Okay, so maybe the term “bulletproof” is a slight exaggeration. But sometimes it’s the small things in life that seem to have the largest impact. In the case of Ricochet’s lower control arm (LCA) skids for the FJ Cruiser, nothing could be truer. Like their name implies, Ricochet’s assortment of skid plates offer great deflection through light-weight protection. I originally purchased these skids back in November of 2009 and I’ve been running the same set since installation. They have taken a significant beating since they were installed and they have the scars to show for it. But despite the harsh environments they’ve witnessed, these skids continue to provide the same great protection they offered when they were first installed.
For the die-hard rock-crawling fanatics out there, I should point out that these skids, like most of Ricochet’s products for the FJ, are comprised entirely of aluminum. Some of the most popular skid plate vendors out there will tell you that when it comes to underbelly protection, nothing beats steel. And from my own experience, I’d have to agree. Steel is stronger, more pliable, and will slide off rocks and other hard surfaces much easier than an aluminum skid. From a material standpoint, aluminum tends to be more brittle than steel and is more prone to sticking on rocks than sliding. The malleability of steel makes it a popular choice for wheels, skids and other parts used in the off-roading arena, because these parts can be bent back into shape when struck and warped by obstacles.
But aluminum isn’t exactly new to the game either. Aluminum has a major advantage that steel does not – weight savings. Depending on the application required, aluminum can oftentimes be used in place of steel with little or no detriment. Weight reduction can be a major advantage in a lot of instances and aluminum is a great contender for these scenarios. Aluminum also has a leg up on steel in that it will not rust or corrode as easily. This increased longevity translates to reduced maintenance and cost savings because parts will last longer. So while steel may be preferred for certain scenarios, aluminum most definitely has its place as well. The Ricochet lower control arm skids are a perfect example of maximizing the positive characteristics of aluminum.
The FJ Cruiser’s front lower control arms are built to withstand a good deal of punishment but anything, if struck hard enough, is prone to damage. In addition to the lower A-arm, the boots that enclose the constant velocity (CV) joints on the FJ’s front end sit just slightly higher, making them a nice target for sharp sticks and other trail debris. In an effort to combat this problem, the creative minds at Ricochet went to work developing a solution. The end result was a well designed aluminum skid plate that mounts directly to the bottom of the FJ’s front lower control arm. This light-weight armor not only provides increased strength to the lower control arm but also offers much needed protection to the CV boots that ride silently just a few inches above.
To give you a better idea of what’s included in the kit, I’ve included some photos of the package contents below. The kit is pretty basic, consisting of 2 lower control arm skids and a plastic bag with all the required installation hardware. I’ve also included some pictures of the skids shortly after installation. As you can tell from the photos, the skids fit quite snugly to the bottom of the A-arm, so very little clearance is lost. And with the added vertical wing in the front, your CV boots can now breathe a sigh of relief as they are much less vulnerable to objects approaching from below. The last section of photos shows these skids after more than a year of abuse. There’s no doubt that these skids do their job and they do it well.
Normally, I’d go into great detail on everything that’s required for installation but when it comes to the Ricochet LCA skids, installation is about as simple as it gets. The 3-bolt design makes it a snap to easily install both skids in under 30 minutes. The only tip I’d offer for install is to use ramps or a lift if you have access to one. The added clearance under the front end just makes it easier to line up the bolts and nuts and tighten everything down. The skids come in a standard aluminum finish by default, but Ricochet also offers anodizing in different colors for an additional charge. I’ve also seen owners powder-coat these skids but I believe that is done through a 3rd party as Ricochet does not currently offer this service on their web site.
If you’re looking for great protection for your FJ Cruiser’s front end suspension components, I highly recommend the Ricochet LCA aluminum skid plates. I’ve beaten on these things unmercifully and even brought the entire vehicle to a sudden halt at times, when the front lower control arms unexpectedly slammed into a rock. These skids have proven themselves again and again to be the perfect solution. If you’d like to pick up a set of Ricochet LCA skids, you can order directly off their web site, or for additional information, you can also contact Ricochet through the FJ Cruiser forums on their vendor page. In addition to the LCA skids, Ricochet also offers front-to-back protection for your FJ’s underbelly. So if you are looking for added peace of mind but don’t want the extra weight of steel, be sure and check out their complete inventory online. Lastly, don’t forget to check out the related articles section for more skid plate related FJ mods!