Review - Kore Performance Suspension Kit and Toyo Open Country Mud Terrains
By Lance Clifford
|Back in August 2004, I
bought a house up in the Sierra-Nevada mountains in the middle of
the forest. Our new place has a few acres, and is above the snow line.
Being a new home owner, my wife and I went to work on our property
doing all kinds of stuff. We put our 2003 Dodge Ram to work hauling
trash, brush, firewood, etc. Our Dodge has been an invaluable tool
around the house. Once winter rolled around and the snow began to
fall, our Dodge would be our only means of transportation since our
Honda Accord doesn't do so well in the snow. Since we live off the
beaten path, our road does not get plowed.
driveway that denied the Dodge..
When our first big snow
storm of the year hit, we got about 2 feet of snow. That morning
I wiped the snow off the windshield, and piled the kids into the
truck, and headed for the bus stop. I put the Dodge in 4 low and
began the climb up the driveway. I got about halfway up the driveway,
and came to a stop. The stock Michelin tires just buried themselves
in the snow. I backed down the driveway, and aired my tires down
to about 20 psi, and gave it another shot. I made it a little further,
but still not quite. After several more attempts, I finally got
out of my driveway. I made it out to the main road and headed to
town. Of course with my tires being aired down to 20 psi (remember,
this is a 7,000lb truck!) it was an interesting ride to town, to
say the least! I was safe to say I was disappointed in my truck's
Honda ain't going nowhere!
I knew if I was going
to survive the hard winter months without getting stuck in my own
driveway, I had to do something to my truck to make it more off
road/snow capable. The solution was obvious - bigger tires with
a better tread design were needed. However since I utilize my truck
everyday as a TRUCK, I didn't want to just slap some generic "lift
kit" and big tires and call it done. I needed to do it right,
so as to not compromise my truck's hauling and handling characteristics.
I also do a large amount of towing with my truck, so I didn't want
to lift it to the moon. After doing some research and talking to
my good pal Tim "Desertbull" Sanchez, I decided to give
Kent Kroeker from KORE Performance (formerly T-Rex Engineering)
a call. Kent specializes in suspension kits exclusively for Dodge
trucks. Notice I didn't say "lift kit" I said suspension
kit. There really is a difference! I told Kent what I do with my
truck, and what I was looking to do with my truck. He suggested
the KORE race kit - their top of the line, no holds barred suspension
kit. I decided to log onto his website and check out the different
kits before I made my decision.
The following is taken from
KORE's website -
All KORE suspension
systems come with KORE’s proprietary hot-wound, progressive
coil springs. These are not the same coil springs that lift
kit companies sell. These soft-riding coils are made of very
thick material. For example, a pair of our diesel coils weighs
almost 64 pounds! We designed the “set” height
for our coils to correspond with their “solid”
height. KORE coil springs become solid or “coil bind”
far below what your Ram’s suspension permits; that’s
why we guarantee them for life. We also offer four different
spring rates, one for 2500 Hemi Rams, one for the 2500 and
3500 diesel-equipped Rams and one for diesel Rams with heavy
winch bumpers. This way KORE can custom-tune your ride to
fit the weight of your truck.
For the rear,
our suspension systems use a proprietary “Mini-Pak.”
This is not an “add-a-leaf” that simply adds lift
by making the rear leaf packs stiff. Our Mini-Pak is a four
leaf spring pack that replaces your factory overload leaf
with a soft-riding, yet progressive leaf pack, custom-tuned
to enable your suspension to work properly. Mini-Paks are
smooth on the little bumps yet also permit you to haul heavy
loads. KORE Mini-Paks are guaranteed for life.
with every system are heavy duty, soft-durometer poly bump
stops for the front and zinc-plated U-bolts for the rear.
- 2.5 inches
of lift in front and some in the rear
- More ground
- 50% more
available wheel travel to absorb large impacts
- Much higher
speeds when the pavement ends
stability while hauling and towing
- A more comfortable
- Levels of
control you never thought possible
for your truck’s chassis and drivetrain
of 35x12.5 inch off-road tires
- Easy installation
with no cutting, welding or fabricating
RACE SYSTEM COMPONENTS
The KORE “Race” system uses 2.5” Fox remote-reservoir
racing shocks. This system is a no-compromise, fully-integrated,
ultra-high-performance suspension system, purpose-built for
maximum off-road performance. The KORE 2.5” Fox shock
is specially-designed and valved for Dodge trucks. KORE designed
this system for high-speed off road use. It's big and bad
and awesome. Men who spend a lot of time in the dirt love
this system, but it works great on the highway as well.
