Cage or Not to Cage?
That has been the question on many Jeepers' minds for ages.
When trying to answer this question, the first thing we need
to do is define what we want to accomplish and why.
many years, the tubular framework inside a Jeep has been
referred to as a "roll cage." To be more politically
correct and to change consumers' mindset in recent years,
the phrase "roll cage" has been replaced with
"sport bar" or other similar phrases. This was
also done to keep the auto manufacturers out of hot water,
in case of lawsuits.
which words you use to describe it, the general purpose
of the cage is to offer some level of protection to the
occupants of the Jeep. The level of protection could vary
from keeping low-flying branches out of your face to keeping
your body contained within the Jeep while tumbling down
a 2,000-foot cliff-side.
level of protection you choose is going to depend on the
type of wheeling you do, the amount of money you want to
spend and how easily you want to be able to get in and out
of your rig. No matter what you decide, keep in mind that
a little something is better than a whole lot of nothing.
example, last year, I had the misfortune of tipping my YJ
up against a tree in Carnage Canyon. If it had not been
for the factory crossbars we would have gone all the way
over, crushing both my passenger and myself. The factory
setup came to the rescue in this situation.
the factory set up on a YJ or TJ has some disadvantages,
too. For example, you can't put the windshield down with
the crossbars in place. To me this seems like a major flaw
in the factory design of the sport bar and windshield setup.
With the windshield up and the sport bars in place you rely
on the windshield frame for protection. The windshield frame
can be plenty strong for the average tip over. But, what
if you want to use the folding windshield option on your
Jeep? Then you lose the protection of the windshield frame
and the cross bars of the sport cage, because they will
have been removed.
can we do to improve this situation for the purpose of Project
the Beast! ("Sport Barring the Beast" just
doesn't sound right)
As usual, we explored our options for enhancing the sport
cage in the Cross Trainer. To stay true to the "Cross
Trainer" theme, we needed a sport cage that would basically
enhance the factory design without creating any other difficulties.
We had four options available to us.
first option is a complete tube sport bar that bends out
around the dash and down to the floor. While this satisfies
our need to put the windshield down and still have some
protection it also creates some difficulties that we feel
go against the Cross-Trainer principle. The tubing that
comes out around the dash interferes with entry and exit
of the Jeep, legroom while sitting in the Jeep, blocks access
to the heater vents and your ability to remove dash panels
to access speakers etc.
sport bar that does not go around but down through the dash.
This option was thought about a lot. It would offer plenty
of protection without interfering with entry or exit to
the Jeep. It does, however, require cutting of the dash
panels, rerouting of the heater hoses, and would interfere
with the foot room just slightly.
is for "Custom." I love custom-fabricated stuff,
if for no other reason than it is unique to your Jeep. Custom-fabricated
stuff can be really cool and also really expensive! In this
case, the only thing a custom cage could do for us would
be to add any custom handles etc. All the other designs
I can think of are being produced for mass purchase.
last option for a sport cage is the type that runs tubes
down to the dash and then take the mounting and support
design flat to bolt to the existing dash and body bolts.
The idea has been around for several years, however, it
has just been recently that several manufacturers have exploded
on the scene with these type of cages. The advantage is
a sport cage that allows you to lower your windshield and
offers some protection but does not interfere with legroom,
heater vents, maintenance, etc.
the options out there for this type of cage. Many of the
designs are very similar. Some have options like extra handles,
dash cross bars, etc. Some of these options require removing
the factory sport bar padding or make it difficult to access
the dash panel.
on the O-R
Fab kit for two reasons. First, because it was a very
clean and simple design. When it is installed it looks like
it came from the factory that way. The second reason is
the floor mount option that connects the whole assembly
to the floor, body, and dash. The floor mount kit does all
this without getting in the way of your feet or legs and
still looks like a factory item. Overall, this gave us a
design that allowed us to drop the windshield, gain some
protection, and maintain the factory look and function of
Ok, here is the stuff that you really want to know. The
O-R Fab Sport Bar fit seamlessly into the "Cross Trainer."
Most of my passengers either do not notice it at all or
they just shrug it off as a factory item. I was even able
to re-use the factory sport bar padding to retain a clean
look with just a touch of sewing required.
floor mount kit comes with a dash brace for the backside
of the dash. This sandwiches the jeep body between the 2
sides of the cage for more strength. Even with the floor
mount kit in place, the sport bar almost vanishes into the
interior of the Jeep.
overall fit and finish of the kit was very nice. The high-gloss
black powder coat makes the kit blend perfectly with my
Jeep and gives it a clean, factory-type look. What I like
most about this kit is its clean, no-nonsense design. No
extra handles, tabs or do-dads clutter up the look.
had this kit in the Jeep for several months now. I installed
it last spring before I was ready to take my hard top off
for the summer. The hardtop fit back on just like it was
supposed to. The doors fit just a touch more snug, but not
to the point where it is a problem. Since the door straps
now connect to the floor mounts, I had to take my short
straps out and go back to the factory originals. The doors
swing open to a nice comfortable level now.
I switched over to my soft top, everything went on easily,
with the exception of the plastic door surrounds with the
factory top. It just takes a bit more effort to move the
padding out of the way to put them on. All and all, though,
this is not a big deal.
removed the two bolts that connect the windshield frame
to the sport bar. This made it so I only have to remove
the two lower bolts in the windshield frame to put it down.
I drove that way all summer with no problems at all. I put
my windshield down on nearly every trail we do. It is very
nice to use this feature of the Jeep and still feel like
I have some level of protection.
The last several months with the O-R Fab sport bar kit installed
have been very interesting. The kit blends into the Jeep
so seamlessly that I often forget that it is there. Most
of my passengers don't even notice it. On the trail is a
different story. As soon as you drop the windshield or someone
notices it, then everyone on the trail is over at the Jeep
checking it out. This feature has been one of the key elements
in the Cross-Trainer design. It has allowed us to take the
Jeep one step further toward a rugged trail rig but not
change the daily function of the Jeep at all.
2010 W. Cheryl Drive
Phoenix, AZ 85021
Phone: (602) 749-0588
E Mail: email@example.com