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If you spend any amount of time on YouTube watching Australian off-road videos, like I do, you have heard them mention “Touring.”


Touring is how the Aussies refer to what’s known here in the US as “overlanding”. This type of off-road travel has exploded in recent years. Fading away are the buildup of rock crawlers in favor of vehicles that have every piece of kit possible to survive the zombie apocalypse, or the weekend car camping trip.
A natural result of prepping a vehicle for touring is that a lot of weight is added by way of steel bumpers, a winch, drawers, dual batteries, skid plates, a roof rack, roof top tent, water tank, a fridge, and many other things. That’s in addition to the personal gear that gets packed each trip.

With the increased weight, especially on an already heavy 80 Series Land Cruiser, the need for appropriate suspension is critical. A suspension with adequate load capacity and ride quality that is comfortable enough to not wear you out after a long day of driving long dirt tracks. The Aussies have been “touring” for a long time and developing suspension for Cruisers for just as long. Darren McRae of the Autocraft workshop fame, is a long time 80 Series guru who has been pushing the limits of these cruisers and building custom suspensions for them for more than 2 two decades. He has recently been perfecting a complete suspension system, called Slinky Long Travel, for the 80 Series. He is now bringing it to the U.S. through Redline Land Cruisers of Colorado.

80 Series Long Travel Suspension Kit - Toyota Land Cruiser Magazine

I’ve been driving an 80 Series on and off-road since 2000. I’ve had a fair amount of time in 80s other than my own and have experienced just about all of the most common different bolt-on suspension options available in North America. When I heard about the Slinky Long Travel system coming to the US I was very interested. It had an innovative design that set it apart from everything else I’d seen. I now have had two months with the Slinky Long Travel system on my 80 and this is without question the best bolt-on suspension setup I’ve ever experienced on an 80.
Instead of getting technical, I’ll briefly describe the components and then give my review and thoughts on its performance in a variety of terrain. For technical information check out the Redline Land Cruisers website for specs and options. There is also information on this suspension on the IH8MUD forum.

First I want to break down what makes this system different from other coil and shock offerings that use the factory coil buckets and shock mounts. The “Slinky” Long Travel coils have a unique dual-rate coil design. What does that mean? Basically you get a coil with two different spring rates, a part of the coil with a lighter spring rate for a smooth ride and for absorbing the small bumps, and a part of the coil with a stiffer spring rate for better load capacity and for absorbing the big bumps. The top few winds of the coils also compress almost completely at normal ride height and then open up with the suspension is flexed. The result is increased down travel, and also keeps the coil from dropping out with the longer shocks. More importantly, there is still force pushing the tires to the ground even when it’s at the limit of droop. That means better traction. The coils are available in a 50mm, 70mm and 75mm increase in height and with Intermediate and Heavy spring rates. The 75mm (3”) kit is adequate to fit 35” tires and yet keeps a low center of gravity, gives a great ride with excellent travel from the extra droop and 14” long travel shocks. 37” tires can be fitted with an extra 1” added to the bump stops. In conjunction with the innovative coil design, Autocraft has partnered with Icon Vehicle Dynamics to create the custom built high quality Icon suspension tuned to Autocraft specs.

80 Series Long Travel Suspension Kit - Toyota Land Cruiser Magazine

A Stage One kit includes four Slinky coils and Autocraft 2.0 smooth body emulsion shocks. The Stage Two and Three kits use a different combination of coils and shocks with an upgrade to Autocraft 2.5 bypass shocks. The Stage Four kit upgrades the shocks again to an Autocraft 2.5 bypass shock with CDC adjustability so the user can independently tune compression and rebound with the twist of a knob. All kits also include bump stops, sway bar extensions, brake lines and caster correction bushings.

I installed the Stage One kit on my 80 in Moab at the start of Cruise Moab. Then I spent time on the trails with Darren, Justin from Redline, and with Woody from IH8MUD, who all have the Stage 4 kits. I pushed the suspension through moderate higher speed trails with ruts and whoops, and crawled in the rocks. The Slinky I replaced another popular Australian suspension system sold in the U.S., and S. I could tell a big improvement immediately after getting behind the wheel following installation. with the Slinky suspension installed.
After 16 years of owning an 80, I am once again looking for reasons to drive my 80 as often as possible – because it’s just so much fun to drive with the new suspension. So here’s my review of the Stage One Kit. I plan to have a follow-up article sometime soon after upgrading to the Stage Four CDC shocks so that I can give a comparison between the more basic kit and the top-of-the-line setup.

