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By: Tim Donaldson

Product Review – Superwinch “ATV3000”

Superwinch "ATV3000" Winch
Superwinch "ATV3000" Winch

Helping a stuck ATV over a rock ledge is only one way this winch will help you out.
Helping a stuck ATV over a rock ledge is only one way this winch will help you out.

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to scale large buildings in a single wrap of the cable drum?" No, we’re not talking about Superman here.  We’re talking about Superwinch’s new ATV Series drum-centric “ATV3000” winch.

The ATV3000, larger sibling of the ATV2500 in the Superwinch ATV Series family, offers a host of product features. To name a few, the ATV3000 offers:

  • 3000 pound single-line pull capacity with 50 feet of galvanized wire rope with latched hook.
  • Handlebar control
  • 4-bolt pattern for easy installation
  • Fail-safe electrical components (premium, sealed solenoid)
  • Reduced amp draw to minimize electrical system drain
  • Circuit breaker protection
  • Sealed 1.5 hp motor
  • 3-stage planetary gears to deliver fast, yet safe pull
  • Dynamic and mechanical braking to produce sure stops and reliable holding power
  • Cam-action freewheel operation that is easy to engage and disengage

According to Mark Hart, Superwinch’s Marketing Manager, “Superwinch, Inc. created the first winch for ATV's, the X-1 many years ago.  But it is fair to say that we have refocused on what made the company, providing compact, high performing winches that are also a great value.”

When asked what product features separate Superwinch from other winch manufacturers, Mark responded, “The difference is value. These winches perform as well or better than any brand on the market. We just do it at a lower cost and back it by the best warranty in the industry. We stand behind 100% of our products, 100% of the time.”

Now, with an awesome warranty and great product features, let’s talk real-world winch installation and performance.  Upon hearing the news that I would get the chance to product test the ATV3000, I was very excited. Our riding group was preparing for a trip to Black Mountain OHV Park near Harlan, Kentucky. With mountainous, rocky terrain resembling kryptonite, the Black Mountain beckoned a challenge from Superwinch, with trails named the “Widow-Maker” and “Mason Jar” as worthy foes. Yet, with one week to prepare before our departure, I needed to quickly install the winch.

Mechanical Hardware Installation

Removal of front bumper
Removal of front bumper

Mounting plate
Mounting plate

The installation of the major hardware components was easy and straight-forward, taking a very conservative elapsed time of approximately 1 hour. Hardware components included the mounting plate, winch, and roller fairlead.

In addition to the winch itself, Superwinch provided a customized mounting plate for my Kawasaki Prairie 360 4x4.  When ordering your Superwinch, be sure to include the mounting plate, specifically designed for your make and model. Although not required, the customized plate is certain to save you time and aggravation. Otherwise, you will be left crafting your own mount for the winch.

In order to properly mount the plate, the front bumper needed to be removed.  Once detached, the plate was fastened onto the bumper with the provided u-bolts.  Remember; do not reattach the bumper until the winch has been mounted to the plate.  It can be rather disheartening to stand to admire your progress, only to realize you won’t be able to fit the winch behind the attached bumper!

Depending on your specific ATV model, the winch can be mounted with a different “attitude” than that illustrated in the instruction manual.  No, this is not describing the general well-being of the winch or yours, but rather the position or orientation of the winch.  Keep in mind, whatever the orientation, the winch is designed to operate in an underwound configuration.  As in my case, the winch was fastened beneath the mounting plate, making a single-person job a little challenging.  An extra hand from my wife to hold the winch while attaching the bolts made the task much easier.

Upon completion, the roller fairlead was mounted.  Removing the top roller of the fairlead allowed the latched hook to pass through the assembly, finishing the mechanical hardware installation.

Electrical Installation

Toggle Switch
Toggle Switch 

Solenoid placement was located next to the battery.
Solenoid placement was located next to the battery.

The electrical installation consisted primarily of the solenoid, toggle-switch, circuit breaker, and wires. Although, optional remote sockets are available for remote-control winch operation, it was not part of this application.

