Smartbar v's steel /alloy/ UHF

Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 18:35
ThreadID: 79001 Views:8147 Replies:10 FollowUps:13
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Have looked at the polymar smartbar that weighs in at 40 kgs and aparantly used by Vic police on their Pajeros and costs about $1500. All sorts of claims being made about it's durability and ability to handle roos etc. Is it possible a "plastic" could be any good ?

Anyone know anything about them ? thanks Greg


Any suggestions on a GME or ICON UHF radio, aerial and fitting for under $900 for travelling Oodnadatta track , Old Andado ie pretty flat territory ? Where in NW Sydney can you get them ? Thanks
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Reply By: seawasp - Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 18:57

Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 18:57
Hi Greg last year I hit a kangaroo doing about 110-120kph. in an Mercedes Benz ambulance on a casualty call in the bush. The plastic Smartbar took the full impact with no damage to the bullbar. However the initial impact caused the bull bar to flex in on impact and back to orginal position, resulting in the front grill and radiater stuffed and other minor damage. The vehicle had to be towed. They seem to be okay, we even have a Codan HF aerial mounted on the bar that is RTA approved.
But having said the above I am having a ECBullbar fitted tomorrow on my 09 Prado but then thats my personal choice.
Regards Ian
AnswerID: 419278

Follow Up By: Member - Greg S (NSW) - Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 19:24

Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 19:24
Hi Ian, you sound very forgiving of the plastic fantastic even tho' it's purpose to save the radiator failed and you had to get towed, you still think it's o/k. Forgive for asking but what's o/k about them ? I'm thinking with all the hoo ha about bull bars, the cops etc are putting them on maybe for ploitical correctness and not really for high speed protection of the front of the car. Welcome any other thoughts you have ? Thanks Greg
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Reply By: Member - Duncs - Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 19:20

Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 19:20
Not first hand but from a source I trust implicitly.

Mate of mine is a government employee based in Broken Hill. He does about 45k to 50k kilometres a year in a Paj.

He has a smart bar fitted and when I first laid eyes on it I scoffed, he too was sceptical but hey its the bosses car and he pays for the repairs.

Since then he has hit maybe half a dozen roos. He has never sustained damage to the Paj. The bar, just to show how cheap the NSW Gov is, has been moved from car to car over the last 6 years and still looks as good as new.

AnswerID: 419281

Follow Up By: Member - Greg S (NSW) - Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 19:29

Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 19:29
Hi Duncs, that's a real good endorsement for it. I presume your mate was travelling at speed when he hit them. Maybe Ian's Benz is not as good up front as the Paj and the radiator was more exposed ? Any idea what speed your mate was going - are we talking 100ks, that sort of speed ? Thanks Greg
FollowupID: 689437

Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 19:53

Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 19:53
All I can say is that he never wastes time on the road. Most of the roo strikes have occurred on the way home.

FollowupID: 689440

Reply By: Wilko - Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 20:53

Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 20:53
Hi Greg,

I've got the factory bullbar on my Pajero and it is next to useless. My boss hit a large roo at 110km/h and it completely stuffed the bar pushing it back into guards and the radiator.

I'm about to fit a Tuff bullbar. I've had 3 of them over the years (boomers bullbars, Hopper knockers, Tuff variants). and they withstand an animal strike up to 120km/h with little problems.

If you are after a bar for serious off road driving an ARB/TJM or similar might be better. I've got an ARB on my Rodeo and whilst it is strong enough I dont believe it is large enough to properly deflect a roo.

Just ensure what ever bar you get that its been designed to push the animal forward/down and doesn't allow it to roll onto the bonnet.

Cheers Wilko

AnswerID: 419295

Follow Up By: Wilko - Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 20:56

Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 20:56
Also you should get a UHF radio (what ever Brand) aerial (I've got a GME AE4018k) thatll do what you require for $500-600. They are easy as to fit as well.

Cheers Wilko
FollowupID: 689449

Reply By: Mark Howlett - Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 22:45

Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 22:45
I have one on the Prado. We hit a medium size roo a few weeks ago at 80km/hr and there isn't a mark on the bar, no damage at all to the vehicle.

My old Triton already had a steel ARB bullbar on it and I'm happy to leave it but if I was buying I wouldn't hesitate to go the Smart Bar again.

Keep in mind also that a super strong bar that doesn't give, has to transfer the energy somewhere and this can lead to chassis bending. My old Rangie had a strong looking steel ARB bar and a Rangie 'expert' I was speaking to at the time, told me of a weak spot in the chassis below the front windscreen that would buckle from a heavy impact with a steel bar fitted. I would think a damaged front end would be cheaper to fix than a damaged chassis?

