X-Bull Recovery Tracks...another inexpensive alternative

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Desert Runner

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It seems that a lot of the X-BULL tracks which have failed, did so from bending in cold weather? At least that's my experience/what I've read so far. Someone said the RUGCEL did well in "-20C" so who knows. Perhaps worth trying a different design, even though they're the same material. Shorter tracks would be less susceptible to bending lengthwise, but do they have enough length to get you out of a bog? I would say the X-BULL are the right length for me.

Would also be interested to see how the ABS ones fare: Sand Snow Mud Vehicle Recovery Track Anti-Skid Rescue Board Traction Tire Ladder | eBay
Those pictured in the E-Bay link are.....the ARB Tred gen 3, if indeed they were. HOLY MOLLY, if so what a deal or screw up. No wonder they are sold out. That was just to good a deal to not roll the dice on.

I opened the link, and at the price of $90, I was reaching for the phone when I saw .....out of stock.. OH RATS I
DOUBT WE WILL SEE THAT AGAIN.

Did anyone pull the trigger on them, and receive them yet? If so, please let us in the peanut gallery know.
 

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Well I was wrong, my X-Bull tracks arrived this past Tuesday. Now the task of mounting them on my newly built RTT rack!
When you get them mounted, details please. Brand, accessories used, etc, how they attached to rack etc, and of course when used, feedback on them.

You can never get enough reviews on these products, where vehicle weight vs use come into play.
 

Baipin

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When you get them mounted, details please. Brand, accessories used, etc, how they attached to rack etc, and of course when used, feedback on them.

You can never get enough reviews on these products, where vehicle weight vs use come into play.
I don't think anyone ordered those inexpensive TREDs (did they cut corners somewhere - is it definitely the real thing?) but I'd love to see a review somewhere.

This is how I mounted my X-BULL tracks - the roof rack is made from 80/20 extruded aluminum. The existing holes in the X-BULL tracks fit over these carriage bolts, and then are tightened down with wing nuts. I used 5/16 bolts and wingnuts because they seem to fit best with this 80/20 profile, and more importantly, are just the right size that they fit inside the treads of the X-BULL, but with enough friction against the tread walls that they don't loosen while driving. Not sure if what I described makes any sense, but I'll try and get a better pic later.

99413
 

Desert Runner

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Just found this. This guy does a great job
Yes he does. Good production work, down home likability, and very knowledgeable on what he puts on You-Tube. Someone on here first mentioned him, and after I watched a few videos, I subscribed. He gives honest assessments on the gear he has used, and is not afraid to say so. Between him and Ronnie Dahl, My education on gear was greatly expanded. Can't forget Andrew St. Pierre White either for expanded knowledge.

Have watched that traction board 'shoot-out' a couple of times. Good Stuff!
 

Viking1204

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When you get them mounted, details please. Brand, accessories used, etc, how they attached to rack etc, and of course when used, feedback on them.

You can never get enough reviews on these products, where vehicle weight vs use come into play.
Mounted them using stainless 6" carriage bolts & wingnuts with backing plates I cut and drilled myself. I use a bicycle locking cable to secure them now but will find a better way to secure them in future. I'm currently using the top 2 holes to mount them leaving the two bottom holes open to use to secure them when I figure out exactly how I want to do that. I'll take better pictures when I have them back on the truck again with improved locking system.

Truck 2.jpg
 

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Mounted them using stainless 6" carriage bolts & wingnuts with backing plates I cut and drilled myself. I use a bicycle locking cable to secure them now but will find a better way to secure them in future. I'm currently using the top 2 holes to mount them leaving the two bottom holes open to use to secure them when I figure out exactly how I want to do that. I'll take better pictures when I have them back on the truck again with improved locking system.

View attachment 99528
With carriage bolts, add the Hi-lyft "keyed" locking wing nuts. See if you can get 2 sets keyed the same for convenience. Add your bicycle cable lock for more security.

Making those slotted aluminum rails is very cool. It allows so much mounting options for other gear also. My only question is how strong those slots in the rails are. For example....recovery boards are light wt., but a Hi Lift Jack is not. Would the weight pull the bolt head thru the slot when off-roading?

Updated EDIT: I had a thought after my original post here on the carriage bolt. If there was a chance of 'pulling thru'....you could BRIDGE the 2 slots with a bolt on each slot, then use the bridge metal plate with a strong bolt (centered on it) to mount a Hi-Lift thru it. This would disperse the weight strain, and minimize any shear concerns from slamming/bouncing off-road.
 
