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Dynatrac SST Performance Shock Absorbers



Our project Land Cruiser has seen more changes than Michael Jackson’s nose. It’s changed the suspension four times, an engine transplant, two different transmissions and transfer cases, six sets of drive shafts, two sets of axles and the list goes on. Embarrassingly, we’ve also had at least a dozen sets of el-cheapo, freebie shocks that we’ve put on our rig, even though we knew that shocks are the cornerstone of your suspension. After all, your rig would pogo uncontrollably without them. Tisk tisk, we should have known better.

The last set of shocks had lasted a few years, but had become worn out, smashed, leaking, bent, spindled, and were restricting articulation of our new Old Man Emu suspension system. It was definitely time for a set that would take the abuse we throw at it on a regular basis. When we came to our senses and decided that we wanted was a set of durable, adjustable shocks, we called our buddies at Dynatrac for advice. “Remote reservoir, gobs of travel, super stout…” Before we could finish, they led us to the all-new Dynatrac Suspension Specific Technology (SST) off-road shock absorbers.

“The all-new Dynatrac SST off-road shock absorbers sports a dual-stage, nitrogen charged valve system.” we were told. In case you’re wondering, those valves coupled with an inert gas like nitrogen mean less shock fade, and better performance. In other words, you’ll be able to better control your rig on and off road with these shocks.

They also feature a very easily accessible 16-way control knob that allows you to dial in each shock to compensate for light to heavy loads. In our case, we cranked the front shocks up a few notches more than the rear, since our Land Cruiser is heavier up front. Alternatively, if our feature editor hitches a ride in the back seat, we can quickly adjust for the additional load.

There’s more though – the completely rebuildable shocks – that’s right, you can rebuild them – are made of ridiculously strong aluminum alloy with a fully anodized finish, and braided stainless reservoir hoses. Forget about cheesy hose clamps to mount your reservoirs, The SST shocks come with matching aluminum alloy reservoir clamps that allow you to mount them securely to the shock body, or other tubing on your rig. Dynatrac didn’t skimp on the bushings either… here you’ll find supple, squeak-free urethane, which will last considerably longer than their rubber brethren.

Before we could get started, we had just one more call to make. Our friends at Blue Torch FabWorks hooked us up with a slick set of custom-made shock mounts. In typical Blue Torch fashion, their fabrication is indestructable and engineered to the nines. Take a peek at these monster transverse shock mounts… All we had to do was weld them to the axle tube and we were in like Flint. – More installation photos.

It wouldn’t be fair for us to just bolt on these shocks and call it a review, so after we installed our Dynatrac SST shocks, we headed to the Badlands Off Road park in Attica, Indiana for a full frontal assault. Our mission package called for high-speed dune runs that were fully complimented with whoops and jumps. We then raced down wash-board roads at high speed, molested the trails, and assaulted the rocks. A few flanking maneuvers included a long excursion on the blacktop at varying speeds as well.

The Maneuvers

    Rock Crawling

    For the most part, any working shock absorber will do on your average rock-crawling run. After all, the axle articulation is slow and methodical, and the shock’s only duties are to dampen the twitches, reduce axle hop and place some needed resistance on the up and down movement of the axle.

    The Dynatrac SST shocks surprised us though. As we were climbing a rather tall, 90 degree waterfall ledge, we lost traction and slid backwards with extreme prejudice. As the front of the rig came crashing down I braced for what I thought would be a rather harsh ‘bottoming-out’ experience. The SST’s acted quite like a set of hydraulic bump stops and soaked up every bit of the sudden compression, with little noticeable rebound – at least from what I can remember.

    What rock crawling will do to your shock though is stretch them from compression to full droop over and over again. The Dynatrac SST’s performed perfectly on our rig.

    Trail Runs

    The trails we attacked at the Badlands included mud, tight & twisty trails, inclines, large tree stumps and so forth at moderate speeds (5-15 m.p.h.). Like sand, getting into the gooey stuff can cause axle wrap and axle hop if you’re heavy on the right foot. These trails also sported some unexpected jolts and bumps as our tires found some hidden trees stumps, roots and rocks. The result – the new shocks did just as expected – they reacted perfectly to the surroundings.

    Washboard Roads / Sand Dunes

    Since the trails and rock crawling didn’t faze the shocks, we called in reinforcements – Sand dunes and washboard roads. If anything will shake a filling loose, it will be this test.

    Most shocks, even cheap ones, will handle your typical trail ride or daily driving duties. High-speed runs down washboard roads and sand dune whoops however will separate the men from the weenies here. Shock fade will ensue rather quickly, which is a symptom that occurs when the shock moves up and down quickly and repeatedly causes the oil emersion to foam, thereby reducing the shocks ability to dampen movement. (See Article: Be A Genius – Shock Absorbers) Overheating will also occur on quality-shock wannabies.

    Our results – 30 minutes of pedal-to-the-metal racing action didn’t faze the Dynatrac SST’s. After long, hard runs on the washboard roads, the shocks were only warm to the touch. They soaked up the whoops, bumps and jumps and demanded more. No matter what high speed action we threw at these shocks, we couldn’t get an adverse effect out of them.


    We were determined to find a weak spot in the Dynatrac SST’s so we figured we’d sacrifice our project Land Cruiser for the sake of quality investigative reporting. We found a nice little – ok, big – mound to launch our Cruiser from, so we hit it at a modest – ok, insane – speed. Our rig blasted-off with all four wheels in the air and flew through the air like a lead balloon. The approach was solid, but the landing was off kilter. While I was concentrating on not making a mess in my shorts, I did manage to ponder… ‘I wonder if the shocks would bottom out or if they would break?’ The SST’s didn’t. What they did do was absorb every bit of the violent action and provided a relatively soft landing – relatively.

    City / Highway Driving

    Here’s where we were most surprised. Our relatively short-wheel base Land Cruiser is notorious for pogo’ing and giving the riders a pretty harsh ride, even after we installed the super-soft OME Dakar springs. For the last 8 years we figured it was just something we’d have to live with.

    After we installed the Dynatrac SST shocks – and we’re not exaggerating – they gave the Land Cruiser a soft, yet stable ride, comparable to an IFS equipped SUV. Cruising down the road at 50 mph on pothole infested roads in our ’74 Land Cruiser is very much like riding in my wife’s ’04 Chevy Tahoe. Cornering in our test vehicle didn’t seem to change much though.

The end result is this – the Dynatrac SST shocks performed beyond our expectations in every category we could throw at them. We beat them as hard as we could, but they wouldn’t fail – and, while we chose function over form, the Dynatrac SST’s look fantastic too.



Dynatrac SST Shock Installation

Building the shocks is a snap – install the clamps and insert the bushings

Mounting the rear shock to the custom Blue Torch FabWorks shock mount

We used our existing cross member tube to mount the new shocks

Tighten the bolts – depending upon application, don’t overtighten to restrict movement

Admire your handiwork and the engineering behind the Dynatrac SST shocks

The front shocks mounted quickly and easily.

You can see how we rotated the shock reservoirs inboard to avoid tire contact

Another perspective

7392 Count Circle
Huntington Beach, CA 92647-4551
Phone: 714-596-4461
eMail: sales@dynatrac.com
Web Site: www.dynatrac.com
Blue Torch FabWorks
P.O. Box 8367
Dothan, Alabama 36304
Phone: 866-RCK-CRWL
eMail: sales@bluetorchfab.com
Web Site: www.bluetorchfab.com

About Rick Webster

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