Pausing the Cutting Edge – Titan Swaps & The Perfect Compromise

It’s interesting. Not everyone wants the biggest, baddest and greatest. I for one, have always loved building stuff. Always looking to whats next. Wondering whats the next cool thing that no one has done before. I have wanted to be on the forefront, which eventually took me down the path of doing my best in perfecting the solid axle swap on the earlier Nissans. We did some amazing builds, but in the end, there wasn’t a big following for that level of 4×4 in the Nissan world. Most of you aren’t aiming for the biggest rocks, trying to set records or get on the cover of magazines. It’s been shown that you just want a solid rig that performs well enough to hit some challenging trails, go camping and explore cool places. Which is awesome. I enjoy those things too. So when the solid axle swap endeavours ended, I started looking into offering a titan swap kit that was a bit different than anything else on the market.

The more I looked at different setups and listend to feedback, the more I realized there was a better way to be doing titan swaps that would address multiple issues.
For one, many of the titan swap kits used uniballs in place of upper balljoints, and heims joints in place of bushings. This allows for more travel but at the expense of long lasting low maintentance parts. In dry climates, these parts are great, However, in harsh winter environments, the uniballs and heims wear out much faster than a greasable balljoints and bushings. The salt and other checmials used for managing icy raods, heavily accelerate the decline of these parts leading to the need of replacement about once a year. This means, taking your suspension apart, replacing costly parts and getting an alignment every time. The alternative option of using ballsjoints and bushings ,were lacking the suspension travel of the uniball options. These problems had my attention.

Another place for improvement is that many people strived to run 4″ of lift on a titan swap suspenion which really pushed the limits of the titan width IFS suspension system. The stance looks great but trail performance is lacking as there isn’t hardly any downtravel left to have a properly functioning suspension system. I’ve seen way too many xterras climb obstacles in Moab, UT, and even to this day on Instagram,  where an obstacle is appraoched and as one front wheel starts to climb. The spring doesn’t compress and the opposite side is lacking any downtravel which robs any ability to keep the wheel on the ground. 3-wheel action… everywhere. Attempting to put longer coilovers in would result in the common coilbucket contact issues. One solution would be to run about 2.5″ – 3″ of lift. The performance would be drastically improved… but we haven’t talked about tires yet. It’s been proven that there are a lot of xterra and frontier owners wanting to go to 35″ tires, which simply don’t fit in the wheelwells / fenders. There are 2 options, start trimming, or get a body lift. In the interest of staying away from body lifts, most people start trimming. One could carfully trim the fenders following the factory curve nearest the firewall but the 35″ tires would smash into the fender at full compression unless you cut upwards too… which in my opinion looks stupid.

So, whats the solution? A unique, upper control arm design that would have a wider mounting width at the frame. This would completely clear the coilbucket making the common coilbucket contact issues a thing of the past for good. This new design would also use bushings and a greasable balljoint for low maintenance and long lasting performance. The balljoint would be angled in such a way that downtravel is maximized while taking away unused uptravel. This results in about 1.5″ more down travel compared to uniball designs and restores suspension performance at a 4″ lift height. This also allows for a 35″ tire without needing to trim upwrands into the fender and only needing additional clearance near the firewall. At the time Radflo told me that they weren’t able to build IFP (internal reservoir) coilovers for the titan swaps, but with the new added length for this application, IFP became a possibility.
The perfect middle ground.

So, whats the catch? A bracket for the wider mounting width width of the upper control arms needs to be welded in.

We prototyped it, and thats where the titan swap journey stopped.

At the time there were multiple other companies that were really pushing titan swaps, I happened to know the owners of those companies fairly well and simply didn’t want to go head to head with them. As far as second-gen xterras and frontiers go, I was always the gears & lockers guy and they were suspension dudes. Their kits worked well, their reputations were strong and I simply decided to stay in my lane. I also wasn’t sure that the demand would support another titan swap kit in this space. In addition, the jig that we had fiddled with for so long to get this to work just right, was in my Pathfinder when it was stolen and the jig was never seen again.

80,000 miles later and the OG titan swap kits no longer on the market… the question begs. Do I put a compelte kit together? or is the welding too much of a turn off?

Let me know in the comments below

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *