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Old 10-03-2022, 01:28 PM #1
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Maximizing travel with stock LCAs (Mid travel setup)

Ok so this is a topic that has probably been covered a lot, but i want to dive back into it. I've been gathering tons of prerequisite information and i think it's worth a shot reexamining for these trucks and the aftermarket parts available for them.

Two best pieces of info i've found so far are Tinkerer's adventure's video about suspension travel and limits of IFS trucks

Suspension Construction and Limits | Everything About Toyota IFS Part 1 - YouTube

and the section of this video where he talks about more lift equating to better off-road capability.

4 Common Myths About IFS Lifts | Everything About Toyota IFS Part 2 - YouTube



which ties in perfectly with eimkeith's article "Why bodylift" essentially, you tilt the A-Arms too much, you lose down travel and raise the center of gravity AKA more tippy, and rides terribly, suspension can't do it's job. so Eimkeith's explanation about a 2'' lift plus a 1'' bodylift being optimal over a 3 inch lift is correct.

why Body Lift? – eimkeith.com


So how do we unpack all of this info? Well at the end of the day, you add extended length shock and coils, a high caster UCA (another debated subject), and you get a truck that can droop more than stock. and a coil that can uptravel more due to a longer spring and lowered starting position... Lower it too much however and you lose droop. Therefor the shock and coilover has to be longer, without being so long it can't droop within the stock range of the LCAs and other limiting factors of stock Toyota IFS like CV shafts.

The idea behind the bodylift is so that you can safely clear more uptravel with larger tires, allowing you to hit the bumpstop with larger tires and keep the COG low, while also allowing for droop. Allowing the truck to move in it's full ranger of uptravel in conjunction with the extended shock's droop for more downtravel. Maximizing the capability of the IFS.

In Tinkerer's video he mentions that Bilstein shocks (every 4runner enthusiast's go to cheap, reliable shock) is extended travel, meaning you gain about an inch of droop (down travel). Bilsteins in this regard might be an even better choice than the 3" ICON lift due to this.


On a stock rig without sway bars you're looking at the absolute best 7.9" of travel at full compression and realistically about 6-7" travel with non baja like conditions. With something like a 2 inch lift plus bilsteins you can get about 9"-10" of travel due to the increased uptravel and 1 inch extra downtravel (lift anymore than this and you lose the down travel) Now 9 inches is okay, but from other cheaper setups i've seen on other rigs like a Titan swapped Xterra they can get about 12" of travel on a cheap 4x4 (not saying i like the Xtrerra better, but for 12" of travel on a sub 2k$ IFS setup... that is pretty amazing)

Titan Swap Xterra on 35s - YouTube

I don't think Toyota IFS can really touch this amount of travel without aftermarket long travel LCAs... Unless i am wrong and there is a way. Which is why i'm making this thread. How can we get there? I don't want to simply raise my truck and put big tires on. I want to maximize travel and offroad capability. I'm wondering just how close I can get to 12" of travel without an expensive long travel LCA. I do know you can get close, It is possible. Toyota longtravel can hit 12"-18" of travel easy... But can we get 11"-12"without it?
I know king makes a 2" extended travel shock

The main limiting factor behind the Toyota IFS is the CV binding with too much travel, and shock travel limiting the droop i think? So can we simply get extended shocks, diff drop and get extended CV shafts? Would that really be all we need to do?

I have also done a ton of research on shocks and i might've found a hidden undiscovered gem...

Dobinson's IMS lift

Dobinsons 2-2.5" IMS Lift Kit for Toyota 4Runner 1996 to 2002 3rd Gen – Dobinsons Direct

Why Dobinson's? Well, I contacted them and asked about their extended length compared to bilstein and their response was

"even though they will cost more. (than bilsteins) They are monotube IFP design, 2.2" diameter (bigger than the 5100s) and our extended length is 473mm vs bilstein 464mm, let alone the better valving (progressive). We get alot of questions about digressive and progressive, just so you know not all digressive and all progressive are valved the same. For 2.5" of lift in the front we highly recommend aftermarket UCA's for better caster in your alignment and more down travel."

