Bullbar, Smart Bar or Alloy

Submitted: Friday, May 18, 2018 at 19:24
ThreadID: 136728 Views:1725 Replies:9 FollowUps:20
This Thread has been Archived
Back in November 2017 I asked a question regarding bullbars for my Mitsubichi Challenger. Which would be better, Smart Bar or alloy? I received many opinions, mostly constructive, and after some lengthy research and some procrastination I decided on the Smart Bar. The car has no noticable difference in handling and no vibration, 34 kgs fitted. I decided against fog lights, I don't like them and find them irritating on oncoming vehicles when on, and a bar type driving light is yet to be fitted. The appearance of the bar may be questionable to some but I like it. Hopefully I .have included a photo.
Regards Phil
Back Expand Un-Read 2 Moderator

Reply By: Paul E6 - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 20:36

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 20:36
I have one on my ranger, on it when I bought it. I thought it looked odd and uncool at first but now I like it. Durable, light, plenty of spring - what's not to like?
AnswerID: 618995

Reply By: Idler Chris - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 20:44

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 20:44
I reckon they look ugly, but they are very practical.
What other people think of me is none of my business.
Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 618996

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 13:33

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 13:33
Any bull bar looks ugly.
PeterD
Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 891239

Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 15:57

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 15:57
.
A bull halfway through the radiator looks even uglier!

Cheers
Allan

Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

2
FollowupID: 891247

Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 20:48

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 20:48
Gday Phil, I've had Two Patrols and ordered the steel bar from new with delivery because I know a kangaroo will bend an Aluminum bar. Even so, if it saves vehicle and allows you to continue your travels, it's done its job. The plastic bar , I guess it's made of Nylon, should bounce back to its original shape. So it's job is to minimize damage in case of a strike, if it's Steel, Alloy or Plastic, although they have different properties, they all should work ok.! Michael
Patrol 4.2TDi 2003

Retired Xmas 2016 and now we are Out and About!

There's time to rest when you're dead,
Get out and do something instead!

Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 618997

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 21:38

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 21:38
" I guess it's made of Nylon, "
Polyethylene. Similar material to plastic fuel tanks.
Almost indestructible....

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
1
FollowupID: 891138

Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 07:05

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 07:05
Hi Peter, I have never really had a look at a Smart Bar. I guess the bars are very small production runs and are more likely to be Rotationally moulded so Hi Density Polyethylene is a good choice as it would need to be a Polyolefin to use that method of manufacture. Michael.
Patrol 4.2TDi 2003

Retired Xmas 2016 and now we are Out and About!

There's time to rest when you're dead,
Get out and do something instead!

Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 891230

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 15:04

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 15:04
Yep, that is exactly how they are made, although it is possible to rotomould nylon which I have seen used for small run fuel tanks for motorcycles - why they did not use PE I have no idea....

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
0
FollowupID: 891244

Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 22:01

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 22:01
.
Rotational Moulding is a process of placing a measured amount of polymer into a hollow mould which is heated and rotated to distribute the material over the inner surface of the mould. It is generally used for larger hollow products such as tanks.

Are Smartbars hollow?

Cheers
Allan

Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 891257

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 22:23

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 22:23
"Are Smartbars hollow?"
Yes.
Part of the initial development issues involved getting enough polymer powder into the mould to ensure that the wall sections are high enough.
Great process for "handy people" to make low volume tanks such as diesel and water tanks for motorhomes. Make a relatively simple sheet metal mould and get a local rotomoulder to do the moulding. I made water and diesel tanks for the OKA this way.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
0
FollowupID: 891259

Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 07:55

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 07:55
.
Hollow? I'm astonished.
Thanks Peter.
Cheers
Allan

Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 891261

Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 07:38

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 07:38
I put a smart bar on my 200 series mainly for weight to help with GVM issues. Also have a lovells GVM upgrade.

The smart bar grows on you after a while. The UHF aerial doesn't shake and I quite like it.

Alan
AnswerID: 618999

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 09:38

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 09:38
Yes ditto.

I hated my ARB bullbar on my old 200 which ARB said weighed 83 Kg, but was actually 105Kg plus 32Kg for the winch. They wobble all over the place and is way to heavy even with heavy duty springs and shock absorbers. It really affected handling on scalloped tracks and made the front of the vehicle jump up and down on messy dune approaches . It drove me nuts. It even wobbles on a freeway and on a dirt road looks like it is about to fly off.

I too got the smart bar for my new 200. At about 34kg, plus the winch it is a pleasure to own and use. I agree the look grows on you. Love it.

Tony
200 with 2012 Tvan Canning.
Happiness >= your perception of the events in your life minus your expectation of how life should be.

Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 891142

Follow Up By: Gronk - Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 18:41

Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 18:41
I have an OL bull bar on a 200 series and don't have much shake at all, although it would weigh similar to an ARB one ( also have a winch ). The aerial stays very still most of the time ( I don't use a spring )..

But I just can't get my head around paying 80K for a 4wd and whacking a piece of horrible plastic on the front of it....even if it does the job ??
0
FollowupID: 891215

Follow Up By: Paul E6 - Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 20:40

Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 20:40
Why would you want to add a big hunk of steel to the front of your car when a product a fraction of the weight will do the same job? The aesthetic considerations are subjective. Oh wait - you're a LC owner....;-)
0
FollowupID: 891218

Follow Up By: Gronk - Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 22:55

Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 22:55
Aesthetic's are certainly subjective....but I couldn't park my 4wd in the garage backwards just so I didn't have to look at a piece of black plastic that looks like a couple of school kids designed.

What thing of beauty do you drive seeing as you want to make it personal ?
0
FollowupID: 891227

Follow Up By: Paul E6 - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 21:03

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 21:03
;-) = you chill out
0
FollowupID: 891254

Reply By: Erad - Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 11:20

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 11:20
I had a Smartbar on my old Pajero. It was great - I didn't come near a kangaroo after I fitted it! Seriously, it was a good choice because when I was doing major work on the engine, I was able to remove the bar easily and get better access to the engine bay. The bar was light (I could easily fit and remove it myself) and strong. The only downside to them would be that they deflect and you are still likely to get some panel damage if you hit a large roo or a cow, but at least your radiator will most likely still be intact.
AnswerID: 619003

Follow Up By: The Explorer - Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 00:10

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 00:10
...if you hit a cow I doubt any roo/bull bar would provide 100% chance of not getting radiator damage ...though would of course depend on speed and point if impact. If you were driving an air cooled car you'd be safe :)

Cheers
Greg
Amongst these desert sands the heat is almost unbearable by day at this time of the year. Dec 25th 1896 L.A. Wells - Calvert Scientific Exploring E

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message
Moderator

0
FollowupID: 891459

Reply By: Alloy c/t - Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 14:58

Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 14:58
You only need to look at what QLD Ambulance's for out west use use , whats that you ask , thats right the fantastic plastic 'smart bar' is becoming the very much preferred option ...far far less panel damage due to the 'rebound' effect , weight restraints , are now 'winch' compatable , don't rust or need polishing ,,, a win win .
AnswerID: 619028

Follow Up By: Banjo (WA) - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 08:21

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 08:21
also doesn't upset the caffe latte sipping set who worry about pedestrians being hurt by steel?
0
FollowupID: 891231

Reply By: HKB Electronics - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 10:42

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 10:42
From another forum discussions on smart bars:

"UPDATE on this! So I ended up with a Smartbar. Ive had it for just over a year now. Hit nothing with until now. All the roos over the last year avoided the Smartbar and hit the side panels on the car DAMN IT! That is until now.

Hit a large male roo at 100km/h going into work at 3.30am. The bar performed well under the circumstances. It collapsed and absorbed the impact and then catapulted the roo back out onto the road infront of me again, so i had to swerve to avoid running over it (albiet at a much slower spped by then). Damage to bonnet, headlight unit, side quarter panel, passenger door, front skirt, grill, plastic bits etc. However no damage to any engine parts, steering or suspension so able to continue my drive into work and have since been using the car for a week to drive to work and home while Im waiting for the insurance assesor to check it out. Verdict. The bar perfromed as they manufacturer said it would. It didn't prevent damage to the car itself, but drastically reduced the amount of damage that would have occurred had there been no bull bar fitted. Did it perform any better or worse than a mainstream steel bullbar? I don't think so. I think it performed as well as.
Am I going to get another one? No. Why you ask? Accessories! Smart bars vibrate so much you cannot mount antennas on them. I have been through 4 separate antennas over the last 12 months. All of varying types and makes. All have broken off from the vibration( I live on a dirt road). Brush bars. You cannot mount brush bars to a smart bar. Spotties and foggies. There is only minimal room to mount spotties and foggies and its fiddly and difficult to do so. So what am I getting. Im going back to a Powerful 4x4 premium bar. Costings. Smartbar - @$1800 with no extras and no bash plates. Powerful 4x4 Premuim bar with fog lights fitted and all round bash plates including under the wings - $1099.00 That leaves me almost $800 in the hand. So, Powerfull 4x4 Brushbars and side steps for my Prado - whole set $799!! Perfect. And I can mount some new antennas and spotties on it with ease. That is all.
HKB Electronics

Business Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 619051

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 11:53

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 11:53
Interesting about the vibrations. That persons experience the opposite to what I got going from my ARB bar to the Smart bar. Maybe it's vehicle specific.
Take a look at this video from about 49 seconds in slomo.



