, yet we also require durability for rocky trails. The wheels we wanted to run were 17s, so our tire choices got even slimmer. In the end, we went with the proven Goodyear MT/R in a 40-inch variant. Read along as we highlight what was necessary to stuff 40s under Teal, while at the same time improving suspension performance for higher-speed maneuvers.