So not only do you get an extended length shock like the Bilsteins, it's a bit longer, more extended and fatter. Even more extended allowing for more down and uptravel. I'll have to contact Ironman 4x4 to find their extended shock lengths as well, which tinkerer showed are about the same as the bilstein, but i should find out just to be sure. I would choose the Dobinson's over something like an icon 3 inch lift because of the Eimkeith article i discussed above. the 2-2.5" inch lift is optimal for the most articulation. The progressive valving is very superior to digressive as well but that's a whole other rabbit hole.


Tinkerer claims however that UCAs are rarely if ever the limiting factor behind downtravel limitations like the dobinson's rep claimed,

https://youtu.be/huMztKaHsUE?t=620

the CV binds well before factory UCA reaches max articulation... As you can see there's a lot of conflicting misinformation on this subject and it has to be rigorously tested by buying expensive products which vary from vehicle to vehicle. The result... It's very hard if not impossible to get concrete measurements on these parts how they will effect your rig.

At the end of the day should we just enjoy our runners and have fun? instead of trying to be armchair engineers? I think yes and no, i want to see this kind of research driving the aftermarket world to make better products that make your rig work better. So far Dobinson's has really impressed me...

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Old 10-03-2022, 01:47 PM #2
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I've watched all of "Tinker's" videos and I like his approach, that is, let's see what's really happening and not depend on component manufactures claims alone. I think he has probably had an impact on several us, like you.
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Old 10-03-2022, 02:40 PM #3
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I've watched all of "Tinker's" videos and I like his approach, that is, let's see what's really happening and not depend on component manufactures claims alone. I think he has probably had an impact on several us, like you.
100%, every company advertises that you'll need aftermarket UCAs and they'll increase travel but when you watch his videos you see when he moves the suspension up and down with a jack, the limit is almost always first, the shock tube length that stops it from traveling down more, then beyond that it's the CV axle... The stock UCA he couldn't get to max out with down travel even when he removed the shock from the bolt and let the LCA move down freely. Swapping UCAs doesn't exactly give the advertised benefits. All i care about is how can i maximize travel, which it seems all these lift companies seem to be under the impression that you need an aftermarket UCA to do it.
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Old 10-03-2022, 03:02 PM #4
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If you spend even a couple minutes researching them you'll find the IMS kit is far from an unhidden gem. Quite a few individuals here have them, and very few had anything positive to say. In fact so many people complained and had their shocks re-valved, Dobinsons started changing their valving from the get-go. I like Dobinsons but that puts me off, imo.
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Old 10-03-2022, 03:06 PM #5
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If you spend even a couple minutes researching them you'll find the IMS kit is far from an unhidden gem. Quite a few individuals here have them, and very few had anything positive to say. In fact so many people complained and had their shocks re-valved, Dobinsons started changing their valving from the get-go. I like Dobinsons but that puts me off, imo.
Hm, good to know. Stat wise they got me though, i'm sure a few milimeters is negligible though.

I'm just looking for 2 inch lift springs with extra extended travel shocks mainly. Any company making those has a good design philosophy in mind. I get it why because a lot of companies aren't doing that because most bros think you can just keep adding inches of lift to clear bigger tires when that isn't at all how it works. i'm sure 3" to 4" lift kits sell way more than 2" inch lift kits and most people think a 3" lift is "conservative" when in reality they're losing travel (but gaining slight ground clearance)

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Old 10-03-2022, 04:19 PM #6
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Originally Posted by VogRunner View Post
Hm, good to know. Stat wise they got me though, i'm sure a few milimeters is negligible though.