That is what my ARB bar was like, it is so heavy it twists the front of the chassis rails. The weight is about 800mm forward of the support for the rails at the front wheels. Jamie who took that attributes it to the body mounts which is the ARB line. but that isn't true ( look at the rear bar - no movement)

The smart bar is rock solid on a dirt road.

Also I hit a large roo at 100kmph when I had the steel ARB bar. I didn't notice any damage until I got home, there was a small crease in the passenger side front panel. The front of the chassis rails bent ever so slightly. They gave way to the bullbar. *000 of chassis realignment later it was fixed. I don't think old design steel bullbars are appropriate any more. The crush cans didn't move or distort...
Tony
200 with 2012 Tvan Canning.
Happiness >= your perception of the events in your life minus your expectation of how life should be.

Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 891234

Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 13:37

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 13:37
As you say may be vehicle specific, with the Prado 120, Toyota did a recall and removed the crush cans from the bull bars and replaced with stronger brackets.

It gets back to why you have a bull bar fitted, when we encounter or may encounter cattle we slow down, the bull bar is there for the one we miss, hopefully it will provide enough protection to prevent injury to the occupants and allow you to drive the vehicle out of where you are. Some on the other hand think a bull means your invincible.

Personally I have never found a plastic component that has been as strong as a metal one, I can't therefore see the sense in fitting a plastic bull bar, even if it bounces back, not much point the bull bar looking good if the panel work is damaged. Same for lightness, yes would be nice if it was lighter and as strong but unless it is carbon fiber it is unlikely to be.

Here's some other quotes from the thread:

"Tuff Bar Vs Smart Bar for high Speed Kangaroo strikes.

Gave a late night lift to a couple who hit a medium/ largish roo in a 150 fitted with smart bar in QLD last week.. Said they were doing about 95kmh on impact.
The bar was halfway in to the radiator ( which had also moved back to touching the engine fan...) the Roo was still in there too.. Bonnet, one 1/4 guard, grille, bar, radiator, condenser, and a bunch of other stuff gone..Pretty messy and expensive.

Myself I'll stay with my ARB, that has about 12 smaller/ medium Roo hits to its name now."

"Crossing the nullabor last night.. 4x4 with a smart bar and a roo strike outside belladonia.. Disabled the car, to the point it's been left there to be trucked out for repairs.

We hit a Roo with an East coast bar (ECB) same stretch in the transit race transporter. Dead on the mount point area, cannot even really see where it hit. Apart from some fur and blood. "

"Go the Tuff bar!

I had had 6 x Hiluxes over the past 13 years. The SR 4x4 that I got rid of last year, had a Toyota Steel Bar with Side Rails and a set of Lightforce XGTs. I hit about 12 roos over 3 years with that ute, 3 - 4 big ones, and the bar hardly moved at all. All of the roo strikes were at high speed.

My previous Hilux SR 4x4 had a white smart bar, and when I hit a big roo at 100km/hr between Mildura & Renmark, the roo pretty well destroyed the front end, causing 14k damage, and rendered the car off the road for 8 weeks."

"I have a smart bar. It's had 1 serious strike at its weakest/most flexible point (ie at the outside quarter) and handled it well. I would buy another one as my likely strike rate is low and weight is important to me. Having said that...... If my driving patterns and strike rate were like yours so I had other priorities then would think a big heavy tuff bar would probably win out."

Video of car with tuff bar hitting roo, I wouldn't like to have this happen with a smart bar:

As you say may be vehicle specific, with the Prado 120, Toyota did a recall and removed the crush cans from the bull bars and replaced with stronger brackets.

It gets back to why you have a bull bar fitted, when we encounter or may encounter cattle we slow down, the bull bar is there for the one we miss, hopefully it will provide enough protection to prevent injury to the occupants and allow you to drive the vehicle out of where you are. Some on the other hand think a bull means your invincible.

Personally I have never found a plastic component that has been as strong as a metal one, I can't therefore see the sense in fitting a plastic bull bar, even if it bounces back, not much point the bull bar looking good if the panel work is damaged. Same for lightness, yes would be nice if it was lighter and as strong but unless it is carbon fiber it is unlikely to be.

Here's some other quotes from the thread:

"Tuff Bar Vs Smart Bar for high Speed Kangaroo strikes.

Gave a late night lift to a couple who hit a medium/ largish roo in a 150 fitted with smart bar in QLD last week.. Said they were doing about 95kmh on impact.
The bar was halfway in to the radiator ( which had also moved back to touching the engine fan...) the Roo was still in there too.. Bonnet, one 1/4 guard, grille, bar, radiator, condenser, and a bunch of other stuff gone..Pretty messy and expensive.

