There is a myriad of 4x4 products and accessories available for 4WD enthusiasts, however none are more popular than the bull bar. Despite this, there are many types of bull bars available and selecting the right bull bar for your needs isn’t as simple as it seems.
Many people try to save a few bucks, so they’ll jump online and buy a cheap bull bar and install it themselves. Unfortunately, there’s many factors that need to be considered, and this guide will help you understand bull bars in greater detail so you can make the right choice when buying your most fundamental vehicle protection equipment.
Bull Bar Materials
Bull bars are essentially manufactured from three types of material: steel, aluminium, and plastic. Steel is the oldest and remains the most popular bull bar due to its strength and reliability, however aluminium bull bars are becoming more common due to its comparable strength yet drastically lower weight. Despite this, aluminium bull bars are considerably more expensive than steel bull bars, and have lower tensile strength, so the type of terrain you’ll be covering will make all a significant difference in your decision. Plastic bull bars are mainly used in urban areas where protection is important however the impact on pedestrians is dramatically reduced.
Aluminium bull bars are lighter which means you can pack more gear for your trip, however they are higher maintenance due to its finish. They’re also more expensive than steel bull bars considering that they don’t rust, but you’ll use less fuel and likely won’t need to modify your front suspension. On the other hand, steel bull bars offer the greatest protection against any kind of collision, however you’ll need to consider the weight of the bull bar and adjust suspension and fuel costs accordingly.
Bull Bar Styles
Once you’ve decided on the material for your bull bar, the next step is to choose what style is best suited for your needs. There are many styles of bull bars that are suited for different environments, and bull bar styles will vary from brand to brand in conjunction with the type of vehicle. For example, the popular TJM Hilux bull bar will differ significantly from another brand.
● Bumper Bar - The most basic form of front-end protection that protects your stock fender
● Single Hoop - A common style of bull bar, the single hoop is attached to the bumper section and hoops over the radiator, offering a good balance between weight and front-end protection
● Triple Hoop - Offering maximum protection by covering the entire front-end of your vehicle, the triple hoop is strongly recommended when traveling in animal strike prone areas. The disadvantage is that this style of bull bar is rather heavy
● Nudge Bar - Mainly used for aesthetic purposes and are designed for light impacts, the nudge bar is not suited to withstand any substantial collisions
The single hoop and triple hoop are the most common styles of bull bars simply because they provide greater protection for important parts of your vehicle, namely the radiator and cooling system. The single hoop covers the grill and protects the radiator only, while the triple hoop extends the entire front-end to protect your headlights also.
Single hoops are better suited to light off-road adventuring and have a greater aesthetic appeal since it doesn’t completely hide the front of vehicle. If you want to showcase your new car, then the single hoop is probably best for you. On the contrary, triple hoops provide far better protection against any type of collision, but does hide the front of your vehicle (which can sometimes be a good thing)!
It’s crucial to note that it’s a legal requirement that only bull bars that adhere to the Australian Design Standards are installed on any 4WD vehicle. This will ensure that the bull bar absorbs the appropriate impact, won’t block headlights, and ensure that airbags are deployed correctly. Buying a non-ADR compliant bull bar will not only put your life at risk, but will also greatly endanger pedestrians. You can check the compliance plate by looking at the inside of the bull bar, so make sure you do this before making any purchases!
If you’re on the hunt for a bull bar, TJM are one of Australia’s most trusted 4WD vehicle protection brands and have a wide-range of ADR compliant bull bars in over 80 locations throughout Australia. To find the TJM store closest to you, check out our store locator.