Let’s face it, not all of us can be desert off-road racers. In reality, most of our trucks would literally fold if put through the gauntlet of true off-road racing. Like most, we lack big budgets and full-time pit crews. On the other hand, the very same full-tube-chassis race trucks with bypass shocks and beadlock wheels would not be too practical for the grueling, daily grind of everyday stop-and-go suburban life, either. While tasking those same trucks with a daily commute or grocery store run might be fun for a few trips, it’s not practical.
Is there a happy medium between full race truck and your current daily commuter? Before you go and introduce a true long-travel kit into the equation, keep in mind that most of those systems would require extensive fabrication, if not the addition of modified front fenders for clearance. What’s more, most long-travel kits are also far from bolt-on, requiring more than just simple handtools or a weekend for installation.
What we were looking for was a complete off-the-shelf package for our two-wheel-drive ’09 crew cab shortbed Chevrolet Silverado, with all the shock tuning and ride-height worked into the system right from the manufacturer. Thankfully, we found a mid-travel system available from CST Performance Suspension. It came complete, front to back, with everything we needed for an install, including extended-travel uni-ball upper A-arms, Dirt-Series 2.5 coilover shocks, extended brake lines, and CST lift spindles for the front, with all the necessary bolts and hardware. At the back, CST supplied its rear lift blocks and Street-Series shocks with extended U-bolts and hardware.
Of course, no truck is complete without a competent set of wheels and tires. For our install, we went for very simple one-piece 17x9 Fuel Enduro wheels in a matte black finish. We wrapped those in P285/70/17 Fuel Gripper All-Terrain tires. With our new CST suspension and Fuel wheels and tires loaded, we set off to Dodge Bros. Automotive in Granada Hills, California, for the install. We spent a full day using basic handtools, however, the same install can be completed in your driveway with a few buddies. Follow along as we transform this crew cab into a potent urban prerunner with more travel and lift. This means you can tow and go—and still get the kids to their soccer games.
| At the hands of expert mechanic Mark Hines of Dodge Bros. Automotive, we got straight to work. Our plans included disassembling the entire front end of the suspension to make room for the new lift spindle, uniball arms, and Dirt Series 2.5 coilover shocks. While we began work on the driver side, we applied the same tactics to the passenger side.
| From there, we began the attack by first removing the tie-rod hardware and disassembling the front brake system, including the caliper (removing an 18mm socket), rotor, and hub. We also safely unclipped the ABS wire and moved it out of the way so it wouldn’t get damaged.
| Next, we removed the hardware for the factory sway bar endlinks to allow for more access when installing the new CST mid-travel system.
| Quality is key. Made in the USA, CST Dirt-Series uniball upper arms are constructed from 1026 DOM seamless tubing, CNC mandrel-bent, and professionally MIG-welded. Arms also feature an exclusive sealed-top uniball to eliminate dirt and maximize the life of the uniball. What’s more, control arms paired with coilover shocks provide up to 2.5 inches of added wheel travel. To ensure a long life, arms include greasable two-stage polyurethane bushing pivots and superior two-stage gloss black powdercoat finish for protection.
| Disassembly continued with the removal of the front shocks. We began by removing the top nuts and then moved to the bottom of the shock mount, where we eliminated the stock hardware.
| With the shock and coil removed, we could then move on to eliminating the upper arm, which is getting replaced with the new components from CST Performance Suspension.
| We continue the quality theme with CST’s newest Dirt-Series shocks, which are built in the USA and designed and tested in-house. The shocks are not only designed to improve ride quality, they are specifically valved for application, fully adjustable, and rebuildable. Shocks also feature a 0.750-inch hardened chrome shaft diameter, 57.15mm-diameter piston, and T6061 aluminum end caps. Stainless misaligns and FK bearings finish them off. The shocks are then hard anodized for a long-lasting finish.
| The CST Dirt-Series 2.5 coilovers are ready to install straight from the package. First, we slid the upper mount into the spring bucket. Hines made sure to add a small dab of Loctite to the threads and locked it down using the supplied hardware with a 9/16-inch wrench.
| At the lower shock mount, Hines installed the additional hardware, including the new bolt, washer, and nut to lock in the new coilover.
| Supplied with each upper arms kit are all new bushings and sleeves. We simply greased each bushing and inserted each sleeve before installing in the truck.
| Each of the CST uniball upper arms come bare. We took some extra time to install the supplied bushings and sleeves and threaded in the Zerk fittings as well. Next, Hines installed the new uniball upper arms. From there, we realigned the control arm bolts with cams to their original position.
| The key to a majority of the lift (5.5 inches) comes directly from the CST lift spindles. CST lift spindles are constructed of precision-laser-cut ¼-inch steel, feature CNC-machined ball joint tapers, and are completely MIG-welded for strength. Hines installed those next—what a cinch! We lined up the bottom ball joint and snugged the nut. Then, we lined up the upper arm, slid it into the spindle, and locked it down for final.
| Before we reinstalled the hub, we applied a small dab of Loctite to the bolts.
| From there, the entire brake system could be reinstalled. NOTE: We haven’t forgotten about the supplied extended brake lines. We’ll get to those later in the install.
| Out back, Hines got to work disassembling the rear suspension. First, we removed the upper and lower bolts from each of the shocks.
| CST Performance Suspension also offers a variety of off-road accessories and protection products like the aluminum skidplate shown. These new skidplates are designed by CST and replace the weak plastic unit from the factory. Better yet, they bolt right in with no modification.
| Hines then began the tedious process of removing each of the eight nuts, which fasten the factory U-bolt perch. We began with a boxed-end wrench before switching to a deep socket. Once the U-bolts were gone, we could remove the factory block.
| CST supplies all new hardware for the rear, including rear lift blocks and U-bolts with fasteners and washers.
| With the new CST lift block lined up and in place, we could install the new U-bolts. We simply slid them over the factory leaf spring pack and through the factory perch. We locked them down with the all-new hardware from CST.
| To finish off the rear, we unpackaged the CST Street Series shocks. Each shock includes urethane bushings for direct fitment and less noise then Heim-style shocks. What’s more, they’re designed to work specifically for CST kits, which means no guessing or research. They fit the first time!
| Nothing says off-road like a set of reservoir shocks. While we installed the basic Dirt-Series shocks, CST Performance Suspension also offers an upgraded shock package for the mid-travel system. Each reservoir shock is engineered, designed, and tested in-house by CST. Reservoir shocks feature rebuildable urethane bushings, offer improved street and off-road ride quality, and include all the necessary hose clamps and hardware for a factory fit!
| With the install nearly buttoned up, we could move back to installing the supplied CST extended brake lines. We simply disconnected the factory lines from the caliper and used the new banjo bolt to reinstall. From there, we could bleed the brakes for final before getting the new Fuel wheels and tires on.
| What better way to complement a lift than with a new set of aggressively styled wheels and tires? We opted for a set of 17x9 Fuel Enduro wheels finished in matte black for that stealthy urban feel. We wrapped those in Fuel’s very own tires, too! They offer up commendable cut protection with heavy-duty 3-ply sidewalls and siped treads that allow for good grip in a variety of conditions.
| “So stoked,” said owner Elliot Park when describing the CST mid-travel kit. Park went on, “The before-and-after ride quality with this kit is like day and night. After riding some trails in Barstow, California, I noticed the change instantly when my tires hit the dirt.”
| The new suspension soaks up everything in its path. We totally noticed an increase in ride quality from 10 mph to 60 mph. We felt way more confident behind the wheel in the loose stuff now, too!