Designing Long Travel Suspension Kits

What goes into designing a long travel kit for prerunners.

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When you are out shopping for a long travel suspension kit for your prerunner, most people are shocked at the price. What they don’t realize is the amount of engineering that goes into building just one kit for one type of truck. So we set out to get the dirt behind what goes into designing, engineering and building a long travel kit.

We contacted the owners of Baja Kits by Brenthel Industries after looking at their vast selection of long travel kits for almost all makes and models of trucks. After viewing their site and seeing they actually post their CAD drawings of the kits we knew we were contacting the right company to get the real story behind this.

Baja Kits by Brenthel Industries takes pride in every product they develop from their Baja Kits line for daily drivers to Trophy Trucks. To ensure every kit or race truck is built with the same quality and detail they follow the same guidelines with each and every project.

The 1st step in developing one of their kits is research. They determine which vehicles are worth making products for by sifting through the market to see who and how many people are willing to purchase them.

Next is the engineering design phase. This is where they start by gathering all necessary 3D CAD models from the vehicle manufacturer (Ford, GM, Toyota) this usually includes the frame, control arms, knuckle assembly, fender wells and any other parts that may need to be considered when cycling the suspension like a coolant reservoir or battery box in the engine bay. In a case where the vehicle may not have 3D models available they digitally 3D scan the parts needed.

Now that they have all the data needed its time to pin point the goals of the kit such as wheel travel, tire size, backspacing options, width, what hardware and price.

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The geometry of a Baja Kit is one of the most important factors. With the use of complex 2D and 3D line sketches they are able to cycle the suspension before 3D modeling to achieve the best possible combination of suspension geometry features such as kingpin inclination, steering angle, camber, castor, travel, shock progression, bump steer and many more while working with a stock vehicle. The geometry goals may differ from their chase, prerunner and race kits as they are each designed for different purposes for example, their chase kit geometry may lean more toward street handling because 90% of the time that’s where the vehicle will be driven while a race kit may be just the opposite landing the prerunner kit as the happy medium between on and off road performance.

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Finally they’ve reached the point of 3D design. Here they can use all the data from their geometry sketches, manufactures’ models and chosen hardware to create the upper, lower arms, uprights and cycle the kit with every component from tie rods to shocks in every scenario (full compression, full lock steering etc) to ensure none of the parts are colliding. After all cycling has been approved each machined part is finalized and a sheet metal piece is created with the use of keys to self locate parts to one another for ease of assembly and welding.

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Before they are ready for manufacturing each and every part, plate, tab, boss gets its own detailed drawing to relay the specific tolerance and importance of each part and feature to the machinist making the parts. Keep in mind they have now completed the design of the kit before ever having the vehicle in the shop and in some cases even before the vehicle ever hits the dealer lots!

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The manufacturing process transforms the kits from computer models to off road bolt on performance. The instant drawings are released, the sheet metal is laser cut and bent while billet parts undergoing CNC machining. The quality control process is another step of manufacturing to ensure all standards are met. Each Baja Kit Component is inspected upon arrival to ensure all dimensions noted in the drawings were held to tolerance and sent to the fixture and welding stations.

The final steps of the Baja Kits after welding are powder coating or plating and packaging to send orders out.

The thorough development process they’ve created for the Baja Kits line promises outstanding performance, longevity and strength to all customers with any level of kit.

As you can see when a long travel kit is developed tons of hours of R&D are put into the design portion of the equation. I would say the actual build of the kit takes the least amount of time.

So if you are in the market for a long travel kit for your prerunner, don’t get sticker shock, just know that the price is determined by the amount of work involved before the kit even hits the shelf.

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