Posted by Danny on 8/24/2014 to Technical Articles
One of the most popular questions asked about 2nd gen suspensions is "which long arm kit is best?" That's sort of an open-ended question, because everybody has different needs. Some folks are more budget-minded, some don't want to modify the truck, and some want the best setup they can get. Or maybe the person needs a combination of those different things. So very quickly, I'm going to run through your options and just explain what you are getting.
The first option, and probably the most popular, is to go with what we call a "cookie cutter" long arm system. We use that term a lot to describe the big companies - Skyjacker, Superlift, Fabtech, BDS, Pro Comp, Rough Country, Tuff Country, Rancho, Top Gun Customz, etc. They are all the same. The products they make are typically mirror images of what the other companies make, with no real benefit between any of them. Some are less expensive than others, some will offer different bushings or joints, but really the only major difference is the color of powercoat they use. You are going to get some very thin 1/8" to 3/16" brackets that bolt on using 1/2" Grade 5 hardware, arms that are made with .120" wall tubing (usually HREW, not even DOM), and mostly a design that is intended to be user-friendly and budget-friendly. The problem with these setups is that they don't take into account the actual design of the suspension itself, or how the suspension wants to move. It's like they get so caught up with making a "long arm kit" that they forget what long arms are even intended to be used for. Long arms are not a status symbol - they are a suspension upgrade. That means they need to be functional before they need to be pretty. These companies do not prioritize function over form, so that is the biggest issue with cookie cutter setups. This applies to their full suspension systems too, which actually are "lift kits" as none of them improve the ride at all. But that's for another post. Basically you are going to either get a radius arm setup that they call long arms, or you are going to get a long lower arm and a short upper arm, which makes for horrible suspension binding. If there is anything good to say about most of these setups, is that they don't cost a ton of money, and usually they don't require that you cut anything off of your frame. So if those are your requirements, there you go. They are cheap and you can usually find them in stock at a lot of different places. The downside is that they don't work that well, and you'll probably end up replacing them with a better product down the road anyway. These kits are not made to last.
The second option costs more money, but it's where you see some actual improvement. There are a few companies making long arm setups that you can adapt to your 2nd gen, but they aren't made for 2nd gens. So you'll see sales people on various forums just trying to cram these kits down your throat and tell you how great they are, and they are good... they just weren't designed for your truck and you are going to need to have the experience to make them work for you. These kits are made from superior materials - 1/4" steel brackets, DOM tubing arms with thick walls, or materials similar in strength. You will see a combination of suspension joints and high-end bushings, with some adjustability built into the kits. They will typically bolt onto your truck using Grade 8 hardware, except in the case of the Thuren Fabrication long arms, which are weld-on only. The other brand names in this group would be DT Pro Fab (radius arms), and our Dodge Off Road long arms. Keep in mind we are talking about 2nd gen long arms only here. Carli Suspension radius arms cannot be used under a 2nd gen, and Pure Performance long arms cannot be used under a 2nd gen. The DT Pro Fab radius arms are very beefy but they are not actually long arms in the standard 4 link style, and they are not built for 2nd gens. Although because of the radius arm design, they are pretty easy to adapt to 2nd gens. Thuren Fabrication's long arms are also not designed for 2nd gens, but since they are a weld-on setup, you can make them work. The only problem is that your transmission crossmember bolt holes will be covered up by the brackets unless you modify their frame brackets. So anybody who tells you to run Thuren alien arms on a 2nd gen is really telling you to buy some long arms for $1800 and modify them to make them work on your truck. That doesn't appeal to a lot of people.
So where does that leave the Dodge Off Road long arms? Well, ours are the only ones from the high-end group that are actually made for your truck, for starters. This isn't a one-size-fits-all long arm setup - they are custom made to fit your lift height with the arms you want (we make 4 different styles plus custom builds). With Thuren or DT arms, you have to make them fit. They will not make you longer arms if you have more lift than their arms will allow for. I think you basically need 3" to 6" of lift for these kits to work, anything outside of those heights and you are probably going to have issues with the arms not being the right length. We at DOR make arms for trucks with as little as 2" of suspension height, and have made long arm kits for trucks as tall as 22" of suspension height! We also make 4 different kinds of arms - there are non-adjustable, single adjustable, dual adjustable, and bent dual adjustable. The other companies only offer you one kind of long arm. So if you need something different, that's tough crap, unless you go with DOR. We will even make custom setups if you want something different, say with wider joints or whatever. We are here to serve you - not the other way around.
So with the flexibility of the products covered, another thing to consider is materials. DOR is the only company using 3/8" steel for our long arm brackets. We also use 9/16" Grade 8 hardware for the brackets. And the best part - they bolt right onto your frame using existing holes in the frame! You just have to drill those holes out to a 9/16" diameter. This is the only long arm kit that uses these pre-existing holes, so we have the easiest install of any 2nd gen long arm kit with the strongest brackets ever made for any kit. We also use the strongest arms available from any kit - we use 2" OD .250" wall DOM tubing for both the upper and lower arms. In comparison, most kits are running a 1.5" OD or a 1.75" OD tubing at the most. Thuren uses 2" OD on the lowers only, and a 1.5" OD on the uppers. DT Pro Fab is the exception here, with their I beam arms. They are very strong. But nobody uses stronger tubing than us. Each arm can handle the entire weight of your truck by itself. Feel free to use these as sliders, or otherwise abuse them however you want. You'll never bend or break them. And our warranty backs that up. We've never had anybody hurt a set of our arms - ever. We've never had bushings go bad, we've never had joints fail. In the four years we have been selling these arms, we've not had one single issue, other than not being able to make them fast enough. And we've made huge progress on that one.
At this point you are probably thinking "Sounds great, but I'm sure they are expensive as hell." Well, you are right and wrong. Our basic long arm kits start at just $799. That's a lot of money. But compared to other kits, it's really not that bad. We are selling the strongest, best-designed, easiest-to-install long arms for 2nd gen trucks for less than most of the cookie cutter setups, and way less than any of our high-end competitors. Our bent long arm kit does run $1399, so that's our most expensive setup. It's still $450 cheaper than Thuren's long arms, and $46 cheaper than DT Pro Fab radius arms, so if you are looking at those options, you can buy our best kit and still save money. Plus you'll have all of the advantages of our 2nd-gen designed long arms.
For more information on any of this, we do have a more detailed FAQ on the DOR forum that will help answer some questions about long arms vs. radius arms and things like that. I just wanted to provide some info to help sort through the BS on forums. There are so many dealers on forums that it's hard to get legit info without someone just telling you what you want to hear so you'll buy from them. We don't partake in that kind of activity - our sales are all from word of mouth and so far that has treated us really well. We don't advertise at all - not in magazines, not through Google, or anything. We just put products up on our site and people buy them. To run a successful, rapidly-growing business for this many years, without advertising at all, is a strong testament to how well our products work. By saving money on advertising, we are able to keep our prices low. You aren't going to see us jumping all over a thread to try and convince you to buy our long arm kit (or anything else). I'm just putting this factual info out there as a resource to use during your research, so you can make the best decision for your needs. Many people buy long arms from other companies, and that will continue. Even with us, we can't always meet a customer's needs, if their budget is smaller or if they need something shipped the same day. But if you want the best quality kit for your 2nd gen truck, the only place to go is Dodge Off Road. There simply is no other long arm kit that can compare.
Link to the more detailed/technical post on our forum: http://www.dodgeoffroad.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2480