Review & Install Video
I'm Ryan from ExtremeTerrain.com, and this is my review of the Rugged Ridge Classic Rock Crawler rear bumper fitting all 1987 to 2006 Wranglers. This bumper is available as you see it here with the bumper and the tire carrier or it's available as just the bumper with the post and latching mechanisms so that you can purchase the tire carrier separately. Mounting a larger-than-factory spare tire on the factory spare tire mount on your Wrangler can cause some issues from wearing out the tailgate hinges to actually breaking the spare tire mount itself. So, having a bumper mounted tire carrier setup like this one certainly has some benefits to it.
This setup, in particular, is incredibly simple from the design, to the look, to the function. However, in my opinion, it is priced a little bit high for how simple it is. One of the nice things about this is that you can purchase just the bumper ready for the tire carrier and then add the tire carrier later to help you split up the cost. But either way you slice it, the price is a little bit high for what you get. This is a steel bumper that's covered in a textured black powder coat finish. So, it'll match a lot of your other after-market parts and a lot of those factory black plastic accents that are on your Jeep.
Now as far as the design itself goes, again, very, very simple. This bumper doesn't have any D-Ring mounts that bolt directly into the frame. However, it does have this two inch receiver in the center that you could use as a recovery point if you needed to. The carrier itself, again, is very, very simple. It has a little bit of adjustment where the spare tire mounts to the carrier and that is just in-out adjustments. So that you can get your tire nice and tight up against the carrier, regardless of what backspacing and tire width you decided to go with. However, you cannot adjust this carrier up and down.
I like to have that up-down adjustment because if I'm only running at 33 or a small 35, I wanna get that tire nice and low so I still have the maximum visibility out of my back window. This carrier does not give you that opportunity. This carrier also has a very, very simple latching mechanism. Now it works, but it doesn't have, necessarily, a handle. It's not super easy to use. There's a locking pin that you need to remove before you can unlatch the carrier.
I think the design is there to keep everything tight and rattle-free, but in my opinion there are some better designed latches out there that will also keep everything rattle-free without being so difficult to use. The installation for this bumper does become a little bit difficult because of how it mounts to the rear cross member.
To get this installed, the first step is to remove your factory bumper. And if you have a TJ, you'll do that by removing the four screws that hold the bumper onto the frame rails and the two that go underneath, holding the bumper into the frame rails from the bottom. Once the factory bumper is removed, you can hold the new bumper up to the rear cross member and mark your location for drilling the cross member.
Now in order to drill, you can do it with the gas tank in place, but you have to be incredibly careful not to actually punch the drill into the fuel tank. And even if you drill the holes with the fuel tank in place, you'll most likely have to lower the tank in order to get the backing plates on the inside of the cross member and get everything bolted up. Once you have the holes drilled in the tank throughout, the installation then becomes very simple, but there are a lot of things you need to do to get to that point. Once you have the bumper installed, the tire carrier assembles pretty easily by putting the tire mount onto the carrier itself, putting the entire carrier mechanism on to the greaseable spindle on the bumper, and you're pretty much done. From there you just install your spare tire.
Make a little bit of adjustment to make sure the tire's nice and tight up against the carrier, and you're finished from there. The whole process could take you up to three hours because, again, you do have to drop the fuel tank in order to get those backing plates on the inside of your frame rails. However, you won't need any specialty tools, although a drill and a good set of drill bits will help. Sometimes simpler is better, but in my opinion, this bumper is a little bit oversimplified when it comes to the latching mechanism.
I would like to see something that doesn't require a additional locking pin that maybe has a little bit more of rubber isolator built into it to keep things rattle-free. And just a little bit of an easier-to-use latch. Aside from that, yes, the installation of this bumper is a little bit tricky because you have to drop the fuel tank on a TJ. However, that's something you only have to do one time, and in my opinion, to get a nice solid mount, that's worth it.
All in all, I would say that this bumper is priced a little bit high for what you get. I think you can take the same money you would spend on this bumper and get something that is a little bit more refined. So, if you're looking for a super simple bumper and tire carrier option, this isn't a bad setup. However, again, in my opinion, it's a little bit oversimplified, especially for the price we have to pay. So, that's my review of the Rugged Ridge Classic Rock Crawler rear bumper fitting all 1987 to 2006 Wranglers, that you can find right here at ExtremeTerrain.com.