Part 12: Hard-Core Rocker Protection
Rocker protection-sometimes known as sliders, rockers, or rock rails-are an integral part of your vehicle's protection system and are as important as skidplates for safe and damage-free wheeling. As with all Wrangler Rubicons, our Project 'Con Artist came with decent factory protection, but those simple sliders, while working well, don't offer the higher level of protection that we required for our more enthusiastic wheeling adventures.
Good rocker protection will keep rocks and obstacles from crinkling your vehicle's body, but they should also be strong enough to support the entire weight of the vehicle and not deform under extreme conditions. Good rocker protection will also allow you to pivot off of obstacles without vehicle damage, a technique that has become much more important on tight trails as more capable long-wheelbase vehicles, such as the Wrangler Unlimited, become more popular. Good rocker protection should also allow the Jeep to smoothly slide along and over obstacles without snagging on them.
Rocker protection comes in many forms and with all of the choices out there it can be difficult to find the ones that meet your specific needs. One style of rocker protection we are big fans of comes from Poly Performance of San Luis Obispo, California.
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The Poly Performance Jeep JK High Clearance Rocker Guards are a high-quality, bolt-on rocker protection solution that are welded from 3/16-inch-plate steel and mount to the body and body mounts for incredible strength. Because of the way the Poly Performance guards are shaped, they offer extreme ground clearance, keeping the undersides of your vehicle smooth, as well as covering up some potential points on the frame and body that could get caught on rocks. The shape also allows the Jeep to not only slide over, but slide off of obstacles on the trail. Poly Performance has designed its sliders to be used with or without a body lift and for those of you who use your JK as a daily driver, these have the additional benefit of being low profile from the body and won't dirty up the pant leg of your business suit when you hop out at work.
Poly Performance offers the High Clearance Guard in pairs, for two- or four-door models and they can be purchased in raw, or in the black powdercoat finish we chose here. For this installation, we visited the Poly Performance headquarters in SLO, where our new rocker protection was installed in just a few hours.
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How It WorksJust weeks after installing the Poly Performance Jeep JK High Clearance Rock Guards, we took Project 'Con Artist up to the Rubicon Trail for the ultimate test of all of our recent upgrades. The Poly Performance guards lived up to their billing and took hit after hit on the infamous trail. Not only did they give us exceptional protection, but we didn't sustain any damage to the guards, other than add a few boulder pinstripes to the powdercoat finish. We were able to easily slide on and off obstacles, a major advantage because we were only running 35-inch tires. We credit part of our success on the Rubicon to the Poly Performance guards and highly recommend them for any JK.