Grounding And Pounding Off-roadBy 4x4 Philippines • Jan 20th, 2012 • Category: Features • Print this article
A bit of common sense dictates a suspension system upgrade when you plan to bring your vehicle off-road. Sure, it isn’t wrong to use the OEM suspension components when you’re just starting off, but eventually the off-road bug will lead you to look for something to replace the original equipment (which are mostly geared towards paved or, at the most, fairly flat dirt roads).
As with almost everything there are quite a lot options you can choose from when it comes to upgrading your suspension system. With that I decided to go with what most of my friends and fellow club members started using: Old Man Emu.
So I brought my 1997 Suzuki Vitara to RATS 4×4 Accessories in Makati for the installation.
After getting my vehicle from RATS 4×4, I wasn’t so sure if I would feel the difference between my dead OEM shocks and the new Old Man Emu NitroChargers while driving on paved roads (I would have opted for the newer NitroCharger Sport but Old Man Emu still hasn’t come out with this for the 1st generation Vitara). So I did what I could for the moment. I intentionally drove over potholes and went faster than I normally would on turns (whenever it was safe to do so).
The Battle Begins
Then, the following week: Trail Day! Time to really see what I got. Sure, there are a lot of good testimonials all over the Internet about the Old Man Emu, plus first-hand stories AND testimonials from my friends. But nothing compares to actually driving the vehicle yourself and feeling the difference.
Seeing the obstacles we were about to go through I knew these would put the whole suspension system to the test. Obstacles like 1) a broken and eroded bridge, 2) an extremely rutted, 15- to 20-meter, and stony, 35-degree uphill climb, and 3) a long and deep mud pit.
I have tried driving over very similar obstacles before, when I still had my stock suspension system. Now before going over what’s laid out in front of me I felt excitement mounting as I would be experiencing the advantage of installing performance shocks and springs on my rig. Would I feel the huge difference? I was sure I would, judging from the “road test” I did with the potholes and turns.
No more bottoming out
And was I right! As expected, the new Old Man Emu shocks don’t bottom out on me, whereas my old stock shocks have been doing a lot. Sure, no surprise but I felt it was worth mentioning.
Crossing the eroded bridge; going inside and down the erosion, and back up on the other side, the shocks did a great job of gently (relative to how my old ones used to perform) bringing the vehicle down the hole and helped in getting it back out.
I felt happy, but that wasn’t an intense test. That’s fine, though, as it was still the first obstacle of the trip.
Then we came upon one of the real obstacles: the 35-degree rutted climb. Looking at the ruts I knew this would give my suspension system a good workout. Bring it on, I thought to myself, with a smile.
Upon successfully finishing the climb, with no help from anyone (except the ARB Air Lockers), I couldn’t remove the huge grin I had on my face. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t feel like I was a small metal ball inside a shoe box a baby was shaking and playing with while doing the climb!
On the road the Old Man Emus offer better handling than what you’d expect from an off-road performance suspension system and definitely more forgiving on pavement. This also works great out on the trails. It gives you a more comfortable ride while in the trails, conquering obstacles.
Well, looks like I will be enjoying more trails in the near future, in a more comfortable ride than what I was used to. Can’t wait!