Bullbar, Smart Bar or Alloy

Submitted: Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 17:46
ThreadID: 135828 Views:12276 Replies:12 FollowUps:14
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I have a 2015 Mitsubishi Challenger and am considering fitting a bulbar for protection from animal strikes whilst towing etc. Choices are limited for this vehicle and I have found three manufacturers, one steel, one alloy and the Smart Bar. I am leaning towards either the alloy or Smart Bar due to weight considerations. 35 kg for alloy and 24 kg for the Smart Bar. The steel one is approx. 65 - 70 kgs and to fit this I would have to upgrade the vehicle suspension. I feel that for my needs I don't need a heavy duty bar or suspension upgrade. Suggestions would be appreciated.
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Reply By: Member - mark D18 - Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 18:24

Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 18:24
Phil ,
You answered your own question , Sounds like the smart bar is all you may need .

AnswerID: 614771

Follow Up By: Phil - Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 18:51

Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 18:51
Mark, I was initially leaning towards the Smart Bar but I have some concerns as to its longevity. ie UV resistance, fading over time and appearance after scratching and abrasions etc. They seem to be well made but they are plastic and may not fare well over time. Fitment also involves considerable cutting and removal of the front bumper assembly, whereas the alloy one requires removal of a small section of the grill only.
FollowupID: 885455

Follow Up By: 76lifted - Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 20:11

Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 20:11
purely for cosmetic reason i beg of you to not purchase a smart bar ??
Cheers jet
FollowupID: 885456

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 20:35

Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 20:35
Made from essentially the same material as rain water tanks and plastic fuel tanks. Almost bullet proof.
There would be no concern whatever re UV and scratches could be removed if that was a concern.
I would have one.

OKA196 motorhome
FollowupID: 885457

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 06:24

Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 06:24
Wot Peter said. Also the same stuff as a snorkel.
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Follow Up By: gbc - Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 06:49

Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 06:49
Longevity? We have plastic boats. They will be heirlooms. There was university data and impact testing on the net a while back. It put forward a pretty strong case for the smart bar. The new stealth one doesn’t even look too bad.
FollowupID: 885463

Reply By: MarkHugh - Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 21:15

Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 21:15
Hi Phil,

The Smart Bars are pretty good as long as you like black. Keeping excess mass off the front of the vehicle is an important consideration many ignore. I don't know of them having any issues per se. Their ability to recover their shape is a real plus over the metal bars. The design for some vehicles precludes mounting large diameter driving lights. The ambos use them.

Cheers, Mark
AnswerID: 614772

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 21:52

Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 21:52
"The Smart Bars are pretty good as long as you like black"

They are available in white as well. Other vehicles have a wider range of colours.
See this page.
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Reply By: Paul E6 - Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 00:10

Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 00:10
I have one on my ranger, came with the car used.
No complaints, I'm sure it has a lot of give in an anti roo situation.
AnswerID: 614775

Reply By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 06:42

Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 06:42
Phil, I had an ARB bullbar on my old 200 and vowed never to buy one again. It wobbled, carried on like crazy even on freeways, and despite ARB claiming it's weight as 83kg, it was 103 PLUS winch etc. On a dirt road it would vibrate like it was about to come off.

Worst of all I could never get the front suspension right for those scollops on sand tracks. Even the heaviest springs and Bilsteins couldn't stop the "Boating" generated by the inertia of the weight. Just too bloody heavy

So this time round I bit the bullet, and got a smart bar. The front rides so much better, it takes a winch and the front is 60kg lighter. No more boating and it doesn't wobble.

Take a look at the videos on youtube where someone hits a cow and another where a Steel, Alloy and a Smart bar are in a crash test into a pole. Make your own judgement. keeping in mind the crash test is part of an ad...

Hopefully I won't get to see how well it works, but I do know that I hit a very large roo at 100kmph with my ARB bar. It jumped away, the bullbar was fine. The airbags didn't go off and there was no panel damage apart from a small crease at the rear of the front guard where it joins the A piller.. I nearly died when I got the quote and reason why that happened. $8000 damage to the chassis.
I think a little flex in the bullbar is a good thing after that experience.

