Long Arm Lifts vs. Short Arm Lifts

Stox5225

TJ Enthusiast
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Lillington, NC
Now, I know Jerry has commented on it in another thread and has had his experience with it, what’s better for rock crawling, a long arm, or short arm? Let’s use a tire size no less than 35s as a starting point.


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Now, I know Jerry has commented on it in another thread and has had his experience with it, what’s better for rock crawling, a long arm, or short arm? Let’s use a tire size no less than 35s as a starting point.
With the exception of the green Jeep I was on the trail with, all of these are of my previous TJ with its RE longarm suspension. The meme at the end was made by a friend after mrblaine shot that pic of my TJ. I don't know of any serious rock crawlers that I wheel with that use long-arms. Most of my red TJ photos were taken on a trail called Sunbonnet in Johnson Valley CA and I was the only Jeep in a large group of exceptionally well built Jeeps with a long arm suspension. They were all giving me crap about it before we even started the trail, they knew better & I didn't. I haven't run a longarm suspension in over ten years now and I haven't had a control arm hung up since. My current Currie short-arm suspension does EVERYTHING better than my previous LA suspension did.

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I think long arms mess with your break over angle. Not too sure bout that though.
Longer arms do put stuff where there wasn't stuff before.

The question that never gets asked is if the compromise of having the arms occupying that space is worth it. To answer that question, you need to think about what the intentions of longer arms are. Then you very likely need to start questioning what you think you know about long arms, because it is probably incorrect.
 
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Longer arms do put stuff where there wasn't stuff before.

The question that never gets asked is if the compromise of having the arms occupying that space is worth it. To answer that question, you need to think about what the intentions of longer arms are. Then you very likely need to start questioning what you think you know about long arms, because it is probably incorrect.
True. If I had the $$$ I'd go with Savvy's exceptional mid-arm suspension as it just plain works without the arms being so long that they get hung up.
 
Some long arms have the bend in the arms to help them be up higher vs a straight arm. I have not had the privilege to wheel out west in extreme rocks like Jerry but I have done my fair share of east coast rocks and I have yet to get hung up with my bent arms. I also feel that my Jeep is more stable with the long arms then with the short arms so stable that I do not currently have a front sway bar on my TJ and I daily drive it.
 
So, I figured this could be a good topic of discussion. But all on one thread. Others have recently expressed the same sentiments, so here we are!

I’ve seen things here and there regarding the decision to run which type of suspension throughout this forum, but never in a single thread. And because I’ll be starting the long process of building my 22 year old TJ I’ve owned for 12 years in a few months, I need to start educating myself. And it’s also just good to know shit. Plenty of knowledgeable people on here with loads of experience. This could be something people could reference as they build their Jeeps.

So the point of this thread is simple: discuss the pros and cons or each type of lift in regards to rock crawling.

I look forward to this!!!


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.... I also feel that my Jeep is more stable with the long arms then with the short arms so stable that I do not currently have a front sway bar on my TJ and I daily drive it.

That is curious. What kind of joints? Is it a 3/4 link? Which shocks?
 
I have the RC 6" long arm kit with OEM style rubber bushings and flex joints. The 4 lower arms are not straight so they are not as low as the straight RE arms.
Radius arm front with rubber bushings in half the joints makes sense. It isn't technically the longer arms.

Mine is a 3/4 link and Johnny Joints all around. There is no bind in the suspension, making it exceedingly compliant. The body roll needs to be controlled via shocks and sway bars.

I have Bilstein shocks

That also helps explain it.
 
The arms locate the axle assy's to the frame of the Jeep, and provide range of motion of the assy's. the bushings that are attached to the arms provide further range of motion under more extreme articulation, and provide a small amount of dampening. Depending on how the arms are configured, the addition of a track bar further locates the axle assy's to the frame of the Jeep.
 
I know that @Jerry Bransford has real world experience with both long arm and short arm lifts.

I can tell you that if you play a lot in the rocks, the long arms will get hung up much more frequently than a short arm lift. Maybe if you were running 42" tires or something, this wouldn't be such an issue. But with most of us running 33s or 35s, it becomes an issue.

I think a lot of people like to convince themselves that a long arm lift will ride better because of a less severe control arm angle versus a short arm. However, Blaine has stated many times that the control arm angle at 4" of suspension lift (which is what most of us run at the most) isn't a contributing factor in regards to negatively impacting the ride quality.
 
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What is it about rock crawling that would make someone want (or think they want) longer control arms?

I think a lot of this comes down to marketing, as you mentioned with the Skyjacker lifts. Somewhere along the line, the marketing guys were convincing everyone they needed a long arm lift.

It also might be worth adding that a lot of the bolt-on long arm lifts make the belly hang lower than it would otherwise, if you had a short arm lift and a tummy tuck.