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By Gary McBain

Get A Winch That Pulls Hards, A Gorilla Winch

Gorilla winch.
Gorilla Winch

If you scan ATV websites, forums and Ebay for very long you are likely to run across reference to one or more of the ATV winches being imported from China. One such winch that piqued my curiosity was one called the “Gorilla “.

A couple of phone calls led me to Tom McCullough, the company president of Outdoor2You. Tom explained that his company directly imports these winches from China to his company’s specifications. Tom feels that the winch is a high quality product which his company backs with a 6 month limited warranty against defective parts or assembly. He points to the 99.8% positive feedback on over 4,000 sales on Ebay as indication that this bargain priced winch provides very good service and value. Tom agreed to let me evaluate a Gorilla 2500 lb. winch with the encouragement that I really wring it out.

I received the winch a couple days later. The package contained the winch, wiring, transfer block, handlebar rocker switch, installation instructions and mounting hardware.

Gorilla winch being installed on a Polaris X2
Gorilla winch being install on a Polaris X2.

After reading the directions I set out to mount the winch on my new 2006 Polaris X2. To mount a winch on the X2 the front plastic fascia that Polaris optimistically calls a “bumper” had to be removed as did the plastic storage box/rack. Eight bolts and eight screws later I was ready to mount the bracket and install the winch. The X2 already had a mounting plate so all I needed was the winch bracket and roller fairlead. It should be noted that mounting brackets and roller fairleads are available for specific ATV models and must be purchased separately or as a package.

My wife calls me the “Fix Two, Break One Handyman”. She insists that for every two things I fix around the house I break something else while doing it. I had never installed a winch before and it took me awhile to figure it out. In this case however, I was able mount the winch without damage or injury to the X2 or myself.

Thumb switchA check of the thumb switch on the left handlebar, indicated the winch had power and was ready to go. The winch powered out, powered in and a large knob on the winch allowed it to free spool the cable out.

Now the question was, how am I going to test it? I am a middle aged couch potato. I see a large mud hole and I ride around it. I see a treacherous incline and I avoid it. I have no desire to bury my brand new X2 in a mud bog or dangle it over a cliff to prove the value of a winch. With that in mind I devised a test that I thought would be indicative of the Gorilla’s capabilities.

The Up Hill Pull Test

I found a hill near my house with about a 30% grade. The test involved running the winch cable out as far as it would go and then attaching it to a rope/pull strap attached to a tree on the top. Research indicated that a long hard pull is particularly hard on a winch. Care should be taken to let the winch cool if it gets too hot.

The first uphill pull was with the winch cable fully extended at 30 feet. The cable hook was attached to a pull strap wrapped around the tree. The X2 was running and in neutral with me aboard as I hit the handlebar mounted toggle switch. The Gorilla pulled me and the ATV slowly but steadily up the hill. The winch was warm but not hot and indicated no strain.

With that pull successful I decided to raise the odds. I lowered the X2 back down the hill using the reverse on the switch. I then put the ATV in park with the brakes locked. With me on board the winch dragged me and the X2 up the hill. The tires tore up the grass as they were dragged up the hill but the winch had no problem. It was warmer to the touch than before but was not hot.

I don’t know how much static weight the winch was pulling. The ATV and I weigh over 1,000 lbs combined and were being pulled up a 30% grade with the wheels locked. Add the fact that the cable was attached low on the tree and nearly compressed the front end of the ATV as it pulled us up the hill and I would say the draw on the winch was considerable.

Real World Test

Up hill pull test.
Up hill pull test.

The real test of a winch is in the real world. I had a chance to take the X2 out on the trails recently. One of the trails was blocked by a foot thick fallen tree. I got the front tires up and over but then high centered the bike on the tree. I rocked it back and forth but was unable to free it. I then remembered the winch and short time later freed myself with little effort.

Another trail took me down by a beaver pond. Beavers had cut a path across the trail by dragging logs. The cut had eroded due to the rain and water flow and was about three feet wide and a couple feet deep. I slowly approached and was able to get my front tire through and up the other side. The long wheelbase of the X2 dropped the rear wheels into the cut and high centered me again. It was an easy pull out for the winch but saved me considerable exertion.

A word about specifications and prices. Gorilla Winches are available in sizes from 2,000lbs up to 5, 000lbs for ATVs and larger size utility vehicles. At the time of this writing, the 2,500 lb winch I tested was running around $100 plus shipping for the winch and machine specific mounting bracket on Ebay. Certainly a bargain. Prices and specifications will vary according to the size of the winch.

There is an old adage that goes, “What do you do with an 800lb pet gorilla?” The answer of course is “anything he wants.” My 2500lb Gorilla Winch on the other hand, did everything I wanted it to do. I am confident that it will pull me and my ATV out of anything that I might run across. It certainly makes me more confident to have the means to free myself should I get stuck somewhere. If you are unable or unwilling to buy a winch because of the high cost of the name brand, you might want to consider getting your own pet Gorilla.

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