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Discussion Starter #1
I wrote a review of my Poly Performance Synergy Stage III lift that was just published on Off-Road.com. This isn't a step-by-step installation article as that's not what the editors wanted, its more of an overview of the lift, its standout component features, and the decision process I went though in deciding what to get. Some of the content was axed by my editors, but hey, what can you do. :laughing:

Here it is, reprinted from the Off-Road.com original:

Poly Performance's Jeep JK Synergy Suspension System
Publish date: Jun 26, 2008
By: Robert Sutter




Some readers may recall that the last time I wrote for Off-Road.com I was driving a white Hummer H3. It was a great truck and I loved wheeling it but it had to go.

You see, it committed a cardinal sin. It broke. “Ok, so what?” you may think. We wheel our trucks and breaking things is just a part of it. We all recognize it and accept it for what it is. As it was, the H3’s sin wasn’t really that it broke. It was more of what did break, where it happened, and who was on board. Both tie rods (fourth pair that season) and then the steering rack (split clean in half!) broke in the middle of a bog with my wife (who unfortunately isn’t all that keen on wheeling) and my four year old son on board. To make this long story short the next day when we finally got home my wife said to me, “Rob, I don’t care what you do, I don’t care what you get, but if you want us to wheel with you, you need to get a different truck.” Well, I know a good thing when I hear it and you don’t need to tell me twice!

Whenever I was out wheeling, Jeepers would joke with me saying "come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!” It’s funny the things that stick in your head. “Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!” was just that thing.

After wheeling with a friend in a Jeep JK Rubicon Unlimited I knew I could make the switch. With all the aftermarket parts available, which I guess are all those yummy cookies (cookies are few and far between on the Hummer side of the fence), I knew whatever Jeep I got, I could make it mine. I ended up getting a 2008 Rubicon Unlimited and soon started thinking about what I wanted to do to make this Jeep the best for me and my family. I started my plan with what sort of suspension I wanted.

My Jeep still had to function as a daily driver so whatever I decided to do had to meet some basic criteria. It had to be safe, dependable, offer great, uncompromising performance.... and high enough so that my mother-in-law couldn’t get in. ;)

I started doing some research checking out the various well known manufacturers. Safety was number one on my list and was one thing I would not compromise on. Ultimately I decided that I just didn’t have enough experience in the Jeep world so I went and spoke with a friend of mine.

Phil Day is the owner of Trail Duty and someone whose opinion I value very much. He has a lot more experience wheeling than I do and when he likes or dislikes something he’ll let you know, and he’ll let you know why. When we started talking about lifts he asked me what I was looking for. I told him I was looking for a three inch suspension system with adjustable upper and lower control arms, was safe, well engineered and worked equally well on both the trail and the street.

Phil thought about it a moment and then said I had a bunch of options if I was willing to compromise, but if I wanted the best, no compromise lift available then I should take a good long look at Poly Performance; specifically at the 3” Synergy Stage III lift.

I asked around on a variety of internet forums and the response was overwhelming. The response was unanimous: there wasn’t a negative comment in the bunch. With that, my mind was made up and knowing what direction I was going in, I started saving my pennies. It proved to be a whole lot of pennies but as far as I was concerned, my family is worth it so there really wasn’t any question.

I’m not going to bore you with the specific installation steps. Sorry, no step 1: put Jeep on jack stands; no step 73: Tighten bolt to 80ft/lbs of torque. I think that sort of article has its place, but unless you are installing that exact product many of the details are lost on the reader. Instead I’m going to tell you about some key points that I think make a real difference in the Poly Performance Synergy lifts and why I chose to go this route instead of something else.

The Poly Performance Synergy suspension system is available in three different configurations: Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III. Each version is currently available in a 3” and 4.5” height for 4-door JKs or 4” for 2-door JKs.

Each package contains these items:
Adjustable Lower Control Arms (Front & Rear)
Springs (Front & Rear)
Sway Bar Links (Front & Rear)
Bump Stop Spacers (Front & Rear)
Rear Track Bar Bracket
Stainless Steel Brake Lines (Front & Rear)
Rear Lower Shock Mount Kit

Stage I kit adds:
Sway Bar Relocation Kit
Front Track Bar

Stage II kit adds:
Front Track Bar Bracket
High Steer Drag Link Kit

Stage III kit adds:
Adjustable Upper Control Arms (Front & Rear)
Front Track Bar Bracket
High Steer Drag Link Kit

All the kits have the option of:
Poly Performance Synergy Monotube Shocks
Fox Remote Reservoir Shocks
Fox Remote Reservoir with CD Adjuster Shocks
Adjustable Track Bars
Front Sway Bar Disconnect Kit (for non-Rubicon Models)

 

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Discussion Starter #2
I chose to get a 3” Stage III system with the Poly Performance Synergy Shocks. It included everything I wanted with fully adjustable control arms, and addressed my safety concerns with front and rear track bar brackets. I wanted to get a 4.5” kit but Massachusetts has a formula to determine legal lift height and for a vehicle with the wheelbase and track of a JK Unlimited a 3” lift and 35” tire is the maximum I can legally run. At least with the Synergy lift systems there will be no issues if I ever move and want to go up in height. All that is required would be to swap out the spring and bump stops. As an added bonus, the Stage III kit offers me all the adjustability I’ll ever need if and when I ever decide to move up.

There are some really impressive features in the Synergy kits that show the thought and engineering that went into these components. Four components in particular come to mind: The front and rear track bar brackets, the high steer drag link kit, the adjustable control arms, and the rear lower shock mount kit. Let’s start with the track bar brackets.

When I was researching safety aspects of certain lift kits and how certain components affect handling, I stumbled across some interesting information concerning roll center. Roll center greatly impacts how lifted vehicles handle, so this is an important topic to consider when talking about a lift.
The Society of Automotive Engineers define roll center as, "the point in the transverse vertical plane through any pair of wheel centers at which lateral forces may be applied to the sprung mass without producing suspension roll". On the Jeep JK, and solid axle vehicles in particular, the roll center will usually be close to the center point of the track bar.

If the roll center and a vehicle’s center of mass are different then a “moment arm” is created. This moment arm will have a very large influence on how your vehicle handles during cornering. Simply put, the larger the moment arm, the worse your vehicle will handle.

If a suspension design uses track bar relocation brackets mounted on the frame, the roll center is lowered and the moment arm is increased. The result is a vehicle with poor handling characteristics. Alternately, if the track bar relocation bracket is mounted on the axle, the roll center is raised and the moment arm in decreased. The result is a vehicle that has better handling characteristics.

Poly Performance addresses roll center by using axle mounted track bar brackets front and rear in the Synergy Stage II and Stage III lift kits while the Stage I kit gets a Rear Track Bar Bracket and an adjustable front track bar instead. By doing this they have increased the vehicle roll center and have decreased the moment arm. The end result is a JK that corners like its on rails. I wasn’t expecting sports car like performance but I find that my JK handles as well, if not better, than it did when stock.



I mentioned above that the Stage I kit utilizes an adjustable track bar on the front axle. This is mostly done for cost as this kit is less expensive then the Stage II kit (but not by much). The adjustable track bar helps set the axle track correctly, but does nothing to improve the roll center. At the same time, an adjustable track bar doesn't lower the roll center and increase moment arm as frame mounted track bar brackets do.

One issue that a few JK owners have experienced is the OEM track bar attachment points being ripped completely off the axle. This could be attributed to lift kits or simply the stresses of wheeling your JK off road. It shouldn’t happen, but I’ve heard too many reports to discount it.

Obviously Poly Performance had heard of this too and designed their track bar relocation brackets accordingly. Poly’s brackets answer this problem by utilizing both the stock attachment points and by wrapping around the axle, relieving additional stresses on the stock attachment points. The result is not only a stronger relocation bracket, but one that also addresses the needs for improved vehicle handling.

Using a relocation bracket on the rear axle is a pretty simple process, but up front is an entirely different animal. At the front axle, steering geometry needs to be considered as the relationship of the track bar and drag link needs to be addressed to prevent negative steering characteristics.

In simple terms the front track bar and drag link need to parallel each other. Using a track bar relocation bracket raises the track bar at the axle end and now you’re no longer parallel. Some suspension designs handle this by using a frame mounted relocation bracket for the track bar and then adding a drop Pitman arm to keep the drag link parallel. But remember how we talked about roll center up above?



