Bullbars are prominently used to protect owners vehicle from straying Kangaroos, cattle and other wildlife. The majority of people fit them to their four-wheel drive vehicles or trucks but are available for wide range of vehicles.
“Nudge bars”, another kind of frontal protection, they are generally fitted to sedans and small SUVs, and consist of light aluminium tubing that protects only the radiator grille and areas without replacing the bumper bar. A Bullbar typically replaceS some or all of the front bumper.
Bullbars come with a provision to mount spotlights and vehicle recovery winches. Radio antennas for equipment such as CB radios are often mounted onto a bullbar.
A Bullbar incorporating a winch are often known as “winch compatible”.
As a safety feature, traditional bars are built to protect the vehicle, which is considered less safe than allowing controlled deformation to absorb kinetic energy during a collision. Modern design of bullbars and roo bars has advanced, so some vehicle manufacturers and aftermarket companies now offer impact bars which integrate with the vehicle safety system, such as activation of airbags after collision with the bullbar. The Plastic type bulbar is made from materials such as polyethylene are designed to act like a spring and deflect due to the force of a collision so that the vehicle is still driveable after striking an animal. These designs are more “pedestrian friendly” than the same vehicle without any bullbar.
There are many aspects relating to the proper construction of a bullbar. It is widely accepted that the channel section which provides the strength for the protection system must be constructed from one piece of material and free from sections bolted on or welded together. The thickness of the material is something which should be considered when choosing a bullbar, generally the thicker the material, the stronger the product delivering greater protection. The grade of material is also important, products manufactured from steel or hi-tensile/structural grade alloys are stronger than a standard alloy or polymer products.
In recent times bullbars have become popular also as a cosmetic accessory, particularly on the larger four wheel drive and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs).
Kangaroos are a primary road safety hazard in Australia, hence the alternative name “roo bar”. Kangaroos account for over 60% of collisions between vehicles and animals in Australia. This high animal strike incidence is why roo bars are most commonly fitted to vehicles in Australia in outback or rural areas.
Bullbars are not allowed to cause a vehicle to fail to comply with other ADRs to which they were originally constructed. This includes visibility of lights, such as headlights and indicators; but it particularly relates to ADR 69/00, the rule for Full frontal impact protection. In order to comply with this rule, bullbars manufactured for vehicles equipped with SRS (airbag systems) must be tested for compatibility with the airbag system.