Bull Bar Buying Guide: Selecting Affordable and Durable Products!

As sad as it is, hitting animals is a common occurrence in Australia. In 2020, it was estimated that 10 million animals were hit while driving on Australian roads.  

If you’re planning on heading bush on a road-trip holiday anytime soon, you’re gonna need a bull bar to protect you from three things; debris, shrub, and stargazing kangaroos. It isn’t inevitable, but there is a solid chance the front end of your car will come in contact with one of these three things. A bull bar will provide you with a layer of defense that will protect you and your passengers. 

Alright, so we’ve established that getting a bull bar is, to put it lightly, really bloody important for driving on Australian roads! If you need more convincing, you can research more here

But which bull bar should you get? What kinds of bull bars are there? It might seem daunting, but having options to choose from is a good thing! It’s an exciting time to be buying bull bars, you just need a bit of an understanding first. Here is a bull bar guide on the best bull bars in Australia!

 

How To Read This Guide

When reading this guide, I am going to be discussing and ranking 3 different things: 

  • Material
  • Style 
  • Brand 

For material and style, I will be starting from most resilient/most protective, to least protective. This doesn’t mean products further down the list are any worse, it just means they are suited to different purposes. For brands, I will start from the most popular, and work downwards. This doesn’t mean the most popular is the best, or the only good option, because less popular brands certainly have good products. 

 

Bull Bar Material Guide

The material of the bull bar you choose is very important. Different materials will offer different levels of protection and will have different weights. Here’s what you need to know:

Material 1: Everything You Need To Know About Steel Bull Bars 

Steel bull bars are the most sold and strongest bull bar material. For large animal encounters (kangaroo and bigger), a steel bull bar will give you the best protection. They are also reasonably priced.

However, steel is a heavy material and the added weight can wear down tyres, dampen your braking, and sag your front suspension by up to 10mm. As such, they are best suited to larger vehicles.

Steel Pros 

  • Strong 
  • Moderately priced 

Steel Cons 

  • Heavy 

Material 2: Everything You Need To Know About Aluminium Bull Bars

Aluminium bull bars, or alloy bull bars, are a blend of light-weight and strong. They will not have the same wear on your vehicle as a steel bull bar with only slightly less strength and protection. They are half the weight of steel bars and do not rust!

The trade off with aluminum bull bars is their price. They are the most expensive bull bar material on the market. If you do have an incident, replacing an aluminium bull bar can be debilitating. However, the price you spend on an aluminium bull bar may save you money on general wear and tear compared to a steel bull bar. 

Aluminium Pros 

  • Light-weight 
  • Good strength 
  • Don’t rust 

Aluminium Cons 

  • Expensive  

Material 3: Everything You Need To Know About Plastic Bull Bars 

No surprises here, plastic is the lightest and cheapest material of bull bar. They are suited to light brushing and protection to your front end. 

Again, no surprises here, plastic is the weakest material of bull bar. That doesn’t mean they are worthless. Plastic bull bars, as mentioned before, are good for protecting your vehicle from light brushings and debris. In the case of animal impact, they still offer a crumple zone that helps to reduce the impact of the animal striking your car to 0kmh. It will more than likely ruin your bull bar if you hit a larger animal, but the damage to your car will be significantly reduced, and the bull bar is relatively replaceable. 

Plastic Pros

  • Cheap 
  • Somewhat replaceable 
  • Lightweight  

Plastic Cons 

  • Relatively weak 
  • Prone to sun damage 

 

Bull Bar Style Guide 

The style of your bull bar has to consider how good it looks, with the purpose it serves. Obviously, different bull bars will look different, and you can check that out here. This guide will focus on what purpose each style serves, ranking from most durable to least, and when to use it: 

Style 1: Triple Hoop Bull Bars 

Triple hoop bull bars are your most durable bull bar and are mounted to your vehicle’s chassis. Typically made from steel, triple hoop bull bars are what you usually see on your Toyota Landcruisers and similar types of touring vehicles.

For being the most durable and offering the most protection, the trade off for triple hoop bull bars is that they are the bulkiest, and the heaviest.

Triple Hoop Pros

  • Durable 

Triple Hoop Cons

  • Heavy/bulky 
  • Dearest 

Triple Hoop Recommended Material 

  • Steel 

Style 2: Single Hoop Bull Bars 

Single hoop bull bars are just like triple hoop bull bars, but their protection ends at the grill and does not cover the headlights of your vehicle. Where they do cover they are very strong and durable. You’ll usually see this sort of bull bar on your less serious touring vehicles, or vehicles that want to save on weight for driving on sand. 

Single hoop bull bars are still somewhat bulky and heavy.

Single Hoop Pros 

  • Durable 
  • Lighter than triple hoop bull bars
  • More affordable than triple hoop bull bars 

Single Hoop Cons 

  • Still bulky/heavier than other bull bars 
  • Dearer than other bars
  • Less protection than triple hoop bull bars 

Single Hoop Recommended Material

  • Steel 

Style 3: Nudge Bull Bars 

Nudge bull bars don’t offer the same amount of protection as the looped bull bars, but they don’t have to. Nudge bull bars are designed for a different purpose and aren’t attached to your vehicle’s chassis. They are designed to be lightweight and are used for debris and clearing foliage. 

Nudge bull bars won’t offer you much in the event of an animal strike and higher impacts.

