Project ’Con Artist Part 18
Moab was looming, and we were looking to give Project ’Con Artist a little suspension freshening. Our previous suspension system, while it served us well, had been on ’Con for over four years. With nothing left to prove, we decided it was time to kick it up a notch and install a system that would evolve our JK project to the status of apex wheeler.
We were looking for a kit that offered big travel, go-fast capability, and the ability to take on Dusey or the Hammers with ease. We also wanted to retain ’Con’s daily driver comfort. When the folks at EVO Manufacturing offered to contribute one of their complete EVO Double ThrowDown systems, it didn’t take more than an eye blink to accept. We felt that this suspension would showcase the ultimate potential of the JK platform, while meeting the criteria we set above.
EVO Manufacturing, in Fullerton, California, specializes in Wranglers and offers a bevy of products ranging from budget-conscious lifts to full-tilt coilover and bypass shock conversion you see here. The EVO Double ThrowDown system features eight (8!) shocks, which allow 14 inches of front and rear wheel travel without making any body mods, all while keeping the center of gravity low (our new suspension offers several-inches of more travel over our old system without raising the Jeep’s height).
The beauty of the system lies in the EVO-Lever cantilever rear suspension system. Relocating your stock muffler makes space for a set of shocks positioned parallel to the frame. A push-pull arm arrangement turns horizontal shaft movement at the shock to vertical wheel movement at the axle. This allows a long-stroke shock to be used without cutting into the body. The finished product is a marvel of packaging, and because the shock linkage is mounted above the rear axle centerline, valuable ground clearance is gained.
With the Double ThrowDown upgrade, a bypass shock is added to the standard ride-height adjustable coilover at each corner. Despite popular belief, bypass shocks are not just good for the go-fast crowd. Bypasses have a distinct advantage in the rocks, by offering more control of the body while still allowing the axles to conform to the terrain. The ride can also be easily tailored to the driver’s preferences with simple hand tools, giving you complete control and flexibility—if you want it. For those who aren’t interested in twiddling the knobs, EVO provides both the coilover and bypasses pre-tuned with proprietary valving and ready to bolt on out of the box.
Another benefit of the EVO suspension system is the relocation of the track bar. By raising the track bar more than 10 inches, the roll center is now more in line with the center of gravity. As a result, there is less leverage for body lean, which means flat cornering and a Jeep that is poised in the twisties. The new track bar location also places it up on top of the axle where it is more protected.
With our setup, we decided to go with King shocks. King, which has been around for over 15 years, has developed a racing pedigree and a reputation in that aftermarket industry that many other companies can only dream of. This family-owned business makes production and one-off performance shocks right near our home offices in southern California. Not only does King provide a shock that has a level of quality that only comes with the care associated with hand-built products, but also they are there for you after the sale with comprehensive customer support, making this choice a no-brainer for us.
With only a week left before we had to leave for Moab, we headed down to Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California, and began the transformation of Project ’Con Artist. Here is an overview of the installation.
How It Works
With no time to shake down the ’Con or fine-tune it, we drove to Moab and back with EVO’s out-of-the-box tuning. We were very surprised at just how stable and firm the ride was on the highway, with very little body lean. The Jeep was a joy to drive to Moab and maintained the same level of comfort we have always expected out of our JK. More impressively, the ’Con tackled all the trails we wanted to run in Moab and drove home without one suspension squeak or rattle. The Jeep feels incredibly stable, and there is so much travel, we have driven over obstacles that looked ominous without ever feeling it as a passenger. Since Moab, we have made a very minor adjustment to the suspension to make it slightly more compliant on the highway. With all the hype surrounding this high-end suspension, we weren’t sure how realistic our expectations should be going in. However, after a few thousand miles of mixed driving we can tell you that we are more impressed than we thought we’d ever be, and this is one setup that delivers on its promises.
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