I have been in the Jeep / Offroad game for most of my life. I started when I was 5 with ATV's and Dirtbikes, and over the last 18 years (since I purchased my first Jeep) I have been hooked!
Over the years I have tried many different combinations of lift kits, tires, and general off-road products. I have had good experiences and bad over the years with many different products. I wanted to take a few minutes and provide some information regarding my latest upgrade to my 2016 JKUR. This Jeep like many before it has gone through several "phases" as money became available and honestly as I continue to learn more about pros and cons for different setups.
I have been running Metalcloak 4.5" short arm kit on my Jeep for most all of its relatively short life, and ran the 3.5" Metalcloak lift on my last JKU. Before that I have run teraflex and rubicon express as a few other examples.
The reason for this upgrade to the Clayton Long Arms was for several reasons. First, anytime you lift a vehicle the control arms and driveshafts get steeper angles on them. There are three schools of thought on lift hight:
1.) Big Lifts of times past:
When I first started wheeling years ago it was go as high as you possibly can to get as much clearance as possible and run larger tires. This is good for break over angles and driving over large obstacles. However, this is terrible for off camber and general on road drivability. On top of the poor handling characteristics you have to deal with the wear and tear on all the driveline with steep angles. I personally ran a TJ on over 6" of lift with 35" tires (crazy by todays standards) and it was VERY tippy. Go watch some of my videos of the Black TJ in Colorado, it was scarry!
2.) Low center of gravity (LCG):
This has been a very trendy thing recently and the school of thought is to keep your CG very low so that you have good handeling characteristics on road and little wear and tear on driveline with shallow angles. I have nothing against this philosophy and honstly it can work really well as long as you can overcome the biggest disadvantage which is breakover angle and belly clearance. Generally, this requires very large tires and quite a bit of custom modification (cutting grill, notching frame, etc.) to provide clearance for large tires (40"+) to match the belly clearance and break over angles with the huge lifts. To do this right you are spending a great deal of money or have really good fabrication skill. Go look up the lower 40 as an example that Mopar showcased a few years ago. Even with the money you still limit your up travel quite a bit with this type of build.
3.) Good Balance:
To me, what I am after is a good balance of lift size, drive-ability, and cost. I wanted a 4-5" lift hight with decent sized tires that didn't compromise the driveline angles to much. In comes a long arm kit with a 4.5" lift. I am after this good balance!
My build started with metalcloak 4.5" short arm lift as I described. However, with that much lift the handling characteristics just aren't that great (compared to my last JKUR with teraflex long arms). So, I wanted to go long arms with my rig. I decided to run the Clayton Long arms because it offers very large and strong control arms with a lifetime warrantee. Additionally, their setup is completely bolt on (that can be welded after the fact) and coupled with their skid plate system everything is tied in nicely!
I am putting together a series of videos to document my installation process, my initial thoughts / impressions of this long arm upgrade kit, and then some wheeling with this new setup over at Windrock.
I will continue to update this post as complete the build and finish the videos...I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful if you are looking at a long arm or skid plate solution.
Video 1 (Clayton Long Arm Installation - Front, AFE Loop Delete, & HD Crossmember)
Video 2 (Clayton Long Arm Installation - Rear & Gas tank removal)
Video 3 (Clayton Complete Skid Plate Installation)
Video 4 (Initial Thoughts and Impressions)