You might think your Jeep’s OEM front bars will protect you in event of an upset, but you’d be wrong. Those bars are strictly there to secure the windshield, not to protect the Jeep’s occupants. So if you’re an avid Jeeper, one who takes the class 4 trails rather than the four-lane highways, you really need the added protection of a front cage such as Smittybilt’s SRC roll cage kit.

We recently installed the Smittybilt kit on our 2005 Rubicon Unlimited.

The Smittybilt SRC roll cage kit delivers outstanding protection via 1020 .120-wall tubing–one of the strongest materials available. The tubing is powdercoated to maintain its nice appearance, and the kit also includes an upper plate that’s perfect for mounting a CB and/or ham radio. All you need to do is route a power line up the A-pillar on the windshield.

Smittybilt points out there is no welding necessary with its kit as it is primarily a bolt-on installation; however, you’ll still need to plan on six to eight hours for the installation. We found that you’ll need to do some slight trimming to the plastic surround on the windshield, and you may need a come-along to tweak the bars into place. Still, for the added protection you’re getting, the installation was pretty straightforward and well worth the effort.

Scroll through the slideshow below to see how our installation went.

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A full cage adds confidence to the driver and passengers alike.

It also improves the appearance of the Jeep.

A Smittybilt advertisement photo shows off the full cage kit, which includes a crossbar above the tailgate, two diagonals over the rear seat, a front loop over the dash, and the center support above the center console.

Another Smittybilt photo shows how the kit’s bars are clamped to each other and the OEM bars.

Each vertical support next to the A-pillar is equipped with a grab bar, which you’ll use often if your Jeep is lifted (Smittybilt photo).

Remove the top, either soft or hard, and the doors.

Remove all the padding covers and padding.

Remove the sound bar, if your Jeep is equipped with one. Carefully unplug the speakers and overhead lights.

Remove the bolts holding the front shoulder harnesses.

Remove the bolts securing the front side bars to the windshield frame.

There are two sizes of clamps in the kit, depending upon where they are installed and on what bar. Make sure you place them correctly as you loosely assemble the rollcage.

Prep each side of the front crossbar with a couple Allen bolts in the clamps.

Temporarily attach the front crossbar to the OEM side bars. Other than removing the top, this is the step that requires two people.

The front crossbar and center support bars are like a huge Tee. The center support bars will hang there.

Loosely attach the top loops to the center support bars. Adjust the front crossbar clamps on the side bars until the top loops fit onto the OEM crossbar. Loosely thread in all the Allen bolts in all of the clamps so far.

Install the two diagonals over the rear seat. Do not tighten any Allen bolt until they are all threaded into the clamps and the bars are in place, and then tighten all of them.

Once the diagonals are loosely secured in place, locate and mount the rear crossbar over the tailgate.

You can tighten all the bolts once this rear crossbar is in place.

As you can see, the rear diagonals mate with the center support bars at the OEM center bar.

To mount the front support bars, you must remove the screws in this plastic panel.

Firmly pull the panel off. It is held in place with plastic studs.

Now you can remove the dashboard support bolts.

You’ll need to trim the plastic around the location that the side bars attach to the windshield frame.

Be careful not to over trim. Cut a little bit at a time and keep checking the fit until it’s finished.

Install the vertical support bars to the side bars.

After securing the vertical support bars to the lower A-pillar, install the lower crossbar just above the dash, and reinstall the plastic side panels.

Snap the plastic cover back on the OEM roll bar.

Reinstall the shoulder harness to the OEM roll bar. If you wish the bars to be padded, you’ll have to find an upholstery shop that can do the padding and sew the covers. The Smittybilt roll cage kit does include padding and covers but for the new bars only.

Smittybilt also offers a front cage kit for both JK models.

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Author: Jim Brightly

A former editor of Truckin’ and Trailer Life magazines, and tech editor of Four Wheeler, Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road, and Family Motor Coaching magazines, Jim Brightly is now a semi-retired photojournalist living, writing, and wheeling in northern Arizona. He’s been building and wheeling Jeeps for more than fifty years.