80 Series Long Travel Suspension Kit - Toyota Land Cruiser Magazine

The Slinky Kits use the tagline “#ultimatetourer” referring to them as the ultimate suspension for touring or overlanding, so let’s talk about that type of travel first: primarily moderate to higher speed rocky dirt tracks with ruts and whoops, along with corrugated fire roads. Without question, this is where I saw the biggest improvements. The Autocraft tuning on the Icon 2.0 shocks with the valving used smooths out small bumps and corrugations, and increased valving deeper in the stroke absorbs the big rocks and whoops at higher speeds. Trail irregularities were smoothed dramatically. The body of my 80 remained much more composed and settled without any of the jerks or feeling of being “launched” off a bump that I was accustomed to. As a result I was immediately more confident at higher speeds because the truck felt much more controlled. I didn’t feel like I was wrestling the suspension to keep the truck going where I wanted it to go. The rebound on the 2.0 shocks is just about perfect.

Personally, I wanted a little higher compression because since I was now carrying more speed. At higher speeds, the big bumps were transferring more force to the suspension than they would at lower speeds and the big whoops would occasionally overwhelm the shocks hitting the bump stops, so I would have to slow down a little. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing, but if I had any complaint about the Slinky Long Travel Stage One kit, that was it. But that’s the beauty of the Stage 4 kit – you can make real-time adjustments to the shocks to for your driving style. When I got a bit of time behind the wheel of Darren’s 80 with the suspension with all the bells and whistles, I could tell right away his shocks were set with a slightly stiffer valving and it felt great. Overland trips vary. Sometimes you carry a lot of gear and sometimes you carry less. The differences in weight changes how the suspension behaves and the adjustability would be a welcome feature.

80 Series Long Travel Suspension Kit - Toyota Land Cruiser Magazine

So how were they in the rocks? It was not as easy to get a sense of the differences when crawling in the rocks at low speeds. My 80 felt more stable. The body remained flatter in off camber, cross axle ditches and rocks. I saw an increase in suspension travel, most of it in down travel. I was coming from a 3.5” suspension lift with 2” coil spacers and extended bump stops. With the Slinky coils I lost roughly 2” of ride height, which improved center of gravity, and yet with the change in bump stop, the removal of the coil spacers, and the increased down travel of the new coils, I gained roughly 6” of suspension travel. So while the suspension is targeting overlanders, it’s equally at home in the rocks. More travel, better center of gravity, a more controlled and smoother ride was giving my 80 improvements in all the important aspects of a quality suspension. I had a smile on my face the entire time during Cruise Moab as I got used to this new suspension. I took several 80 owners for rides and within the first minute of being in my truck they all said the same thing, “I gotta get this stuff!”

80 Series Long Travel Suspension Kit - Toyota Land Cruiser Magazine

On the road, the suspension feels firm, but comfortable. It’s not so soft that you feel like it floats. Just as it does in the dirt, it handles bumps and potholes without jarring feedback and keeps the body relatively flat through corners. It feels planted and firm giving feedback from the road surface. It’s difficult to accurately describe what the ride feels like but consistently, when anyone got a chance to experience it first-hand, they understood what the excitement was all about. Is the Slinky Long Travel suspension the Ultimate Overland Suspension? Maybe. It is clearly the best bolt-on suspension I’ve experienced in an 80, albeit though with a few minor shortcomings with the Stage One kit, but that could be attributed to my personal driving style. Overall, I’ve been extremely pleased and have enjoyed my 80 on a whole new level. If you’re an 80 owner looking for a new suspension for your build, or an upgrade from your current setup, I think it’s worth a look at the Slinky Long Travel Kits.

80 Series Long Travel Suspension Kit - Toyota Land Cruiser Magazine

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    Published in Summer 2016

    {tab=Introduction}

    Although they’re new to FJ Cruisers, Ricochet Off Road Armor has been producing skid plates for dirt bikes & ATV’s for over 30 years. During the Toytec / FJC Magazine Fun Run in June, one FJ Cruiser managed to get a rock wedged in the open space in front of the front lower control arm (LCA) and had to be jacked & yanked off the obstacle. That’s when we first thought of adding a little protection to our LCA’s.

    After reviewing all the top vendor websites, we found very few options for a front LCA skid that was lightweight and provided great protection. That’s where Ricochet comes in. Just a couple of months ago they released their front LCA aluminum guards. They’re very lightweight, super easy to install, and fit perfectly. At only $129, they’re a great way to protect one of the most vulnerable areas on your FJ. For all the install pics, click the Install tab above.

    We’ll be testing them out in the coming months, so look for a long term review in 2010. For now, we’re happy to have this added protection.

