THE TOWBAR WITH THE X FACTOR
Locally made and manufactured, the X-Bar has been well received by the Aussie market
The X-Bar concept was born and launched to the Australian market to ensure the needs of serious 4WD enthusiasts were met.
Standard vehicle towbars are designed to serve the single function of towing for vehicles on Australian roads. As a result, the final product, whilst being fit for purpose, is often utilitarian in appearance and function, says Hayman Reese.
The Hayman Reese X-Bar was developed and manufactured locally as a range of aftermarket ‘off-road’ towbars that meet challenging and conflicting consumer demands.
All towbars need to meet the tow rating of the vehicle and Australian Design Rules, include rated recovery points, offer maximum clearance and should also look great.
However, many towbar products for 4×4 cab-chassis utes are typically only designed for towing trailers up to 3,500 kg.
Firstly, many existing products do not offer a rated rear recovery point for the vehicle and end-users often attempt vehicle recovery using the towbar’s hitch – a major safety concern as regular towbars are not designed to carry the extreme loads of vehicle recovery.
Secondly, regular towbars are mounted low to meet Australian Design Rules (ADRs) requirements for tow ball height. This impedes clearance and reduces departure angles in off-road conditions.
Thirdly, regular towbars are utilitarian – they lack the visual appeal and features demanded by consumers, says Hayman Reese.
The Hayman Reese X-Bar is a fully ADR compliant towbar featuring three highly-visible 8,000kg rated recovery points and increased clearance for maximum departure angles wrapped-up in a class leading design.
Compared to existing OE and aftermarket towbars, X-Bar provides improved clearance and departure angles as it’s mounted higher and neater into the vehicle’s chassis. This also reinforces a key structural part of the vehicle.
Superior strength and ADR compliance
To meet ADR requirements for tow ball height the X-Bar features a custom-forged Trailer Ball Mount (TBM) made from 700-grade steel. The customer-forged TBM is longer and stronger to accommodate the additional height challenges on vehicles with suspension lift kits. The custom-forged TBM is also removable for additional clearance.
Recovery rated to 8000kg, the X-Bar completes the missing link in rated vehicle recovery requirements. Other towbars are designed and tested exclusively with trailer and caravan towing in mind. Although commonly used as a solid fixing point for snatch strap recovery, they are not designed with the related stresses imposed when used to extract a bogged vehicle, says Hayman Reese, which states the X-Bar features two side recovery points rated to 4,000kg and a centre recovery point rated to 8,000kg.
During the development of the X-Bar, product design was a leading criteria for Hayman Reese. Cab-chassis vehicles are particularly challenging from a design perspective as there are significant differences between vehicles and the plethora of rear of vehicle storage solutions. The X-Bar design is rugged, purposeful and practical and the rated recovery points are highly visible and coloured red for contrast and to meet consumer expectations.
The core innovation behind X-Bar is it brings together three separate aftermarket solutions in one product for cab-chassis vehicles: 1) towbar, 2) rated recovery points for the rear of vehicle, and; 3) body styling. Prior to the X-Bar range, such a product range didn’t exist, says Hayman Reese.
Customer centric ideas
Hayman Reese says customer feedback indicated end-users wanted convenient and safe recovery points that didn’t require removal of the TBM to install a tow hitch recovery shackle.
The engineering challenges involving rated recovery points were significant in developing the X-Bar. The engineering team devised the 8,000kg centre recovery point above the hitch receiver and end-users now have a safe and strong rear recovery point without needing to remove the TBM.
The X-Bar is also perfectly suited to the aftermarket as an ‘upgrade’ product. Where vehicles are fitted with an existing OE towbar solution, existing vehicle wiring can be retained and the OE towbar simply replaced by X-Bar – further reducing installation time.
The X-Bar incorporates a number of innovative design elements. Recessed mounting points for trailer socket and Anderson plug wiring help protect against accidental damage. A removable and replaceable ‘bash plate’ helps protect the underside of the X-Bar and the Hayman Reese anti-rattle SmartPin reduces annoying TBM rattle.
The X-Bar product concept consists of side plates, a cross section and recovery point mounting plates. By using a modular approach, fewer common components can be utilised across multiple vehicle fitments. The innovative design enables fewer welding jigs and manufacturing tooling – which is perfectly suited for a high-cost, low-volume market such as Australia which demands manufacturing flexibility.
Of course, added strength brings added weight and added weight in a single-piece assembly can create complications. By using a three-piece design, installers can assemble the X-Bar product in multiple stages decreasing installation and reducing OH&S risks. The added benefit is a three-piece design accommodates the chassis variability found in these vehicles.
Hayman Reese notes that multiple design innovations are recognised in the Australian innovation Patent for X-Bar, stating the product is a testament to Australian automotive engineering and manufacturing.
With production in Keysborough, Victoria, Hayman Reese has invested in additional production capacity and resources to meet demand.
Launched in May 2018, the X-Bar has received critical acclaim from experts in the field of touring and 4WDing. Hayman Reese says the positive and overwhelming response to X-Bar has reinvigorated and focused Hayman Reese on developing Australian-engineered products that are design-centric and address the customer need.
Hayman Reese has increased engineering and development efforts and is nurturing a graduate program to support the product’s development and states that investment in product development for the second generation is already underway.
For more information, visit www.haymanreese.com.au