2013 Jeep JK ARB Stubby Bar Installation and ReviewPosted in How To: Body Chassis on November 1, 2016
Approach angle is something we discuss often when it comes to building a trail-worthy Jeep. It’s typically represented by a degree number, with a higher number correlating to a better approach angle. On the trail, a poor approach angle can leave the front bumper of your Jeep a battered mess. This can also limit your trail and obstacle possibilities.
One of the easiest ways to increase your Jeep’s approach angle is by replacing the stock front bumper with a high-clearance variant from the aftermarket. While the Wrangler JK’s stock front bumper may not protrude excessively from the front of the Jeep, the fact that it spans more than the width of the frame rails to cover the front tires is what detracts from its approach angle potential. To increase the approach angle on our ’13 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, we installed the textured-black powdercoated ARB Stubby Bar (PN 3450430) front winch bumper. At only 66 pounds, the high-clearance front bumper provides, a winch mount location, two recovery points, Hi-Lift jack mounts, and multiple places for auxiliary lighting.
This setup not only shapes up the front end of our JK nicely but does so in a very compact and off-road–friendly way. Installation only took a couple of hours, and we found the fit and finish to be absolutely perfect. After the easy installation, we looked forward to putting the ARB Stubby Bar through its paces.
1. The JK gets points for its stock front bumper being extremely light and outfitted with tow hooks, but that’s as far as the accolades go. Because it extends wider than the frame rails and in front of the tires, it reduces the Jeep’s ability to scale obstacles.
2. At a mere 66 pounds, ARB’s Stubby Bar front bumper is relatively light. We ordered the one-piece bumper with a textured-black powdercoat finish (PN 3450400), but it’s also available in a satin-finish powdercoat (PN 3450400). Mounting tabs for auxiliary lights are at the front of the bumper and on top of the brush guard.
3. If you are installing a winch as we were at the same time, you will need to measure to make sure it will not interfere with the passenger side frame horn. Our particular Warn model did, so we used a Sawzall to remove the interfering metal.
4. Depending on the year of your JK, you may need to relocate the EVAP canister behind the front bumper. ARB sends a bracket for this, so no extra purchase is required. Our JK’s previous owner had already relocated the EVAP canister.
5. Given that the bumper is designed to accommodate a winch, we installed one of our favorite recovery tools: the Warn 9.5cti winch. We’ve used the 9,500-pound winch in the past, and it’s become one of our favorite go-to winches for its speed and reliability in extreme conditions.
6. To access the winch mounting holes, you simply go from the bottom side of the bumper. This is one of the few stubby-style bumpers that allows you to install the winch and bumper separately. Your back will thank you.
7. Once we had the winch wired up, we spooled in the Spydura synthetic rope. Not only does synthetic save us weight over steel cable but the ability to run a hawse style fairlead means we have less material hanging off the front of the bumper than with a traditional roller fairlead.
8. To finish out the bumper and add some much-needed night light, we installed a set of ARB’s Intensity 7-inch-round LED lights. We went true Australian Outback style with a spot version of the light mounted in front of the driver and flood on the passenger side.
9. As you can see (and so could we), the LED’s produce a tremendous amount of pure-white light (as opposed to the dull yellow halogens from our stock headlights). The advantage of the spot/flood combo is we get the long-range of the spot and the wide field of view of the flood.
Dirt TestThe difference between the stock bumper and the ARB stubby bumper is tremendous. We can now approach obstacles more easily, without worrying that the stock front bumper will crumple before our tires crest the obstacle. We’ve added a little more than 130 pounds (bumper, winch, and lights) to the front of the JK, which is the equivalent of carrying around a small passenger in the Jeep. The combination of the lights, winch, and recovery points has made our mild Wrangler significantly more useful on the trail. Maybe our only gripe is you can see the stock crash-bar (small crossmember below the bumper). You can (and we might) cut this portion off later down the road.
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