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Discussion Starter #1
Ok. I've searched the forums, and I've read the bumper compare thread, but I haven't found a great explanation for why everyone puts a ~100 lb steel bumper on the front of their vehicle (in addition to a ~60 lb winch) when they're not rally racing or pushing through jungle.

I'm not saying this as a criticism, just trying to understand myself before making a bumper decision - I know I need/want a winch and front shackles, but I'm trying to figure out the best bumper option.

I drive in NorCal / Western US. I can't recall ever having to push through anything with my bumper (nor have I ever seen someone's bumper with damage indicating they did that.) And it seems like doing so would damage the powder coat on a $1300 bumper anyway. My vehicle is intended for DD plus overlanding and occasional solo offroad on medium-difficulty trails (hence the desire to add a winch for self-recovery in an pinch.) Because of where I live it's often a multi-hour drive to where I want to go offroad, so keeping highway performance solid is important to me.

Meanwhile, it seems like there's a number of disadvantages to the steel full bumpers - they're a bunch of weight right at one of the worst locations to add weight (the far ends of your vehicle) and they may require some cutting of your frame to fit.

I'm trying to decide between an Exp-One bumper (maybe alu) or one of these "hidden" mounts like the US Off Road.

It seems like a hidden mount 1.) saves me ~$600 vs a full bumper, 2.) maintains the original aerodynamics and styling and 3.) is something I can install in my city garage rather than paying someone to install at a more equipped shop.

Is the full front bumper a cosmetic mod, or a practical one? On a DD that isn't being rock crawled, am I going to get use out of a full front bumper?

Apologies if this is a repeat (I'll happily take a link) but I did try searching a bunch of different ways.
 

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Not a stupid question at all!
Aftermarket front bumpers are designed / manufactured for 3 main purposes:

1 - Somewhere to mount a winch
2 - To keep animals out of your radiator / lap (e.g. Sheep, Goats, Deer, Kangaroos, Bears, Lions...)
3 - Aesthetics

They may also be useful as brush guards and to provide additional towing / recovery points as you mentioned already

Things aftermarket bumpers do not do:

1 - Improve vehicle strength in an accident (controversial I know, but I've ranted about this before, and I'm 100% correct)
2 - Improve aerodynamics
3 - Reduce weight
4 - Make pedestrians happy
5 - Make you more attractive to the opposite sex

So, for functional purposes, if you just want to mount a winch, go for the US Offroad style option. If you live in an area where animal strikes are a reality as well, get one designed for that purpose (e.g. ARB & plenty of others). Once you have a shortlist of bumpers that meet criteria 1 & 2, then choose the one that your wallet & eyes agree with most :)

Typically, aluminium is 30% stronger for the same weight, but in an animal impact, expect your bumper to sacrifice itself regardless of what it's made of.

Horses, Moose, Camels, Elephants are still likely to mess your roof & windscreen up even with the best barwork - try to avoid them if at all possible.

HTH,
Andrew
 

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I've owned many off-road vehicles over the years. My first choice of bumper for mounting a winch on my old Land Cruiser was a TJM which was the only thing available at the time. It was stupidly heavy and when I removed it (replaced with a custom made hybrid) the front of the LC came up 2" despite adding a winch that weighed near double the one in the TJM.

I, like you, have spent a huge amount of time trying to find a bumper I like for my FJ. Some of the designs I like best are only available in steel and I'm not going back to the weight or hassle of keeping the rust at bay. I toyed (excuse the pun) with an in bu,per mount for the OE but ruled it out on accessibility to the winch and on rusting again.

I finally found an aluminium option I really like and it weighs anout the same as the OE bumper so overall is lighter than the in bumper mount and OE bumper.

As far as I'm concerned it is a practical choice, no cosmetic considerations other than rust and not changing the look of the FJ too dramatically. I want to keep weight to a minimum whilst providing me with a easy to work with winch mount.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for that response. We do have deer (and bears - I had one *pass* me on a state highway once) up here in NorCal, but there's lots of people driving regular cars around on the same roads, and I'm not driving off-road fast enough that it would materially increase my chance of a strike.
 
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As you can see from my sig, I don't have an after market bumper (yet) because:

1 - I don't have a winch (not as useful on dunes as in a forest, but still useful nevertheless)
2 - Animal strikes are pretty rare (good visibility either side of the road, Camels are relatively easy to spot at a distance & don't tend to startle)
3 - The law - many aftermarket bumpers are illegal (pedestrian safety, etc), especially if they have shackle mounts on the front (this is why ARB & US Offroad offer models without shackle mounts).
4 - Weight is not your friend in dunes. This is also why I only have 8mm Aluminium skid plates from the bumper to the sump (mostly for impact protection on the sand etc not to slide over sharp rocks)

I'd probably lean toward a US Offroad style if I got a winch, but local availability is a major consideration, and ARB & Ironman are well represented locally... Decisions, decisions...
 

