Nerf bar basics
Nerf bars are tubular side steps that are available for trucks and other lifted vehicles. Once installed, nerf bars run along the side of the vehicle, just below the lower edge of the body. They are essentially a sleeker, lower-profile option to running boards.
The word ‘nerf’ originates from auto racing, and refers to the practice of bumping another vehicle in competition. One driver, for example, may intentionally bump or ‘nerf’ a competitor as an intimidation tactic. Nerf bars evolved as a means of protecting vehicles from the side damage that can result from these small collisions. Off-road enthusiasts began using them to protect their undercarriages from flying rocks.
Nerf bars for convenience, safety, and style
Most drivers use nerf bars for convenience and safety purposes, rather than for damage control. Hopping into the cab of a lifted vehicle can be challenging without that lower first step provided by a nerf bar.
Aftermarket nerf bars for trucks differ widely in style. The lowest profile options rest very close to the body of the vehicle; these are generally used for style purposes only, because they don’t function well as steps. More common are the oval or round tubes that incorporate a stepping platform below each door of the vehicle. The stepping platform may additionally have a non-slip covering or pad. This improves the safety of using a nerf bar when it’s wet outside. Other variants include nerf steps and nerf bars with retractable steps. Nerf steps add a larger stepping pad to the basic tube structure. Retractable steps are good for drivers who want a sleeker look, but aren’t willing to compromise on safety.
The most common finishes for nerf bars are polished steel and black powdercoat. They are typically made from steel or aluminum, with plastic or polymer materials used for the step pad. Also, because nerf bars follow the contours of the body, generic styles are less popular than vehicle-specific products.
Nerf bar manufacturers
Many reputable companies produce nerf bars. Some of the most popular names include Dee Zee, N-FAB, Raptor Series, and Smittybilt.
- Dee Zee has been a player in the automotive aftermarket since 1977. The company produces a large selection of nerf bars for trucks and related products, including nerf steps, nerf rails, running bars, side bars, and truck bars.
- N-FAB is well known for its all-welded, one-piece nerf bar and other tubular accessories. The company has three types of nerf bars for trucks: cab length, wheel-to-wheel, and a six-step configuration that provides truck bed access.
- Raptor Series produces a large line of 3” round nerf bars, called Round Step Tubes, which feature raised step pads. Other Raptor products include oval step tubes, bull bars, and bed rails.
- Smittybilt has served the off-road industry for more than 50 and was an originator of the nerf bar. The company produces the heavy-duty Sure Step Side Bars, nerf steps, and other 4x4 accessories.
4 Wheel Parts carries a full selection of nerf bars for trucks, from these and other popular manufacturers. Shop now for nerf bars that will add style and function to your truck, Jeep, or SUV.