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-   -   Poison Spyder's new DeFender fenders... a review (http://www.wranglerforum.com/f282/poison-spyders-new-defender-fenders-a-review-164429.html)

Jerry Bransford 06-03-2012 11:57 PM

Poison Spyder's new DeFender front fenders... a review
 
Thinking of getting some new front fenders for your TJ or LJ? So was I, so the following review of Poison Spyder's new DeFender fenders may be of interest to you.

Building our Jeeps is all about change and modifications in that search for something new and different. Something that will take our Jeeps to the next level. Sometimes what we have may even work fine as-is but we replace it anyway simply to try something new and different. That was the case for me.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...actoryShot.jpg

These are Poison Spyder's new DeFender fenders. You'll probably notice they look different from the typical aftermarket fender, at least I did.

The first thing about them that caught my eye in a good way was that the DeFender is not a tube fender! I had never seen a tube fender I liked so that the DeFender was not was a good thing. Instead, they are fully brake formed non-tube design which ends up as with three surfaces. That three surface design also gives them a smooth rounded surface at the bottom that won’t cut tires. The DeFender is definitely a step up from the tired old tube fender designs that have been around for so long.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...foreFatEnd.jpg

The DeFender is available in various widths from minimal tire coverage to an extra 3” of width to keep you legal anywhere. As important, they are also available in both heavy duty steel and lightweight aluminum. Based on all that, I had found the perfect next upgrade for my TJ!

The DeFender design not only gives more vertical tire clearance, it also gives an additional 2.5” of wheel well clearance behind the tire. That also means that if you have rocker guards that cover to the front wheel well opening, you need to trim 2.5” off the front of your rocker guards. I had to trim 2.5” off the front of my Savvy Offroad rocker guards for that reason.

As many of you know, I have always recommended avoiding an aftermarket fender that is so strong that it fully transmits heavy impacts into the tub. Like if you smack your front fender into a rock or your Jeep flops over onto its side. That’s a trait of most tube fenders... hit them hard enough and you suddenly find you can’t shut your door afterwards.

For that reason, I chose aluminum. These aluminum DeFenders are certainly not weak by any stretch of the imagination, but I figure being made from aluminum, they’ll give before the steel tub will. So the choice between heavy-duty steel and lightweight aluminum was easy.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...ng-Caliper.jpg

They are made from CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) laser cut 3/16” 6061 T-6 aluminum. That is the same type of aluminum used for gas tank skid plates, corner guards, belly-up skid plates, etc. that thrives in even the toughest rock crawling trail environments like is found in Johnson Valley.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...der-Cutout.jpg

The small aluminum filler plate for the cutout, the piece that has the Poison Spyder cut into it, is made from 1/8” aluminum.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...Installing.jpg

Initial observations from opening the box: Upon opening the box, I found that everything was extremely well packed and wrapped. Everything was there and in pristine condition. All of the bags of all stainless steel hardware were intact and every required piece of hardware was there. All of the bolts are high quality stainless steel button-heads which use an allen wrench to tighten. The button head design give everything a nice finished look when you’re done.

Let’s get started!

First, you do not need to remove the entire inner and outer fender as many designs force you to do. Some do, but it’s not required and I chose not to. You’re basically removing all of the top fender area except for a 1” lip the new DeFenders attach to, and the rear of the fender that is behind the wheel well. The inner part of the fender can stay in place.

Tools needed:

13mm and ” wrenches and allen wrenches. You need something to trim your steel fenders so the DeFenders can fit over them. I recommend an angle grinder with a cutting wheel but you can use a sawzall. Mandatory are safety glasses or better yet, a full-face shield, and gloves. My full-face shield broke two weeks ago so I ended up using goggles which are not good for grinding. Bits of junk hit me in the face a few times and I was missing my full face shield… bad! If you don’t have one, get a full-face shield for the cutting process.

Tool-wise, it just doesn’t take a big assortment to do the job. I was happy I only had a few tools out by the time I was done, most other jobs seem to require I empty the tool box before finishing.

Starting the installation process:

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...t-linejjpg.jpg

Measure a 1” lip the for entire length next to the engine compartment and draw a dark line with a felt tip pen you can follow while wearing goggles. The lip’s 1” width is not critical but get it reasonably close so the fender can fit well and have enough material for the button-head bolts to grab. My fenders had already been trimmed back for my previous fender flares so that is why they look funny in the above photo. You will probably be starting with complete fenders.