Start looking at this video at about 1:15

AnswerID: 614778

Reply By: 9900Eagle - Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 07:30

Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 07:30
Phil, smart bars are an excellent product. They do fair better than other bars in many situations with the ability to return to their original shape. I wanted to first one on my Ranger but at the time they weren't available.

As for lasting they are made out of the same material as our council rubbish bins. My poly rubbish bin is now 20+ years old and has been in the North Queensland sun all that time and it has just faded a bit.

You can paint the smart bar any colour you want, this is what happens to the front and rear plastic panels on vehicles for the last 30 years.

AnswerID: 614779

Reply By: Jason M3 - Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 10:13

Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 10:13
I put a smartbar on my R51 pathfinder 5yrs ago and i can say they look and work very well.I hit a cow bigger than the one in that video and the only damage i got was the antenae bracket scrapped my bonnet.I removed them when i got home.
AnswerID: 614780

Reply By: Phil - Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 10:40

Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 10:40
Thanks for all the input, I think that the Smart Bar may be the way to go, mainly for its weight and flexibility. Interestingly, whilst talking to a 4WD accessories shop the other day, I found out that Smart Bar has been bought by ARB.
AnswerID: 614781

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 14:01

Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 14:01
Smart Bar everytime. Alloy bars don't bend back.
Bought my first Smart bar 17 years ago but been unable to get them for my past 2 vehicles. My daughter recently got one for her Prado and its a good bit of gear.
AnswerID: 614784

Reply By: Gronk - Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 21:15

Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 at 21:15
While the smart bar is probably a smart choice, I personally would have to reverse my 4wd into the garage so I wouldn't have to look at it every time I opened the side door !! lol
AnswerID: 614788

Follow Up By: Dusty D - Monday, Nov 06, 2017 at 07:50

Monday, Nov 06, 2017 at 07:50
Haha, good one Gronk. They certainly lack something in the 'looks' department and I would be really concerned about the crap I would have to cop from my mates - it would be unbearable.

Steel for me.

FollowupID: 885475

Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Monday, Nov 06, 2017 at 12:41

Monday, Nov 06, 2017 at 12:41
If I wanted the looks of a Smart Bar for my Ranger I would have just bought a BT50 and not fitted a bar at all.

ECB Alloy for me. I don't drive at night and if it does get bent, so what, I'll just get it replaced as it most likely did its job of protecting the cooling system better than nothing at all.
FollowupID: 885479

Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Monday, Nov 06, 2017 at 20:40

Monday, Nov 06, 2017 at 20:40
Phil, I have done millions of K's across Australia and all I will say is, don't be to sure about travel and roos. This year in my 4x4 I hit 2 roos at around 10 to 11 in the morning, one in Qld (can't remember where) and another a couple of weeks ago near North Star in northern NSW. Those roos were on a suicide missions and completed what they wanted to do.

I have footage from the truck dash cam of 100 plus roos coming across a road at midday, big greys and reds doing the same with pigs, emus and camels.

I know the smart bar isn't the best looking jigger but it is very functional and ticks the boxes for what it is designed for, it won't stop a big beast but nothing else will, even truck bull bars have problems with the big buggers.

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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 00:08

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 00:08
Somehow in my 4 line reply (half with tongue in cheek) I came across as someone with no experience. I didn't know I had to state experience level to express an opinion in this case.

So, in around 45 years with many long distance trips, work and private related, I have come across most animal situations except for Camels. That includes quite a few day and night runs on the old Stuart Hwy from Pimba to the NT border when it was still dirt. I did used to prefer night trips at times but these days I would only do it as a last resort to finish a days drive. I have hit a number of roo's front on and all were with an alloy bar and suffered no damage to speak of but that was with my previous 4x4 that I bought in 1979 and finally got rid of 18 months ago. The only damn animal that damaged the car was a Dingo that went under and bent a steering rod.

