With such an enormous range of 4WD products and accessories available for 4WD buffs, the easiest and most common place to start is with the bull bar. If you do a bit of searching, you’ll realise that there’s heaps of different types of bull bars at your disposal and picking the best bull bar for your needs takes a bit of knowledge.
Buying a bull bar online to save a few dollars isn’t recommended for most people, as you have to ensure there are no defects and organise the installation process on your own. Additionally, there’s lots of variables that have to be considered, and this overview aims to give you a deeper understanding of bull bars so you can make the right choice when purchasing your most vital vehicle protection equipment.
Bull Bar Materials
Bull bars are primarily produced from three types of material: steel, aluminium, and plastic. Steel is the most well-known and remains the most popular bull bar thanks to its strength and dependability, however aluminium bull bars are becoming more prevalent in today’s times. Aluminium bull bars have a similar strength as steel but have a drastically lower weight. Despite this, aluminium bull bars are notably more pricey and have lower tensile strength, so the type of environment you’ll be dealing with will make all a critical difference in your decision. Plastic bull bars are far less common and mostly used in urban areas where protection is important but the impact on pedestrians is radically reduced.
Aluminium bull bars are far lighter than steel which means you can carry more gear on your trip, however they are higher maintenance because of their finish. They’re also more costly than steel bull bars given that they don’t rust, but use less fuel and you likely won’t need to adjust your front suspension.
Steel bull bars offer the greatest protection against any sort of collision, so are best suited for any heavy-duty off-roading, however you’ll have to take into consideration the weight of the bull bar and adjust suspension and fuel costs as necessary.
Bull Bar Styles
When you’ve decided which bull bar material is best for you, the next step is to decide on what style is most suitable for your needs. There are several styles of bull bars that are suited for different environments, and keep in mind that bull bar styles will differ from brand to brand and with the kind of vehicle. As an example, the popular TJM Hilux bull bar will differ considerably from other brands.
- Bumper Bar – The most standard form of front-end protection that protects your stock fender only
- Single Hoop – A trendy style of bull bar, the single hoop is attached to the bumper section and hoops over the radiator, delivering a good balance between weight and protection
- Triple Hoop – Providing maximum protection by covering the entire front-end of your vehicle, the triple hoop is highly advised for those frequently driving in animal strike prone areas.
- Nudge Bar – Generally used for aesthetic reasons, the nudge bar is designed for light impacts and is not suited to endure any significant collisions
The single hoop and triple hoop are the most common styles of bull bars simply because they deliver greater protection for crucial parts of your vehicle, specifically the cooling system and radiator. The triple hoop stretches the entire front-end including headlight protection, while the single hoop covers the grill and offers protection to the radiator only.
Single hoops are better suited to light off-road adventuring and have a better aesthetic appeal because it doesn’t fully conceal the front of vehicle. If you wish to showcase your new car but still be protected, then the single hoop is definitely the best choice. However, triple hoops deliver far better protection against any sort of collision, but does hide the front of your vehicle (which can maybe be a good thing!)
It’s critical to understand that it’s a legal requirement that only bull bars that follow the Australian Design Standards are installed on any 4×4 vehicle. This will guarantee that the bull bar absorbs the appropriate impact, won’t block headlights, and make certain that airbags are deployed correctly. Purchasing a non-ADR compliant bull bar will not only put your life at risk, but will also endanger pedestrians. You can examine the compliance plate by looking at the inside of the bull bar, and don’t forget to do this before making any decisions!
If you’re on the hunt for a new bull bar, TJM are one of Australia’s most entrusted 4WD vehicle protection brands and have a vast range of ADR compliant bull bars in over 80 locations throughout Australia. To discover the TJM store closest to you, check out our store locator.