When you’re in the suspension company, you have to know that the product you’re offering can live up to expectations. Shocks, manage arms, leaf springs, and more need to deliver on off-road performance. Within what’s known as “test and tune” sessions, companies like ICON Vehicle Dynamics take a day out to go party on their prototype products and see if they could pass muster.
All of us recently got invited to come out and find out what one of these days is like. The business was holding a “Durability Day” to put two new products through the wringer, going high-speed through washboards plus whoops, and through water plus mud as well. It’s a tough time for the parts getting tested, yet it’s a blast for the guys that will get to do it.
We made our own way to Riverside to check out the SYMBOL headquarters. It was there that we fulfilled Dylan Evans, the founder associated with ICON and an accomplished engineer in the own right. We took a quick visit of the facility, checking out machining, set up, packaging, and other facets of ICON’s daily operations.
Before long, all of us headed outside to hop within our vehicle – a black 2019 Ranger FX4, already rocking brand new ICON shocks absorbers and top control arms, as well as prototype leaf springs out back. We would encounter another ICON driver, Caleb Kerkvliet, as the other half of the test automobile group of that day. Caleb had been driving a 2018 Jeep Superdry JL, outfitted with a prototype abdominal tires carrier, in addition to the ICON shocks.
Pulling off of the road northern of Phelan, we got prepared to test out the vehicles. Dylan plus Caleb set about deflating the auto tires a good amount, dropping the psi to the low to mid-20s on both the particular Jeep and the Ranger. Having much less tire pressure would let the auto tires deform a bit better against influences. “Airing down for this kind of generating is more about ride comfort compared to gaining traction” explained Dylan.
I hopped in the Ranger with Dylan and he let the vehicle have it, taking off at high speed plus going straight into rocky flat surfaces, spotted every now and then with sizable whoops. “We’re trying to get a sense of what the come back rate is, ” said Dylan. “In off-road drop-offs, on the considerably side of the drop-off, the suspension system compresses, and how quickly it profits to ride height is largely managed by the valving of the shock, and also the spring rate. ”
The shock absorbers on the Ranger had the data compresion knob set to “stock” at first, that was the number four setting (out associated with 10 total). The plan was to check the shocks in this setting initial, and then make the compression stiffer, which may help navigate the whoop areas better. “We’re testing in the earlier phases, ” said Dylan. “We’re furthermore on a softer setting on the shock absorbers right now, so that is making the particular suspension use up a lot of its vacation and hitting the bump stops. ” It should also be noted that the Ranger was using factory lower manage arms, but ICON’s upper manage arms, which were there to increase steering wheel travel.
As mentioned over, the main purpose of this off-road excursion was to test out some new products that will ICON was developing. These components were new leaf springs in the Ranger, and a spare tire carrier in the Wrangler. “We’re assessing the sturdiness of these products, ” said Dylan. “The leaf springs have to endure 1, 000 miles of this type of driving. ” Up to the day of our own journey, the leaf springs experienced survived about 120 miles.
After about 5-10 mls of driving through the whoops plus washboards, we pulled over and modified the shocks. Dylan went through level zero to level 6 (out of 10), which would boost the shocks’ stiffness, but would significantly improve prerunning-style driving comfort. “The truck should handle the bigger whoops better now, ” commented Dylan.
What was amazing has been how well Caleb’s Jeep had been keeping up with us. With its own suspension system upgrades, the Jeep was in fact capable of “When we do Sturdiness Days like this, we try to have got at least two vehicles for the sake of basic safety, ” said Dylan. “But we all also like to test stuff on the 2nd vehicle, so that’s why we now have the spare tire carrier on it. ”
We went until reaching the southwest CA-247, a freeway connecting the Interstate 15 and Highway 62, plus hopped onto the road. It appeared as if we were in the middle of nowhere. We nevertheless had the shocks on the amount six setting, but the ride did not feel much different. It was a pretty substantial change from the number one setting we were at first on, and would make a visible difference on whoop sections.
To Dylan, these outings were as familiar to your pet as riding a bike, and were assisted by GPS routes that Dylan developed over years of testing. “I’ve done loads of these durability times, so I know where to take the automobiles, ” he said. “A very long time ago, I did shorter days. This wasn’t until we developed the particular Delta Joint [an uniball joint] that I took the rigs to longer trips. ”
About noon, we stopped at a gasoline station to refill the Ranger and Jeep. The objective now has been to head north to the Interstate 40, take an off-road secret to the Interstate 15, drive rough-road some more, and then stop in Baker with regard to lunch.
Before long, we all made it out into the Mojave Wilderness, with the sun beating down instead of a soul in sight. Recent rainfall left puddles in odd areas around the landscape, which Dylan had been keen to avoid as much as possible. Caleb held up the rear, staying close sufficient to keep us in sight, but much enough to react if Dylan hit the brakes.
We ceased near a railroad overpass plus hid in the shade for a bit. Dylan hopped out to check on the Ranger’s leaf springs and other components, whilst Caleb did the same on the steering wheel carrier. He observed the carrier’s vibrations while driving and observed that the carrier was doing great, but it made considerable noise. The particular Ranger’s leaf springs were nevertheless in good shape, so we were good to go.
We carried on and discovered a water crossing near the paths, stretching a good 60 yards roughly. Dry land was on the other side, but could not tell how deep it was, therefore Caleb and I went first within the Jeep. We made it across flawlessly, even as the water-soaked the 4×4 up to the windows and onto the particular hood a bit. Caleb relayed in order to Dylan to stay to one side from the water, as that would keep the auto tires touching the bottom.
Dylan produced the trip across water without having issue, or so it seemed. Drinking water must have gone where it was not wanted, as Dylan showed all of us his dashboard lighting up with all types of alerts. For the rest of the day, the Ranger remained stuck in a sort of sagging mode, unable to reset itself regardless of multiple attempts.
We carried on plus found our way into a canyon. Footpaths split off from the main path and we explored them to see exactly what lay hidden. We even indexed up into a cave, but fortunately there weren’t any bats or even meth addicts inside.
We kept driving and discovered the desert gave way to the dune area called the Dumont Sand hills. Smaller than Oceano Dunes, the region was still a blast to drive close to in. Dylan took the opportunity to try out the Ranger in Sand setting and got the rear end in order to kick out, creating epic rooster tails.
After some lunch at Baker, we started our wayward trip home, but not before stopping in the Lava Tubes to the east. Created from cooled lava boring through the planet, the leftover cave was at the same time eerie and mystifying. It’s very something to be underground with just small rays of light arriving through the ceiling.
The afternoon ended with us heading back to Riverside to ICON headquarters. I remaining with a better understanding of what switches into product testing, as well as the natural miracles right here in Southern California. It will be makes me want to take our Explorer out for some more exploring!