New Product Test - Snow Eagle
One of the best-selling accessories for ATV and Side x Sides is an aftermarket plow. With their maneuverability, 4wd, and ability to work in tight quarters, an ATV or UTV with a plow can get into places a tractor or truck mounted plow can’t reach, and they’re much more cost effective. If you already own an ATV or Side x Side, it’s a no-brainer to turn it into a winter work tool as well.
With the snow coming down, it was time for us to install a plow blade and we opted for the Generation II Eagle Plow from American Manufacturing. A call to their Minnesota plant quickly got a plow and all the related gear headed our way, and a couple days later, a FedEx Ground truck showed up with our newest project.
We would be installing our Eagle plow on a Suzuki KingQuad 750 AXi, but since the KingQuad 450, 500, 700, and 750 are built on a common chassis platform, the installation would be the same regardless of the model. We like the handling on the Suzukis, but the biggest advantage would be a smooth, easy shifting transmission which is perfect for back and forth work like plowing snow. It was time to get started!
Step-1: Lay Out the Parts
The Eagle Generation II plow kit came in three boxes: one huge box with the plow blade, a second with plow mount hardware, and a third with a winch. If the ATV already has a winch mounted, you’re already ahead of the game. Skip ahead to Step-4.
TIP: Grab some extra 5/16” and 3/8” washers and use them against all bolt heads and nuts. Washers help spread the clamping force of the bolts and hold parts more securely.
Step-2: Install the Winch Mount & Fairlead Rollers
Before you can mount your winch, you have to have a place to mount it. On the Suzuki that meant removing a piece of the front bodywork, then bolting in the winch mount plate. The winch mount plate bolts between two brackets on the Suzuki frame, with two bolts on each side. Be sure to use a washer both on the bolt head and on the nylock nut side, and tighten the plate down. With the winch plate bolted in place, you can now bolt on the fairlead roller bracket and rollers.
Step-3: Install the Winch
The winch sets down on top of the winch mount plate, with four, 8mm bolts coming up through the plate from underneath and into the winch housing. Align the winch over the holes, install the bolts, and tighten down. It is important to install and tighten down the winch BEFORE you install the plow mount bracket because it is much harder to reach the required bolts with the plow mount bracket blocking access for your hand and tools.
Step-4: Install the Plow Mount Bracket
The PLOW MOUNT BRACKET bolts into four tabs on the Suzuki frame at the two lower, 6mm bolts, and with two bolts at the top. We didn’t use the 5/16 top bolts that came with the kit and instead used two 8mm bolts and Nylock nuts because we hate using Standard thread bolts on a machine where every other bolt is metric. Finally, a long, strap plate captures the bottom rear of the plow mount bracket against the frame with four bolts threaded in from the bottom.
One trick we always use whether bolting a skid plate or any other part onto our frame is to install a little rubber vibration strip between the two mating parts. On this project, we split a small piece of old radiator hose and captured it between the plow mount bracket and the frame. This will help isolate any vibration, but also protect our frame from corrosion if the paint gets rubbed off by the bracket.
Step-5: Wire the Winch
The winch requires power to work and that means running wires to it. A thumb switch on the left handlebar activates the winch motor, and both the winch power cables and the switch must be connected to a solenoid. Our Eagle kit didn’t give us any preferred location to mount the solenoid, but the electronics tray under the seat seemed like just the spot. Thankfully, there was enough wire to get there. Remove the small bracket on the back of the solenoid and slip it into the pocket just behind the battery. Now route both winch power wires and the thumb button control wire along the RIGHT frame rail under the air box. This is easier to do by first removing the black, bodywork side covering. When you reach the steering column, route the thumb switch wire up and out the left side of the column towards the left handlebar. Both winch power wires continue along the frame rail and follow down behind the radiator. Use plenty of zip ties to make it a nice, neat job and to avoid letting the wires dangle anyplace they shouldn’t be. Attach the red and black winch power wires to their correct winch terminal, and don’t forget the rubber boot that covers them. We looped our wires to the high side of the winch to keep them out of any sticks or trail obstacles.
Step-6: Wire the Solenoid
Connect the two winch power wires to the solenoid. Now it’s time to connect the battery to the solenoid as well, and in our Eagle kit, there was a second set of power cables we could use as a donor. We cut each wire yet left a little extra to work with, installed a new electrical spade connector, and then bolted one end to the solenoid and the opposite end to the correct battery terminal. Finally, connect the thumb switch cable to the battery. We also looped the extra wire through our electronics tray and zip tied it safely out of the way. Be sure your wiring DOES NOT interfere with the seat base rests, seat posts, or other electronics.
Step-7: Install the Thumb Switch
Now install the thumb switch on the left handlebar. The Eagle kit has a few brackets to use for this, and you might have to loosen and slide the Suzuki clutch perch over slightly to make room for the mount. Also, we stripped one of the bolts from the kit but used our own 5mm bolt in its place. Tighten all bolts on the handlebar and zip tie wires to bars.
