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Wrangler Roll Cage vs the Factory Sports Bar

Wrangler Roll Cage vs the Factory Sports Bar

A common question from Jeep Wrangler owners involves the structural integrity of the sports bar. The factory bar is designed to protect occupants in low speed roll overs, but develops some structural integrity issues during a single roll over, let alone several. That’s why most owners, that are often off-roading with the potential of roll-overs, choose to reinforce the sports bar with additional structural support. This tech guide will discuss the various options available.

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No one likes going end over end, but in the event it happens while your rock crawling, a roll cage can keep you safe. If you're taking your Wrangler to the extremes of wheeling, make sure your rig is ready for it.

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How Strong is the Factory Sports Bar?

Considering so many panels can be removed from a Jeep, including the roof and doors, the factory sports bar and frame of the Jeep is still very sturdy and arguably more solid than an ordinary vehicle’s unibody structure, which is typically comprised of lightweight aluminum. Nonetheless, Jeep makes it a point to refer to it as a sports bar instead of roll cage, establishing bar isn’t designed for rolling over. The bar is made of steel and is tied into the Jeep’s tub frame, establishing a solid skeletal frame. However, the windshield is a weak point in the structure, since the sports cage doesn’t have a bar that spans the width of the Jeep along the top of the windshield. The lack of protection and support in that area is problematic during a roll over, because there’s a possibility of the windshield frame collapsing and folding into the cabin. In addition, the lack or cross support in the front allows the bars along the sides to be weakened during a roll over. Understandably, any tubular cage is better than nothing and certainly better than a unibody frame that is designed to compress in order to absorb impacts. Ultimately, the sports bar is just a light structural support for low speed collisions.

1987-2006 Wrangler with Roll Bar Trim
Stock Roll Bar with Add-Ons

What are some Easy Solutions to Support the Factory Sports Bar?

Thankfully there are several solutions available, from simple factory sports bar reinforcement to full replacements with a new roll cage. This upgrade is largely dependent on your particular needs, installation capability and budget.
Solutions like the Smittybilt SRC Cage kit provide a good, entry level method of reinforcement, with very minor drilling. The system is constructed of sturdy .1020 x .120 wall DOM tubing, all in a durable powder coated black finish. It utilizes a knuckle clamp system to attach itself to the factory sports bar. The kit also comes with high-grade 10 fasteners for a secure and firm installation. The cross braces reinforce the windshield corners and extend throughout the length of the Jeep with the center brace, which is secured in position along the top of the sports bar, still allowing normal installation/removal of the hard and soft tops. This is among the easiest and basic reinforcement braces available. 

2007-2017 Wrangler with a Hard Top

A more complete bracing system offered by Poison Spyder, reinforces the sports bar through bars spanning the width of the windshield along the top and bottom. In addition, the system replaces the forward occupant side bars with NC-bent DOM steel tubing that is CNC laser notched for an extremely strong connection and precise fitment. The system is a much more involved installation, that requires some slight modifications. It will also require the folding of the factory windshield which could lead to some leaking issues, if not re-aligned properly. The system however offers a much greater level of stability and reinforcement to the factory sports bar. 

JK Wrangler with Blue Roll Bar Covers

Gen Right Off Road offers a complete weld-in roll cage solution. This system is made of 2” heavy .120 DOM steel tubing and designed to completely replace the factory sport bar. The roll cage comes unassembled and is welded into position, making this a more permanent solution. Due to the nature of the welding, this cage is geared to a specialized demographic that requires an extensive amount of protection while on the trail.  The system integrates with the Jeeps tub frame, for a complete overall solution. In addition, due to the thickness of the tubing, the system will require minor trimming of the dash end caps. Although the cage looks complex, it’s designed to still offer great visibility and allow you to retain the use of the factory hard and soft top. The system is laser cut, notched and puzzled together for a strong seamless assembly. Overall, if you plan on doing an extensive amount of off-roading that involves the high potential of roll over opportunities, this cage will offer the extra layer of protection to safely tackle any trail. 

JK Wrangler with Exterior Roof Rack


The Jeep Wrangler comes equipped with a sports bar system from the factory. The bar is designed to protect occupants in a low speed roll over incident, but will likely be severely damaged afterwards.

The Smittybilt SRC Cage kit provides an additional layer of reinforcement to the factory sports bar, with very minor drilling.

Poison Spyder, reinforces the sports bar with additional cross braces, but requires more modification to the Jeep, including the loosening of the windshield and replacement of some factory sport bar portions.

Gen Right’s complete weld-in roll cage solution. Provides the highest level of protection while on the trail, but requires an extensive amount of modification to the Jeep. The system will require assembly by a welder and powder coated/painted after assembly, making the installation somewhat complex. 


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