Now it’s time to start cutting. Relax, there is nothing super critical about any of the cuts as none of the metal you cut will show afterward. Simply get the cuts reasonably close as in the instructions.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...MoreSquare.jpg

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...reDramatic.jpg

Next, remove the three bolts that hold the front of the factory fender to the front grill/radiator enclosure. Then remove the four bolts that hold the rear of the fender to the tub. These all require the same 13mm wrench.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...thGlovesOn.jpg

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...nFinalCuts.jpg

Yeah I know that last pic looks gnarly but it’s not really. The entire inner fender is still there holding everything together. Also, notice the drop cloth protecting the tire, it’s a good idea while you’re cutting and grinding.

Cutting is done so now it’s time for a first test fit.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...Horizontal.jpg

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...s/TrialFit.jpg

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x.../TrialFit2.jpg

Not bad but it showed I needed to trim about ” more from the sheet metal that is behind the tire so the new fender would fit properly. Trim a little at a time until it is right. A floor jack is handy for this part of the job though it's not absolutely required.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...ithGrinder.jpg

Once the cuts are done and the DeFender fits, smooth the raw edges with something like an angle grinder.

Woo hoo, it’s time to start inserting the 7 main bolts (3 front/4 at the rear) and putting things back together! You re-use the factory bolts here so make sure to save them as you remove them. Hit their threads with a wire brush if they are rusty as mine were.

Jerry Bransford 06-03-2012 11:57 PM

Page 2 of 2, continued.

Now then… not all Jeeps are straight and mine certainly wasn’t since it had been totaled in an accident before I bought it. So mine ended up with a slightly bigger gap at the rear where the Defenders bolt to the tub than the factory bolt length could handle. No worries, just temporarily use some longer bolts to pull things together so the gap can be pulled tight.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...ongVsShort.jpg

I happened to have the longer bolts in my junk box from my previous TJ. If you don’t have them, remove one bolt (it is metric) from the front and take it to the hardware store and buy 8 bolts that area about 1” longer. That way you’ll have them if you need them during the installation. The good news is that most Jeeps are straight and won’t need the longer bolts. Once you get the fenders pulled into the tub, you can replace the extra-long bolts you bought one-by-one with the anodized OE bolts as I did.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...ingScrewIn.jpg

These two long screws are what secure the rear of the wheel well that is now 2.5” further to the rear for more tire clearance. Access to the inside so you can attach the nuts is now easy due to the Defender’s large access hole.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...Underneath.jpg

Note that bracket that extends from the tub up to the bottom of the new DeFenders. That bracket is is part of the fender support but more importantly, what the hood clamps bolt to so make sure you leave it in place.

Now it’s time to drill the top mounting bolt holes and secure the top of the fender to that 1” lip you created.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...ScrewHoles.jpg

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...rticalHole.jpg

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...llenWrench.jpg

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...ewsLinedUp.jpg

Now it’s almost over, it’s looking good. Actually the installation part is over, all that I really need to do is paint the new fenders and insert the side marker/turn signal lights.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...ledFinish3.jpg

The front is solidly attached to the same radiator grill support the OE fenders were.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...rLogoPlate.jpg
http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...astCloseup.jpg

Note that cool red behind the Spyder cut-out. Well, that is strictly accidental haha, that’s just the red wiring going to a power strip behind the cut-out. Maybe I’ll paint something red and mount it behind the cut out to show off that cool laser-cut spyder once I get the fenders painted. Also notice the new significant added clearance behind the tire.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...urtherBack.jpg

Heck maybe I won’t paint them right away, they look good as is.

All in all, the installation went extremely well. A young stud could easily get both sides done in a day. The fit of the DeFenders couldn’t have been better. My only issue came from my driver’s side front corner that had been in an accident and wasn’t straight. As mentioned above, even with the damage it only took the use of some longer bolts to help pull things together.

Overall, the DeFenders went in without a hitch, I could come up with no improvements to suggest. They did their homework and I’m impressed with their quality, fit, and finish.

Negatives? The only thing that could have been better was their instructions, simply because are no photos in them yet. Without photos, it can be tough for some of us to figure out what gets cut and how to cut it. Granted, it’s a new product so I fully expect Poison Spyder to eventually add photos. In the mean time, they have several write-ups on their website that do include photos in addition to this writeup.

