Review: Barricade Trail Force HD Bumper and Tire Carrier

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You might have seen the article and associated video of the Barricade Trail Force HD front bumper install I did on my 2015 JKU.  If not, you can find it here. I’ve since decided to add the matching rear bumper to the aft side of the CPO Willys. I was in need of a good strong rear bumper, and I was looking for something with a swing out tire carrier. I know it’s commonly done, hanging a 35 inch tire on a stock tailgate, but I just didn’t like the full weight of that Mickey Thompson wheel hanging on that stock tailgate hinge. I was excited to take that weight and move it onto the bumper.

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As you’ll soon see, the bumper install went great. No issues at all. The tire carrier, however, didn’t go quite as smoothly. That’s okay, though – I was able to solve the challenge and move forward with the install. I am happy to share how I got it to go on for those of you who might end up in a similar situation.  First, let’s take a look at the bumper.

Because it’s designed to partner with the Trail Force HD front bumper, it’s no surprise that it has a very similar look. I personally love the design, although it may not be for everyone.  Like the front bumper, it also has two tabs for D-ring shackles, and the D-rings are supplied with the bumper.

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It mounts solidly to the frame using brackets that come in the kit.  It not only attaches to the frame sides, it also attaches at the rear of the frame, using the same holes as the Mopar factory receiver hitch (assuming you have the tow package or added the hitch after the fact like I did).  It’s important to note that while the Barricade rear bumper does come with a receiver, it is not tow rated. What does that mean?  It means that they didn’t do the testing that is required to advertise it as “tow rated.”  This actually isn’t uncommon, and many aftermarket bumpers provide receivers that aren’t rated. They will tell you they are intended for “accessories” and not towing. This saves money on the certification side as well as mitigates any liability for the manufacturer with regard to issues that arise from towing.  I talk about this for a bit in the video below, but I’m personally comfortable with the build quality of the receiver, and looks to be as adequate as the Class 3 receiver I pulled off to put this bumper on. I can’t recommend you tow with it, nor will Barricade. I don’t plan to tow, but did want to have the ability to add a luggage or bike rack in the future. If you really, really want to tow, you can always cut off the receiver from the Barricade bumper, and continue to leverage your rated hitch from the factory.
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Now to the fun part: the tire carrier. I know a lot of folks who are running this bumper and tire carrier and didn’t have a bit of trouble. I wasn’t so lucky. As you will see in the video, I ran into a little problem getting the bumper to fully seat. I couldn’t get it all the way on, and then, I couldn’t get it back off! I ended up taking it over to Paul Warren at World Tour Offroad in Annapolis, MD for some help. He had the right tools to help me get the tire carrier back off, and that’s when it became apparent where the problem was.  Something (a burr, or powder-coating over-spray, or something) was massively jamming up the works. You can see the gouging on both the post and the sleeve.

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Paul and I discussed some possible solutions, and what I ended up doing was picking up a $16 brake cylinder hone from the local auto parts store. Then, in less than a minute or so, I was able to hone out all the gunk inside the sleeve. I cleaned up the post a bit with some steel wool, and gave the install another try.  Voila! It went on nice and smooth, and seated like it was designed. I can’t say if this is a 1 in a 100 thing, or a 1 in a million one. Knowing what I know now, and how smoothly the tire carrier operates today (long after the install), I’d recommend everyone just hit the carrier inner sleeve with a hone just to polish it up and remove any potential burring or gunk that might pose a problem at install. At a minimum, I’d take a good look at it before slipping it on the post.

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Of course, after I got the tire carrier seated properly, the rest of the install was a breeze. It’s a solid fit, and there are no unusual wobbles or rattles.  In fact, it’s been trail tested now…and not so much as a creak or a squeak to tell you about. That makes me happy.

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Barricade has come up with a good looking, solid, and useful bumper at a very moderate price point.  Even with my tiny struggle…I’d say this is a great setup – especially for those who may actually have budgets to work within. You can find this (and the matching front bumper) at Extreme Terrain.

Here is the two-part video on the Barricade Trail Force HD Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier install.  Part One is the bumper, and Part Two is the tire carrier.

 

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