Yep, you guessed it, this solution lowers the roll center and increases moment arm. The end result is poorer handling. If the design doesn’t include a drop pitman arm things get even worse. The drag link and track bars being non-parallel will result in bump steer. Not good.

Poly Performance solves this problem by including their High Steer Drag Link kit. The kit mounts the drag link over the steering knuckle rather than under it as the stock one does. By doing this the drag link is now parallel to the track bar again. The Poly Performance drag link not only corrects any steering geometry issues and is substantially stronger than the factory drag link, but also the design causes the drag link to be more horizontal, resulting in improved steering feel.

The Track Bar Relocation Brackets and the High Steer Drag Link kit addressed my concerns of vehicle handling and safety, while the Synergy control arms addressed my needs for full adjustability.

The Synergy arms are fully adjustable just like many other manufacturers control arms. What sets the Poly Performance control arms apart is that they are fully adjustable while remaining on the vehicle. There is no need to remove them from the vehicle to check and recheck your adjustments. The arms feature a threaded sleeve that allows them to be lengthened or shortened depending on which way you turn the sleeve. This makes adjusting your pinion and castor angles a snap and allows you easy adjustability if you want or need to extend or shorten your wheelbase.


The last of the key features I’m going to focus on is the Rear Lower Shock Mount Kit. When Jeep designed their axles they created brackets for shock mounting that hang far below the axle. I’m sure that part of the rational behind this was to be able to increase shock length for maximum articulation.

Unfortunately this design also eats into your available ground clearance beneath the axle.
The Poly Performance Rear Lower Shock Mount Kit ends this problem by giving you a mounting solution that is raised up above the stock location and is adjustable for the height lift you’ve installed. The bracket integrates with the rear sway bar mounts for a secure mounting solution that also double as protection for bolt threads against any rock mangling.




All these components are a great example of why Poly Performance calls these kits “Synergy”. Every component is designed to work with the other kit components. The Poly engineers have clearly thought through the effects of changing components within each kit and how each component interacts. The end result is nothing short of brilliant.

As you’ve read my article you may be thinking that I’m head over heels in love with Poly and I’m looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Well not exactly. There are some things that need improvement, namely the installation instructions.

When I got my kit I was expecting a master installation guide or instruction set. Well there wasn’t one. There was an excellent set of instructions for each component package though! Unfortunately I had no way of knowing what order in which to install each component package. This resulted in a bit of back tracking and silly mistakes on my part, but in the end everything got taken care of.

I was surprised by the lack of a master installation guide so I contacted Poly Performance about it. They informed me that a master installation guide is being written and should be done shortly. As an interim solution, all component kit instructions are being changed to include a number detailing what step they should be installed in as part of a Synergy kit.

So, after reading all of this you know that Poly Performance takes its products seriously and has put some incredible engineering and thought into their Synergy lifts. The big question is: Does it work? It works and then some!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I’ve built up my JK with the 35” Hankook DynaPro MT tires and Staun Internal beadlocks from my H3. They were in great condition and just waiting to be tested on the new JK. With the tires set to 33psi and riding on Poly Peformance Synergy Monotube shocks the street ride started out a bit firm. Once I added a RockHard shorty bumper and Smittybilt XCR-8 winch the ride smoothed out a lot. When I added my recovery gear, a box of tools, and spares the ride became even better.

I asked Poly Performance about this and they told me that the Synergy kits are designed with the expectation that the owner will be eventually adding heavy duty components like steel off road bumpers with winches and tire carriers. Unlike many other lifts that may find their springs taxed by this extra weight, the Poly Performance Synergy lifts are designed from the beginning with this in mind. Hmmm serious attention to detail. Is anyone noticing a trend here?




Stopping was always a bit of a worry in my stock JK compared to other vehicles I’ve owned. You’d step hard on the brakes and the JK was just like the Energizer Bunny. It just kept going and going and going.

The braided stainless steel extended brake lines included in the Synergy kit have solved this problem. Pedal feel is now firm and stops are much quicker and controlled. This added performance comes despite the fact that each new wheel/tire/beadlock combination is probably over 35lbs heavier and has a three inch greater diameter than stock. Even if you never lift your JK, invest in a set of braided stainless steel brake lines. The performance difference is that good and as far as I’m concerned, it may just save your life.

I chose a medium-hard trail for the shake-down run. I wanted to challenge my new JK but decided it was smarter to get a feel for how she would handle before I started getting into tougher terrain. This trail was the perfect choice.