In summary, Poison Spyder’s DeFenders are an exceptionally high quality product and at least in my personal opinion, they have it all over tube fenders. The model I went with was their “Zero Flare” which is the second-skinniest design they offer. For some states, the Zero Flare (and even narrower 'Negative Flare') don’t have enough tire coverage to stay legall but that’s no problem, just go up to their wider model which has an additional 3” of width to be legal anywhere.

If you’re really hard core, go for the ‘Negative Flare’ DeFenders that offer minimal coverage over the front tires.

These sat in my garage for months so I apologize to those who had been waiting for this writeup. Unfortunately, a perfect storm of personal events, mostly involving my son being in a serious motorcycle accident, took the wind out of my sails for a while. Fortunately and thankfully, my son is now 100% again after finishing his physical therapy. He is also now a wiser kid after learning how dangerous crotch-rockets can be.

So I hope this writeup is helpful to those of you who are looking for new front fenders. And for those who might think this is just a sales pitch for Poison Spyder since there are few downsides or issues mentioned, well all I can say is this was just one of those products that is designed well enough that you’d probably be hard pressed to find a significant problem or a design shortcoming.

I'll post more followup photos later once I get them painted and get the side marker lights inset into the DeFenders. Then I'll post up before and after photos. Thanks for reading!

Poison Spyder's DeFenders definitely earned a solid thumbs up from me. :thumb:

Check them out at http://shop.poisonspyder.com/Jeep-TJ-LJ-Tube-Flat-Fenders-Armor-s/62.htm

squanto305 06-04-2012 12:36 AM

5 star post. been thinking about getting these since my driver fender is crushed. makes no sense buying a new one when i can just cut it and add these bad boys. thanks

somis 06-04-2012 12:53 AM

Nice write up. How is the price?

Jerry Bransford 06-04-2012 01:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by somis (Post 2434599)
Nice write up. How is the price?

Somehow the link I gave got hijacked but if you click on and then click on >> Click Here To Proceed To Link Destination << from where my link takes you, it will take you to the Poison Spyder pricing page.

KrzyMoke 06-04-2012 02:48 AM

Nice write up Jerry and appreciate the photo's :)
Thank god your Son is doing better.

s14sh3r 06-04-2012 10:50 AM

Great write up. I really like the fact that they use the factory inner fenders. Question: with the zero flares, are the new fenders the same width as the original ones with the flares removed?

DTS 06-04-2012 12:00 PM

Thanks for the writeup Jerry! Glad to hear your son is back to 100%.

One thing to note that has changed since we sent this set to Jerry. All DeFenders now come with a blank insert plate as standard equipment, but you can order the Spyder cutout plate as an option if you like.

Quote:

Originally Posted by somis (Post 2434599)
Nice write up. How is the price?

somis, Here's a link to our DeFenders page. Lots of different configurations and options.

Quote:

Originally Posted by s14sh3r (Post 2435480)
Great write up. I really like the fact that they use the factory inner fenders. Question: with the zero flares, are the new fenders the same width as the original ones with the flares removed?

Yes the Zero's are the same width as the factory sheetmetal fenders without the flares.

Jerry Bransford 06-16-2012 07:07 PM

Part Two, installing the side marker lights.

With my old LED side marker lights left hanging after installing the Poison Spyder DeFenders, today was a good day to install them.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...SmallHoles.jpg

Drill two small 1/8" pilot holes. These are drilled 1/4" in from the outside edges so the 1/2" drill used in the next step will have their outer edges at points equal to the width of the LED light assembly.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...woBigHoles.jpg

Those are then drilled out to 1/2" which is the height of the LED lights I chose.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...ctTheHoles.jpg

A saber saw with a fine blade was used to cut between the 1/2" holes.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...ngItSquare.jpg

This leaves a rough retangular hole that is smoothed and squared by careful filing.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...untingHole.jpg

Once the hole is filed smooth and the light fits, the mounting holes are drilled.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...eningScrew.jpg

The stainless steel button head screws are inserted and tightened.

http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...d/LightsOn.jpg

Side marker lights in and complete!

The overall DeFender installation is now pretty well complete, I've had several people tell me to keep them unpainted so at least for now, I will. The Jeep is all black so having a bit of aluminum color is a nice touch. I like the natural aluminum color, though I may end up painting them to match the Jeep later.

solman 06-16-2012 07:38 PM

Looks good Jerry! I would leave the natural finish rather than paint.

IndyJeepMan 06-16-2012 08:08 PM

Although I would clear them because aluminum does oxidize and pits.

rda616 06-16-2012 09:56 PM

Very nice Jerry. I have been wanting a set since they came available, but the wife would kill me being as I just bought new flares right before these came out. Looks great nature aluminum.