Myself I'll stay with my ARB, that has about 12 smaller/ medium Roo hits to its name now."

"Crossing the nullabor last night.. 4x4 with a smart bar and a roo strike outside belladonia.. Disabled the car, to the point it's been left there to be trucked out for repairs.

We hit a Roo with an East coast bar (ECB) same stretch in the transit race transporter. Dead on the mount point area, cannot even really see where it hit. Apart from some fur and blood. "

"Go the Tuff bar!

I had had 6 x Hiluxes over the past 13 years. The SR 4x4 that I got rid of last year, had a Toyota Steel Bar with Side Rails and a set of Lightforce XGTs. I hit about 12 roos over 3 years with that ute, 3 - 4 big ones, and the bar hardly moved at all. All of the roo strikes were at high speed.

My previous Hilux SR 4x4 had a white smart bar, and when I hit a big roo at 100km/hr between Mildura & Renmark, the roo pretty well destroyed the front end, causing 14k damage, and rendered the car off the road for 8 weeks."

"I have a smart bar. It's had 1 serious strike at its weakest/most flexible point (ie at the outside quarter) and handled it well. I would buy another one as my likely strike rate is low and weight is important to me. Having said that...... If my driving patterns and strike rate were like yours so I had other priorities then would think a big heavy tuff bar would probably win out."

Video of an add for a light, the light was mounted on a tuff bar, I suspect a smart bar would not have copped so well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rATTBDVt6A

I always find it interesting when manufacturers state there product is better but they never produce proof showing controlled testing of their product against another. I had a quick look at the smart bar website and couldn't see anything on their website so I assume this is the case with them too.
HKB Electronics

Business Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 891240

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 13:58

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 13:58
Hopefully I won't have to find out how good or bad the bar is..

I certainly believe the 5 post tuff bar would outperform a Smart bar in an accident.

This video is pretty impressive though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOT5krTPQmQ

I just know I would never get a big heavy ARB delux bar on a 200 ever again.
Tony
200 with 2012 Tvan Canning.
Happiness >= your perception of the events in your life minus your expectation of how life should be.

Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 891241

Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 14:09

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 14:09
Don't know about the smart bar video, the calf got up and run away, it appeared to be unhurt, I find that very hard to believe if the car was doing 100Kmh.
HKB Electronics

Business Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 891243

Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 15:51

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 15:51
Agree with HKB Electronics, no way was the car doing anything like 100 kph. Look at the stopping distance, the car came to almost a complete stop in about 2 seconds.

Macca
Macca.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 891246

Reply By: Phil - Monday, May 21, 2018 at 19:30

Monday, May 21, 2018 at 19:30
The criterea for selecting a Smart Bar for the Challenger were,
a: Availability: there were only 3 bars available for the vehicle after considerable research (Smart bar, Opposite Lock, and East Coast Bullbars).
b: Weight: the Smart Bar was the lightest at 34 kg fitted. I did not want to upgrade the vehicle suspension (extra cost and not required).
c: Cost: the Smart Bar was the cheapest by far, not taking into account a suspension upgrade.
d: Usage: the bar is intended for protection against animal strikes whilst travelling towing a onroad caravan and limited offroad use and minimal night driving.
I appreciate that hitting a large animal at speed with any type of bar fitted will cause some damage to the vehicle. If the bar performs as intended it will at least protect the vehicle's vital organs enabling me to still drive the vehicle. Yes looks are subjective and there are better looking bars around but I am happy with the bars appearance. There is also provision for fitting a bar type driving light (ample room) and a UHF arial.
Phil
AnswerID: 619060

Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, May 27, 2018 at 13:12

Sunday, May 27, 2018 at 13:12
One always has to remember that modern vehicles are designed with relatively weak crumple zones in every component from the front wheels forwards.

Even vehicles with chassis' have crumple zones built into the chassis, between the front wheels and the firewall.

This is all to do with having a vehicle that progressively crumples in the forward sections, in a major crash, to try and protect the occupants.

Hanging a massive bullbar off the front end of modern vehicles is a real oxymoron.
These things aren't the steel-bumper Holdens of the 60's and 70's, where you could hang a home-made bullbar made out of black pipe off the front end, and they worked a treat!

Every modern vehicle I have examined at length, has major warnings about fitting bullbars, and only fitting approved bullbars, and only fitting airbag-compatible bullbars.

In essence, a lightweight bullbar that crumples like the rest of the front end of modern vehicles, is about the best you can fit, to todays vehicles.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 619195

Popular Content

Popular Products (14)