Mercedes-Benz G500 4×4²

Scott Brady

Founder
Yeah, it is Chile. The road between Mendoza and Santiago. Unfortunately, I am always driving that road in some slow 4WD and stuck behind a semi. . .
 

McBride

Adventurer
45cm of ground clearance!

I have this completely unjustifiable desire for those portals. . .
Join the crowd!


Unjustifiable, unfortunately (to our pocket books) I don't think it is. The math adds up. The performance attributes of a well designed and installed bolt on portal system are undeniable, at least for the most extreme end of the off-road travel world. I could have used them many times myself; instead I turned back. Significantly increased ground clearance (and where that can take you), no body mods (other than fender flares if desired), no lift, no wheel spacers, no changes to factory steering and drivetrain systems, better brakes, significant improvements to departure, approach, break over and roll angles, built in gear reduction to accommodate lager tires without stressing the drivetrain, CTIS ready, deeper fording, deeper snow, deeper mud....... I can't think of another single vehicle mod that even comes close. Basically, you can go over/thru more extreme terrain with less effort.


The Gwagen has great numbers to begin with. Look at those numbers after adding portals.


Since I purchased the Europa Camper I've been fascinated by bolt on portals and have researched them extensively.mIt seems that Europe has gone thru the trials and errors and now the age of the BOP (bolt on portal) is here. I expect that we will be seeing a lot more of these in USA. I would be astonished if over the next couple of years several manufacturers don't come up with at least a concept car for the shows and we start seeing them on more overland builds.


From what I have been able to gather, it appears that the reliability has become excellent. People are using these systems in major rallies without incident. I'm sure that people will break them, but people break everything... usually by bad judgment, technique and/or poor maintenance.


There are three things I don't love about the Letech system. One is the necessity to use the proprietary wheels. 37" is too big for me and I think the 22" (or even 20") wheels very seriously limit the tire selection for good offroad tires. I'm not fond of the form or function of the big wheel look. I'm sure its to fit massive brakes and I'm sure they are awesome. Second is that they only fit newer model G-wagens - I think Bill said '07 - this rules me out. Third is their portal brace design.. I'm sure the engineers can come up with something equally as strong without making the brace so exposed. The latter is not a huge issue but I can see it being a problem in some scenarios. I'm sure Bill has heard all of these complaints and hopefully the manufacturer will listen to him. With the second issue alone they are missing out on 99.9% of potential buyers and denying Bill his riches! The Letech's are undeniably proven and well engineered. These are just my current opinions.


Tibus Portals would be my choice at the moment. They have gone thru several iterations over recent years, reengineered the design several times (with input from some highly reputable offroad vehicle component manufacturers). They seem to have it nailed with their recent system; higher quality materials, bigger bearings and stronger output shafts. These don't heat up, burn gear oil, and can take continuous severe abuse. Cost is in line with the Letech. The biggest advantages in my eyes are that they can fit within a 16" wheel and can be made to fit almost any vehicle - Jeep, Mercedes, LandRover, Toyota, Chevy, Ford..... Tibus is in the lead at the moment; just as strong and more versatile (just my observation/opinion).


Another poster mentioned the Entdecker earlier. Imagine where you could go in that with portals! Who wouldn't want that.


Obviously a bolt on portal is going to put greater stress on the axles, wheel bearings, king pin bearings and likely the steering box. I expect that more frequent maintenance/replacement of these areas will be necessary. I also think that it will be essential that these are installed onto strong axles. Also, unsprung weight is increased so people will need to make sure their vehicle can handle it.


Scott, we both know that Expeditions West has achieved great success with service to the overland community. You are the benchmark. Being such, I nominate you to take the lead on this one, put some portals on the G Wagen and test, test, test to see if they are as awesome as they seem:) I'd be happy to take your portal equipped G out on some test runs anywhere, anytime. Oh yeah, you would need the milspec 16" Hutchinson's too!


In the meantime I'll keep on dreaming.
 