Lineman827 06-26-2012 08:33 PM

jerry, awesome explination & write up!! i was lookin around for the rear ones... i didnt see any in a 6" width... did i miss them somewhere?

1jeeplvr 06-26-2012 08:58 PM

Nice Jerry.Thanks for the write up.

Martinez_Coins 09-10-2012 09:46 PM

How long for the install? I plan on installing mine this weekend and was wondering how long it took.

kheiland 01-22-2013 12:56 PM

Thanks for the tutorial ..I am getting ready to install defenders ,crusher corners and trailgate.I was a little apprehensive about it but your pics gave me a little extra confidence.Thanks again

cctriesch 01-22-2013 01:11 PM

Those look great

kheiland 04-19-2013 05:41 PM

just dropped off fenders and trailgate for powdercoating! hope to get em installed by next trip may11.

beaureed445 04-19-2013 06:11 PM

I ordered a set of aluminum DeFenders from Northridge4x4 this week. I already have PS Ricochet Rockers on my TJ, and a set of bolt-on rear fender flares sitting on my work bench waiting to be installed.

rgroesbeck1 04-19-2013 08:15 PM

Very nice write up, Jerry. Sorry to hear about your son's crash, hope he is doing much better. We worry about our grown kids just as much as when they learned to ride a bicycle.

Nice fenders, they look great.

mark2215 04-19-2013 09:15 PM

These fenders are very nice. They are easy to install, look great, and are definitely rugged. Here is a link to a video of my jeep with defenders taking quite a bit of beating directly to the fenders with no damage! I'm very satisfied with them.

Go to 7:40 to see my jeep.
YouTube Video

FYI: I made it up right after the recording ends. :dance:

DTS 04-23-2013 11:03 AM

Great video mark2215! I was yelling at the camera man "pan up! pan up!" LOL...

Curro 04-23-2013 11:26 AM

Great tutorial!

I was wondering if these fenders move the rear of the wheel well opening closer to the firewall? Hard to tell from the pics..

Jerry Bransford 04-23-2013 12:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Curro (Post 3672680)
I was wondering if these fenders move the rear of the wheel well opening closer to the firewall?

They definitely open up the lower-rear part of the wheel well opening Curro, I'd guess close to 2" which is what I had to trim off the forward part of my Savvy rocker guards. I didn't realize they did that until beginning the installation, it was a nice discovery!

Rubicon1968 04-23-2013 01:36 PM

Jerry I read your stuff on lots of sites you are "The Man" Thank you sir.. Do you have your own Blog or site?

DutchmansLJ 04-23-2013 05:34 PM

nice write up jerry Ive been saving up for the defenders for some time but I think after ur comment on the give the aluminum takes possibly on a collision with a rock sounds like a better option over steel so have to save up some more money now,
have u seen the new XC fenders they offer.
Im in a debate between those and the regular defenders what do u think with a jeep like mine
at almost full flex
[IMG]http://i1281.photobucket.com/albums/...ps642aad51.jpg[/IMG]

http://i1281.photobucket.com/albums/...ps9038b6a8.jpg

Curro 04-23-2013 08:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford (Post 3672837)
They definitely open up the lower-rear part of the wheel well opening Curro, I'd guess close to 2" which is what I had to trim off the forward part of my Savvy rocker guards. I didn't realize they did that until beginning the installation, it was a nice discovery!

Hah definitely a nice discovery :thumb:

1jeeplvr 04-24-2013 06:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mark2215 (Post 3658524)
These fenders are very nice. They are easy to install, look great, and are definitely rugged. Here is a link to a video of my jeep with defenders taking quite a bit of beating directly to the fenders with no damage! I'm very satisfied with them.

Go to 7:40 to see my jeep.
YouTube Video

FYI: I made it up right after the recording ends. :dance:

Well what kind of a video person did you have that cuts it off BEFORE you make it lol?????

kheiland 06-08-2013 11:00 AM

4 Attachment(s)
Finally got entire rig transformed with a lot of help from my buddy John .Installed aluminum defenders 3 inch flares,crushers corners,trailgate and full length sides and some savvy aluminum half doors.Thanks to Eric at Morris 4x4 center and Performance Powdercoat.Kokomo IN

Jerry Bransford 06-08-2013 11:02 AM

Wow VERY nice transformation, you turned that into a GREAT looking rig!!! :punk:


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