Even though the mechanical installation was quite clear-cut, the electrical was not as easy–taking about 3 to 4 hours to complete. Since every ATV make and model is very different, one size does not fit all!  In other words, actual installation of electrical hardware and wire routing is very model specific. Superwinch’s installation instructions could not, other than in a general manner, describe the exact mounting or routing locations for the electrical components that were machine particular. However, an illustration of the wiring terminations, coinciding with the appropriate electrical components, was provided in the installation guide.

The first step in the electrical installation was the mounting of the solenoid.  Some creativity was required, and depending on the ATV, space availability will likely vary model to model.  For the Prairie 360, the solenoid was placed under the seat, next to the battery. Fortunately, the battery was able to be repositioned to allow the appropriate amount of room for installation. Otherwise, some cutting of the plastic may have been necessary.

The toggle switch was simply mounted onto the left handlebar. Then, it was just a matter of running all of the wires to the solenoid, toggle-switch, winch, battery, ATV main switch, fuses, and circuit breaker. Sounds easy and fun, right? This was where most of the time was used during the installation. Rather than laying out the specific details, I’ll leave it to the manual which does a decent job with the graphic illustration and instructions.

Some special considerations to keep in mind with the electrical installation are to use the rubber, wire-end termination covers. The instructions were not clear about the actual usage.  Also, more than likely, the plastic molding of the ATV will have to be removed to properly route the wires.  Be wary of running the wires near hot exhaust pipes or engine components. Depending on electrical device location and actual routing, there may be an excess of wire cable which should be securely contained--away from anything hot or abrasive which would compromise the wire integrity.

Fortunately, we successfully installed the winch before our big trip departure, giving us the opportunity to test the winch in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. A special thanks to my buddy, M, who helped make this short-term project completion a possibility!

Click here for a video clip of the Superwinch "ATV3000" in action.
Click here for a video clip of the Superwinch "ATV3000" in action.

File Size: 4.7 megs, Format: .WMV

On the Trail

Having the winch allowed us to explore trails or areas where we may, otherwise, have been reluctant to venture. Climbing steep, rocky trails was made safer by utilizing the winch.  With a 3000-pound rated capacity, the winch had enough strength to easily pull the weight of the bike and rider over any obstacle. The biggest challenge was keeping the bike, which had the winch mounted to it, stationary when pulling large objects or other ATV’s.

A rider stuck in the mud could use the winch, if not too badly buried in the muck, to pull oneself out without the assistance of another rider or machine. Of course, a little help from the friends is still considered an appreciated courtesy!

The roller fairlead guided the cable around the drum, assuring there was no chance of cable spin-off.  During winch operation, constant tension was maintained to prevent cable kinking.  Also, an effort was made to assure the cable spooled properly during retraction by applying foot pressure to the cable.

The only minor objection with the winch was that when fully retracted, the latched hook was free to move around.  The constant banging, rattling sound heard while riding the rough, bumpy trails was ever present.  In an effort to alleviate the chatter, the winch was extended and tautly fastened to the front rack.  However, this presented a problem with roughing up the rack and front plastic.

Winch supporting entire weight of this 500 pound ATV.
Winch supporting entire weight of this 500 pound ATV.

Conclusions

By and large, the Superwinch ATV3000 is quite impressive.  It has a clean, polished look that reflects the quality from which it is made.  Installation took about 4 to 5 hours to complete.  However, being a first-time effort, the time would be reduced by half with a little more experience.

The ergonomically-located thumb-operated activation switch initiated reliable, steady, pulling power from the winch.  With big jobs, it will be necessary to secure the quad to another fixed object to prevent movement of the ATV, indicating the raw power of the winch.

Worthy of the “S” on its “shirt,” Superwinch offers a host of additional options that will further make the winching experience a truly exceptional one! Backed by an industry standard-setting warranty, we will continue to put the Superwinch through its paces and expect it to continue to perform reliably.

In regards to proper winch performance and usage, Superwinch has embarked on an educational effort to inform winch users of safe and proper usage. Included in this outreach is “The Pulling Power Zone” which illustrates the appropriate number of cable wraps around the drum for maximum pulling efficiency. Superwinch invites users to get further education from their website under “Choosing the Right Winch.”

For more specific information about Superwinch’s ATV3000, related products, and educational assistance, please visit http://www.superwinch.com/ATV_Products


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