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Pinstripe

Adventurer
^
FYI, for this G500, the 22" wheels are the on road wheels. The off road wheels are 18", the same as the 6x6 but without the CTIS system. The vehicle will ship with both, buyer decides which to use. 37" tires is where it's at right now in the offroading world (not overlanding...), both for capability and the cool factor...
 

shoeless

New member
There are three things I don't love about the Letech system. One is the necessity to use the proprietary wheels. 37" is too big for me and I think the 22" (or even 20") wheels very seriously limit the tire selection for good offroad tires. I'm not fond of the form or function of the big wheel look. I'm sure its to fit massive brakes and I'm sure they are awesome

The main reason for the large wheel size is simply to accommodate the portal box. It looks like the large brake size is a nice by-product of the diameters required by the boxes themselves.

It looks like a 16" rim might work though after looking at the photos here: http://www.letechusa.com/gallery.html
The vehicle photo on middle row-far left somewhat shows the clearance and it looks like there is quite a bit of clearance on an 18" rim.
 
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LeTechUSABill

Observer
Unjustifiable, unfortunately (to our pocket books) I don't think it is. The math adds up. The performance attributes of a well designed and installed bolt on portal system are undeniable, at least for the most extreme end of the off-road travel world. I could have used them many times myself; instead I turned back. Significantly increased ground clearance (and where that can take you), no body mods (other than fender flares if desired), no lift, no wheel spacers, no changes to factory steering and drivetrain systems, better brakes, significant improvements to departure, approach, break over and roll angles, built in gear reduction to accommodate lager tires without stressing the drivetrain, CTIS ready, deeper fording, deeper snow, deeper mud....... I can't think of another single vehicle mod that even comes close. Basically, you can go over/thru more extreme terrain with less effort.
All really good points! And totally correct! The math really does add up. And I have seen the "you can go over/thru more extreme terrain with less effort" first hand many times. I have been going out almost every weekend with a local 4WD club and more often then not we come up to an obstacle that the Jeeps crawl and scrape and somewhat struggle to get over and then I just cruise right through with very little effort or drama! The only limitations to what I can do in my G are really the size, that is where it gets a little sketchy, put a pretty good gouge in one of my fender flares yesterday. Experience marks.:)
 

LeTechUSABill

Observer
There are three things I don't love about the Letech system. One is the necessity to use the proprietary wheels. 37" is too big for me and I think the 22" (or even 20") wheels very seriously limit the tire selection for good offroad tires. I'm not fond of the form or function of the big wheel look. I'm sure its to fit massive brakes and I'm sure they are awesome. Second is that they only fit newer model G-wagens - I think Bill said '07 - this rules me out. Third is their portal brace design.. I'm sure the engineers can come up with something equally as strong without making the brace so exposed. The latter is not a huge issue but I can see it being a problem in some scenarios. I'm sure Bill has heard all of these complaints and hopefully the manufacturer will listen to him. With the second issue alone they are missing out on 99.9% of potential buyers and denying Bill his riches! The Letech's are undeniably proven and well engineered. These are just my current opinions.
Allow me to address these if I may.

1. No argument there, they are big, not for everyone. But to be clear the wheel that comes with the conversion is an 18" wheel, and they are the same as the 6 x 6 and "off road" wheels for the 4 x 4².

2. Correct I have been instructed by LeTech in Germany that the Portals can only be used on 07 and later, but it is only because of the wheel speed sensor difference. I have solved this issue with my 2005 G500 (sliver one with flames everyone hates :)), so I think if someone really wants to spend the money on a conversion for an older G we can do it. Just takes a machining step to the housings and a little modification to the sensors.

3. The braces do hang down quite allot and might possibly get in the way, especially the fronts, the rears aren't so bad. There is a mount that we weld onto the axle tube, but the large part of the brace is bolted on. If you look at the photos of my G you will see that they are not there, the housings alone are very strong. So if you happened to "tear off" all the braces somehow, everything would be OK.
 