While I have no experience of the Smart Bar with animal strikes my view of them is the same as with some of the alloy and steel ones and just relates to appearance. So with my happy experiences with a previous alloy bar I chose same for the Ranger and with my now driving style and with van towing I've so far avoided hitting anything, but with a few close calls.

Everyone is entitled to express an opinion based on their own experiences. Personally though I feel the only wrong choice for long distance trips is no protection at all. But that's just based on my experience.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 05:34

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 05:34
Phil, didn't mean to challenge or offend you, I was just stating the fact roo strikes and other animal strikes can occur at any time.

FollowupID: 885500

Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 07:10

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 07:10
Hi Phil

Like Eagle has just stated above, animal strikes can and will happen at any time of the day.

Our last roo strike happened this year while on the Duncan Road in the Kimberley at 1pm in the afternoon. For some reason there were lots of active Roos at that time of the early afternoon and even though we slowed right down, there is always one that will come from know where and straight in front of the car.

Lucky for us we hit him dead centre and not a side panel, as the only damage to my ARB steel bar war a bent front number plate. This is the second time this bar has hit Roos on this vehicle and if it was an alloy bar, would have been bent like a banana.



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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Thursday, Nov 09, 2017 at 00:51

Thursday, Nov 09, 2017 at 00:51
Eagle, where did I somehow lead you to believe that I didn't know roo's are also about in daytime because I can't find the evidence?

There's Buffalo, Horses, Donkey's, Roo's, Wallaby's, feral Pigs, Crocs, Emu's, Dingo's, Sheep, Cattle, Fox's, Wombat's and many more.

From my experiences, some of that wide variety of animals are mainly a night issue, some day and some both. Driving appropriately minimises the risk but never removes it completely. The worst are the 2 legged Donkey's, day and night and sometimes in vehicles of all sizes.

You don't even have to leave some Metro areas to be at high risk of animal issues. I doubt that many here have encountered feral Buffalo in suburban streets as we've had around the Top End. At one time we woke up one morning to find their hoof prints surrounding our house in the fresh top soil. That's how common they were and we had to deal with them and many other animals on a regular basis. Once while headed home at 3am after late work I came to a stop on a roundabout with one standing there on the road. It was just 50 metre's from a Coles Supermarket. Nhulunbuy still has Buffalo issues.
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Reply By: Sigmund - Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017 at 14:42

Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017 at 14:42
The Smart bar is kinder to other road users if you should hit one, perish the thought. Particularly pedestrians as that bar conforms with the vehicle front more.

As for how steel or alloy bars perform when you hit an object, there's not much quality data around. Bar makers don't say what force a bar will sustain without contacting or immobilising the vehicle. The only comparative study I could find showed that in the ANCAP frontal offset collision the vehicle with the bar sustained more damage than the one without - and damage of a sort to affect the driver.

What there is is a lot of anecdotes. One guy says his worked a treat in a roo hit and the roo could've been a 35kg female. Another guy says he was immobilised and his roo could've been a 90kg male. Oranges and apples.
AnswerID: 614851

Follow Up By: mynance - Thursday, Nov 09, 2017 at 07:43

Thursday, Nov 09, 2017 at 07:43
4wd action magazine tested a range of bull bars a few years ago by swinging a 44 gallon drum of concrete into them while mounted on a Hilux front.

Results were Tuff bar, followed by Smartbar, TJM, ARB, the others were a waste of time.

FollowupID: 885566

Reply By: Paul E6 - Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017 at 23:03

Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017 at 23:03
Speaking as a kangaroo, I like smartbars.
But I hate Toyota's no matter what they have on the front.
AnswerID: 614857

Reply By: Alloy c/t - Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017 at 10:14

Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017 at 10:14
Ask yourself this question , why do 4x4 AMBULANCES in Queensland have 'smart bars' ? Anwer = far far less damage to vehicle after roo strikes = less time off the road / tracks getting alloy or steel bars replaced / repaired ....
AnswerID: 614951

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