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Hangin’ with MetalCloak at OK4WD

Posted by on October 31, 2014

Lifting my 2012 JKUR has been the plan since before I took delivery.  The only question is which lift? After countless hours of research, conversations with many experts, and personally witnessing different JK specific suspension setups work on the trails, my choices are narrowed  down to AEV’s 3.5″ Dual Sport, or MetalCloak’s 3.5″ Gamer Changer Lite.  So, when I heard MetalCloak’s whirlwind, cross-country CTI Tour included a stop at OK4WD, the premier 4×4 and off-road specialty shop in my area, I knew I had to be there!

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It was a Friday evening event, but still pulled a great crowd.  In typical fashion, OK4WD was a fantastic host.  Not only were the shop’s friendly and knowledgeable owner, the owner’s son and other Jeep experts on-hand, available for questions and happy to share their expert advice, but OK4WD provided plenty of hot dogs, soda and water for all who attended.  Plenty of OK4WD customers were also on hand, happy to discuss and show off their Jeeps.  If you’ve never been to OK4WD, or attended one of their events, you have to check it out!  The shop, the staff, and the quality of their work is impressive.  It’s a worthwhile trip from anywhere in the New York City, New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania areas.  They also sponsor some trail rides – so keep an eye out for those.  Anyway, I was there there when Matson pulled in, MetalCloak’s famous RubiCloak in tow, riding on the the Corner Travel Index (CTI) trailer, which is itself an ingenious creation. 

Three things brought people to this event:

1. A chance to meet Matson in person, and learn about MetalCloak’s products first hand.

Despite long hours of travel, little sleep and infamous NYC rush hour traffic, Matson, his wife, and their dogs, could not have been nicer.  They had plenty of catalogs and sticker for all, and likewise happily spent as much time as necessary answering any and all product related questions.

 

2. A chance to see RubiCloak, in person.

Built as MetalCloak’s showcase JK, and Matson’s personal ride, it features the full Game Changer Suspension complete with 6Pak shocks, Overline Fenders, Rocker Rails & Exo Skins, and the new JK Rear Bumper Tire Carrier.  (I don’t think many picked up on that bumper.)  RubiCloak was also running Falken’s impressive looking 37″ Wildpeak M/T tires, which aren’t even out yet.  To say this thing was drool-worthy and looked Bad-Ass doesn’t even begin to do it justice!  

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3. A chance to put your own Jeep on the MetalCloak CTI trailer.

Ok, what’s CTI, and what’s the CTI trailer?  CTI, or Corner Travel Index, is an attempt at an industry standard method for measuring and comparing suspension travel.  Those in the off road scene focus on suspension articulation, or “flex”, like the muscle car scene focuses on horsepower.  Generally, the more the better.  The degree to which an aftermarket suspension can “flex” is often a key metric for purchase decisions.  Let’s face it, an aftermarket suspension lift is one of the more costly mods we wheelers make, and it’s a decision with a lot of knock-on effects, including a direct impact on both on-road and off-road performance.  So it’s one you want to get right the first time, but the choices can be dizzying.  Anything that can help you narrow down your choices by scientifically and objectively comparing products is a good thing.

While the dyno (dynamometer) is an industry standard, scientific and objective way to measure horsepower and torque, there’s really no equivalent for measuring suspension flex, or axle articulation.  Sure, Ramp Travel Index (RTI) score has been around for years, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind would consider that scientific.  Different ramps use different angles, and results are subject to a wide variety of factors, including driver approach, and skill.  (My Early Bronco brethren get better results backing up the ramp.)   Plus, if you’re not careful, the RTI ramp can pretty easily get you into trouble.  (It’s not hard to flop onto your side.)  Finally, there are many who say RTI scores are meaningless, because the RTI ramp doesn’t simulate how your vehicle’s suspension actually cycles when out on the trails.

