What’s best for the front end? Bull bar, brush guard, or nothing?

Andrew

Member
What do you think is best in terms of protection and safety while also considering the different pros & cons? I’m asking from a functional viewpoint and not aesthetic.

I know a leading argument for bull bars is protection from animal strikes. However, I saw photos of collision tests on an Australian website that showed vehicles with a steel bull bar suffered more serious damage for non-animal strike collisions than those without one. Considering that would it still be better to have a bull bar to protect from large animals?

What do you think about the NAS style wraparound brush bar? A good addition to the truck or just for looks and a ‘damage multiplier’?

I’ve also read about polyethylene bull bars, such as made by SmartBar, that claim to be much safer for pedestrians and the vehicle by absorbing some of the impact, however I haven’t seen any made for the Defender. Do you know of any? The closest I’ve found is LR’s soft wraparound brush bar that is NLA.
 

JimC

Super Moderator
Staff member
The LR soft brush bars sucked hugely. They not only had a few years of life in the weather before they went porous and spongy, they actually required drilling the front fenders for two mounting holes per side. Even the A-bar had two big ugly tabs that attached to the bonnet slam panel.

I feel like most brush bars are just that, they will deflect brush. And they rust.

Some people like dropping the front of their trucks on rocks, so they like tubular bumpers that look so bad to begin with that they actually look better after they’re damaged.

Ive got a couple ARBs. The old d-90 site had pictures of an Escalade that had written itself off against an ARB that looked only mildly deformed. Ive not seen any videos that demonstrate a lack of protection.
 
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Z.G

Well-known member
An OG RTE or Rockware would get my bet on protection. ARBs can hold up, but are certainly not as stout at the mounting points.

It really comes down to the age old question
What do you want to bend?
1. Your bumper
2. Your front body section
3. Your chassis
 

erover82

Well-known member
A steel bull bar is definitely going to absorb some kinetic energy before the impact continues into the body. I'd rather drive away with a mangled front end than damaged engine components. Pedestrian safety almost certainly reduced by most bumper accessories. I doubt occupant safety is greatly affected by these options. In a Defender, do your best to avoid any collisions, being that occupant safety wasn't a great priority in its time and place.
 

Andrew

Member
Well it's definitely not my goal to hit any pedestrians or large animals, but I know it's a possibility regardless how careful we are.

Wildlife strikes have become quite a problem here in Oregon. We have a new license plate to help remind people to slow down and keep a lookout.


Wildlife_Foundation_v1.jpg
 
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BarryO

Well-known member
IMO the best you can do to prevent animal strikes is use your high beams whenever possible. Around here, they especially help during the deer migration times.

I've seen the Disco stock brush bar do a lot of damage when they get snagged on a branch, the bar gets bent or ripped off, and takes out a body panel or two. Not a fan of brush bars.

As Zack said you need to weigh how strong the bumper should be vs. force transferred to the chassis as a result. FWIW, here's the picture of my ARB from about 15 years ago when I was driving on Highway 26 at 55 mph and an 81 year old ran a stop sign and I couldn't avoid him. The ARB got bent; I found out later the chassis got tweaked; I guess the energy got dissipated in both of them but perhaps the ARB saved the rig from being totaled. It was drivable afterwards; the other guy's Camry wasn't so lucky.

The ARB looks good. So does the stock bumper with the A-bar, which is what I have on it now. I don't like the look of brush guards because I think they look too fragile-looking, and thus "fake".

wreck2.JPG
 

Reese_D90

Active member
Ohh so the Safari Gards are available again? Maybe I should get one of those.
I just purchased a new SG. They are a good option. I never owned an original SG so I can’t comment on how the new ones compare. They give you the option of getting it without a finish and doing your own powder coat. I would get it without PC if I could do it again. The quality is not as good as my local guy. The bar itself is solid.
992A0792-715C-42CD-8976-485803EA8971.jpeg
 

O2batsea

Well-known member
To me, a big bumper gives you a false sense of security. As mentioned, hanging a heavy thick bumper on thin box tube chassis will only transfer energy into the chassis more effectively. The way these are designed, the tube section tends to rotate backwards into the body.
I prefer the look of a stock bumper but that's the Series 2A part of my brain.
 

1of40

Well-known member
From my personal experience my Rockware bumper has held up much better than it probably should have. I’ve not hit any animals but I’ve collided with rocks as big as the front end of my truck and trees that don’t move more times than I can count. I’ve also used it to brace against trees and rocks to winch other trucks up slippery, snotty, muddy trails. One side is now an inch closer to the body than the other as a result of all this warranted abuse. I don’t know for a fact but I don’t think the frame has been compromised. This is just based on my visual and that she still tracks down the highway at 80+ mph just fine.
 

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rocky

Well-known member
Confess, I prefer to barebones winch bumper with an A frame. Its a cosmetic preference to keep the truck looking as close to normal as possible.
After six years of use and occasional abuse however the PC on my TF branded bumper has flaked off and added Fe2O3. So I guess I have a job to do when the temperatures get warmer. In future I'd get the Roversnorth Roverchromed unit. https://www.roversnorth.com/parts/rna2116_rovers_north_sd_winch_bumper_defender
 

Ruggedalaskaman

Active member
I just purchased a new SG. They are a good option. I never owned an original SG so I can’t comment on how the new ones compare. They give you the option of getting it without a finish and doing your own powder coat. I would get it without PC if I could do it again. The quality is not as good as my local guy. The bar itself is solid.
View attachment 16973
The bumper looks great! Does SG have their prices listed?
 

Andrew

Member
I’m waiting to receive a reply to an email I sent SG yesterday. They say on their Facebook page prices start at $899. It looks like all the items like weld-on recovery points, skid plate, etc cost extra. Is there a reason to choose offset fair lead over centered? Is that just for the Warn PowerPlant?

Maybe I should order one bare and take it to my hot dip galvanizer before it gets powdered.
 

1of40

Well-known member
I’m waiting to receive a reply to an email I sent SG yesterday. They say on their Facebook page prices start at $899. It looks like all the items like weld-on recovery points, skid plate, etc cost extra. Is there a reason to choose offset fair lead over centered? Is that just for the Warn PowerPlant?

Maybe I should order one bare and take it to my hot dip galvanizer before it gets powdered.
The bumper is not going to rust.
 
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