Regardless of what you get, each has pros and cons, the same as the 4wds we buy, you just have to get one you're happy with.

AnswerID: 419314

Reply By: Tenpounder (SA) - Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 23:37

Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 23:37
Hi. I bought a Smartbar. Why?
Because it did not require a major beef-up of the front end to comepnsate for the weight of a 'real' bullbar;
Because it seems to have passed the actual tests for animal impact, absorption of load, and reform ability;
Because it got high praise for minimal injury to pedestrians in urban dingles.

It was the lightest bar I could find that offered true protection from animal impacts (i.e. not just a nudge bar), and somewhere to hang the spots, and a better approach angle.

Any bar will deform enough to damage what lies behind, if the force is big enough. But the question is, will the bar add significantly to the protection. Thankfully, I haven't a clue, but I don't intend to run down a steer with and without my Smartbar to compare the deflection in both cases!!!!

So, as an economist, I am happy that the thing works in theory. And I hope that I never find out what happens in practice.

Any help??
AnswerID: 419318

Follow Up By: Tenpounder (SA) - Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 23:52

Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010 at 23:52
PS Don't write off plastic, just because it is plastic. There are many very interesting plastics these days: Just look at the average Formula 1 car, or racing yacht. It isn't that long ago that Ozzies wrote off all light alloys (Aluminium, Magnesium etc) as bleep metal, and hung onto good old steel as the only blokey material.
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Reply By: carlsp - Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 07:32

Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 07:32

No one has mentioned the old "Occupational Health and Safety" aspect and I beleive this has something to do with the good old govenment using smart bars. There was a legal aspect to ambulances having bull bars, as it changed the manufacturers specs and therefore made something of a loophole in the compensation laws if injured. No doubt this applies to the police as well.

My understanding in short:

If you live in the country but do not do 4WD driving get a Tuff Bar. They are the best for roos. Afterall they are by far the most likely animal you will hit.

Off road driving get a ARB or TJM. I would go for a ARB. I have one on the F250 and had one on both landcruisers.

If you are planning on running over and pedestrian, get a plastic bar or wrap glad rap around your ARB one.
AnswerID: 419340

Follow Up By: Member - Greg S (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 08:44

Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 08:44
Mate, glad wrap's ruddy useless and it's noisy, try bubble wrap - it looks much better, softer and infinitely kinder to the roo or pedestrian ? Greg
FollowupID: 689500

Reply By: Ray - Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 08:06

Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 08:06
I would say that if you hit a pedestrian with a steel, aluminium or plastic smartbar they would be equally dead the only thing is that they would possibly not come through your windscreen.
AnswerID: 419345

Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 08:13

Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 08:13
I fitted a Smart Bar to my Paj, hit a couple of smaller roos at 80-100km/hr, no damage to bar or vehicle.
You either buy steel or a smart bar, never Al which are more expensive anyway. Steel is cheaper, but much heavier.
I went for a Smart Bar after a friend who lived on the western Downs in Qld told me about them.
He & his familly would hit over 30 per year with a lot of night driving and they have only had one big roo do any damage to their vehicle on nearly a decade.

I also note some of the Elders stock and station agents drive sedans do lots of kms with smart bars, I reckon Elders would have done their research.

Problem with the NSW Ambos which have smart bars fitted is that the bar is still very close to the front of the vehicle, where as with the Paj the radiator is still a considerable distance back.

But if you live in Sydney, only head bush once in a blue moon, and probably won't be driving at night on this trip, why bother with one in the first place?

AnswerID: 419346

Follow Up By: Member - Greg S (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 09:16

Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 09:16
Hi Mark, your last paragraph sums us up. We never drive country at night (except a few times a year up the Pacific hwy - never seen a roo during the day or night on the hwy after 30 years driving it) we do the odd trip out west and tho' I had an ARB on the 80 series I had for 15 years the only thing it hit were things I shouldn't have hit (like misjudgements I or the wife made with lots of dints and scrapes etc - might be a good enough reason to have one just to save the car from us ?).

When are most roos hit, I presume dusk, night and dawn ? I suppose stock can be another problem, but I don't think a bar of any kind will help when you nudge a Brahman or Angus at speed.

Personally, I'd rather not have one but a prang with a roo, unprotected up front, can cut short the family's holiday pretty quick smart while radiators etc are put back together somewhere out there.

Like everything it's a matter of one's "risk" profile and minimising it as much as possible and where you can't minimise it, then prepare yourself ie with a bull bar.

