When we were deciding on a front bumper for our TRD, one of the more important issues for us was weight. We’ve added a Toytec adjustable lift with upgraded springs to the front, but the idea of a 150lb bumper plus an 80lb winch had us a little concerned. That’s quite a bit of weight to add to the front of any vehicle, especially considering the stock bumper weighs in at about 35 lbs.
announced their new front bumper, we got excited very quickly. Not only does it look great (very similar to some of our other favorite bumpers), but aluminum is so much lighter than steel. Once the specs were announced, we knew this was the front bumper for us.
The fit & finish of this bumper a great as well. The entire thing is powder coated and very smooth. It actually performs like a non-stick coating, so getting mud/dirt/bugs off the bumper super easy. There’s a great access door in the top of the bumper for the winch, and it comes with an Aluminess aluminum fairlead as well. The bumper matches the lines of the FJ nearly perfectly, and it sits about ½” from the front bezel all the way around. Some aftermarket bumpers have been known to rub on the front of the FJ, this one will not have any issues with that.
Installation was very straightforward. It ships with all the grade 10 hardware to bolt right on to the FJ using stock holes. There’s only one hole you’ll need to bore out a little for the bracket to go on properly. The rear support bracket gives the bumper extra strength when bolted to the frame, so you won’t have to worry about anything shearing off during a hard winch pull. While the instructions didn’t specify any torque values, we used the same as the stock bumper, which was 48 ft/lbs. for the all bolts.
After getting the bumper installed and trimming the inner fender flap, we were ready to hit the road. During our first month with the bumper we got to head to Moab for Cruise Moab 2009. It performed flawlessly and everyone was very excited to see this new offering for the FJ. Several FJ owners at the event were talking about selling their current aftermarket bumpers so they could upgrade to the lightweight aluminum. The approach angle is much better than the stock bumper, and will exceed the need of nearly every style of wheeling. We only ‘tested’ the strength of the bumper one time. We managed to bury the front end in about 6 inches of dirt coming down an obstacle on Fins N’ Things. The entire weight of the FJ was on the front of the bumper as we bounced in to and out of the dirt, the Aluminess bumper didn’t miss a beat. Apart from dirt caked in the shackle holes, there wasn’t a scratch on it and it held up great.
Despite the fact aluminum is more expensive and more difficult to machine than steel, the Aluminess bumper is priced competitively. The version we have (without the brush guard) retails for $1,200, but Aluminess has offered it as low as $1,080. This price is very competitive with some steel bumpers that weigh two or three times as much, so it really is a good investment.
If you’re going to the 2009 FJ Summit in Ouray, look for our TRD & the Aluminess front bumper for an up close look. While the pictures look great, seeing it in person makes all the difference.
UPDATE: We took the bumper back off to get the winch installed (See Oct 09 issue) and took a pic showing how light it is:
UPDATE: See our UPDATE to this article in January 2010 issue