Custom Metal Manufacturing
A Serious Bumper That Does It All For The Cross Trainer!
By Cole Ford

Click photos for larger versions
Toon by Cliff McKie
How Cool can a bumper get anyway?
Over the years there have been trends in bumpers just like there are trends in fashion. Remember when those chrome tube bumpers used to be cool? Now in the rockcrawling age it seems to be the style to have a bumper that is more function than fashion. Bumper manufactures are getting high dollar for short stubby square chunks of steel. Add some light "tabs", a towing attachment and make room for a winch and the price goes up even more. Don't get me wrong! A great front bumper should do all of those things, look cool and be darn near indestructible, too. In my opinion, the majority of the bumpers available look plain or just down right ugly. I spent a lot of good dough to have a new, cool looking Jeep to drive to work and conquer the trails with. Why should I settle for some chunk of steel that some guy calls a bumper? Here is one of the more creative alternatives.

Even Better the Second Time Around!
OK, I have to be honest with you here. This is not exactly a product review. A few years back, I met Tim Cornett here in Colorado. He had the coolest front bumper I had ever seen on the front of his Suzuki. I asked him where he got it and he told me that he made them at "Custom Metal Manufacturing." in Denver, CO. Not very long after that, I had one on the front of my YJ. I got so much attention with the bumper and liked how it worked so much, that I went back to him to get one for the TJ. I was very happy to see that he had added some features to the design I originally had.

Checking approach angles of stock bumper vs. the Granite Guard proved a 20+ degree improvement

Beware the Soccer Mom!
There are some variations in opinion on what the best rockcrawling bumper should consist of. Some people want a short little cap on the end of the frame rails for maximum approach angle. Some guys want something that gives winch and fender protection. "Project Cross Trainer" needed a bumper that could meet several criteria, including defending against the soccer mom driving her 2001 "SMAV" (Soccer Mom Assault Vehicle).

Here is what I had in mind! (In no particular order)

  • Must "fit" the lines and appearance of the Jeep. (Has to look "cool").
  • Must have a place to mount a winch that protects against winch theft.
  • Must provide protection against rocks, trees, soccer moms, etc.
  • This includes protection for the fenders, lights and winch.
  • Must have some sort of mount for clevis or tow hook (very helpful while I do not have a winch).
  • Must have a place for lights.
  • Must improve approach angle and durability over stock bumper (not all that hard to do).

The Granite Guard is a great compliment to the looks of the TJ

Presenting the "Granite Guard"!
Custom Metal Manufacturing of Denver, CO makes the "Granite Guard" front bumper. This bumper was exactly what "Project Cross Trainer" needed. The approach angle increased from the stock 46 Degrees to between 65 and 70 degrees at the end of the Granite Guard Bumper. Both measurements were taken with the Jeep at stock height with the stock 30" tires. The way the bumper slopes up and back at the sides increased approach angle and ground clearance, while increasing the amount of fender protection.

Made with 3/16" cold-rolled steel and 1 3/4" (1/8" wall) tubing, it is not going to deform any time soon (I tried several times with the one on my YJ).

Check out the picture of the clevis mounts to see the quality of the welds.

Custom Metal gave me an option on coatings. I got my last one bare so that I could eventually coat it with some sort of bed liner for durability. Since I wanted this one a bit shinier for the new TJ, I had it powder coated black for a durable finish.

The winch integrates perfectly with the bumper and the design allows the winch to be secured from potential thieves.

Saving the winch!
The winch mount in the "Granite Guard" incorporates several nice features. The winch actually sits down in the bumper a little bit so that the cable comes out through the front of the bumper. You have to mount the winch to the bumper before you install the bumper. The bolts for the winch are only accessible when the bumper is off the Jeep. This makes for great protection against winch theft while your Jeep is parked downtown on a Saturday night. The tubing around the winch allows for easy operation while still protecting it from low-flying rocks on the trail.

Since I have not chosen a winch yet for the project I borrowed a Warn 9000 from High Country 4x4 in Englewood, CO in order to show how the winch sits in the bumper. You can also see how the approach angle and protection increased.

A Quote from Pirelli….
"Power is nothing without control." Now that I have a new bumper, I am so tempted to go run the Jeep into something. I will save that urge for the trail and, even then, I will try to keep the bumper pointed where it needs to go. Hope to see you guys on the trail.


Custom Metal Manufacturing, Inc.
5010 Cook Street
Denver, CO 80216
Phone: 800-523-5705
Email: info@custommetalmfg.com


Cole Ford

Cole Ford is a staff writer for ROCKCRAWLER.com and resides in Littleton, CO. Cole is the owner of Project Cross Trainer.

Contact Ford at xtremjeepn@rockcrawler.com

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