4 best off road improvements ever!

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Off roading is a form of art and that is a fact. Whether it is parts fabrication or racing skills – it’s art. Off roading is also a science, it’s obvious without thinking to much. Off road inventions constantly change the world of 4×4. Basic 4×4 inventions (such as low gear transfer case) created off roading.

But the technology constantly moves on. And why? Small step-by-step off road ideas and improvements are doing it. And that’s what we will talk about. Here is our choice of the best ideas that revolutionized the world of off road racing and off road adventures! Read all photo descriptions for more info.


1.a. PORTAL AXLES – 
it all started with a classic solid axle we all know today. It was good and it is today widely used across the world.
BUT. One day the military (of course) decided there has to be an upgrade of some kind to maximize ground clearance without runining the center of gravity of the vehicle itself. So it happened, the portal axle was born.
Portal axles (or portal gear) are an offroad technology where the axle tube is above the center of the wheel hub and there is a reduction gearbox in the hub. Ground clearance is increased and the hub gearing allows the axle halfshafts to drive the same power but at reduced torque.
Unimog portals were widely used in Europe before people realized these are to heavy. Soon enough, they started using lightweight portals from a Swedish military truck – Volvo C303.

tibus portal

Tibus portal axle – this is how it looks like when opened

Atomic axles

Atomic axles portals. Well in my opinion, this isn’t really a portal axle. The system is more of an independent suspension. Just placed in a solid axle.

1.b. INDEPENDENT SUSPENSION – On the other hand, the German PUCH mounted independent suspension on their Pinzgauer (lightweight army truck). Now, we aren’t saying they invented independent suspension, but they were first to use it on a full-time off roader.
It was an interesting solution. Instead of heavy portals, they used IS to solve the same ground clearance problem. Also, the ride was supposed to be a bit more comfortable. But since the Pinzgauer is extremely lightweight, the ride was bumpy regardless of the IS.

long travel independent suspension baja

Long travel independent front suspension on a Baja trophy truck. Long travel IFS at fast desert races is responsible for better handling.

king of the hammers campbell ifs

This is what an IFS looks like at King of the Hammers. KOH is the ultimate combination of fast desert racing and rockcrawling. You need IS for fast racing, but you also need AWD for crawling. It’s impossible to make it long-travel but this is a great solution.

2. ADVANCED OFF ROAD SHOCKS – It all started with leaf springs, if anyone remembers… we have come a long way. Leaf springs were revolutionary in late 19th century, although these are widely used today (e.g cargo trucks).
But the progress was fast. Various types of shocks were invented soon and the leaf spring was used along with the shock. It was quickly replaced by a normal spring.
Telesco Shock Absober was presented at Olympia Motor show in 1912. It contained a spring inside a telescopic unit. The shock was filled with oil and was fitted with a damping system inside. This was the beginning of a modern shock absorber.

king bypass fox airshocks king coilover

From left to right. King Coilover remote reservoir shock. Fox air shocks without and with a remote reservoir. King bypass shocks (combined with a coilover – pefect combination for Ultra4). CLICK ON THE PHOTO to find out more about the XT AUTOMOTIVE off road suspension

3. DOUBLE MOTOR WINCH – Various types of winches were used in the early days of 4×4. It all started with the PTO winch. The point of the PTO was to use the vehicles mechanics to turn the winch drum. Unfortunately, only a handful of AWD vehicles were equipped with such technology (Land Rover Series 1 etc…) and the world of off roading wasn’t yet prepared for everyday parts fabrications and conversions.
Next generation of winches were hydraulic, but that wasn’t exactly a success.
Electric winches seemed like a great solution. The progress was fast. Overnight, winches with a small amount of pulling capacity became beasts to get you out of any trouble. The real revolution started with the double motor winch. It wasn’t just a fast strong winch, all the other parts were taken care of, such as longer drums for larger rope capacity.

competition winch comeup blazer

From left to right. COMEUP Blazer dual 7.0 HP motor winch, a new high quality product making its way to Europe. Red Winch Hornet, fast lightweight dual motor winch from the UK. Gigglepin competition winch, one of the pioneers of double motor winches. CLICK ON THE PHOTO to read more about the COMEUP Blazer

4. LED LIGHTS – Stock lights usually don’t do the job as expected. That stock yellowish glow just isn’t enough anymore.
The revolution started with halogen lamps in rally sports. Speed beyond the limit on night stages requested more light. People argue whether it is better to use LED or halogen lamps for AWD activities. Two facts are obvious, both produce high quality bright light. Off road travelers go for halogen lamps, eye fatigue is substantially decreased. The quality of halogen light is different, it produces warm white light.
Extreme off road winch challenges and Ultra4 request a lot of electricity (for 2 or more winches) so it is a good idea to be energy efficient and use LED lights. LED lamps are very energy efficient and produce high quality bright white light.

dasall lights g.o racing team ultra4 europe

A small company from the UK produces high quality LED bars and lights. Our partners from the G.O Racing Ultra4 team use Dasall and the lights do a great job! CLICK ON THE PHOTO to read more about Dasall perfomance.

 

CHOICE & TEXT: Emilio Mocibob – “Sorry if you don’t agree. Let me know your choice :)”

 

 

 

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Emilio Močibob

Administration at Extreme4x4 Europe media
Photographer, reporter and promoter for various off road competitions. Owner of the website. We are reporting from the biggest European events and we are trying to do a good job. I hope you like it. In the business since 2010.
Emilio Močibob
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Emilio Močibob

Photographer, reporter and promoter for various off road competitions. Owner of the website. We are reporting from the biggest European events and we are trying to do a good job. I hope you like it. In the business since 2010.

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