When we first encountered water that would could not get the trucks through in Laos, we realized that we could wait no longer for some lifts on the trucks. With the roads as bad as they are in some parts of this journey, backtracking as little as 75km can take the better part of a day.
We knew after the way we had beaten up the shocks through SE Asia, it was time at least get some replacements. On our first contact with Toy Tec we simply wanted to get some lifts and new rear springs for the Tundra, as we have had it severely overloaded with all the weight of our gear. Doug at Toy Tec suggested to me that we actually upgrade the shocks as well.
After 1200km of the roads in Mongolia, another 1000km of the insane roads of Kazakhstan and another 400km of snow and potholes in Kyrgyzstan, it has become highly evident that these shocks were not a luxury, they were a necessity. The corrugation of the roads in Mongolia is not paralleled in the world, it shakes you until you are on the verge of breakdown. The “paved” roads of Kazakhstan are in dire need of repair and they throw curve balls at you right and left with bumps and dips that will launch the trucks off the road at the blink of an eye. Kyrgyzstan’s potholes go back and forth from little minis to a whole chunk of the road missing for 50 ft.
With the experiences we have had over the last few weeks, we cannot thank Doug and the guys at Toy Tec enough for the gift that keeps on giving…their new shock setups. We asked for lifts, they upgraded and now we have coil over shocks for the Sequoia along with Add-a-leaf springs for the Tundra. The coil over shocks have outperformed Doug’s descriptions of a better ride, and the add-a-leafs have immensely improved the ride and handling of the Tundra with all the weight we are carrying. I am so impressed with these shocks that it seems wild to me that anyone would drive a truck with the stock shocks. So without further adieu…the top ten:
10) The Sequoia shocks were already noted as “not passing” when we had safety tests done in Thailand. After that we put more than 5,000 more miles on them.
9) Western Mongolia does not believe in bridges, river crossings are an hourly occurrence.
8) After a few hours with the new shocks, your confidence shoots through the roof with the new level of control. Confidence goes a long way when you are lost in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from civilization, running out of gas while the thermometer reads negative 18 degrees.
7) Mongolians joke that the roads in the west can rattle the bolts loose in your truck, we were happily driving by those guys with loose bolts on the side of the road.
6) Bilstein just sounds cool when you are talking about your shocks.
5) Occasionally, we pass old Russian vans full of travelers. I giggle on the inside when I think of their discomfort.
4) After a day of driving in Mongolia jarring your brain for hours on end, sometimes you consider just driving off a cliff to make it all stop. Without the shocks, I think I would have chosen the cliff by day 2.
3) If you manage to not lose your sanity and drive off a cliff yourself, the uneven road will attempt to toss you off one on its own.
2) I got to be “that guy” at the airport ticketing desk, airport security, the Air China ticketing desk, Mongolian customs and Mongolian airlines baggage desk on my flight back to Mongolia. It is like shocks are made of plutonium or something.
1) I recently saw an ad in Russia warning mothers not to shake their babies for risk of brain damage. Thanks shocks…enough said.