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Viking1204

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With carriage bolts, add the Hi-lyft "keyed" locking wing nuts. See if you can get 2 sets keyed the same for convenience. Add your bicycle cable lock for more security.

Making those slotted aluminum rails is very cool. It allows so much mounting options for other gear also. My only question is how strong those slots in the rails are. For example....recovery boards are light wt., but a Hi Lift Jack is not. Would the weight pull the bolt head thru the slot when off-roading?

Updated EDIT: I had a thought after my original post here on the carriage bolt. If there was a chance of 'pulling thru'....you could BRIDGE the 2 slots with a bolt on each slot, then use the bridge metal plate with a strong bolt (centered on it) to mount a Hi-Lift thru it. This would disperse the weight strain, and minimize any shear concerns from slamming/bouncing off-road.
The slotted rails are actually electrogalvanized Steel Superstruts you can find at Lowe's or Home Depot and they are very strong. There is no way the carriage bolt will pull thru and the standard install for a Hi-Lyft jack uses 1/2" carriage bolts so no problem with them holding the lighter traction boards. I will look into the keyed locking wing nuts.

Updated Edit: Reviews for the Hi-Lyft locking knobs are terrible, see link below. The boards are mounted to the top holes, the bottom holes also line up with the Superstrut slots so I might just use some stainless chain I have cut to length with like keyed paddle locks. Next time I mount the boards up there I'll have a couple of solutions read to test out for security methods.

 
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alexdnick

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Why not just use some of those secure nuts that take a special ratchet that comes with them? If someone’s going to steal it either they will look and see they can’t just grab and go, or they will cut. A bike tether seems like a waste imo if someone wants it, they’ll take it.
 

Viking1204

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Why not just use some of those secure nuts that take a special ratchet that comes with them? If someone’s going to steal it either they will look and see they can’t just grab and go, or they will cut. A bike tether seems like a waste imo if someone wants it, they’ll take it.
You'd need bolt cutters to remove the Bike cable, it's a 1/2" stranded cable. I'm open to ideas, never heard of nuts that take a special ratchet. Trying to keep cost down, my guess is the special ratchet and nuts are probably expensive. The goal is to prevent smash and grab style stealing. I don't see recovery boards as something people will go through a lot of trouble to steal just looking to secure them in a way it will take some work to remove if you don't have a key or special tool.
 

alexdnick

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You'd need bolt cutters to remove the Bike cable, it's a 1/2" stranded cable. I'm open to ideas, never heard of nuts that take a special ratchet. Trying to keep cost down, my guess is the special ratchet and nuts are probably expensive. The goal is to prevent smash and grab style stealing. I don't see recovery boards as something people will go through a lot of trouble to steal just looking to secure them in a way it will take some work to remove if you don't have a key or special tool.
Lightronic M10 Premium 316 Stainless Steel Anti-Theft Locking Nuts Security Hardware Kit For LED Light Bar Work Lights (4 lock+ 1 key)
This is kind of what I’m talking about. There’s a ton of different types. Seems cheaper and easier than cabling it down(although that’s not bad at all). Whatever feels the most comfortable though of course.
 
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Lightronic M10 Premium 316 Stainless Steel Anti-Theft Locking Nuts Security Hardware Kit For LED Light Bar Work Lights (4 lock+ 1 key)
This is kind of what I’m talking about. There’s a ton of different types. Seems cheaper and easier than cabling it down(although that’s not bad at all). Whatever feels the most comfortable though of course.
Pretty sure all the stainless bolts I got from Lowe's are the 1/2" - 13 variety and it seems they don't sell the anti-theft lock nuts in that size. All kinds of metric sizes up to M10 but no SAE. Looked up Wheel lock nuts and those are 1/2" - 20.
 

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You'd need bolt cutters to remove the Bike cable, it's a 1/2" stranded cable. I'm open to ideas, never heard of nuts that take a special ratchet. Trying to keep cost down, my guess is the special ratchet and nuts are probably expensive. The goal is to prevent smash and grab style stealing. I don't see recovery boards as something people will go through a lot of trouble to steal just looking to secure them in a way it will take some work to remove if you don't have a key or special tool.
Personally, I like the bike cables as I want a combo lock, not a key. A key is just something to lose. That said, I used one of those Bolt cable locks for my Mom’s recovery boards-worked great & able to be keyed to the ignition key (which you aren’t going to loose). A little pricey but I got an Amazon used one for about half price. Hitch pin locks can work in some setups as well.
 
