Beyond Suspension: A First Look at Fabtech's Jeep JL
By now, you’ve probably seen a few 2018 Jeep Wranglers rolling around town. At the very least, you’ve likely seen photos of them online. Perhaps you’ve even some modified ones on the trail during our coverage of the Easter Jeep Safari Nitto Tire Jeep JL run up Cliffhanger. Either way, there now exists several new JLs out in the wild with some serious performance and custom parts. One of them belongs to our friends at Fabtech Motorsports, and it’s definitely worth taking a deeper look at.
While Fabtech has long been known as one of the industry’s most popular suspension companies, they went above and beyond just the suspension parts on this Jeep JL. It was definitely one of our favorites at Easter Jeep Safari. The visually striking elements are derived from custom built parts that were tailor-made to fit the all-new Jeep platform, and will soon be available for sale as part of their production line of parts for the JL.
We caught a close look at their flagship Jeep JL while in Moab, Utah this year, and got some behind the scenes info on what made this Jeep stand out from the rest of the modified JLs there. Starting off with the suspension, Fabtech built a 5-inch long arm suspension system complete with their Dirt Logic 2.5-inch coilover and bypass shocks up front, providing 12 inches of travel.
The rear suspension utilizes a pair of Dirt Logic 2.5-inch bypass shocks, making 10 inches of travel. Fabtech’s Dirt Logic line of shocks are a crowd favorite for lifted trucks, and since you’ll get everything you need in one kit, it makes lifting your truck or Jeep easy.
Made for 40s
What good is having a long arm suspension on coilovers if you can’t climb up huge rocks with it? That’s where Fabtech took advantage of the JL’s intuitive ability to stuff a larger tire in the wheel well than its JK predecessor, and opted for a set of 40-inch tall Nitto Trail Grapplers wrapped in custom painted Ultra beadlock wheels. The Trail Grapplers have long been a Moab favorite, and Fabtech wasn’t the only company at Easter Jeep Safari with them on their JL.
Big tires and big suspension don’t work without one-ton axles to back them up. Fabtech used the strength and durability of Dynatrac’s ProRock axles to solidify the JL’s drivetrain. Up front is a ProRock XD60 axle, paired with a XD80 rear axle, both equipped with electronic locking differentials and 5.38 gears to make turning 40-inch tires easier on the motor and transmission. Fabtech added a Dirt Logic steering stabilizer to the front axle to finish it off.
Starting From Scratch
Since the Jeep JL was such a new platform, aftermarket companies had not yet released any body armor products for the JL when Fabtech was getting theirs ready for EJS. So what does a company with decades of experience in prototyping, designing and building their own parts in-house do? They build their own of course!
Although the front and rear bumpers and tire carrier were built by Addictive Desert Designs, Fabtech took it upon themselves to design and perfect a set of never-before-seen tube fenders, corner guards, rocker guards and full set of skid plates, all with countersunk stainless hardware. Fabtech has not released these components to the market yet, but our sources say these parts, along with many others for the JL platform, will become available soon from Fabtech.
One of the biggest differences between the JK and JL is the front turn signal placement. Where the JK had the turn signal nestled in the front grill, just below the headlight, the JL features the turn signals built into the front fenders themselves, acting as running lights when not in use for signaling. Fabtech kept with the fender-mounted design by adding their own corner-shaped LED turn signal to the front of their tube fenders. Although smaller than the OEM turn signals found on the JL fender, these LEDs are sleek, functional and play well into their design.
All the Accessories
Of course, no Jeep build is complete without some accessories to make the trail riding a more enjoyable experience. This JL was also outfitted with a Bestop Soft Top, Magnaflow catback exhaust system, Warn Zeon 9000 winch, ARB twin-air compressor, Baja Designs LED lighting and an SPOD system to power and control all the auxiliary functions of the Jeep.
Fabtech has decades-long heritage in the aftermarket off-road industry and off-road racing. Their entire process of research, design, manufacturing and shipping has always taken place right here in Southern California, and we’ve been able to get a first-hand look at the impressive builds they put out year after year. Now having seen this Jeep tackle trails like Cliffhanger in Moab during Easter Jeep Safari, we can say with confidence that it’s got as much wheeling chops as it does good looks. Moab may have been the first test, but we’re sure to see this JL at wheeling events throughout the year, making it all look too easy.