Well-Designed Wrangler Armor
The JK Wrangler has a strong, big frame, one of the reasons JKs weigh so much more than earlier Jeeps. In order to fit on the frame without trimming, JK bumpers have to be larger than TJ, YJ, and CJ bumpers were. Unfortunately, many designers think larger is better. I’m not a fan of some of the swollen offerings available for the JK today. Others agree, as there are smaller bumpers becoming available that require frame trimming to fit. I applaud these smaller offerings, but didn’t want to trim the frame for bumpers on our 2011 JK.
Expedition One has been building quality 4x4 armor since 2004. When the JK arrived on the scene, they designed their Trail Series rear bumper with Smooth Motion swingaway tire carrier. The carrier carries the spare’s weight on the bumper, but attaches to the tailgate so it opens with one easy motion. This is a great design, proven by the fact that so many others are copying it today. The Trail Series bumper itself is one of the smaller full-frame JK bumpers available and is angled for clearance yet still affords plenty of protection. I chose to use a Trail Series bumper without the tire carrier. I’m keeping the stock spare on the OE carrier, so I didn’t need the swingaway carrier.
For the front of our JK, a bulbous bumper wouldn’t do. Expedition One offers a couple of front JK bumpers and their Basic DX is outstanding. Constructed of precision-cut 3/16-inch steel, this short winch mount bumper uses the factory Jeep JK Wrangler recovery hooks and works with winches that have a load rating of up to 9,500 pounds. The Basic DX comes with two integrated shackle mounts. As the factory hooks are retained with the Basic DX, shackle mounts aren’t needed, except most purchasers won’t buy 4x4 bumpers unless they’re equipped with them. The Basic DX comes drilled with holes to mount either short drum or full-size winches. I chose to use a lightweight Warn 9.0Rc short drum rock crawling winch and it fits well.
I added the optional Basic DX foglight wings that mount the OE foglights outboard of the frame. The wings are easily removed when the going gets tough and you don’t need a bumper sticking out beyond the frame rails. The wings finish off the Basic DX bumper and look great, too.
Finally, once the OE plastic chin spoiler was removed, the sheetmetal crossmember for the spoiler had to go, too. Doing this exposes the Rubicon Smart Bar swaybar disconnect motor. Expedition One designed their 3/16-inch steel Rubi Skid to protect this motor and provide extra clearance. It does this and looks much cleaner than the OE chin spoiler does. To install the Rubi Skid, the crossmember is removed and the Smart Bar motor is rotated up, using an Expedition One-supplied bolt. The Rubi Skid is then bolted on.
The Expedition One armor on our 2011 JK Wrangler looks and works great. The front Basic DX bumper and Rubi Skid together weigh less than most JK bumpers and the rear Trail Series bumper is much smaller than the stock bumper it replaced. Now, if Expedition One would only offer these products in aluminum.