The first obstacle was a large rock face that is off camber to the trail, with a narrow approach and a fairly large step up. Below is a picture of a stock JK Rubicon Unlimited that I spotted over the same obstacle a year ago. As it went up the rock face the drivers side front tire hung in the air, even with the sway bar being disconnected.

A year later on my shakedown run I took a similar line up this rock. The Poly Performance lift gave me plenty of articulation to keep all four wheels on the ground, easily climbing this face. I had so much fun doing it I turned around and did a more aggressive line that I had never been able to do before. The JK walked it.



As we continued down the trail I kept on recalling how the stock Rubicon had dealt with the same obstacles that I was facing now. Where the stock Rubicon had to weave in and out to avoid getting high-centered on the larger rocks, my added clearance allowed me to crawl right over. In places where the stock Rubicon would be hanging a wheel in the air, my increased articulation kept all four wheels planted firmly on the ground.

I used to think this trail was challenging and tough; a fair and honest medium-hard trail. I’m not going to say the trail has become “easy” because it hasn’t. The friend who went with me on this run had no issues last year but found it much more challenging this time around. All thatsaid, the new capabilities of my Poly Performance enhanced JK is going to have me reconsidering just what is a medium-hard trail, at least for me. The lift took everything I threw at it and just laughed.

To sum everything up, the Poly Performance Synergy Stage III lift so far has met all the criteria I set out for it. It’s safe with excellent engineering in all its parts. Its street performance has been excellent. There is no question about handling and although the ride isn’t plush, it would have been if I had sprung for the Fox CD adjuster shocks.

I can’t offer any input on dependability yet as I’ve only had it on for a few thousand miles and limited off road time. By the time you read this I’ll have spent a weekend at Raush Creek Offroad Park in Pennsylvania, looking for some more challenging terrain. We’ll see how she does then.

As for the mother-in-law not being able to get it in we’ve had total success with that one too! :thefinger: (just kidding Bubbi!)

So, would I recommend this lift to a friend? You betcha!
 
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X2.

I would have written the same thing (If I could write that well) and also think my JK on 37s with the 4 ½ lift rides better now than it did stock. Off road my JK also exceeded my expectations and literally walked up trails that I used to think were hard. Running through Pritchett Canyon in Moab without taking a bypass, taking hard lines and without winching or strapping is a testament to how will it works.

I went the stage III kit also but opted for the Fox CD shocks and don’t regret spending the extra cash. I actually change the settings when I’m wheeling (5) and keep them nice and cushy for the road (2).

I also agree about the instructions but suspect they assume the people reading them have lifted a Jeep before. I was in the same boat as you and was winging it and calling the Phil Day hot line whenever I got stuck ;)

I’ve now added just about all the weight I’m going to and everything has settled down perfectly. I couldn’t be happier with my suspension setup, the Poly products and Phil for continually providing any support I need.

:smokin::smokin::smokin:
 

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Good to hear, this kit is on my radar for the day when I'm ready to upgrade from the BB.
Thanks
 

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Great read. Thanks for the detailed review. What about the content that didn't make it into the article? Not that my mind isn't made up to get a Poly lift, but anything else to share?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Great read. Thanks for the detailed review. What about the content that didn't make it into the article? Not that my mind isn't made up to get a Poly lift, but anything else to share?
I'm glad that you folks are liking the article. Thanks! :D

As for what got chopped... mostly it was an overview of Poly Performance as a company and a brief interview with Goat1, Poly's chief engineer. Not exactly lift review specific, but interesting stuff none the less. ;)
 

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I'm glad that you folks are liking the article. Thanks! :D

As for what got chopped... mostly it was an overview of Poly Performance as a company and a brief interview with Goat1, Poly's chief engineer. Not exactly lift review specific, but interesting stuff none the less. ;)
Post it up dude...

Nice write up BTW!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Post it up dude...
No problem! ;)

Nice write up BTW!
Thanks! :smokin:


Okay... here's most of what ended up on the cutting room floor. I've included a bit that you have already read above to give it context.