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Viking1204

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Personally, I like the bike cables as I want a combo lock, not a key. A key is just something to lose. That said, I used one of those Bolt cable locks for my Mom’s recovery boards-worked great & able to be keyed to the ignition key (which you aren’t going to loose). A little pricey but I got an Amazon used one for about half price. Hitch pin locks can work in some setups as well.
Thanks for that idea, I searched on Amazon and it looks like U Locks they make for bicycles would work great. I just need one for each side, the goal is to just prevent snatch and grab type theft. If I get the right length U Bolt they would need cable cutters and if I place it right they might not even get the cable cutters on the U Bolt. I have to mount my boards back up and take some measurements, as far as losing a key I have a keychain full of keys in my center console for various locks I have including for my Diamondback cover.
 

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One fun thing on the Bolt lock was that the cable end that accepts the lock fits through the little circular holes in the boards & then the lock head can go on the outside. It worked real slick on my Mom’s truck.
 
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titicaca

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I'm considering the RUGCEL ones. They look identical to Smittybilt Element Ramps, even the bag too. RUGCEL is black, Smittybilt is gray. Same factory I bet with different branding. RUGCEL is no longer available on the US side, gets good reviews in Canada, Smittybilt on the other hand has horrible reviews with reports of cracking/shattering - surprising as it looks more flexible in comparison to others. Is RUGCEL and Smittybilt really the same product?

With RUGCEL being 30% of the price MAXTRAX makes assessing price/value hard.
 

Baipin

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I'm considering the RUGCEL ones. They look identical to Smittybilt Element Ramps, even the bag too. RUGCEL is black, Smittybilt is gray. Same factory I bet with different branding. RUGCEL is no longer available on the US side, gets good reviews in Canada, Smittybilt on the other hand has horrible reviews with reports of cracking/shattering - surprising as it looks more flexible in comparison to others. Is RUGCEL and Smittybilt really the same product?

With RUGCEL being 30% of the price MAXTRAX makes assessing price/value hard.
I'd hazard a guess that the RUGCEL ones are the exact same as the Smittybuilt, or possibly the same design (perhaps copied design) but a different type of plastic. That could account for the review discrepancy. One other thing I'd consider, regarding the review discrepancy: Are the people who buy Smittybuilt ones - which are a "brand name" - more liable to be hardcore offroaders vs. the ones who buy RUGCEL, and therefore use them harder than do the RUGCEL owners? Not sure how you could figure that one out, aside from just reading the reviews carefully...
 
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RainGoat

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One other thing I'd consider, regarding the review discrepancy: Are the people who buy Smittybuilt ones - which are a "brand name" - more liable to be hardcore offroaders vs. the ones who buy RUGCEL, and therefore use them harder than do the RUGCEL owners? Not sure how you could figure that one out, aside from just reading the reviews carefully...
To be fair, I’m not entirely sure the association isn’t the other way around. Experience often devalues brand recognition in favor of value & function. Just saying, it’s definitely not clear.
 

Baipin

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To be fair, I’m not entirely sure the association isn’t the other way around. Experience often devalues brand recognition in favor of value & function. Just saying, it’s definitely not clear.
Yeah, probably hard to tell. I guess the moral of the story is to just look for clues in the reviews as to how hard they used them.

On a related note, in my experience it's the 1 star reviews that have always been the most helpful.
 
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I'd hazard a guess that the RUGCEL ones are the exact same as the Smittybuilt, or possibly the same design (perhaps copied design) but a different type of plastic. That could account for the review discrepancy. One other thing I'd consider, regarding the review discrepancy: Are the people who buy Smittybuilt ones - which are a "brand name" - more liable to be hardcore offroaders vs. the ones who buy RUGCEL, and therefore use them harder than do the RUGCEL owners? Not sure how you could figure that one out, aside from just reading the reviews carefully...
I think you hit the nail on the head. With now so many different renditions of similar or exact copies, the only variable seems to be the material they are being made from. This is why I went with a X-BULL copy by ORCISH. It used virgin plastic/nylon vs recycled plastic /nylon. Seemed to get better reviews and was touted by ORCISH as of course being a better product. Time and use will be where the rubber hits the road on these, but the price was too good to pass up,, considering the retail price variations of all these boards on the market.

At one time I had considered the Smitty's, but as you mentioned, they were getting horrible reviews and I have not seen or heard of any improvements in their durability. And I might add, the price has creep-ed up, as has many recovery boards on the market. MY OPINION: If any company decides to release a version with the MAX-TRAX durability reputation, while keeping it at the $100.00 mark, they will corner the market.

EDIT: picture of the ones I got in olive green106811Came with a bag & tethers. Amazon=$98.99, E-Bay=$69.90 right now!.......X-Bull on Amazon=$119.00 right now.
 
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