Nudge Bar Pros

  • Lightweight 
  • Affordable  

Nudge Bar Cons 

  • Not as durable 

Nudge Bar Recommended Material

  • Aluminium 

Style 4: Competition Bull Bars 

Competition bars are designed for the ultimate 4WDing vehicle. Not 4WD in the sense of going on a family holiday to the beach, I mean 4WD as in driving up near-vertical cliffs! A real terrestrial mover! These bull bars give high clearance and protection forward and slightly underneath your front bumper (for rocks and obstacles). These bull bars are also designed to be somewhat light, as to make it easier for vehicles to traverse over difficult terrain. They also look mean as!

However, these bull bars aren’t particularly well suited for animal impacts, but will still provide some protection. Additionally, they are fairly tailored for specific vehicles, so installation may take a touch longer.  

Competition Bar Pros 

  • Specific under protection 
  • Future-looking 
  • Lightweight 

Competition Bar Cons

  • Not as strong
  • Expensive 

Competition Bar Recommended Material 

  • Aluminium 

Style 5: Baja Bull Bars

Named after the Baja desert race, this style of bull bars is for active off roaders and is somewhat designed for clearing foliage and giving a spot for winches to be mounted. They are lightweight and somewhat cheap.

Unfortunately, these bars do not give the most extensive protection to your vehicle. A lot of the time they are made from a string of aluminium pipes. They are built to serve a purpose. 

Baja Bar Pros 

  • Very lightweight  
  • Place to mantle winch 
  • Quite affordable 

Baja Bar Cons 

  • Not as protective 

Baja Bar Recommended Material 

  • Aluminium 

 

A Word On Plastic Bull Bars 

Though I have not recommended plastic as the best material for any of the styles listed above, that doesn’t mean it is bad or doesn’t have a purpose. Usually plastic bull bars are used on highway driving vehicles, rather than cross country tourers or ultimate 4WD vehicles. 

If you are from Perth, an example of when a plastic bull bar would be used is if you’re a regular commuter between Perth and the South-West region, and own a Holden Commodore or similar vehicle. You aren’t going to take that car on the big road trip, but you are driving regularly enough in areas where you want some extra protection. A plastic bull bar is a great, cost-effective solution to give you some reassurance while driving in this higher-risk area. 

 

Bull Bar Brand Guide 

When it comes to the best bull bar brand in Australia, as long as it is a known brand, the product will almost definitely satisfy your needs. Some of the best and most known brands include: 

  • ARB
  • TJM
  • ECB
  • MAX
  • Offroad Animal 
  • Outback Steel 
  • SmartBar
  • XROX

The thing that is really going to make a difference, if you select a bar from any of the mentioned brands, is the quality of the installation. This is especially important if it is a bar that has to be attached to the chassis. In the worst cases, some installers will bolt the bull bar onto your chassis/vehicle rather than giving it the proper welded installation that it needs!

Bull Bar Buying Brand Tip: Picking A Bull Bar That Is Australian Certified 

Another way to give yourself reassurance that you’re picking a quality bull bar is to see if it is Australian certified, and its reviews. Bull bars have to meet requirements, like being able to still set off the airbags in the case of a collision. Reading product reviews will also give you an idea of what people have already bought and been satisfied with. 

 

How Do You Pick A Bull Bar?

We’ve reached the end of our guide, and you might still be wondering which bull bar is best suited for you. There are three questions you need to ask yourself: 

  1. What are you getting protection for?
  2. How durable does it need to be?
  3. How light does it need to be?

In an example situation, let’s say you are getting protection for your Jeep Wrangler. You’re planning on going on some trips but nothing too crazy and you want to do a bit of beach driving.  In this situation, I would go with either an aluminium nudge bar, or an aluminium or steel single loop bar. You want it to be lightweight, so aluminium is good, and you aren’t going on massive trips so the likelihood of hitting large animals isn’t massive, so a nudge bar might be best. But you might still hit some animals and kangaroos, so a steel single loop bull bar might be a good choice. There is never just one choice, the best one is simply the one that you like

 

Bull Bars For Your Government Fleet

When it comes to a government fleet, it really depends what purpose you are using the vehicle for. In general, I would suggest a steel single loop bull bar is the best because the vehicles will be seeing a lot of road time over their lifespan. The more road time a vehicle has, the greater coming in contact with debris on the roads will be. 

If your government fleet is going to a more high-risk place, like up north, perhaps a triple hoop bull bar is more appropriate. If the fleet won’t be going to high risk areas, maybe it can get away with a simple aluminium bull bar. 

 

Bull Bars For Mine Spec Vehicles 

Mining spec vehicles and work vehicles need to be more durable than most. They are almost definitely more suited to triple loop steel bull bars. 

An outlier to this is if you are needing a vehicle to be lighter. In which case aluminium options and single loop/nudge bar options become more viable. 

 

Still Having Trouble Deciding? 

 If you are still having trouble trying to decide what sort of bull bar you need or want, the best thing to do is to seek out a 4×4 professional. They are equipped with the best knowledge of what bull bar is needed for what purpose, and the best way to install it to your vehicle. If you’re wanting a customised 4×4 fitout, see a professional!

 

Who Will Install Your Bull Bar  

If you need a bull bar installation, Total 4×4 is the one-stop shop for all truck, passenger and 4WD accessories with over 30 years of experience in both residential and commercial. Not only do we have the best brands of bull bars for you to pick and choose from, we also have the friendly team to put it on your vehicle. We have the products, we have the installers, come give us a visit!

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