In the first part of our Tacoma build-up recap we touched on suspension and a new wheel and tire package, dramatically increased lighting, and started the truck's aesthetic transformation that included functional bumper changes and a lightweight carbon fiber hood. For this portion it's a return visit to our friends at Eibach, who gave us a hand in taking the suspension up a notch (literally), along with a slew of accessories and add-ons to round out our Taco Project.
At this point the Tacoma had the essentials installed, packed with "extras," but we wanted to dive a little deeper into the suspension side of things. Undoubtedly the most important aspect of off-road adventures, there are countless directions you can go with suspension, and the aftermarket is packed with options. One of the best options, in fact, is Dirt King Fabrication and their Performance lower control arms and ball joint upper control arms.
The factory LCAs on Toyota's popular pick-up sit in a rather vulnerable position and, like some of the other suspension areas addressed on this project, can be improved upon. Dirt King's Performance LCAs grant some additional ground clearance and also incorporate a 1/8-inch aluminum skid plate.
Heavy-duty ball joints handle the outer pivots while Delrin bushings take care of the inner. In addition, the custom design allows ample space for the use of bump stops and limit straps.
The upper arms are an important item as well. Similar to lowering your vehicle and disturbing the factory geometry, raising a vehicle can also have an effect. Over-articulation of the OEM arms, especially under stress while on rough roads, can lead to failure.
Dirt King's upgrade offers greater caster, and the angle they chose for the arm to actually pivot is far less stressful. Urethane bushings and heavy-duty joints are called into play, but keep in mind these are also serviceable and can be completely rebuilt, meaning they'll outlast the vehicle they're going into.
Both the upper arms and LCAs are powder coated and include all necessary hardware for installation, which our friends at Eibach took care of during our return visit to their Corona, Calif. headquarters.
While we were there, Eibach also helped lift the rear of the truck a little more to compensate for the additional weight that had been added to the bed, which was causing some sag.
This meant using a cut-off wheel to remove the original leaf spring retainers in order to introduce a slight lift to even out the ride height.
While they were at it, Eibach also swapped out their prototype billet blocks we'd been using for their newly finished production version. Now nicely finished in black rather than raw aluminum, they're ready for you to order for your build.
When it came time to add a storage solution to the build, a roof rack made the most sense, and Front Runners Slimline II roof rack kit seemed like the perfect fit. At 53.5 inches long, the kit maximizes roof space and includes a wind deflector, tray, and a pair of foot rails to mount the tray. We didn't have to contend with any drilling or cutting since the kit uses factory Toyota mounting points.
Up top you'll find a set of Front Runner's Wolf Pack plastic storage bins, which are rugged, clip-close containers that can also be stacked. To hold them in place while the Tacoma gets tossed around on the trails are Stratchits - a stretchy tie down that walks the line between ratcheting strap and bungee cord and incorporates large, stainless steel carabiners.
Keeping an axe on-hand when off the grid is a good idea, and keeping it properly fastened and its sharp end covered is an even better idea. Their Axe Bracket mounts right to the side of their Slimline II rack and a metal cage covers the axe head so you don't have an accident while accessing to the roof. On the other side of the truck is their spring-loaded antenna mount to take advantage of every inch of the truck's top side.
Even if you're not in any way involved or interested in the off-road world, you no doubt recognize the Yeti brand. Their Loadout Gobox is essentially indestructible, can put up with long-term direct sunlight and blazing temps, or on the flipside freezing temps, or just about any other weather condition you can imagine. Inside, you'll find an organizing divider, caddy, and pack attic, which is a removable storage pouch.
The same rugged design language was used to create their Tundra 45 - a portable cooler that offers 2 inches of PermaFrost insulation to maintain temps on perishables even while traveling through intense temperatures.
With the rise in popularity surrounding the overland market, the number of people trying their hand at camping has also increased. The days of angrily assembling a tent after multiple attempts has been replaced by rooftop options like this Baja Series Ultralite Kukenan 3 from Tepui.
Intended for mild weather in our case, the Kukenam 3 is designed with 70D nylon that uses Nanotex to protect against moisture, is topped by an Ultralite rip-stop canopy, and includes a detachable rainfly, while their Zipper Gimp system allows you to quickly change out the canopy when necessary. An 8-foot telescoping ladder allows easy access and the tent will fit 3 adults. Completely simplified, the process of setting up was so easy that even we could do it - and that's saying quite a bit.