CHASE SYSTEM COMPONENTS
The KORE “Chase” system uses the renowned Bilstein
7100 Series remote-reservoir race shock with digressive pistons
and special, proprietary valving. It is called the “Chase”
system because a Dodge Ram so equipped can perform the multiple
functions of a Baja chase vehicle. From heavy towing to long-distance
washboard, this system provides dramatically increased control
and smoothness in all conditions. Our Chase system is best
for people who need an excellent, general purpose suspension
for hauling loads, heavy towing, long distance highway travel,
and serious off-road, such as exploring trails, hunting etc.
This system also addresses freeway expansion joint bounce
as much as possible.
PACE SYSTEM COMPONENTS
KORE offers pace-setting performance with the “Pace”
suspension system. This system includes the same long-travel
coil springs and mini paks found in the Race and Chase systems.
With this system you get four long-travel, zinc-plated, nitrogen-charged,
mono-tube Bilstein 5100 shocks designed specifically for your
Ram. The entire Pace system is guaranteed for life!
||It was clear to
me that the "Race System" was the kit for me. Tim
"Desertbull" Sanchez has been running this kit on
his Dodge Ram for several years now, and has flogged it through
the Baja desert countless times without a single problem.
I called Kent back and told him to send over the Race kit.
He asked me if I had picked out rims and tires yet. I knew
I wanted to run 35" Toyo Open Country Mud Terrains (which
is what KORE recommends) because they are an "E"
load tire. While I had decided on the tires, I hadn't picked
out a set of rims yet. Kent told me that he worked with Weld
Wheels to develop a rim with that has the factory Dodge offset
and works with the Toyo tires I wanted. This rim is a one
piece forged aluminum 18 x 8.5" rim with OE Dodge backspacing.
Because the rim has OE backspacing your wheel-bearings and
steering components won’t wear out prematurely and your
tires won't stick out of the fender wells. Did I mention these
rims look bad ass? So along with the race kit, Kent sent over
his KORE/Weld rims. Man, my truck is gonna look sweet!
||About a week later
the UPS man showed up with the goods. I eagerly went through
the boxes and drooled on the massive fox remote reservoir
shocks. These things are massive compared to the puny OE shocks!
After looking over my truck, and looking at all the parts
in the kit, I went against Kent's advice to do the installation
myself. I am fairly mechanically inclined, but I just hate
the idea of tearing apart my daily driver in my driveway.
I called up C&R
Motorsports and asked Bob if he could pencil me in. When
I told him what I had, he eagerly told me to bring it over
in the morning, as he was interested in seeing what the KORE
kit was all about.
||I showed up bright
and early at C&R Motorsports and Bob and crew got to work
right away. They pulled the Dodge onto their vehicle lift,
and began to raise the truck. The truck raised about 2 inches,
and wouldn't go any further. This truck is HEAVY! After removing
a few things out of the bed, and removing the tires and wheels
from the truck, the lift creaked and groaned its way up, and
it was time to tear the truck apart.
the wheels were removed, the first step was to remove
the OE coil springs.
AJ cuts out the inner fender well a little to get
everything to fit right.
the Piers twin turbos in the engine compartment, there
was little to no room to work from above.
AJ carefully slips the Fox shocks through the coil
spring mount, and into place. These Fox shocks are special
2.5" diameter Fox Pro-series shocks that KORE designed
just for the Dodge Rams. These shocks offer 10"
of wheel travel!
next step is to install the new trick aluminum upper
shock mounts. These things are a work of art!
the shock mount bolted into place, the shocks are positioned
up into their mount. The lower isn't mounted yet, because
we still need to install the new coils.
bolts the shock to the upper shock mount
shocks came charge with nitrogen from the factory. AJ
had to bleed the nitrogen out so he could compress them
wrestles the super heavy duty KORE coils into place.
coil is slipped into its lower bucket.
things back together.
coil is bolted to the upper mount.
it's time to mount the reservoirs. Kore recommends drilling
two 3/16" holes into the frame, and use the supplied
self tapping screws. However we elected to weld on the
shock reservoir mounts to the frame.