I'm just looking for 2 inch lift springs with extra extended travel shocks mainly. Any company making those has a good design philosophy in mind. I get it why because a lot of companies aren't doing that because most bros think you can just keep adding inches of lift to clear bigger tires when that isn't at all how it works. i'm sure 3" to 4" lift kits sell way more than 2" inch lift kits and most people think a 3" lift is "conservative" when in reality they're losing travel (but gaining slight ground clearance)
I mean from my understanding the issue is all but "fixed" (subjectively speaking of course) and those who got their shocks re-valved are very satisfied with their results, but it's something worth mentioning. One the users in question would have to chime in and speak for themselves
All in all it's a bit of a dead horse; ball joints play a huge role in flex and our LBJs are far from the best design, which is why long travel LCAs all incorporate things like uniballs and heims rather than utilize what we have (including the steering.) In that regard though, Anonymous Fabrications offers a uniball conversion for our LBJs that might interest you, but I don't think anyone's measured a difference in travel between them and stock. I think they're more popular on Tacoma World than here for what it's worth.
I've also always been skeptical of aftermarket UCAs adding "+1in of down travel!" but their abilities to help your alignment are far from a myth, even some alignment techs will tell you to get some if they have trouble. If you find getting/staying aligned is difficult and you value your tires, they're a very worthy investment. Ball joint changes become much easier too, if not cheaper (JBA uses some super common GM ball joint, about $40 to replace iirc and can be found anywhere)
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Old 10-03-2022, 04:41 PM #7
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I've also always been skeptical of aftermarket UCAs adding "+1in of down travel!" but their abilities to help your alignment are far from a myth, even some alignment techs will tell you to get some if they have trouble. If you find getting/staying aligned is difficult and you value your tires, they're a very worthy investment. Ball joint changes become much easier too, if not cheaper (JBA uses some super common GM ball joint, about $40 to replace iirc and can be found anywhere)

I disagree that it's a dead horse, because there are still products that don't list this information or give concrete results. Have to turn to users who have bought them and scour countless threads to find some dude who says "Yea it rides good!" which doesn't give any measurments, data, or anything tangible to go off of. Some do, but the reason i created this thread was to get more info and make an informed purchase.


Also I've nothing against upgrading UCA and LBJ, just trying to find the best bang for my buck flex money can buy. with stock components. Pretty difficult to do so when there's so many combos and possibilities. The LBJ upgrade does look interesting. I know that's definitely a weak link in the IFS setup. along with the tie rods I'm looking into Tundra bilsteins cause they have more travel, Wondering how they'll pair with other spring options, i've seen the TRD spings people like to run with em, but i feel like there has to be a better option. Somewhere has to lie that 10" of travel cheap IFS setup that's economical, reliable, and easily serviced.
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Old 10-03-2022, 06:27 PM #8
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I have Bilstein 5100/TRD Tundra coils on the 2nd perch in the front, w/ JBA UCAs, Whiteline LCA bushings and TrakMotive Xtended® Travel CV axles. No binding, no loss of droop, no limiting from the CV Axles. This is the best and most cost-effective mid-travel setup IMHO. It's about ~22.5" from hub to fender lip at static ride height.

EDIT: I installed Sankei 555 LBJs and Sankei 555 Inner and Outer Tie Rods. I have the original Tundra 5100's from Sonoran Steel.
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Old 10-03-2022, 06:34 PM #9
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Well, let's be 100% clear here - all the stuff Tinkerer does is for a 4th/5th/FJ and doesn't apply directly to a 3rd gen. There were significant geometry updates between the 3rd and 4th gen 4Runners. The approach is great and gives you reasonable assumptions to start from - but you will need to measure/prove everything on the 3rd gen chassis.

The stock upper ball joint is most definitely the droop limiter before the CV once the shock is removed on a 3rd gen. The travel numbers you quote are 4th gen stuff, not 3rd gen stuff.

With stock upper arms and stock bump stops, you are limited to about 8.5" of travel on a 3rd gen. Mess with bump stops for up travel and you have to be careful of shock compressed length. Replace upper arms and get long enough shocks and you can get more droop. Thin top plate spacers can 'even out' the travel available. Watch out for spring rates that are too high and limit articulation, like Tinkerer found out.

If you want front articulation, step 1 is to remove the front swaybar. The rear can remain and stay factory if you want:

Toyota 4Runner Handling Modifications Addco Sway Roll Bars

I personally have an Addco front bar, but disconnect it for offroading...

