Bull Bars or Frontal Protection Systems (FPS)
What should I consider when buying a bull bar?
of bull bars on a motor vehicle is often a controversial topic as there are
various studies completed on their effect in the event of a collision with
another vehicle, a pedestrian or an animal.
The University of Adelaide’s Centre of
Automotive Research (CARS) found in a study in
July 2006 that metal bull bars fitted to
vehicles increased the risk of serious injury to
pedestrians. The study was on thirteen bull
bars and five models of 4WD vehicles but there
was no comparison of any bull bars or nudge bars
on say station wagons or family sedans.
selecting a bull bar consideration should be
given to what you want to use it for, whether
you wish to add a winch later and if the bull
bar is air bag compatible. The bull bars
normally have integrated indicator light and CB
or UHF aerial and driving lights fitments.
Bear in mind all these accessories add weight to
your vehicle and along with dual battery systems
and long range fuel tanks can get you close to
the GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass)
article on GVM
Check your state or territory
Department of Transport or Road Transport
Authority website as there are often standards
to be met to comply with any vehicle
modifications and accessories such as those
relating to bull bars, roof racks, bike
carriers, fishing rod holders, accessory guages,
long range radio antennas and DVD screens.
Steel bull bars
- are heavier than the alloy or polyethylene
bars and plastic bars are lighter still. Steel
bull bars can be powder coated to match the
vehicle. Weight may be an issue with the
addition of winches and lights and a steel bull
bar will handle the weight of a winch more than
an alloy bar. Winches cannot be mounted to a
alloy bull bars can require a lot of polishing
to maintain their bright sheen. Another
issue with alloy bull bars is they can reflect
light back from the driving lights so you may
need to place black tape on the rear of the bull
bar to prevent this or have it powder coated.
On the plus side, alloy bars and polyethylene
bull bars don’t rust whereas steel bull bars may
if the paint is damaged.
For the family sedan or station wagon a steel
bull bar may not be suitable due to its weight
so a polymer bull bar or nudge bar may be just
what you need.
Polymer bull bars or nudge bars
– these are like a plastic bull bar made from
materials such as polyethylene and are designed
to act like a spring and deflect thereby making
them more ‘pedestrian friendly’ with studies
showing they ‘may’ offer a pedestrian some
degree of protection.
The plastic or polymer is more deformable
through careful design utilising low-modulus
plastics combined with energy-absorbing polymer
foams that are generally injected into the
example, Smartbar (Team Poly owned by the Hills
Group) have designed an airbag compatible,
polyethylene bullbar or frontal protection system (FPS)
to protect your vehicle from animal strikes and impacts
with other vehicles. The Smartbar is
manufactured from polyethylene with a hollow internal
structure that provides a cushioning effect that absorbs
the impact and minimises the forces that cause injury or
damage. The Smartbar springs back to its
original shape in all but the most extreme impacts.
The manufacturer states:-
to the cost of most aluminium bars smartbar offers an
immediate saving, and while some steel bars may
initially be cheaper fitting a smartbar soon pays back
the investment. Being lighter than metal bars smartbar
means both lower fuel consumption and reduced front-end
tyre and suspension wear ... plus, of course, the
vehicle can carry more load.
Most importantly of all however, smartbar’s unique
ability to effectively absorb impacts and bounce back in
to shape means not only a big reduction in crash damage
but a long service life and none of the downtime and
expense of replacing damaged metal bars’.
have models to suit vehicles such as Nissan Patrol GU4
with winch and Toyota Landcruiser 70 series and 100
series with winches.
bars can be made of aluminium, polycarbonate or
steel tubing. They are often used on sedans,
city based 4WD’s or soft off-roaders.