Suspension planning... Looking for GX experience with mid-to-higher end products (1 Viewer)

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Jan 16, 2010
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The GX is due for some suspension lovin.

Current status: 1/2" Toytec spacer in the front, 265/70r17 32" BFG KO2s on Method wheels, and... That's it.

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It just rolled over 120k and the OEM front shocks are getting a bit moist around the seals, the rears aren't feeling as good as they used to, and of course the airbags are approaching questionable territory. I just killed and replaced one outer TRE, and I have an OEM replacement to install on the other for preventative maintenance. Overall the front end isn't feeling as tight as it used to.

We decided to keep this rig at least another few years, which means it's time to dump some cash into the suspension. I guess I drive the rig somewhat hard. Not hardcore crawling or trail use, I have my Tacoma project for that if/when it ever gets finished. But the GX sees rough washboarded Forest Service roads and gravel roads at speed every week, sand use at least once a year, snow wheeling as much as I can, light-to-moderate towing, and a bit of general douchebaggery such as smashing over speed humps and roundabouts with too much speed. It's my daily, MTB hauler, family camping rig, and tow rig and sees 7-8k miles per year these days.

I loathe bad suspension, and I don't mind throwing a bit of cash at this. I'd like to do all poly bushings in the front end for sure, lower ball joints, aftermarket upper control arms (ball joint or sealed uniball, because PNW), coilovers, rear coils and shocks, panhard bar, maybe rear links, and maybe all rear poly bushings. Perhaps some rear Airlift bags in the springs if they're needed for towing.

- My first thought is an Icon stage 3 or 4 kit. It would get the job done well, and is pretty proven.
- Camburg offers a Fox kit that has some nice arms, though I would need to add some other parts.
- Radflo has a kit with Total Chaos arms, but again, I would add a few more parts.
- Bilstein? I like their shocks and have 7100s on my Taco.
- ???
Edit:
- Toytec Boss Aluma 2.5 looks like a good option. Need to talk to them about spring rates.

And before anyone recommends the following...
- OME is out, I don't like the way it rides.
- Ironman is out because reasons.
- King is nice, but overpriced IMO. (Edit: unless I can score a killer deal on them...)

Other plans include sliders, 255/80r17 33s on the stock wheels, and probably regearing to 4.10s (maybe 4.30s if I can find takeoffs? I wouldn't say no to an E-Locker either...). Eventually some headers and an intake, maybe an SAI bypass, but those will come later. The bulk of the work will probably be next spring, I made a promise to myself (and @CreeperSleeper ) to get my damn Taco done first.

I'm suspension savvy and have no problem maintaining/rebuilding/valving coilovers so living with higher performance stuff isn't a huge deal. Then again, I could slap on some off-the-shelf disposable shocks and piece the rest together (like I did with my last 3rd Gen 4runner)... but where's the fun in that? I want something nicer this time around.

SO...

What's the general experience look like with the 120 GX platform and the good suspension that's currently available? Any issues I should look out for? Anyone want to tell me I'm an idiot and my plan sucks? (Please tell me if it sucks, I'm open to constructive criticism).
 
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And for anyone curious, here's the Taco before I tore it apart again for more cutting/welding/parts swapping...

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I know we've gone over this before, but here is what I think:

Knowing how these suspensions function, I would for sure do upper control arms no matter what. If you go Icon, that would put you in a Stage 2 at least. Personally, I love my Icon suspension. However, if I was to do it over, I would do ToyTec Boss. They are made by Radflo and I have been super impressed with them on buddy's rigs. I think it is a better bang for the buck. That being said, I also know your driving style and Icon would fit you well.
 
I know we've gone over this before, but here is what I think:

Knowing how these suspensions function, I would for sure do upper control arms no matter what. If you go Icon, that would put you in a Stage 2 at least. Personally, I love my Icon suspension. However, if I was to do it over, I would do ToyTec Boss. They are made by Radflo and I have been super impressed with them on buddy's rigs. I think it is a better bang for the buck. That being said, I also know your driving style and Icon would fit you well.

Oh yeah, I keep forgetting about Toytec. I would need to talk to them and see about getting a 600lb front spring instead of the uprated 700lb spring, as I'm not going to run an aftermarket bumper or winch and I'm planning on keeping the swaybars intact. But yeah, their coilovers and rear springs look nice and are price competitive.

Your Icon setup is one of the reasons I'm considering them as a top choice. They would work really well for what I need are available everywhere.
 
Dobinson IMS seems to get pretty good review and just one step above basic.

The MRR Adjustable supposed to be much better, but the adjustability can be confusing to most people. Plus the hose routing and bracketry that are somewhat generic can lead to install error.

