by David Guest at Checkmate Offroad
A lot of people out there really wanting to know about the new kid on the block, Profender USA…
Ryan Chapman of Profender USA is confident enough in his product (and was ballsy enough) to send me some shocks for review and, later, IF they passed inspection and I had no reason not to like them… I would remove my trusty King shocks, change my shock mounts and thoroughly abuse test his Profender product on my race rig. Ahh, soon to come.
The truth is Profender is not new, just new to our American off-road style and wide open temperament. They are an established suspension company based out of Thailand, started in 1976. Any shock company that has been around and survived for that long is definitely worth a look.
I know some of you may be saying, “all the cheap throw away stuff comes from down that way“.
Ehhh, you know as well as I do that they have plenty of geeky engineers that love what they do and are exceptional at it. Its hard to beat a reliable product that works and keeps working at a low price. In my opinion, they are coming out swinging in this industry. Some of their swings hit too hard and I’m here to tell you why. I will tell you how to fix or prevent problems at home and on the cheap. Even before they figure it out and start doing it the wild wild west way.
I ventured to High Point to meet with my good friend Snappy to take a look at these new shocks, inside and out. I knew there was the possibility of me not having the right tools for the job because something could be different in these shocks that I wasn’t used to dealing with or didn’t have the equipment for… Who better to work with than the Snap On guy himself! Turns out, these shocks can be serviced with regular old standard tools.
Simple is Good.
Here we have our 2 inch Profender Smoothie side by side with a 2 inch Sway Away Coilover. There are obvious differences.
The Sway Away shaft is larger in diameter than the Profender Shaft. This doesn’t bother me at all. If you are breaking or bending shafts, it’s more than likely not the shocks fault… Yeah, it’s your fault or whoever built your rig because something is hitting where it shouldn’t. Maybe in a really bad case, like racing or just flogging your junk and you don’t have bumpstops?
The Sway Away Eyelet/Misalignment spacer is designed for a 1/2 inch bolt, where the Profender Eyelet/Misalignment spacer is designed for a 5/8 inch bolt. Wow, I think a 5/8, grade 8 bolt has like 55,000 lbs of shear strength!
I take shocks on and off a rig multiple times during the course of a day when tuning and I will tell you what I don’t like about these; I couldn’t get the spacer out! Ha! My tried and true trick didn’t work and then I gave up. When you take them out it doesn’t allow the misalignment spacer to jam into your top cap. If you can get them out use a rag or aluminum vise clamp…
Certain misalignment spacers burn me up. Some are funky to hold and you fumble them around while your installing your shock because they don’t slide in the bearing. Some aren’t very wide, most guys don’t allow the shock mount enough room, and it ruins the top or bottom caps when articulation occurs OR bends/breaks a shaft. I only like one kind, Wide, Hi-Misalignment spacers like these because they are easier to build around.
The people that use the spacers provided by ProFender will most likely not have a problem if the top and bottom bolt orientation is “front to back” and not “side to side” AND not at a crazy angle… I guess I’m bent because I couldn’t get them out!
Save yourself some time and save your shocks some punishment before you build your shock mounts. Buy some of these for a 1/2 inch bolt. Hell, for that matter, I would buy the misalignment spacer that I wanted for any shock.
Here is another example of why those misalignment spacers need to be interchangeable: A lot of people that are buying shocks are replacing the ones already mounted on their rig. The majority of the off road shocks out there are very similar in the mounting process and, if the deciding factor of trying to pick between two brands is which one fits, you lose the battle simply because they won’t have to pay someone 200 or 500 bucks to redo their shock mounts.
This piston is a pretty standard item… Most companies pistons are simple like this one. More complex ones like FOX, which belongs on a space shuttle, probably advertises that it keeps the shock fluid cooler. I’m sure it does to a certain point but it’s not that big of a deal for a trail rig or anything that’s not racing in San Felipe.
Check out the little rubber BumpStop for the aluminum piston spacer… Gnarly…
This Smoothie shock was shipped to me with with sheet metal type reservoir bushings. I’m not sure if this is an option or if you can request tube style reservoir bushings.
They made a mistake here, it’s nothing that would ever bother you if you didn’t take the shock apart, BUT I’m calling ProFender Corporate on this one, ha…
For anyone who is wondering, the Nylock nut is being used completely on this shock…
I can simply look at these pictures and tell that this shock needs tuning…. But, all of them do so what is the difference?
This shock was pretty tough to take apart. The tolerances were tight and the seals were hard to break. It’s not good for me as a tuner, because I want to get it done faster and faster, but great for the customer from the reliability aspect. If you want my honest opinion, this shock is made to last for years or in most cases forever… I don’t think I need to sit here and point out Profender’s every flaw because the ones that I found don’t really have anything to do with performance. They figured out how to cut the corners that do not matter, and 99% of people won’t even see or notice, to make an affordable product that will work great and not fall apart…
Before I cut up my race rig and fit these shocks to the front of it to torture test them, I will just say my conclusion is, this Profender Smooth Body shock is a good reliable piece at an affordable price.
Thanks to David, Chris Bower (aka snappy) and the folks at Three Points Automotive in High Point, NC.