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I finally found an aluminium option I really like and it weighs anout the same as the OE bumper so overall is lighter than the in bumper mount and OE bumper.
Which one have you decided on? I'm interested - especially if it isn't super heavy... e.g. can be checked in as luggage on a flight :)
 

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Because of where I live it's often a multi-hour drive to where I want to go offroad, so keeping highway performance solid is important to me.

Meanwhile, it seems like there's a number of disadvantages to the steel full bumpers - they're a bunch of weight right at one of the worst locations to add weight (the far ends of your vehicle) and they may require some cutting of your frame to fit.

I'm trying to decide between an Exp-One bumper (maybe alu) or one of these "hidden" mounts like the US Off Road.

It seems like a hidden mount 1.) saves me ~$600 vs a full bumper, 2.) maintains the original aerodynamics and styling and 3.) is something I can install in my city garage rather than paying someone to install at a more equipped shop.

Is the full front bumper a cosmetic mod, or a practical one? On a DD that isn't being rock crawled, am I going to get use out of a full front bumper?
I think you lose as much or more MPG by lifting the truck than you do by adding an aftermarket bumper, especially highway MPG. Lift + bumper means so much more of your front tires are dragging through the air as you drive. The weight will hurt stop/start city MPG, but FJ's aren't known for city MPG anyway. Your post doesn't mention, but are you planning on a lift? If so, I wouldn't let stock bumper MPG benefits over steel bumper concern you too much.

My main complaint against the US Offroad / Lucrum style hidden winch bumper is that it's actually more difficult to install (no, I'm not kidding) and much more $ per pound / square inch of material than a comparable full steel bumper. Respectfully, they're overpriced. The frame mount points that it uses to attach are the same as the standard bumper, and you have to take the stock bumper off to install it anyway. So any cutting you have to do back on the stock bumper is just more work.

I've got the Expedition One Kodiak bumper, and if your goal is ease of install, you've come to the right place. I've installed Fab Fours, Demello, Metaltech, and the Expedition One is the second easiest of those (come on, tube bumpers are cheating :rofl:) that I've seen. Especially when it comes to dropping your winch in, something that the Demello bumpers have to be completely removed to do.

My advice: if you're worried about your FJ's post-mod DD capabilities, you're doing it wrong. If you can afford a $20-30K+ truck plus mods, you can afford another $5-7K for a beater car that will get 35+ MPG and save your FJ for only doing what it does best.

Good luck!
 

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The Ironman bumper I have is a full plate, steel bumper and I probably wouldn't have it any other way. After market bumper can increase your approach angles if you get the right ones even with an increased approach angle I have dumped my front bumper into the dirt and rocks. What would have caved in the plastic barely scratched the powder coat and I fixed it with a can of black Rustoleum. Also where I am you can get some decent saplings popping up on less driven trails the full bumper makes short work of them with no damage to the vehicle.

The bumper is all the "3 hoop" style that protects the lights and edges of he hood. Tall grass, saplings and bushes have hit these rails so much I have wear marks on the bumper. If I didn't have this I would have those wear marks or worse on the body of the FJ.

The weight does matter and I have the OME heavy suspension for it. Economy, sure I lost a few MPG but I have done so much I don't know how much the bumper itself really changes the MPG. Right now I'm getting 14-16.

Cutting the frame? I know mine didn't. Bumpers are like skid plates they will help you for minor damage mitigation but won't save you from the big one.
 

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I bought my fj new in December 08. It now has 150k on it. I want to keep it forever.

They're not making new ones anymore, and after awhile a man doesn't want to carry full coverage on an older vehicle.

So, in addition to several other good reasons, part of my logic is if I'm involved with a collision with another vehicle or a deer, it would serve me well to minimize damage to my truck.

So, that was part of my reasoning for getting a big steel bumper.
 

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If you run trails and the OEM bumpers survive then your good to go.

I don't consider myself a rock crawler and I have knocked off the bumper wings and seen many others do the same, the "TupperWare" bumper covers are delicate.

I have steel on the front and rear, they have been struck by 2 trucks and 1 suv with no damage beyond scratches (<5MPH = SUV $3,700 in repairs). The winch has been more useful helping others, only occasionally for self extraction or a tree stump or kids zip line tensioning.

They are heavy and will force you to make suspension upgrades, decreasing your MPG and yet most do not regret the trade.
 