Another area that's completely relatable between the tuner and off-road markets are LED bulbs for factory headlights. While many insist on doing retrofits, the truth is, LED bulb technology has made some pretty significant strides in recent years. In our case, we had no interest in cutting up the factory headlights, and Offbeat Overland, a group that offers a number of off-road goods, had just what we needed in these CREE LED replacement bulbs that measure 3,500 lumens each.
An adjustable head helps distribute light for the best 360 degree output, and with no fan needed, there are no moving parts to worry about failing. The temperature falls in the 6000K category and they outshine the factory bulbs dramatically. Here you can see our OEM light vs. the LED upgrade.
Communication is key when heading into the unknown alone, and a two-way radio, like Midland's MXT275 Micromobile, is certainly a good idea. Very compact, it won't take over all of your dash space, yet it's packed with features, like more than 15 GMRS channels and 8 repeater channels. Keep tabs on weather conditions with access to the National Weather Service, communicate with fellow off-roaders or keep it on board just in case - it's one of the most affordable communication devices you can opt for.
One of the main factors that deters many from getting out of the city and onto the trails is the fact that they don't have the safety net of cell phone service. From being able to make an emergency call to using internet-based maps, most aren't comfortable with the chance they may get into a situation they can't get out of and for some, a radio option that relies heavily on a series of repeater antennas isn't for everyone - and that's where weboost comes into the picture.
Their 4G-X OTR signal booster enhances all available network speeds for the major U.S. carriers that you rely on. In fact, the boost is based on a 50dB system, which is the most that the FCC will allow - and yes, their units are 5g ready, so they won't be obsolete when things head completely in that direction.
While we were in Ontario, we ran a few internet speed tests on our phone with and without the weboost connected. Without any help, the signal wasn't terrible considering we were on a cell phone well outside of L.A., with around 11.5 Mbps relating to download speeds. With the weboost connected and running from the same exact location and using the same third-party test site, we measured 18.3 Mbps immediately after the initial test. An improved signal, like the one we experienced, will offer fewer dropped calls, faster data transfer and up to 2 additional hours of talk time in low-signal areas.
You've probably seen these bright orange boards mounted to various trucks on the road. Created by Maxtrax, these little dynamos are a handy vehicle recovery device. Getting stuck in the mud, sand or other obstacle is all but inevitable for those that venture off-road regularly and with Maxtrax MTX02SO, you can help yourself to get back on the road.
The large cleats dig into the terrain and also give your tires something to bite onto as you work your way out. They're lightweight, easy to stack and store—especially with our Relentless Fab bed rack - and they even have an integrated shovel at one end to give you an additional tool when trying to get out of trouble. Relied upon by countless off-road enthusiasts around the globe, they've become a staple in this community.
With so many people jumping on board the off-road and overlanding train and reaching for popular Japanese wheel brands, we figured it would only make sense to add a few interior touches that mimic what you might find inside of a Super Street feature car. We went with a seat upgrade which we sourced through our friends at Lot USA - the official master distributors of Bride products. The group suggested we try Bride's Euroster II bucket seats, which feature a standard fit with an ergonomic design to keep comfort in mind on those long road trips.
The material is slip-resistant, and they even provided seat covers to keep them clean while out on those dirt or mud adventures. The increased bolsters are a welcome addition, but they're not so aggressive that you struggle to get in and out of the Tacoma.
You're used to seeing a much higher thigh bolster on popular Bride models like the Stradia and Gardis seats, but these are scaled back slightly to give you a comfortable option that's street-friendly—ideal for a build like this.
That wraps up Super Street's first attempt at putting together an off-road capable pickup truck. The Tacoma made its official debut at SEMA 2019 in the Seibon Carbon booth, and shortly after we put it to work on some local trails to get a feel for things.
It's a completely different experience, working your way through uneven roads, plenty of obstacles, and focusing on driving slower rather than trying to get a round a track as quickly as possible, or dodge cones in a parking lot, and it's one that we never expected to be so much fun!
The time behind the wheel has also given us some first-hand experience with a ton of aftermarket goods to really get a feel for what this burgeoning movement, now fully immersed in the tuner market, is all about. It's a whole new set of challenges and an exciting addition to our community, and with such a rapid rise in popularity, it seems to be here for the long haul.