I would think swapping out the springs would be your best bet for improvement. When I had 4 door rubi coils on my jeep it rode like a tank. Swapped them out for some 2" old man emu springs and shocks and it was like night and day. Much more compliant ride on and off road. The suspension articulates freely w/o the need for any additional resistance. I have since swapped out the shocks for some longer teraflex units and they are valved a little stiffer than the ome's were but it feels just about right. Just my 2 cents.
Now I swapped out the Unlimited Rubicon springs I had for the 2.5" Rough Country..it rode noticeably better right after that. However I wasn't quite happy with the height of the Rough Country springs, so I put my 2" rear and 2.5" front spacers back in it. Making my ~3.5" fraken lift after all my accessories. That change is where the ride quality changed most, in my opinion.
As the Jeep gets higher over the axle with stock arms both the angle of the control arms to the ground, and the angle of the rear shocks worsen. The shocks are already at an angle at stock height, bump it up 3.5" and it gets pretty noticeable, which does not allow them to function as much as they should.
I am somewhat planning to try the shock theory out with some homemade (but probably not trail worthy) extensions to see how they do a little straighter (as close to 90* to the ground as I can). However, that should not affect my articulation a whole lot (the shock angle) on a "static flex" like that. Despite how they want to react to the road, they shouldn't have a problem compressing like in the first picture.
The flexing issue is going to have to be in the arms and maybe the spring rate (some, as mentioned it rode noticeably better with the RCs).
What kind of rear sway bar links do you have? Could they be the limiting factor...or part of it?
The rear sway bar end links are plenty long and I do plan on removing it to test and see how it does. The weight distribution of a 2dr is pretty darn good (shows 50%/50%), so it's hard to say there "isn't enough weight over the rear end". It is not so much that it's "limited", it just takes a lot of effort (front sway bar hooked up) to get it to want to work.
Mike, 2 things.
When I removed the rear swaybar, I can tell no difference on the road. So I have no intention of reinstalling it. We'll have to see if that helps off road. I'll be at Hidden Falls in about 3 weeks so I'll test it out there.
And... When I had my first lift, the rear didn't want to flex out at all. The spring rate was just a little too firm. With my current springs the rear rides much softer. Having said that I have to admit that the rear of my rig still doesn't come close to the performance of my front. The rear has more design constraints so I don't think its easy to get an honest front to rear balance.
Looking forward to following this thread.
That is good to know on the sway bar. I may do a little testing to figure out just how much it does want to do. Jack under a tire and measuring the body height versus wheel lift with the bar on/off should give me a basic idea of how much it is functioning.
I am looking to get "something" out of the rear, I don't plan on getting the performance out of the front. But there has to be a somewhat simple reason why my rear axle is absolutely parallel with the body in the first picture. If it's a major binding sob and I need to swap the joints out, that's one thing. Spring rates should be similar, bushings are similar, weight distribution is similar. My biggest difference in the front is the dropped AEV brackets (which actually let it flex noticeably more over w/o using stock arms).
I don't plan on re-engineering the rig, but I'd like to find out just why it takes so much more to get it to work!