Project WomBAT CALMINI Swaybar Review
CALMINI Swaybar Review
GeneralThe narrow stance of the Trooper affords many advantages in the bush, but does little for on-road driving. Those of us who have driven a Frontera, Jackaroo, or otherwise badged Trooper understand the meaning of lean, and accept the sacrifice of not taking the machine too hard into turns, or making too many snappy lane changes (at least when the roof rack is loaded down).
There are a number of ways to address this limitation, including wider tires and wheels, and tires with stiffer sidewalls, like BFG All Terrains. However, the folks at CALMINI offer a solution for people who do not need new tires and want more dramatic improvements in handling. A set of CALMINI sway bars was one of first upgrades I made on the WomBAT as I sought to flatten the truck's ride through winding Appalachian backroads.
The BarsThe CALMINI sway bars offer three distinct advantages over the stock setup:
- The upgrade package adds a rear bar, an item noticeably lacking on the Trooper.
- CALMINI's front bar is significantly thicker than the stock bar.
- The CALMINI kit comes with polyurethane bushings and grade 5 hardware.
InstallationInstalling the sway bars requires only hand tools (hammer, sockets, and wrenches), a bit of grease, and an evening's worth of time. No lift or air tools need grace your garage. You must remove the stock skidplate (on those years that had one) to remove the stock front sway bar. Fit for the front sway bar was flawless, with the new bar can be installed in well under an hour.
The rear bar went on in a similarly short time. The rear bar is a bit more cramped for space, and has more bolts which are also longer than those for the front swaybar. It takes some effort to align the bar correctly in relation to the axle and spring pack while you muscle the brackets and u-bolts into alignment.
Performance CharacteristicsFrom the moment I put the sway bars on and eased into the first turn, it was apparent that this was not the same old WomBAT. The mushiness and vague cornering feel was all but gone. Referring to the truck's 'tracking through corners' no longer seemed like an insider's joke. Before too long I found myself tossing the truck into corners, pushing harder and harder in and out of the one and a half lane Virginia backroads, gaining confidence with each corner I exited.
Not only has cornering improved, but sudden lane changes are now nowhere near as hair-raising as they had been. In effect, the overall safety of the truck?s ride took a significant leap with this one modification. Furthermore, the WomBATs steering response was quickened, the former time warp feeling seemingly being cut in half. Dodge that pot hole? Swerve for the bloated possum? The sway bars cut down on how much anticipation is necessary for missing the offending road obstacle.
Last but not least of the road handling impressions was the reduction in lean. The feeling of falling over that once accompanied every encounter with cornering Gs had at last come into the realm of the reasonable. Even with the shoulder-worn Goodyear Wranglers, likely the worst tire ever mounted on this lean-happy rig, the truck felt more stable. However, adding a new set of BFG All Terrains made a marked improvement again, appearing to multiply the effect of the CALMINI bars. This effect is due to the BFGs' stiff triple-sidewall design, which protects from rock cuts on the trails, and stiffens the carcass on road, thus lessening deformation during cornering.
If you are concerned about loss of off-road performance due to the bars restrictive grip, consider the following. Some articulation, a capability for which the Trooper is not a world beater, is lost with any sway bar. That said, the rear bars impact can be reduced by loosening the u-bolts at the bar's two ends (i.e., toward the rear of the springs). The front bars must have the bolts disconnected and the bar rotated up and out of the way. While each of these steps is fairly simple and quick, the more noticeable changes were seen in tweaks to the rear bar. Loosening the u-bolts yielded a few more inches of travel up the ramp. However, the most impressive change came with total removal of the bar. This drastic step maximizes rear axle articulation, however it also lets the tail wag noticeably more during cornering.
ConclusionsAfter several years of having the bars on I can say with confidence that most Trooper owners would treasure the improvements in handling that the CALMINI sway bars afford. For those wishing to retain some of the factory articulation, loosening of u-bolts and disconnecting front bolts will provide easy trail handling improvements during those weekend forays onto frame twisting trails. For those who are frequently crawling trails, use of only the front CALMINI bar nets better-than-stock road handling with the simple step of disconnecting front bolts when the road ahead is more like the Golden Spike than the Golden Gate.
Whatever your driving is like, the CALMINI sway bars are bound to improve your feeling of confidence as well as your actual safety when on pavement. An easy install, quality finish, and reasonable price make these an overlooked must-have for most Trooper owners.
Please mail the Isuzu ORC Staff if you have any questions or comments about this page.
Department Isuzu ORC
6951 McDivitt Dr
Bakersfield, CA 93313 U.S.A.