It’s no secret – we love trucks, and we love upgrading them. So when an opportunity to work with AmericanTrucks and Mickey Thompson came along, and we just so happened to have a bone-stock 2017 Ram 1500 lying around, we jumped at it.
The idea was to give the truck a revamp to the accessory department and also improve its footwear. With bumpers, a bedcover, wheels, tires, and more, we would be looking at a totally different truck by the time all was said and done.
All of the upgrades we did were simple and straightforward and can be replicated in a garage or on the driveway. We used common tools that any gearhead will have in his garage.
Starting with AmericanTrucks, we sourced a healthy amount of upgrades that would make the exterior the star of the show. All of the parts were bolt-on, meaning none of them required cutting or drilling.
We ordered the following parts: Barricade HD drop side step bars (PN R109750), Barricade retractable bed cover (PN R107161) Barricade Extreme HD rear bumper with LED spot lights (PN R102620), Barricade HD Off-Road front bumper with LED fog lights (PN R109951), and Barricade skid plate for HD Off-Road front bumper (PN R109952).
We spoke with Frank Bisciotti at AmericanTrucks to get a better sense of the company’s appeal to truck owners. “AmericanTrucks is the go-to for late-model aftermarket truck parts offering fast shipping nationwide, thanks to the east coast, west coast, and mid-America distribution centers,” he said. “AT’s product videos provide additional insight while researching the next part for your Ford, Chevy, GMC or Ram truck.”
On the topic of AmericanTrucks, it’s worth noting that its in-house brand, Barricade, has carved out a niche as a trustworthy and quality source for parts. “Barricade Off-Road, exclusively available through AmericanTrucks and ExtremeTerrain, offers products among the toughest and most dependable exterior options. They provide excellent protection and styling with OE-like fit and finish.”
We kicked off the installation with the rear bumper. Searching for bolts underneath, we located several and undid them to get the bumper out of the way. Since the truck came with bumper sensors, we unplugged those as well. We used screwdrivers to pry them from the plastic clips and laid them aside.
The same went for the trailer plug connector and license plate lights. One thing of note was the aftermarket air spring system on the truck, which was routed in such a way that the inflation valves doubled as mounting studs for the license plate.
The next step was reinstalling the electronics onto the new bumper – sensors and trailer plug connector (we used a new brake light that came with the bumper). All of these steps were easy and straightforward, and before we knew it, we were putting the Barricade bumper onto the truck. Even the inflation valves could go back the way they were on the old bumper.
Now came wiring up the lights. These came with brackets that would mount to the bumper and allow us to position the light’s beam. We fed the wiring through a hole in the mesh grate behind it. The light’s bracket was installed to the bumper thanks to a nut and washer on the top. We ran the lights’ wiring all the way to the battery and connected them to the bed light button in the cabin. The lights were tested and everything was in working order.
We moved onto the front bumper. The process was much the same as the rear bumper, including mounting the new lights. One difference with this bumper was the two-piece assembly from the factory. The lower chrome bumper was removed before we could get access to the paint-matched upper piece.
With both pieces off, we removed all of the parking sensors and replugged them into the new bumper. Once the Barricade bumper was bolted up to the frame, we installed and wired up the pod lights. The lights were spliced into the fog light switch, as that is essentially what they’re used for now.
We moved back to the rear of the truck to take care of the bed cover. As this was a retractable cover, we started at the front of the bed.
This was where we placed the bed cover and its storage compartment. We double-checked to make sure it was centered. Afterward, we had to install the bedcover rails that would allow the bed to deploy. These were metal channels that installed onto the top of the bed rails. Along the channels, three sets of latches were installed so the bed cover could be used at certain lengths.
The end of the bed rails received end caps. Under the rails, we attached clamps that would keep the channels from moving. After everything was installed, we used a measuring tape to square up the channels and make sure the bed cover had the right width along the whole length. We could now control the cable release and make the bed cover deploy.
The bed cover worked as advertised. Using a latch release cable, we could pull it out to three lengths including full-length, giving the truck owner a versatile bed cover. As Bisciotti said, “Bedcovers are one of the first items many truck owners plunk down their hard-earned cash on. Bedcovers do a great job protecting cargo from the elements as well as keeping them out of thieves’ sights.”
Now we were on the home stretch as we took on the side steps. We got underneath the truck and inserted a bolt plate into the channel along the bottom. We then took a part of the bracket for the side steps and hung it onto the stud of the bolt plate, and secured with another bolt in a connecting hole. The second part of the bracket connected to pre-drilled holes in the pinch weld, making the mounts that much sturdier and secured to the truck.
We repeated this process two more times, giving us three mounting brackets in total per side step. Next, we took the side step and lined it up on the brackets, securing everything with hardware. That was it for the side steps and with it, the installation was complete.
We did some testing on the steps to make sure they were good to go. We were impressed with what we saw. The steps were wide and gave us good footing for getting in and out of the truck. This was great to have, as the truck was now riding higher on 35-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Boss tires and 20-inch Sidebiter II wheels (expect the full review on these to come soon).
With everything installed, the truck is looking fantastic now. From the bumpers to the side steps to the bed cover, AmericanTrucks has turned this Ram 1500 into a pickup with a punch.
“I really like the aggressive look the truck has now,” said owner Kevin McIntosh. “Out back, the bed cover is awesome, and it keeps all of my stuff safe and secure. I use it to store my kids’ football gear and other stuff. The steps are great, too. I like that they don’t hang down too low, so I still have good ground clearance for off-roading. And the lighting on the bumpers is useful and helps me see my truck in the dark.”
Turning a bone-stock Ram 1500 into a mean machine was fun and simple thanks to the parts we got from AmericanTrucks. To find out more, be sure to check out the company’s website and Facebook page.