If you've ever hit a speedbump or gutter a little too quickly—and haven't we all—then you no doubt know the value of a good suspension bumpstop. Most vehicles these days use a microcellular jounce, which is basically an advanced foam rubber. In most situations this type of suspension stopper is perfectly adequate. However, when you start going faster across rougher terrain, a more robust stopper becomes necessary.
This holds especially true for Ford's F-150 Raptor. Ford's design is perfect for trucks that remain totally stock. However, when owners start adding bigger shocks, larger tires, and hundreds of pounds of gear in the bed, the factory bumpstops quickly find their limit. Fortunately, the suspension experts at ICON Vehicle Dynamics offer a kit that both stiffens the truck's frame and adds more robust hydraulic bumpstops.
| When we last left off with our 2013 Ford Raptor project we had finished installing ICON Vehicle Dynamics' RXT leaf springs and 3.0-inch triple bypass shocks. To finish out the project and get the most wheel travel possible, we would need to install the company's hydraulic bumpstop kit.
ICON's rear hydraulic bumpstop kit is fully bolt-on and can be installed without removing the truck's bed. The kit's clamshell design not only holds the hydraulic bumpstop but also adds strength to the truck's frame in an area where they've proven to need it. The damper itself is 2.0 inches in diameter and features a 2.5-inch stroke.
When combined with the company's RXT leaf springs and 3.0-inch triple bypass shocks, our 2013 Ford F-150 Raptor gained an enormous amount of not only wheel travel but also control. Big bumps are smoothed out, and we haven't experienced the harsh bottoming that used to happen on large G-outs. There's a little bit of added noise from the bumpstop pad contacting the metal strike plate, but the reality is the truck is so loud anyway that it's hardly noticeable. Over the course of hundreds of miles of testing we've been constantly impressed with the performance of the bumpstops.
We completed the ICON hydraulic bumpstop kit install in our driveway with basic hand tools and a bit of knowledge. The task isn't difficult, but it can certainly test the patience of folks with less mechanical experience.
| The factory microcellular bumpstops simply snap into a steel cup that is bolted to the frame. Removing them is easy. The bumpstop pulls out by hand, and the cup can be unbolted with a simple ratchet. It's really a miracle they stay in place at all.
| ICON's hydraulic bumpstop kit comes in pieces for easier installation. Seen here are the outermost pieces of the kit, which bolt to the outside of the frame rail and secure the bumpstop in place.
| Installation begins by centering this outer piece on the framerail and securing it in place with the factory bumpstop retaining cup bolt. Doing this ensures that both sides are evenly spaced and centered above the axle from the start.
| You may be wondering why the ICON kit positions the bumpstop so far off the frame. Well, it's simple really. Pushing the bumpstop out allows for both better bottoming control and increased wheel travel by way of moving the bumpstop out of the way of the leaf springs.
| This fancy-looking contraption is the miracle worker that prevents the need to drill into the framerails. The welded nuts line up perfectly with slots in the frame and holes in the outer frame bracket.
| Working from underneath the truck, the nut plate gets inserted into the framerail with the arrow facing forward. While holding the nut plate in place, thread a bolt through the outer bracket and into the plate. A second set of hands is helpful for this process, though we did it just fine by ourselves.
| The inside bracket is where things start getting a little tricky. The system works by sandwiching the framerail between the inner and outer brackets. This inner bracket attaches to the outer bracket, which is bolted to the frame.
| The inner bracket needs to sit flush against the framerails, which means the brake lines and wire harness need to be moved from the driver side frame rail and the exhaust needs to be moved away from the passenger side. To get the passenger side bracket in place we needed to use a ratchet strap to pull the exhaust far enough away from the frame.
| Once both interior brackets are installed the billet aluminum crossbar can be installed. This crossbar links the two sides together, stiffening the whole unit. It's this crossbar that protects the framerails from bending when the hydraulic bumpstops are engaged.
| In addition to the billet aluminum crossbar, a pair of tension rods are also used to help ensure rigidity of the system and framerails during hard off-road driving. One thing to note, however, is that the factory exhaust is a very tight fit through the passenger side tension rod, and most aftermarket exhausts won't fit at all.
| Since the bumpstops are moved outboard with the ICON kit, new strike plates need to be added to the axle tubes. These strike plates secure by catching a hook under the axle leaf-spring perch, and with a U-bolt on the other side around the axle tube.
| Looking at how tight the fitment is for the strike pad under the spring pad, it will most likely be necessary to loosen the axle U-bolts in order to secure the strike pad properly.
| Worth noting is that the leaf-spring alignment pins will likely need to be shortened. If they are left too long, they could hit and damage the hydraulic bumpstop mount on full compression.
| Last, and most important, is installing the hydraulic bumpstops. These bumps come from ICON already set up in the most ideal way for the majority of Raptor owners. They are adjustable, however, by way of valving changes, fluid volume, and nitrogen pressure. That part is best left to the professionals.
| The full ICON RXT rear suspension system for Ford's F-150 Raptor isn't cheap. However, when all the pieces are used together, they yield an unbeatable combination of strength and speed. The increased wheel travel and ride control are definitely worth the price of admission.