Bullbars, Is There A Smarter Alternative?
Author: Damian Papworth
I own a jeep. I\'ve always owned jeeps. From the old 70s CJ models to the newer, way more comfy (or so my wife tells me) cherokees. I don\'t know why I do, but I\'ve always loved them.
Recently on an outback excursion I hit a kangaroo. I was only doing about 10km/h so the damage was minimal, but this incident got me thinking about frontal protection. So I called my mates at All Vehicle Accessories in Melbourne to have a chat about bullbars.
So I rang the guys at All Vehicle Accessories in Melbourne to get a bullbar installed. While chatting, they told me about these new pastic bullbars. Intrigued (as I\'d never heard about them before) I jumped onto Google to do some research. Smartbars vs bullbars, what would protect us the best. Initially I found a lot of opinion and little fact, but digging a little deeper, a pretty clear picture emerged.
There are 3 things a bullbar (or frontal protection device) is supposed to protect. These are the vehicle, the passengers in the vehicle, and the object being struck in a collision.
Just to make it perfectly clear when we are comparing performance in this regard, we are only comparing performance at speeds up to and including fatal impact, not exceeding it. We aren\'t really interested in the opinions that at 150kms/h, the pedestrian dies no matter what device you are using. Its a ridiculous argument. However we are interested in seeing how bullbars and smartbars protect our vehicle, passengers and pedestrians, at speeds where there is a chance for survival.
The two frontal protection devices perform differently as they have been designed to do different things. Bullbars have been designed to be the \"unbreakable barrier\". They are intended to form a barrier between your vehicle and the collision that nothing can get through. Smartbars on the other hand have been designed, through their hollow polymer construction, to absorb, cushion and decelerate the forces of impact. Ie. To be a \"frontal airbag\" if you like, albeit for your car. When you look at the independent tests, there really is no escaping it. The fact is that up to the point of fatal impact, smartbars protect your vehicle, your passengers and pedestrians better than bullbars do.
To paint a picture though of how this works, imagine the pain caused if you fell and bumped your head on a metal telephone pole. It would hurt right? Now imagine in the same fall, it was one of those big plastic wheelie bins that you hit and your head impacted in the middle of the bin where it had most give. It would not nearly be so painful. Thats how the smartbars work. The impact that smartbars absorb, is impact that is not transferred to your vehicle, you or your passengers, or the pedestrian you just hit.
Beyond protection, there is the matter of performance. Given smartbars are significantly lighter than bullbars, its not hard to see that this equates to better fuel consumption, better tyre wear, better suspension wear and safer handling for your vehicle. Vehicles just drive better with a smartbar. Did you also know that the construction of a smartbar creates about 1% of the greenhouse emissions that bullbar construction creates? Better performance on the road, better performance for the environment.
Topic 3. Maintenance - Metal rusts. Metal looses its lustre. Metal reflects. A rusting bullbar requires significant work to clean up. A dull bullbar requires significant polishing to make it shine again. And a reflecting bullbar will effect your vision everytime another set of headlights hit it. This is one of the defining features of the smartbar. Maintenance requires a bucket of soapy water, a sponge and a quick wipe down. Thats it. The plastic parts do not rust, they do not require buffing or polishing and they will never reflect light from another source.
This is a simple presentation of the facts which I\'ve found in my research, when looking at viable frontal protection products for my jeep. As always, do your own research and make the best decisions you can. I\'m sure if you do do some research and make your decision on the facts rather than someone elses \"tuff man\" image, the decision won\'t be that hard at all.