Toytec got a new kit that is built by Elka. I heard good things about it also.
 
Dobinson IMS seems to get pretty good review and just one step above basic.

The MRR Adjustable supposed to be much better, but the adjustability can be confusing to most people. Plus the hose routing and bracketry that are somewhat generic can lead to install error.

Toytec got a new kit that is built by Elka. I heard good things about it also.

Thanks for bringing up Dobinsons. I'm still 50/50 on them, as their basic stuff is pretty equivalent to OME while their IMS/MRR stuff looks nicer and has higher specs but at the end of the day it's somewhat generic Chinese suspension parts. Which means that long-term, good luck with DIY service parts and procedures. Their stuff is pretty unproven and prices higher than it should be IMO. Very similar to Ironman.

Adjustability is no big deal, though external adjusters aren't a necessity for me; I can always revalve the shock by tweaking the shim stack. Same with install, no big deal there either.

I recently noticed the Elka shocks, they are nice! Probably a bit nicer (and probably more expensive) than what I need at this point though...
 
Toytec boss series are made by Elka.

Oh, I like the sound of that! I'll definitely reach out to Toytec to talk about spring rates. Thank you for the info!
 
Just ordered the Boss 2.0 it has a 700lb spring for the front. Elka quality is top notch.
 
Just ordered the Boss 2.0 it has a 700lb spring for the front. Elka quality is top notch.

Sweet! I'll be interested to hear what you think once they arrive, and how the install goes.

Perhaps the 700lb/in spring would be better for the GX... Heavier body and engine compared to a 4runner or FJ. I need to look into that a bit more.
 
Something else to consider is the customer service experience with each vendor... Icon is top notch, Toytec also seems to be very good, Camburg is so-so from what I've heard, but the Fox shocks they include have awesome service. Not sure about Radflo. I definitely want good parts availability, and support if/when I need it.
 
Something else to consider is the customer service experience with each vendor... Icon is top notch, Toytec also seems to be very good, Camburg is so-so from what I've heard, but the Fox shocks they include have awesome service. Not sure about Radflo. I definitely want good parts availability, and support if/when I need it.
This was another reason to go Toytec for me. Their customer service in the past has been excellent. I hope that continues with this purchase.
Also the rep I talked with at length says these new Old Man Umu UCA are the best they have ever seen.
 
Thanks for bringing up Dobinsons. I'm still 50/50 on them, as their basic stuff is pretty equivalent to OME while their IMS/MRR stuff looks nicer and has higher specs but at the end of the day it's somewhat generic Chinese suspension parts. Which means that long-term, good luck with DIY service parts and procedures. Their stuff is pretty unproven and prices higher than it should be IMO. Very similar to Ironman.

Adjustability is no big deal, though external adjusters aren't a necessity for me; I can always revalve the shock by tweaking the shim stack. Same with install, no big deal there either.

I recently noticed the Elka shocks, they are nice! Probably a bit nicer (and probably more expensive) than what I need at this point though...

I don't see what's wrong with Dobinsons or OME. They seem to be in the same tier as Bilstein.
 
I don't see what's wrong with Dobinsons or OME. They seem to be in the same tier as Bilstein.

Personal preference, more or less. OME suspension serves a purpose, it's robust and simple. Dobinsons is 50/50 for me like I said, their quality is still questionable and good luck getting rebuild parts to DIY.

Look at which brands are ran on race rigs, and shown in videos jumping the truck or smashing through whoops. That performance background and knowledge absolutely makes the company's midrange shocks perform better.

This could be a couple hours of BSing about suspension brands, so I'll just chalk it up to personal preference here. If I'm going to spend some fun money on the GX I want suspension that I can have fun with, so I want a motorsports background to the shock builder.
 
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I just put an Eibach Pro Truck kit on the GX. I know price-wise it does not fall into your mid-high level of kit, but they offer a "Million Mile Warranty," which I haven't seen anyone else offer.

 
I was debating between OME and Icon. I ended up with Icon. Feedback on the OME is that it ran stiff without additional weight. I got about 15k on the Icon and they are great. I plan to either rebuild them, they has a slight leak, or will go with Dobinson MRR which has a longer standing in Australia same as OME.
 
I just put an Eibach Pro Truck kit on the GX. I know price-wise it does not fall into your mid-high level of kit, but they offer a "Million Mile Warranty," which I haven't seen anyone else offer.


That's a good looking kit, and Eibach does make great quality products in-house in the USA. I should add that I need front height adjustment for a desired lift height of 2" front, and 2" rear (which I will load a bit with some junk in the trunk and hope for 1.5").

Edit: looks like the Eibach shocks have the Bilstein style snap ring perch adjustment. Probably still not quite the level I'm looking for, but a solid sub-$1k option nonetheless.

