Choosing an ATV Or Recovery Winch
By Jesse Taylor
When it comes to accessories for your off road vehicle, a winch
is one of the most important accessories you can buy. If you're
a hardcore off roader, no doubt you're going to find yourself in
a few sticky situations. An ATV or recovery winch can get you
out and back on the trail in no time, so you can spend less time
stuck in the mud and more time playing.
The number of options available for your first off road winch
can be overwhelming, especially if you don't understand the pros
and cons of each feature. You want to make sure you get the
right winch for your vehicle, or you could end up just as stuck
as before. If you're a first-time buyer, there are four basic
design options to consider:
1. Rated Line Pull
2. Line Speed
3. Cable Type
4. Solenoid Mounting
The first factor you'll need to consider is rated line pull.
If you buy a winch that's too small for your vehicle, you'll
have a tough time getting unstuck. If you buy one that's too
big, you're going to add excess weight to your front or rear
bumper, which can throw your vehicle off balance as well as slow
The rated line pull is the maximum amount of force that your
winch can handle. You can calculate the minimum rated line pull
by multiplying your gross vehicle weight by 1.5 (GVW x 1.5 =
minimum rated line pull). Notice that this is only the minimum
rating you'll need. Depending on how you use your winch, you may
need a higher line pull. For example, if you're a mud hole
addict, keep in mind that the suction force of the mud requires
a greater pulling force to get you out.
The second consideration is line speed. How fast do you want to
winch out? Line speed depends on the gear train in your winch.
The two basic types are planetary and worm. Planetary includes
multiple gears for a faster pull; however, it also generates a
greater amount of heat. Worm uses only two gears, which makes
for a slower pull but less heat.
Third, you'll need to decide between steel and synthetic cable.
Both types of cable have their advantages and disadvantages.
Steel winch cable requires less maintenance and can withstand a
greater amount of heat. On the downside, burrs from the steel
can gash your skin if you're not careful, and a steel cable
creates a dangerous whiplash effect if snapped under load.
Synthetic winch rope is lighter, safer, and stronger but
requires more care and attention and can weaken if rubbed over
sharp objects during the recovery process. The type of cable you
choose depends on a number of factors, including the terrain you
cover and the weight you're willing to add to your vehicle.
The last consideration is how the solenoid, also known as a
contractor, is mounted. Integrated or remote are your two
options. Integrated solenoids are built into the winch itself
and provide greater protection; however, the added space they
take up may require you to modify your vehicle if your mounting
space is restricted. Remote solenoids mount separately, offering
greater versatility. The remote option is more popular because
it allows you to install the winch in a tight space and mount
the contractor elsewhere.
Perhaps the best part of any off road winch is the freedom it
gives you to ride harder. So with your vehicle ready for the
worst nature can dish out, you're free to dig for the bottom of
that mud hole or conquer the mother of all boulders without the
fear that you'll be stuck there forever. With a quality ATV or
recovery winch, your vehicle is ready for bigger and better off
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