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A JK With Animal Instincts: KMC’s Black Badger

One of the easiest ways to personalize your 4x4 is with a new set of tires and wheels. In the off-road world, choosing the right wheel and tire set can be a critical factor in how your vehicle performs. KMC Wheels is company that understands the off-road market better than most. With an assortment of street and off-road oriented wheels, the company has a wide portfolio of products to choose from.

We caught up with KMC at the 51st annual Easter Jeep Safari in beautiful Moab, Utah. The company was on-hand all week hitting the trails in its freshly re-vamped 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, which the company has dubbed the "Black Badger." Fitted with a 6.4L Hemi V8, the Jeep was built to prove out some of the company’s latest wheel sets, which includes its all-new XD229 Machete Crawl beadlock.

While the video above offers great insight to the build and the new wheel line, we’re diving into even more details below.

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That thing got a Hemi? Yes, it does. A 6.4L as a matter of fact. KMC has some big adventures in store for its JK, and the company didn’t want power to be a limiting factor. To help the V8 expel some of the under-hood temps, an EVO Mfg. hood breach was installed.

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Up front, you’ll find a high-pinion Rubicon Dana 44, which has been paired with an over-the-knuckle steering conversion, EVO Mfg. track-bar mount and Fox ATS steering stabilizer. A set of 4.10 gears are mated with the Tru-Lok differential, while an ARB cover keeps everything protected.

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Supporting the rig is a bolt-on coilover conversion from EVO Mfg., which nets 12 inches of usable travel from the EVO-spec King 2.0 shocks. A Currie Antirock sway bar adds extra stability on the trail and tarmac.

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Out back, you’ll find a Rubicon Dana 44 built similar to the front with EVO’s bolt-on coilover system as well. It’s important to note that this rig will be getting a serious axle upgrade soon, but we like that KMC is having fun pushing the limits of the Rubi axle set.

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The 37x12.50R17 Nitto Trail Grapplers are wrapped around KMC’s XD229 Machete Crawl beadlock wheel. This cast aluminum 17x9 wheel is fit with 3.5 inches of back spacing. This true beadlock wheel is fit with relief holes machined into the clamping ring, which allows water and debris to easily escape. Another trick feature is the dual valve stems, which is extremely hand for airing down on the trail.

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Offering up plenty of clearance in front of the meaty mud-terrain radials is an EVO Mfg. Pro Series front bumper. Secured inside of the bumper is a Warn winch using synthetic cable with a Factor 55 ProLink. Additional lighting comes courtesy of Rigid Industries.

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Toting the fullsize spare is an EVO rear tire carrier, while EVO’s new high-and-tight rear bumper improves the Jeep’s departure angle. The fender flares also come from EVO’s extensive line of JK products. 

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The custom Sign Works wrap extends onto the Rugged Ridge half doors. While a Bestop Trektop NX offers overhead element protection, the EVO rocker guards ensure the body can handle a rough impact on the trail.

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Inside, Rugged Radio keeps KMC in touch with others on the trail, while MasterCraft Safety Baja RS seats provide comfort.

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Hard Facts

VEHICLE 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
ENGINE 6.4L Hemi V8
TRANSMISSION A580
TRANSFER CASE NVG241
FRONT AXLE High-pinion Dana 44, Tru-Lok, 4.10 gears
REAR AXLE Dana 44, Tru-Lok, 4.10 gears
SUSPENSION EVO Mfg. Bolt-on coilovers, Currie Antirock sway bars
TIRES 37x12.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler
WHEELS 17x9 KMC XD229 Machete Crawl Beadlock
MISC. EVO Mfg. bumpers, sliders, fenders, and tire carrier, MasterCraft Baja RS seats, Rugged Radios com device, Bestop Trektop NX, Rugged Ridge half doors, Rigid Industries lights

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Badgers not your animal of choice? Check out this Spicy Chicken.

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