I was debating between OME and Icon. I ended up with Icon. Feedback on the OME is that it ran stiff without additional weight. I got about 15k on the Icon and they are great. I plan to either rebuild them, they has a slight leak, or will go with Dobinson MRR which has a longer standing in Australia same as OME.

I fully agree on your view of OME, their shocks are valved stiff to work with their very stiff springs to handle heavily loaded rigs. Their shocks are simple port damping technology to hit a price point which means that the firm/slow valving has no ability to open up when needed, like shim stack damping would.

Your Icon shocks are due for service anyway, so replacing a seal is NBD while you're doing that. And it looks like Icon spare parts are about as common as it gets. I would service them and keep them. I have yet to see any information on the MRR shocks beyond a couple forum posts of some "overland" installs and a few offroad videos showing wheeling that would have been handled by a Bilstein 5100 just as well. So for unproven, Chinese made shocks that have rubber bushings (not even poly bushings, and not spherical joints) I wouldn't pay $2k for the set.
 
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That's a good looking kit, and Eibach does make great quality products in-house in the USA. I should add that I need front height adjustment for a desired lift height of 2" front, and 2" rear (which I will load a bit with some junk in the trunk and hope for 1.5").

Edit: looks like the Eibach shocks have the Bilstein style snap ring perch adjustment. Probably still not quite the level I'm looking for, but a solid sub-$1k option nonetheless.



I fully agree on your view of OME, their shocks are valved stiff to work with their very stiff springs to handle heavily loaded rigs. Their shocks are simple port damping technology to hit a price point which means that the firm/slow valving has no ability to open up when needed, like shim stack damping would.

Your Icon shocks are due for service anyway, so replacing a seal is NBD while you're doing that. And it looks like Icon spare parts are about as common as it gets. I would service them and keep them. I have yet to see any information on the MRR shocks beyond a couple forum posts of some "overland" installs and a few offroad videos showing wheeling that would have been handled by a Bilstein 5100 just as well. So for unproven, Chinese made shocks that have rubber bushings (not even poly bushings, and not spherical joints) I wouldn't pay $2k for the set.

As far as them sticking to rubber bushings, I believe that they stuck with those for simplicity and longevity without needing service before replacement. I've had suspensions with poly bushings squeak often and spherical joints seize up with little mileage on them. For my use I'll take rubber all day long, but your requirements are different so it is probably not the suspension for you.
 
As far as them sticking to rubber bushings, I believe that they stuck with those for simplicity and longevity without needing service before replacement. I've had suspensions with poly bushings squeak often and spherical joints seize up with little mileage on them. For my use I'll take rubber all day long, but your requirements are different so it is probably not the suspension for you.

I agree, though the use of rubber bushings with what is supposed to be a "higher performance" shock is contradictory. Deflection in OEM style rubber bushings adds to the comfort and reduced NVH of a suspension system, at the expense of stability and control. The point of paying for a higher performance shock is improved stability and control. If someone were to run all OEM rubber bushings around a high-performance shock they would lose some of the performance they just paid for. But that is sometimes (or maybe often times) the case when people want high dollar suspension for the bling factor, but really just want the truck to ride like stock but with 3" of lift and their camping junk loaded in the trunk.

I will absolutely run poly bushings for LCA, UCA, steering rack, both ends of all 4 shocks, sway bars, and probably the rear links. Keep them lubed with silicone and they're easy to live with. A truck with a full poly front end feels great and handles as well as a street truck can without going to heim/spherical joints on everything.
 
That's a good looking kit, and Eibach does make great quality products in-house in the USA. I should add that I need front height adjustment for a desired lift height of 2" front, and 2" rear (which I will load a bit with some junk in the trunk and hope for 1.5").

Edit: looks like the Eibach shocks have the Bilstein style snap ring perch adjustment. Probably still not quite the level I'm looking for, but a solid sub-$1k option nonetheless.



I fully agree on your view of OME, their shocks are valved stiff to work with their very stiff springs to handle heavily loaded rigs. Their shocks are simple port damping technology to hit a price point which means that the firm/slow valving has no ability to open up when needed, like shim stack damping would.

Your Icon shocks are due for service anyway, so replacing a seal is NBD while you're doing that. And it looks like Icon spare parts are about as common as it gets. I would service them and keep them. I have yet to see any information on the MRR shocks beyond a couple forum posts of some "overland" installs and a few offroad videos showing wheeling that would have been handled by a Bilstein 5100 just as well. So for unproven, Chinese made shocks that have rubber bushings (not even poly bushings, and not spherical joints) I wouldn't pay $2k for the set.

Didnt know Dobinson are Chinese built. I read that they are built in Australia.
 

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