    {tab=Install}

     

    Ricochet Front LCA Skids for FJ Cruiser

    An LCA skid before installation

    DSC_0174

    Insert the bolt & washers as shown

    DSC_0175 DSC_0177

    Insert the bolts & washers up through the factory holes in the control arm & slip the nut on.
    Leave them loose until all bolts are in, then tighten.

    DSC_0191

    Installed & ready to go!

    {/tabs}
    Published in October 2009
    In the past few Off Road 101 articles, we’ve discussed what we feel are the most important first modifications for your FJ Cruiser. First, you should know how everything on your truck works and what its capabilities are. Second, consider upgrading tires and possibly wheels. Most recently, we talked about trail armor and why it’s so important. Now that we have this great foundation, the time has come to touch on one of the most popular upgrades for your FJ: your suspension.

    We use the term ‘upgrades’ because we’re not just talking about lift kits. Many owners choose not to lift their truck, but maybe add spacers only to just level it. Let’s discuss some of the more common upgrades for the FJ Cruiser.

    “Leveling” Kits
    These kits usually include a spacer that is placed above the front coils. This provides approximately 1” of lift to the front of the truck and decreases or eliminates the ‘rake’ or forward leaning stance of a stock FJ. This is a very popular first step in the suspension upgrade arena and typically costs around $100 plus installation.

    2” – 6” Lift Kits
    There are several lift kit options for FJ Cruisers:
    The most economical kits include springs for the front of the truck along with a spacer (similar to a leveling spacer), and taller springs for the rear. There are also different spring rates available, which affects the stiffness of your ride. It’s common to go with stiffer springs when adding heavy bumpers and winches to minimize sagging in the rear and diving in the front.  While it is possible to install some kits with stock shocks, most owners choose to upgrade their shocks as well. This is where special edition FJ owners have an advantage, since the Bilstein shocks that come on TRD & Trail Teams models do not necessarily need to be upgraded.

    As you move up in quality of components, the pricing of lift kits can increase dramatically. Eliminating the spacer and using a taller spring in the front improves ride quality and opens up more options. Adding longer shocks will provide excellent wheel travel & articulation and will affect the way your truck rides both on and off road. Many of the high end kits now include remote reservoir shocks. This is very beneficial for higher speed (rally style) driving where the suspension cycles quickly for long periods of time.

    Most 6” kits include shocks, springs, differential drop brackets, and other relocation hardware to extensively modify your FJ. Some even include extended steering knuckles, upper control arms (UCA’s) and new lower crossmembers. These systems are significantly more difficult to install than basic 3” lift kits, but they raise your FJ enough to put 35” (or larger) tires on. These systems may also put more strain on other stock components so, research all the options and requirements before you go this route.

    Adjustable Lift Kits
    A relatively new option for lifting your truck are adjustable kits. These usually range from 1” to 3” of total lift, depending on the kit. These are great for many owners because you can adjust the lift as you add components. If you get a new front bumper and your front end sags a little, just dial the lift up another inch or so until you get the look you want. Raising or lowering your truck is as easy as removing the tires and turning the adjuster. Note that adjustable kits are usually for the front end only, most manufacturers don’t offer an adjustable rear suspension. For details on the Toytec 3” adjustable kit, see “Toytec Lift Upgrade” on page ??

    I hope this brief discussion of lift options helps you decide what is best for you. The great thing about the FJ Cruiser is that it’s very capable with no lift at all. Adding an extra couple of inches of clearance and enhancing articulation are a great and relatively inexpensive way to get you to more places safely. For more information and to find the kit that’s right for you, check out the vendors directory at www.fjc-mag.com.
    Published in October 2008

    Toytec Adjustable kit for TT FJ CruiserToytec Lifts has announced a special adjustable lift kit for 07 TRD FJ Cruisers & 08 Trail Teams Editions. This kit comes with all the parts of their normal Bilstein adjustable kit, but without the stocks because the Bilsteins on the TT & TRD FJ's work perfectly. The kit includes taller RED coils, an adjustable coil seat for your shocks, 2 spanner wrenches, and their swaybar relocation kit. You'll get a total of 1.5” to 3.5” of front lift with this easily adjustable kit.

     

    Read our install & review article for this kit in the October issue of FJC Magazine. You can order the new kit here.

    Published in Latest News
    All-Pro Off-Road just announced a replacement rear-end for the FJ Cruiser. This Dana 60 setup upgrades your rear end from the OEM 8” to 9.5”, providing extra strength. According to All-Pro, it also increases clearance under the driveshaft, and does not result in a loss of ground clearance at all. For those looking to really beef up their FJ, this may be a great option (although a SFA may be a better first step). The setup is not cheap at $2200 ($3500 for your choice of gears & an ARB locker), but it’ll certainly help you bullet-proof your FJ. Full details here.
    Published in Latest News