Step-8: Mount Pivot Frame to Blade
Mounting the plow push frame on the back of the blade is easy enough. Pull the pivoting frame up to the back of the blade and install the two bolts. Slip the long, threaded eye bolts into the top of the blade and install a washer and nut on the top of each. Now install the blade return springs between the long adjuster bolts and the holes on the pivot frame. Before you adjust tension on the springs, however, be sure to rotate the blade stops into their correct position and tighten them down. Now you can tighten the nuts on the eye bolts until you are actually putting tension on the spring.
Step-9: Mount Plow Push Frame to Pivot Frame
Next install the pivot frame onto the push frame. We removed most of the bolts in the push frame in order to get the pivot mechanism down into it. When you put it back together, remember to put all the washers back where they started out so nothing binds. We also replaced some of the kits 3/8” bolts with longer ones with more grip. Bolts should always protrude through the nut for maximum thread engagement and clamping force. With both the push frame and pivoting frame bolted together and all bolts tightened, the blade should pivot smoothly with no binding. Next, install the two spring-loaded latches that keep the plow attached to the ATV.
Step-10: Install the Winch Cabel Stop
The blade can now be mounted on the ATV. Reel out enough cable for the hook to grab the hook mount on the push frame, and slowly reel it back in while the blade rises. BE AWARE THE PLOW FRAME can HIT THE PLOW MOUNT BRACKET at this point. You must stop before the plow frame hits the bracket! After you stop just short of that point, install the cable stop on the cable.
Step-11: Adjust Your Suspension & Tires
With much more weight on the front end of your ATV, you should probably stiffen the front suspension. It’s easiest to do this with the tires off the ground, and we cranked ours up to maximum stiffness. We also run 5 psi in the front tires and 4 psi rear.
Step-12: Adjust Plow Skids
With the suspension adjusted and the plow lowered all the way, adjust the plow skids on the end of the blade. You want them to skid along the surface being plowed, but not hold the blade so far off the surface it leaves lots of snow behind. It’s time to get to show Mother Nature who she’s up against!
Eagle Plow Review
Overall the component quality of the parts in the Eagle Plow kit was excellent. The laser cut brackets had no burrs or sharp edges, the holes were clean, and there were no tool marks on bends. Weld quality was also quite good, and every part was zinc plated or powder coated for corrosion protection. It was time to see what it could do!
The first snow we were going to plow would be an excellent test. Wet, heavy snow is hard to move, and it usually wants to pile up in front of the blade rather than roll to the side. Unfortunately, we had a driveway full of it, but we angled the blade to the right, slipped the Suzuki into low gear and headed out.
We thought the Suzuki might have a problem pushing a 60” blade through wet, heavy snow, but we were more than surprised. The Eagle Generation II plow was rolling snow off the end of the blade perfectly, and our Suzuki was easily walking it up the drive at about 4mph. This was a lot of fun actually, and at the end of the drive, we looked back and had a perfectly cleared path. We also tested the Eagle Plow with no blade angle and it easily pushed the snow with no problem, this time piling it where we wanted and leaving a large, clear area in front of our barn. Changing blade angle took seconds, and it really made short work of clearing the drives. It was so easy in fact we began to look to neighbor’s drives and even played with it on a ball field just to see what it would do. Overall, the performance of the Eagle Generation II Plow is OUTSTANDING! It’s an excellent winter tool that worked far better than we ever thought possible, even in the heaviest snow. If it can move this stuff, you’ll walk through fluffy drifts like they aren’t even there.
We really like our Eagle Generation II Plow, but there are a few things we think could make it even better. Thankfully, none of it has to do with the plow mechanics or construction, and everything to do with putting it together.
We would like a better set of instructions. We found the instructions to be a general guide rather than specific to any ATV and that leaves for a LOT of interpretation. That can be frustrating! It would definitely help to have instructions and a few photos for the machine you were installing on, and this goes for everything from mounting the hardware to solenoid location.
We would also like different hardware. On every ATV or UTV we know of, the fasteners are metric. Any fasteners that contact that machine should also be metric. Even the four bolts that thread into the bottom of the winch are metric, yet the kit includes a few Standard bolts to mount a winch plate, plow bracket, etc. We can understand and live with the Standard bolts on the plow push frame where they make more sense, however. We would also like to see a better quality, higher grade fastener supplied with the kit. We twisted two bolts off easily, and a higher grade of fastener would prevent this.
The Eagle Generation II Plow worked exactly as it was designed to do, and even far better than we had hoped. Part quality is excellent, and American Manufacturing has done a good job of designing a product that is easy to use and it works very well. The Eagle Generation II plow is an excellent winter tool that really helps you make short work of a tough job. We’re actually looking forward to the next snow!
1: When adjusting or working with the plow, NEVER GRAB THE CABLE, and NEVER PUT ANYTHING YOU VALUE IN PINCH POINTS like between the frame and mount! Blood never looks good on snow!
2: DON’T DRIVE TOO FAST. We plowed at about 4mph and it worked very well. Hitting anything hidden in the snow while driving too fast could harm your plow, your ATV, and you. Nobody is going to give you a trophy at the end.
3: PLOW IN LOW. Your CVT belt will last much longer if you operate in LOW while towing or pushing a heavy load.
4: KNOW WHERE THE DANGERS ARE. You don’t want to hit anything buried.
5: LOOK BEHIND WHEN BACKING UP. You don’t need to hit anything or anybody that snuck in behind you.