Enter CTI and the CTI trailer, which you can conceptualize as four individually operated motorcycle jacks, one under each tire, that can twist and flex a vehicle all kinds of different ways.  Unlike RTI scores, CTI scores aren’t  impacted by driver ability. Many also agree the CTI device better simulates real-World suspension articulation.  Click here for a video explanation of the CTI score and comparison to an RTI ramp score.  While CTI scores are arguably much more meaningful than traditional RTI ramp scores, the CTI score is still not a perfect science.  CTI scores can be, and are, impacted by tire size, tire pressure (PSI), bump stop settings, and wheel offset, which effects track width.  All that said, CTI scores do offer a very interesting and potentially meaningful data point, so long as you know how to use the data and don’t get too hung up on just the numbers.  If you start comparing scores, consider more than just suspension setup!  If using CTI scores to compare different suspension lift options, the vehicles should be running the same wheels, tires, tire pressure and bump stop heights for a more scientific, apples-to-apples comparison.  Perhaps the real value in something like the CTI trailer isn’t just a number, but really finding the limitations of your suspension: what binds, where, at what point(s), and where are the contact / interference points as the suspension cycles and axles articulate?

Well, there were plenty on hand who just couldn’t wait to get their CTI scores, but between snapping picks and conversation, and much to my regret, I wasn’t one of them.  I should have put my JKUR, still on stock suspension, wheels and tires, up on the trailer.  I’m told it would have scored in the 540 range… Be sure to checkout the pics below!

 

But the Highlight of My Day…

Honestly, anytime I can get out to OK4WD is a pretty good day for me.  Meeting Matson in person was awesome.  But I also had a personal agenda.  As I said from the outset, my lift choices are narrowed down to two.  So seeing MetalCloak and AEV lifted JK’s take turns on the CTI trailer was fantastic, and something we East Coast folks likely won’t see again.  While RubiCloak’s performance was ree-GD-diculous, I have to say the AEV lifted JK with 35s on Pintlers did not disappoint.  (I’d like to see numbers for a JK with MetalCloak’s Game Changer Lite with 35s on Pintlers, and bump stopped for stock flares…)

But my ears really perked up when the owner of OK4WD told Matson his MetalCloak Game Changer equipped JK seemed to have more body roll than his similarly equipped AEV lifted vehicle.  That’s when it happened.  Matson suggested they go for a ride in RubiCloak, and somehow, I got the nod to go along.  Writing a fairly popular off-road blog has it’s privileges! 

Well, this wasn’t just any ride.  It was a ride to prove how well RubiCloak tracks, and how stable it is, and how little body roll is exhibited during high-speed, emergency lane change maneuvers, high-speed, hairpin turns, and apparently, upon landing.  Yeah, we caught some serious air.  First of all, Matson is one amazing driver!  That guy’s a mad man!  And I mean that in a good way!  Honestly, I couldn’t believe how well those 37″ Falken M/Ts held the road, and I really couldn’t believe how well RubiCloak handled everything.  Not only had I just seen it flex like mad, but we took numerous turns, all at breakneck speeds, that I’m sure would tax the abilities of most modern sports cars – and most drivers(Closed course, professional driver, no animals were harmed in testing, don’t try this at home kids….) That ride with Matson and the owner of OK4WD was far and away the highlight of my day!  It was one amazingly awesome, wild and completely impressive ride, that I’ll never forget!!

Yeah, MetalCloak’s Game Changer is still very high on my list…

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RubiCloak with MetalCloak Game Changer & 6PAKs with 37s on Raceline wheels, Overline Fenders and bumpstops to the moon scoring a 980 on the CTI

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AEV 3.5″ DS with 35s & AEV Pintlers (lots of backspacing) scoring a 700 on the CTI.

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MetalCloak GC 3.5″ & 6PAKs with 37s on Racelines

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AEV 3.5″ DS with 35s on Pintlers

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AEV Lift, MetalCloak Arms – and 40s!

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AEV lift with MetalCloak Arms – the Best of All Worlds? (…and 40s…)

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It’s not the suspension limiting travel…

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This is not a MetalCloak or an AEV suspension, and that joint is binding in the mount.

 

 

 

Wheel Safe. Wheel Smart.  Have Fun.  Hope to see you on out on the trails.

Copyright The Off Road Reference 2014

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