Are ladders bars just for looks? They look sexy on a lifted truck, but they are an essential part of lifted trucks and trucks that put some serious torque to the ground. The primary function of Ladder or traction bars is to keep the axle from twisting under acceleration, and the taller your truck, the more you need traction/ladder bars. I will explain why in this article.
Types of traction bars can vary on where and how they mount, and the overall design can be quite different, but the basic idea is to support the axle when accelerating and towing. This is because when the tire starts to rotate, all the rotational force is applied to the axle shaft causing the axle housing to twist and rotating the pinion upwards, applying tremendous pressure on the leaf springs causing them to bow like an S. When this happens your pinion angle changes and can cause premature wear and vibrations, but then when the spring overcomes the pressure and straightens back out it can cause wheel hop which can cause severe damage to your suspension, especially when you’re running large wheels and tires. The best way to prevent all this is to choose the correct ladder bars. The ladder traction bars I will be discussing are focused on the lifted truck market due to the overall length we use. Our traction bars serve a function but are also designed to look good, whereas others can be pure function and lack style.
How do I know If I need ladder traction bars? Well, this can vary on many factors. We usually stick to the common sense approach. Is your truck running lift blocks taller than factory lift blocks, like 6" to 8”? Then I suggest ladder traction bars. The reason is that you change the distance from the axle to the spring creating more leverage on the leaf spring and resulting in axle wrap ( wheel hop); now, let’s add a bigger, wider tire with more traction you have just added even more force to the leaf spring. Another reason for the ladder bars is increased power output. Increasing your torque output will cause more rotating pressure on the axle; the ladder traction bars will help keep your suspension from twisting and causing a power loss to the ground, which means quicker acceleration with traction bars.
Apoc Industries has two types of bars: Tube and CNC box ladder bars. The only difference is how they look. They both do the same job; our tube bars are a heavy wall tube 3/16” thick which is plenty thick for any use. Our CNC cut bars are also 3/16” thick and have a box design with triangulated bracing for excellent strength without excessive weight. As far as the mounting, there will be a frame mount that will use 1/2” bolts on an open C frame or Nutserts for a Closed boxed frame, Our frame mount has three holes on the side and two holes on the bottom of the frame to securely fasten the mount to the Frame, as for the axle mount there are a few options weld on, bolt-on and clamp style. Each vehicle axle has a different design making a one-size-fits-all not an option with the axle side mounts unless you are good with welding on some axle tabs. Here at Apoc, we prefer to make it all bolt-on for ease of installation and removal of ladder bars. Our bolt-on options are U bolt mounts that go on the bottom of the axle between the axle plate and the U bolt nuts, so installation is quick, easy, and solid; the next option is the clamp style which is used when you have inverted U bolts meaning the U bolts nuts will face up towards the bed of the truck. In this case, the clamp is the only bolt-on option and is a great choice. The only drawback is that it can spin on the axle tube under pressure; some customers have put small welds on the side of the clamp to stop this from happening. Other than mounting and tube or CNC box style, the option is the length, and when you have a big lifted truck, you don’t want small dinky Ladder traction bars; you want long beefy bars to stand out and stand out. When it comes to the length, we go long for sure. Depending on your truck, they will be 82”, 72”, or 60”, but long the majority of our traction bars are 82” and 72” for full-size trucks.