A Short Look at the Kings of Long Travel Trucks
If you’re the type of person who is interested in going very quickly off-road then odds are good that you’ve heard of Ryan Kibbe’s company, Kibbetech. Based in Southern California just North of LA, Kibbetech has built a reputation for making some of the best designed long-travel suspension systems that money can buy. With a focus on trucks from domestic as well as foreign manufacturers (though, let’s be real, they’re all built in the USA anyway), Ryan and his crew have taken their passion for off-roading to the next level.
Kibbetech is based in the sleepy suburb of Newbury Park and in their shop, which they will go to great lengths to remind you is #ALLTIG, they’re turning out some seriously capable trucks. One of their best-known builds was for drifter and MagnaFlow brand ambassador Vaughn Gittin Jr. It was based on a 2015 Ford F-150 EcoBoost and was called the Ultimate Fun Haver. One look at it, particularly when Vaughn is behind the wheel and that name becomes extremely fitting. The truck features all the basic bolt ons such as an upgraded air filter and a MagnaFlow exhaust but Ryan and his guys also added some seriously trick King Shocks, double bypass units in front and triple bypass units in the rear that work in conjunction with the air suspension to make sure that whether the truck is in show mode or go mode, it can handle whatever abuse Vaughn throws at it. The total suspension travel when the air bags are fully inflated is 12 inches.
One thing that sets Kibbetech’s long-travel kits apart from other manufacturers, aside from increased travel, is the fact that they’re not meant for the home-gamer to install in his or her driveway. Quality is of the utmost importance to Ryan and his crew and as such, they prefer to do the install work at their shop, which they’ve recently expanded. This ensures that the complicated work of moving factory components and massaging sheet metal is done in such a way that it won’t impede the function of the vehicle.
Ryan Kibbe got his start in the world of desert racing as many others did: on the back of a dirt bike. Once he was old enough he purchased his first truck, a 1996 Dodge Dakota, and set about learning the skills to fabricate parts and modify his truck to make it more suitable for the desert’s challenging terrain. Eventually Ryan went to work for a military contractor which was primarily in the business of armor plating vehicles. The owner of the company happened to be a desert racing fanatic and ran a Class 1 truck in the Baja 1000. It was here that Ryan built up a lot of his formidable skills and purchased his first TIG welder, a piece of equipment that he uses to this day.
Kibbetech uses MagnaFlow exhausts exclusively, in particular, Ryan is fond of the hot rod builder kits which allows him to fab up a quality stainless steel exhaust for any application and then pair it with a muffler that will not only hold up to the kind of abuse that only the desert can supply, but sound great while doing it.
“Pretty much the only thing we use at the shop is MagnaFlow. That was the case even before we began working directly with them. I used to just buy it from Summit or wherever. I’ve had other people offer me free mufflers but I just stick with MagnaFlow because it always sounds amazing and the quality is always there.”
Kibbetech also does work with many other Baja racers. That community is extremely active in Southern California, as you might expect and the kind of extreme travel that Kibbetech suspensions are known for serves them admirably. Ryan, along with other SoCal desert racing maniacs like Jerry Zaiden from Camburg Racing have really gone a long way to elevate the sport and allow even regular guys to go out and experience the kind of performance that even just a decade ago would have been only accessible to people with Trophy Truck budgets.
Ryan has some exciting projects in the works including several full tube-frame chassis builds. These will allow him to flex his considerable engineering and fabrication muscle in designing suspension that won’t be limited by a production truck’s inherent compromise. Kibbetech is building several rigs right now for clients, including one truck that is destined to destroy some dunes in Iraq.