I asked around on a variety of internet forums and the response was overwhelming: Poly Performance Synergy lifts rock! Okay, so maybe the response didn’t exactly come back as “Poly Performance Synergy lifts rock” but you get the idea. The response was unanimous and there wasn’t a negative comment in the bunch. With that, my mind was made up and knowing what direction I was going in, I started saving my pennies. It proved to be a whole lot of pennies but as far as I was concerned, my family is worth it so there really wasn’t any question.

Many of you may have never heard of Poly Performance. It’s currently not a name that is rolling off of every Tom, Dick, or Harry’s tongue. Or at least it isn’t on the everyman side of the fence. Move over to the performance buggy or competition Rock Crawler arenas and Poly Performance is all over the place. Seeing as I had a lot of pennies to save (read: time to kill) I decided to find out a bit of the story behind Poly Performance and their Synergy lifts.

Poly Performance started with a pair of friends at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, otherwise known as Cal Poly. Dave Schlossberg and Drew Burroughs met through the Poly Goats 4wd club. Dave was majoring in Industrial Technology and Drew in Mechanical Engineering. Drew graduated a few years before Dave and started working at Sway-A-Way (SAW) designing off-road racing shocks, axles, and torsion bars.

Dave started Poly Performance while still in school; at about the time that rock crawling competition was becoming popular. Through Drew, Dave started selling SAW shocks and rod ends; components that allowed for more performance on rock crawling buggies. Soon Drew was designing additional products that Dave would have produced in area machine shops and then sold through Poly Performance. Drew moved on from SAW to Full Traction as their suspension designer. He designed all their suspension kits in that time period, including the TJ long arm kit and some IFS truck kits.

In mid 2005 Dave and Drew were in a position to work full time together and started a new company: Poly Performance Mfg. which as the name suggests is a manufacturing business, with their products mostly sold through Poly Performance, major resellers like Quadratec, and smaller performance resellers like Genright and Trail Duty.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Drew some questions:

RS: What was the plan behind Poly Performance and the new Jeep JK?

Drew: When the new Jeep JK's came out, we figured all the manufactures would be starting from scratch so we decided to get in on it by making premium JK parts, not just what everyone else was making but to make the best parts we could and not cut corners. Our products are not the cheapest on the market but we feel that are definitely the best.

RS: I'm interested in the design goals of the JK synergy lifts. What were you designing for and did you get it?

Drew: The design goal of the synergy suspension was to make a complete suspension package that works together, that is how we got the Synergy name. One of our strong points is shocks, which is where I feel most of the other suspension manufactures fall short. We spent many hours with the spring and shock tuning and making sure all the parts worked correctly, like the track bar and bump stop brackets. I feel that we have accomplished what we set out to do. Everyone that has used the kit has been extremely impressed with what we've done.

Hmmm… these are pretty strong words and obviously the people at Poly Performance are proud of what they’ve produced. Let’s see if the proof is in the pudding.

I started my install on a Saturday morning at a friend’s garage with only basic tools and knowledge. I had never installed a lift before but I was confident that I could do this. I made a couple missteps and had to quit work early as my friend’s wife kicked me out of the garage (eek!) but by Monday afternoon I was done. If I had been able to work into the evening I’m confident I would have been done within the weekend.

I’m not going to bore you with the specific installation steps. Sorry, no step 1: put Jeep on jack stands; no step 73: Tighten bolt to 80ft/lbs of torque. I think that sort of article has its place, but unless you are installing that exact product many of the details are lost on the reader. Instead I’m going to tell you about some key points that I think make a real difference in the Poly Performance Synergy lifts vs. the competition and why I chose to go this route instead of something else.
 

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Nice work. It's interesting to read the history.
 

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nOT ONLY NICE TO HEAR THE HISTORY BUT FINALLY SOMETHING THAT GAVE ME THE FINAL DECIDING FACTOR ON WHAT IAM BUYING.......THANKS
 

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Excellent write up, exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for to help me decide which lift to get. Have they come out with the master installation guide yet? I've never installed a lift but plan on installing the one on my Rubicon.
 

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How lond did it take you to complete the install. Was it you alone or a pair.
 
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It should take about a day (8-10 hrs) by yourself. Some parts of it can be done quicker with two people, but one person can do it all just fine.
It took me two days with help on one of the days but I’d never lifted a truck before. Actually more like 3 days by the time I get it all dialed in etc.
 

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Excellent writing. I see why your published!

Thanks for sharing here.
 
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