The Ram 2500 evolved into something different in 2014. The days of an upper overload on the rear leaf spring pack and higher rated door sticker being the only separation between a 2500 and 3500 are long gone – hell, a 2500 isn’t even straight forward anymore. We live in the age of the internet – long before hitting a dealership, people hit the web in search of their next, new vehicle. Afterall, there’s enough information online from which one could learn all they’d need to know – dealerships are selling a commodity, pricing is really all that sets them apart (think Dave Smith Motors, for example). Bargain shoppers narrowing their truck search by price and available rebates, with no knowledge of the available rear ends and their respective applications, may find themselves purchasing a vehicle 180° from their intended purpose. Conversely, people duped by the allure of “air ride” purchasing the specialty model in starry-eyed remembrance of the childhood cruise in the backseat of grandpa’s 1989 Lincoln Towncar will be sorely disappointed in the lackluster ride of an air-ride HD truck. It aint your grandpa’s Lincoln…
We’ve done a TON with the coil spring rear ends – everything from Fox 2.0″ Shocks (Commuter) for the truck that stays on-road all the way to the 3.0″ Kings front and rear (Dominator) for a truck equally comfortable passing side-by-sides in whoop sections as it is on the tarmac. The only shortcoming of this platform is its ability to haul. A quick search on enthusiast forum reveals inumerable complaints of stock trucks with sagging rear ends and rhythmic sway on the highway when loaded near capacity. Ram must’ve realized the shortcomings of this platform and, in preparation, designed the Air-Ride.
We’re now comfortably versed in this platform. Simply explained, it’s identical to its coil sprung counterpart but swaps the spring for an airbag. Don’t let the simplicity of this change this fool you; this truck is a totally different animal. We tested the truck to capacity – nothing phased it. We hit some hard and fast dirt roads to find there’s nothing magical about these airbags – they ramp up in spring rate very quick like any other; thus, they’re rough in the dirt when compared to the coil spring trucks. Extensive R&D of our 2.5″ and 3.25″ Systems confirmed flawless operation of all air-ride functions with our modifications. As the chassis and geometry is the same, our lifts for the platform are essentially the same up front.
The rear is the same sans rear coil springs, plus airbag riser/spacer, extended sensor position link, and swaps the factory 7/8″ bump spacer for a slightly longer bump stop drop to ensure the airbag cycles correctly. On the 3.25″ systems, we also needed to shorten the travel of the rear shocks by about 1.5″ – from our extended travel design used in the coil spring platform – to keep the airbag in place. Now, we’re getting into the “WHY” we’ve never cared for airbags as a primary means of suspending an HD truck. So, there’s slightly less uptravel and substantially less down travel when compared to the coil spring trucks and they won’t make dirt roads disappear underneath you. The upside, the truck will level any load within its stated capacity and haul it down the highway without ever knowing it’s there. This is something we’ve never experienced in the 2500 platform.
In the coil sprung trucks, we got super creative. We tried to engineer long-travel airbags but the space constraints made it impossible. Going in-board the frame where we normally mount the bags puts us at the coil spring – any more inbound and they’d be worthless, too close to the center for support. Outboard the frame-rail – too close to the tire for the size of the bag needed to support the load of a 2500. Only remaining option, between the axle and frame in place of the factory bump stop. Issue here, the collapsed dimension of an airbag with an internal bump-stop (required as you’re replacing the factory bump) with the mounting brackets exceeds the size of the factory bump stop by several inches. This translates into LOST up-travel. We went outside the box to develop a load-leveling system and ran out of time to devote to it.
I digress… Now that we’ve completed the Air-ride platform, it all makes sense; for those with moderate loads chasing the best on and off-road ride, the coil spring truck is perfect offering the best ride we’ve experienced in an HD truck to date. Those that are not concerned with the softest ride or hard-charging dirt-road performance; those who bought their HD Ram to be consistently hauling while not necessary knowing what will be in the back of the truck or how heavy it will be – the air ride is the truck.