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Which one have you decided on? I'm interested - especially if it isn't super heavy... e.g. can be checked in as luggage on a flight :)
Brute Force Fab, custom made with no shackle mounts as not allowed here either, side mounted hooks instead.
 

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Here's one I saw recently on a captured Hilux technical in Vietnam. Should be good for small arms protection :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
If you run trails and the OEM bumpers survive then your good to go.

I don't consider myself a rock crawler and I have knocked off the bumper wings and seen many others do the same, the "TupperWare" bumper covers are delicate.
Can I ask how you knocked off the wings - on the ground or on trees? I've run a limited number of runs but at least out west, I've never felt like I was close to taking out the bumper. I do agree about the clearance being slightly better but it seems to me that once you're more than about 1/4 the height of the wheel up, that's getting kind of moot since you probably don't want to go over something higher than that.

FWIW I am intending to upgrade my suspension - probably Icon stage 2 or 3. But I may wait until after the winter to do that, to save those new parts one winter's worth of abuse on sanded highways. A winch and rings up front is potentially useful any time of the year, however.
 

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Can I ask how you knocked off the wings - on the ground or on trees? ...
Usually ground items. Stepping down ledges/offsets that are often at skewed angles, as you drop the corners come down and into contact with the top of the ledge especially as the suspension compresses decreasing clearance. Slow helps, soft OEM suspension makes it more pronounced, she's a thick girl.

Steering around things will only take you so far. Endless variety of shapes on the trail.
 

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I've hit two deer and an owl with my bumper.
Hit more than that with my Subaru :frown (it survived them all with minor damage)

But seriously remember that if you put a solid bumper on the front it will protect from this sort of impact but in a RTC the energy had to go somewhere and a strong bumper can transfer the energy to the frame, I'd rather the bumper absorb the impact as much as it can it's easier to replace.
 

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Ok. I've searched the forums, and I've read the bumper compare thread, but I haven't found a great explanation for why everyone puts a ~100 lb steel bumper on the front of their vehicle (in addition to a ~60 lb winch) when they're not rally racing or pushing through jungle.

I'm not saying this as a criticism, just trying to understand myself before making a bumper decision - I know I need/want a winch and front shackles, but I'm trying to figure out the best bumper option.

I drive in NorCal / Western US. I can't recall ever having to push through anything with my bumper (nor have I ever seen someone's bumper with damage indicating they did that.) And it seems like doing so would damage the powder coat on a $1300 bumper anyway. My vehicle is intended for DD plus overlanding and occasional solo offroad on medium-difficulty trails (hence the desire to add a winch for self-recovery in an pinch.) Because of where I live it's often a multi-hour drive to where I want to go offroad, so keeping highway performance solid is important to me.

Meanwhile, it seems like there's a number of disadvantages to the steel full bumpers - they're a bunch of weight right at one of the worst locations to add weight (the far ends of your vehicle) and they may require some cutting of your frame to fit.

I'm trying to decide between an Exp-One bumper (maybe alu) or one of these "hidden" mounts like the US Off Road.

It seems like a hidden mount 1.) saves me ~$600 vs a full bumper, 2.) maintains the original aerodynamics and styling and 3.) is something I can install in my city garage rather than paying someone to install at a more equipped shop.

Is the full front bumper a cosmetic mod, or a practical one? On a DD that isn't being rock crawled, am I going to get use out of a full front bumper?

Apologies if this is a repeat (I'll happily take a link) but I did try searching a bunch of different ways.

Great question and I know you didn't tag us so I will keep the references vague to not take away from the thread.

The biggest difference you are going to see between a full bumper and a winch plate is a winch plate is more for those that aren't doing serious off road. More of a daily driver that may see some dirt roads and just wants the winch incase there is a a mud hole or something they fall into.

A full winch bumper usually has more benefits for off road, one of the biggest is clearance. Ours as well as most aftermarket bumpers have more ground clearance so when you approach a obstacle you have sufficient clearance to get over it with out rubbing your bumper.

There is how ever a weight loss when going to a winch plate verses a full bumper, but it's a trade off.

I'm all for less weight on our vehicles. That's why we have an aluminum bumper for the front and rear that saves considerable amount of weight. Something to consider though, we install and build a lot of toyota's. we get a lot of people who insist on the weight savings of a Aluminum bumper but then carry around full cans of gas in town along with a full set of tools. Just some food for thought.

Good luck with your choice.:rocker:
 

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I for one was all set to get an aluminum bumper, but being that I live in big game, not to mention cattle country, I opted to get the steel bumper. Also the chemicals that they put on the roads up here in Montana pit aluminum.
 

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I bought a used HMWS hidden winch mounting plate. Works well for me.
Was a better option, as in cheaper and lighter than a full bumper. As far as installation, was not difficult
 
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