Lot's more details can be found if you search the forums.

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Old 10-03-2022, 10:22 PM #10
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FWIW the dobinsons IMS does ride nice with the updated valve stack.
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Old 10-04-2022, 10:13 AM #11
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I need to recheck my numbers but I'm pretty sure my fronts were at 6-8" of wheel travel. I can't remember his name, but I'm pretty sure there's a guy on here who is getting 10 in of wheel travel with some modified bump stops.

And I don't know if it's necessarily the best setup, but I always thought that you should set your right height to be in the middle of your travel. So for example, if you have 8 in of travel, you should set your right height to be in the middle of that so you have 4 in of up travel and 4 inches of down travel. Now maybe that's not the optimal setup, but I definitely think a lot of guys forget about down travel. I fell into that trap when I had my 2nd gen Tacoma.

I don't know if this is Max or not, but here's what my front looks like on a hill.

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Old 10-04-2022, 12:04 PM #12
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I need to recheck my numbers but I'm pretty sure my fronts were at 6-8" of wheel travel. I can't remember his name, but I'm pretty sure there's a guy on here who is getting 10 in of wheel travel with some modified bump stops.

And I don't know if it's necessarily the best setup, but I always thought that you should set your right height to be in the middle of your travel. So for example, if you have 8 in of travel, you should set your right height to be in the middle of that so you have 4 in of up travel and 4 inches of down travel. Now maybe that's not the optimal setup, but I definitely think a lot of guys forget about down travel. I fell into that trap when I had my 2nd gen Tacoma.
DFarms is the guy you are thinking of. I don't think he has been on here in years, but a search will find some threads.

Ride height (near) centered in travel is a good starting place. You want more compression travel if you are going to be jumping, etc. You want more droop travel if you are slow rock crawling.

My front end (stock control arms, 5100s and small top plate spacers) is setup like this, measured from the fender lip to the center of the wheel hub:
Full extension: 25.25"
Full compression: 16.75" (coilover out, full weight on bumpstop)
Ride height: 21.25"

So, 4" of droop, 4.5" of compression. I don't push my 4Runner hard or anything, so don't take my setup as gospel...

With 4Runner specific 5100's, this is how much compression travel I have left at the shock with this setup:



So, I'll be able to get another 1/2" or so of (droop) travel with new upper arms and different top plate spacer without risking shock damage.

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Old 10-05-2022, 03:18 PM #13
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I don't have much to add, but I will say this is a useful and informative thread and I'm interested to see what folks have figured out. I have the same "midtravel" setup as a lot of folks but all reality I wonder how much more travel I really have than the stock suspension or folks with the more basic 5100s and stock UCA/LCAs.
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Old 10-05-2022, 06:48 PM #14
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I don't have much to add, but I will say this is a useful and informative thread and I'm interested to see what folks have figured out. I have the same "midtravel" setup as a lot of folks but all reality I wonder how much more travel I really have than the stock suspension or folks with the more basic 5100s and stock UCA/LCAs.
The stock front shocks are really short compared to almost any of the aftermarket options (including Monroes and similar). 5100's, etc. are all similar max length to the higher end coilover options (though their 'normal' length is like a 5100 or so and the extended length requires upper arms). Compression travel may be more available on high end coilovers, but then you need to modify bump stops and do body clearance to get more up travel.

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Old 10-07-2022, 12:16 AM #15
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I just would like to add a few front shock numbers that I've gathered over the years:

OME Nitro Sport 90004: 18.62"E / 13.39"C
Dobinsons G59-222: 18.31"E / 13.19"C (progressive)
Dobinsons IMS 50222: 18.62"E / 13.19"C (progressive)
Bilstein Tundra 5100 (old): 18.68"E / 13.23"C (digressive)
Bilstein Tundra 5100 (new): 18.35"E / 13.23"C (digressive)
King 25001-151: 19:46"E / 15.34"C (progressive)

Please correct me if any figure is incorrect.
Perhaps the IMS shocks have the advantage of a shorter compressed length and progressive valving.
Is the OME valving also digressive?
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