Forever and a day I have said that my favourite independent trailing arm suspension was by Cruisemaster. Whether it was their XT or the indomitable ATX-Air, I've always come away from a tow impressed. So what of AL-KO’s option?
Even though I was involved in the launch of Enduro X in October 2019, I had not witnessed how well Enduro X could handle rough and at times extreme terrain. That was till last month’s cover review of the Cub C16 which happened to be running it.
Back then, I was really impressed with the design direction and engineering of Enduro X. The clamshell design is clever. It should be lighter and at least as robust as box-steel style trailing arms and less unsprung weight is a great thing aiding performance and handling. This style of design is what you often see used for large SUV’s and other cars. It has merit but it can be labour-intensive and requires considerable design considerations.
Those considerations are what we cannot test. One is the finite element analysis to prove the shape and materials are up to the task the other is stress testing which although I do push things, I do not consciously go to the point of breaking anything even if it has happened on rare occasions.
HOW ENDURO X IS MADE
I mentioned the clamshell design and how it can be labour-intensive to produce, the solution is jigs and robotic welders which can run a weld-bead longer and at more acute angles than even the most flexible people and that's what AL-KO use.
On a subsequent visit to the factory, I saw first-hand the bay that produces Enduro X and its impressive with a monstrous central welding bay that locks in the two halves of the clamshell before rotating and welding it in an almost seamless pass. According to our guide, the plant can produce hundreds of sets of arms in a matter of days and judging by the racks lining the walls, it's believable.
WHAT CAN WE TEST?
The ride is an obvious one, how its protective coating fares after an all-out assault of mud and stones and I can apply my knowledge to the attributes a good suspension should have and we’ll start there.
Enduro X has the capacity for a wide toe adjustment range via cam-bolts where the arm meets the chassis. The stub axle is forged which are stronger than cast axles and bolt-on with two set ride weights available in 210mm and 160mm. The benefit here is in giving the manufacturer more choice in ride heights for semi-off-road and full, off-road caravans.
Being bolt-on, the stub axle is easily replaceable should you break one and for caravan manufacturers, can be ordered for disc or drum brake options. It runs twin shock absorbers and although not entirely vertical, the 50mm shocks are at a more upright angle than a lot of what you see on the market. This is important as angling shocks can induce heat build-up on the thrust side of the shock, where the valve presses against the body. AL-KO achieve this by mounting the shocks beside the arm, not behind, which allows for a longer and more upright stroke.
AL-KO reports Enduro X has 140mm of travel (10mm more than Cruisemasters XT) and is currently only available with a coil spring though we heard at a recent show, an air-bag sprung option is imminent.
It comes with a five-year warranty, which to my knowledge, is the best in the industry and importantly, Enduro X is ready to accept Tow Assist, AL-KO’s trailer safety technology that incorporates ABS braking. Existing owners with 12 inch brakes are also likely to be able to retrofit Tow Assist, contact AL-KO for more information.
HOW DOES IT GO?
It was bloody boring, truth be told, and that's a good thing. There was never any lurching or unpredictable roll from the Cub C16 caravan Enduro X was fitted to. I had to look through the footage we shot of it in action to see if it ever behaved badly and it didn’t. Though the biggest potholes and washouts, the springs took the bumps while the shocks stopped any bounce from getting out of hand.
Next, I’d like to head back to the factory to weigh an arm so we can get a bit more data on whether Enduro X is any lighter than other trailing arm suspensions and as soon as we get the chance to look at the air-bag option, we will.
For more information head to alko.com.au