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ROCKCRAWLER.com
Challenger Performance Sport Bar Kit

By Chris Shontz

Before I begin, I want to clarify, that use of the word "cage" throughout this article simply pertains to the addition of a front hoop to the stock TJ sport bar. Many variations of "cage" exist, and the word "cage" does not mean that the product is a safety device.

Why do people want to put full cages into their Jeeps? To most, a full cage is installed as a safety feature, while to others, it is to be eye candy that seemingly denotes ruggedness.

The "cage" we are looking at here is designed and manufactured by Challenger Performance Products; the same company that brought you the functional Alumi-Flex Tie Rod. We will see if this product is a safety feature, a cosmetic accessory, or something else altogether.

The Challenger Performance Sport Bar, which I will continue to refer to as a "cage", arrived thoughtfully packaged. In many cases in this industry, one can judge the quality and attention to detail of a product by how well it was packaged and shipped. It took me many minutes of sifting through foam and plastic, and the pieces were in pristine condition.

The kit came with instructions, fasteners, side bars, a cross bar, and two optional spreader bars with ends. All components had been powder-coated black. I took those components that I wanted to install to a local body shop to have them painted to match the Jeep.

First, I had to prepare the TJ to install the new cage. This involved putting the top down, removing the side bars and lowering the windshield. It is a very easy and self-explanatory process. Have your Torx tools ready, because there's plenty of 'em! Once the side bars are removed, the ends of the side bars have to be taken off so they can be re-used with the new side bars. They are secured by a tamper-proof Torx head bolt. The well-equipped among you may have the necessary tool. If you don't, the bolt head is large enough to easily turn it off with Vice-Grips, or channel locks.

To remove the windshield wiper arms, angle them outward and press the sliding clip down with a flathead screwdriver. They slide right off.

After the TJ was ready, I assembled the cage, and then fit it into position by myself. It was cumbersome, but not overly difficult. A standard hex bolt provided in the kit replaces the tamper-proof Torx bolt. You must unscrew the three Torx bolts on either side of your dash, and replace them when the cage plate overlaps.