I have the Piers twin turbo kit, I have an aftermarket
air filter which sits very low in the engine compartment.
Because of this, we didn't mount my reservoirs in the
recommended location where they can be visible from
the inner fender bolted back into place, the reservoirs
you're not running twin turbos, you can cut out your
inner fender a little more to expose the reservoirs
as KORE recommends. Here is a shot of how the reservoirs
are supposed to be mounted.
it's time for the rear suspension. Bob removes the OE
u-bolts and springs.
OE center pin is removed, along with the bottom overload
leaf from the OE pack. The overload is replaced with
the KORE supplied Mini Pak springs and center pins.
clamps the springs together to get the center pin lined
installs the new KORE u-bolts and tightens them down
good and tight.
OE whimpy shocks are removed.
new Fox shocks are bolted into place.
Bob mounts the reservoirs into their final resting place
under the bed, he recharges them with 200psi of nitrogen.
shot of the reservoirs in their final place - tucked
up under the bed.
see much from the wheel well.
bolts the bling-bling rims and tires on the truck.
she looks sexy with her new suspension and shoes!
The truck looks simply awesome. Not big and dumb looking,
but tough, and capable looking. It is noticeably taller when
climbing into the vehicle, and when loading stuff into the
bed, but it is manageable without being annoying. So how does
My first test was
on the drive home from C&R Motorsports to my house in
the forest. The road to my house is super twisty, with several
11% grades. I could not believe how well the truck handled
on the curves. The truck actually handled better than it did
from the factory. It had less body roll, and the new Toyos
gripped the pavement like glue. I was blown away, as I didn't
expect to have better pavement performance. The ride over
the small bumps in the road were about the same as the factory
ride was - unlike the many kidney pounding lift kitted trucks
I've rode in. Another worthy note was how quiet the Toyos
were given there aggressive tread.
Test number two
came with the next snow storm. This time we got buried in
3 1/2 feet of white stuff. I was skeptical that the truck
would be able to plow through that much snow up the driveway,
but with minimal tire slip the truck made it effortlessly
up the driveway, and out to the main road. I was ecstatic!
This was worth the money spent alone. I no longer had to worry
if I could make it in and out of my home. I had the opportunity
to tow several of my stuck neighbors out of the snow without
a problem. This truck was simply amazing in the snow compared
Our next test involved
a little deeper snow. I went up to Crystal Basin where there
was about 8-10 feet of snow. Could the 7,000lb Dodge float
on top of 10 feet of snow? I aired the tires down to 20psi,
and gave it a shot. The truck went about 20 feet, and began
to sink into the bottomless snow. I backed back out my ruts,
and aired down to 15psi. At this point, the tires looked like
they were almost flat! I gave it another shot, and the truck
creeped along, and floated fairly well through the deep snow.
I drove all around, but I had to be careful not to do anything
stupid or the truck would want to dig down. I had the best
results crawling along in 4 low. If I tried to go much faster,
the truck just wanted to sink. I slowly crawled my way to
the top of a large ski resort looking mountain, and decided
to have a little fun. Once at the top, I pointed the big beast
downhill and hammered down. The twin turbos spooled up, and
I went racing down the mountain. I blasted over a snow berm
and came to a stop at the bottom. The truck soaked up all
the bumps with ease, and felt like I was riding in a Cadillac
on the Interstate. Too much fun...
Our next test takes
us to Johnson Valley OHV Park (The Hammers). Johnson Valley
is located in the heart of the Mojave Desert, so the KORE
suspension should be right at home in this terrain. We went
out looking for some good roads with some washboards and whoops,
and wondered what in the hell we were getting ready to do
with my $40,000 daily driver. So against my better judgment,
I put the hammer down and hit the rutted up whoop infested
road at high speed. The truck amazingly soaked up the bumps
with ease. I was able to bottom the truck out a few times
on some really hard whoops, but the KORE bump stops soaked
them up fairly well.
All in all I am
amazed at the transformation the suspension kit, tires and
wheels made to my truck. It transformed it from a pavement
pounding, off road incapable truck to a desert racing snow
- Just the other day I received some upgrades for my KORE
kit. I got some trick limit straps and billet sway bar
drop brackets. Kent says the drop down brackets should
provide more wheel articulation and additional travel.
I'll get these new goodies put on soon and let you all
know how they work.
P.O. BOX 2628
Valley Center CA 92082