photos for larger versions
How Cool can a bumper
Over the years there have been trends in bumpers just like there are
trends in fashion. Remember when those chrome tube bumpers used to be
cool? Now in the rockcrawling age it seems to be the style to have a bumper
that is more function than fashion. Bumper manufactures are getting high
dollar for short stubby square chunks of steel. Add some light "tabs",
a towing attachment and make room for a winch and the price goes up even
more. Don't get me wrong! A great front bumper should do all of those
things, look cool and be darn near indestructible, too. In my opinion,
the majority of the bumpers available look plain or just down right ugly.
I spent a lot of good dough to have a new, cool looking Jeep to drive
to work and conquer the trails with. Why should I settle for some chunk
of steel that some guy calls a bumper? Here is one of the more creative
the Second Time Around!
OK, I have to be
honest with you here. This is not exactly a product review. A few years
back, I met Tim Cornett here in Colorado. He had the coolest front bumper
I had ever seen on the front of his Suzuki. I asked him where he got
it and he told me that he made them at "Custom Metal Manufacturing."
in Denver, CO. Not very long after that, I had one on the front of my
YJ. I got so much attention with the bumper and liked how it worked
so much, that I went back to him to get one for the TJ. I was very happy
to see that he had added some features to the design I originally had.
angles of stock bumper vs. the Granite Guard proved a 20+ degree
Beware the Soccer
are some variations in opinion on what the best rockcrawling bumper
should consist of. Some people want a short little cap on the end of
the frame rails for maximum approach angle. Some guys want something
that gives winch and fender protection. "Project Cross Trainer"
needed a bumper that could meet several criteria, including defending
against the soccer mom driving her 2001 "SMAV" (Soccer Mom
Here is what I had
in mind! (In no particular order)
- Must "fit"
the lines and appearance of the Jeep. (Has to look "cool").
- Must have a
place to mount a winch that protects against winch theft.
- Must provide
protection against rocks, trees, soccer moms, etc.
- This includes
protection for the fenders, lights and winch.
- Must have some
sort of mount for clevis or tow hook (very helpful while I do not
have a winch).
- Must have a
place for lights.
- Must improve
approach angle and durability over stock bumper (not all that hard
The Granite Guard
is a great compliment to the looks of the TJ
Metal Manufacturing of Denver, CO makes the "Granite Guard"
front bumper. This bumper was exactly what "Project Cross Trainer"
needed. The approach angle increased from the stock 46 Degrees to between
65 and 70 degrees at the end of the Granite Guard Bumper. Both measurements
were taken with the Jeep at stock height with the stock 30" tires.
The way the bumper slopes up and back at the sides increased approach
angle and ground clearance, while increasing the amount of fender protection.
Made with 3/16"
cold-rolled steel and 1 3/4" (1/8" wall) tubing, it is not
going to deform any time soon (I tried several times with the one on
Check out the picture
of the clevis mounts to see the quality of the welds.
Custom Metal gave
me an option on coatings. I got my last one bare so that I could eventually
coat it with some sort of bed liner for durability. Since I wanted this
one a bit shinier for the new TJ, I had it powder coated black for a
The winch integrates
perfectly with the bumper and the design allows the winch to be
secured from potential thieves.
Saving the winch!
mount in the "Granite Guard" incorporates several nice features.
The winch actually sits down in the bumper a little bit so that the
cable comes out through the front of the bumper. You have to mount the
winch to the bumper before you install the bumper. The bolts for the
winch are only accessible when the bumper is off the Jeep. This makes
for great protection against winch theft while your Jeep is parked downtown
on a Saturday night. The tubing around the winch allows for easy operation
while still protecting it from low-flying rocks on the trail.
Since I have not
chosen a winch yet for the project I borrowed a Warn 9000 from High
Country 4x4 in Englewood, CO in order to show how the winch sits in
the bumper. You can also see how the approach angle and protection increased.
A Quote from Pirelli
is nothing without control." Now that I have a new bumper,
I am so tempted to go run the Jeep into something. I will save that
urge for the trail and, even then, I will try to keep the bumper pointed
where it needs to go. Hope to see you guys on the trail.