I can spend the $1500 on much better fun things for the family than a roo bar I'm sure you would agree. So I'm in a bit of a quandery to get one or not to ?
FollowupID: 689505

Follow Up By: Member - A J- Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 10:54

Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 10:54
Greg S (NSW) - in respect to the bull bar I would save your money and spend it on a helicopter flight on your holidays.

For your radio have a look at Andrews Communications web site - that is where we buy all our communications gear and the latest radio we installed was a GME 3440 and mounted it under the passenger seat.

Have a good holiday

FollowupID: 689521

Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 19:41

Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 19:41

Roos any time from approx 1 hour before sunset to 1 hour after sunrise.

Cattle don't run onto the road, but can be camped on it & black breeds (like Angus) exceptionally hard to see at night. Hit one of them and you are stuffed anyway, steel bar or not. Sheep will run across the road, but you normally see them well before hand.

You see far more roos on the road in closer settled areas (east of say Bourke -Hay) than the desert. Large animals need planty of water!

For a once a decade trip west of the mountains, as someone said above save your money for something else. Always amazed when 4WD mags say you need a bar and driving lights for that desert trip when you are never driving in roo hours.
FollowupID: 689593

Follow Up By: Member - Greg S (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 20:23

Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 20:23
Great advice mark. Was pretty sure I knew the roo mentality. Think we might use the saved money and fly over Lake Eyre. All the best, Greg
FollowupID: 689612

Reply By: seawasp - Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 20:16

Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 20:16
Greg it appears you are getting some interesting feedback on "plastic"bullbars. On the company Cruiser still have a steel b/bar. You ask whats good about Smart bars unfortunately we are not given a choice what we would prefer.One thing we do not have to poilish the bar. Their really is nothing good or bad about this type of b/Bar however if buying privately for your own 4wd, weight, price. colour , attaching cb aerials, driving lights etc. could persuade you which to buy. As one person said in reply with the Mercedes Benz Sprinter the B/Bar is close to the grill that would compromise frontend damage. So you might want to check clearances, In the end I think you have to ask other 4wd drivers, forums, suppliers etc . before parting with hard earned loot.
AnswerID: 419425

Follow Up By: Member - Greg S (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 20:20

Thursday, Jun 03, 2010 at 20:20
Thanks Ian. regards GREG
FollowupID: 689611

Reply By: Outbacktourer - Friday, Jun 04, 2010 at 12:00

Friday, Jun 04, 2010 at 12:00
Interesting thread. I have had a Smartbar on my Patrol for eight years now. It has worked fantastically well, I have not had an animal strike of any kind in all that time in spite of having been everywhere from The Kimberley to the Cape. They repell animals better than any other device IMHO!

Seriously though, as a previous poster says, I stay off the road an hour before sunset (have dinner, resume later) and do not go after early morning roo's either. This is the dictum taught all over western Qld. If you can manage that, save your money.

The best part is the bar still looks fantastic even after numberous bumps and scrapes from vegitation and steep creek entries. I'm sure a steel bar would have required painting by now and a alloy bar repairing after bottom hits.

I recall the hillarity with which these bars were greeted with 8 years ago, seems a little different now. Petty the one they do for the Cruiser looks so UGLY.

AnswerID: 419510

Follow Up By: Flynnie - Friday, Jun 04, 2010 at 18:38

Friday, Jun 04, 2010 at 18:38
I have a smartbar on my cruiser. It also is a good repellent. Not one roo hit yet. Been a few close shaves but despite my best efforts they get out of the way just in time.

More seriously though if I had to travel at the high risk time of day regularly I would have gone for one of the Tuff Bullbars and stiffer front springs. The cruiser is strong enough to mount a heavy roo bar. A lot of vehicles are not.

It comes down to risk assessment. Me I want protection from medium speed impacts with medium roos. Also not to kill one of the locals who has an inconvenient habit of wandering down the middle of the road in dark clothes on dark misty nights. Some of us really do not want to maim pedestrians should we have an unfortunate low speed collision.

Years ago I heard smartbars could be used for push starting other vehicles (presumably without damage). Wonder if anyone has tried that?

What do you mean the cruiser ones are ugly? I think the ones for the V8 70 series are OK to look at. ;)

FollowupID: 689744

Follow Up By: Outbacktourer - Friday, Jun 04, 2010 at 19:09

Friday, Jun 04, 2010 at 19:09
Have not tried the push start, may try it on the missus' Kluger!

The 100 series ones are a bit of an acuired taste IMHO.

FollowupID: 689748

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