LeTechUSABill

Observer
The main reason for the large wheel size is simply to accommodate the portal box. It looks like the large brake size is a nice by-product of the diameters required by the boxes themselves.

It looks like a 16" rim might work though after looking at the photos here: http://www.letechusa.com/gallery.html
The vehicle photo on middle row-far left somewhat shows the clearance and it looks like there is quite a bit of clearance on an 18" rim.

Important to note on that photo you are looking at of my G is that those axles I have are a very early prototype set that Andreas made and they are using a Porsche 6 piston caliper that is actually smaller than the Movit 6 pistons the kit comes with. As you can see from my photos here there is zero room for smaller wheels, they must be 18" or larger for our Portals.










 

McBride

Adventurer
Allow me to address these if I may.

1. No argument there, they are big, not for everyone. But to be clear the wheel that comes with the conversion is an 18" wheel, and they are the same as the 6 x 6 and "off road" wheels for the 4 x 4².

2. Correct I have been instructed by LeTech in Germany that the Portals can only be used on 07 and later, but it is only because of the wheel speed sensor difference. I have solved this issue with my 2005 G500 (sliver one with flames everyone hates :)), so I think if someone really wants to spend the money on a conversion for an older G we can do it. Just takes a machining step to the housings and a little modification to the sensors.

3. The braces do hang down quite allot and might possibly get in the way, especially the fronts, the rears aren't so bad. There is a mount that we weld onto the axle tube, but the large part of the brace is bolted on. If you look at the photos of my G you will see that they are not there, the housings alone are very strong. So if you happened to "tear off" all the braces somehow, everything would be OK.
Bill,

Thanks for those details. Good to know. 18" is great.. lots of great tires available.

I'm sure people only comment on the contrasting bumper/rack color and decals. Most off-road G people are purists and very set in their ways.I'm a little that way myself when it comes to color - I like bland. All that aside I'd bet that the performance of you G is incredible. Scary even.

Wouldn't you love it if they made the Letechs for other makes of vehicles? You'd have Jeep and Ford guy's lining up for them. My point was that if Tibus is doing it, Letech could do it just as well... They just aren't at the moment.

Question - is the bolt pattern proprietary? I understood that you have to use Letechs wheels. If that isn't the case then people should know.
 

LeTechUSABill

Observer
For sure it would be good if LeTech would do this design Portal for other makes! I certainly would have sold several sets by now if that was the case. However Andreas (owner of LeTech) is just simply not interested in accommodating anything other than Mercedes Benz G Wagons and I do not see that changing anytime soon.

His answer is "if you want to use our Portals, buy a G Wagon"!

On the bolt pattern it is not proprietary, 8 on 6.5".
 

762X39

Explorer
45cm of ground clearance!

I have this completely unjustifiable desire for those portals. . .
You don't really need to justify them. The first time I took my 404 off pavement and simply drove over every obstacle on the trail, across every water crossing without fear (well, actually very little fear) and took whatever line I wanted, I knew that Portals were my friend.:coffee:
 

Titus Pullo

Adventurer
For sure it would be good if LeTech would do this design Portal for other makes! I certainly would have sold several sets by now if that was the case. However Andreas (owner of LeTech) is just simply not interested in accommodating anything other than Mercedes Benz G Wagons and I do not see that changing anytime soon.

His answer is "if you want to use our Portals, buy a G Wagon"!
Daniel offers them for the G, for the Landie and for TLC.
 

Beowulf

Expedition Leader
Figure we need to also have the Top Gear 6x6 video to help show how awesome the 4×4² is as well.

 

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
Whose portals are Mercedes using in the 4x4^2, LeTech's?
Where's the spare wheel/tire located?
The rear chrome twin-tube bumper on the black one sure is goofy looking.
Looks like they had the center and rear diff locks engaged most of the time.
Carbon roof?

FYI, Tibus(at least a few years ago) was using 290GDT brakes which they said were better than anything else they tried.
Good to see Movit's on the LeTech; a popular setup on Audi's and such in der Fatherland.
 
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