New Product Test – Wicked Bilt Power Steering

New Product Test – Wicked Bilt Power Steering

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2013.polaris.rzr570.red_.front-left.studio.JPGYamaha was onto something when they introduced electronic power steering with their 2007 Grizzly ATV.  Since then more and more models either come equipped with EPS, or it’s at least an option right from the factory.  The advantages of power steering – less steering effort, reduced kickback, less arm fatigue – are hard to ignore, but not every machine has it.  Wicked Bilt can cure that!       

Power Assist

Most of the electronic power steering units on the market today are really more of a “steering assist” and they all work on a similar principal.  As you turn the wheel or handlebars, they calculate the force at the tires, and then through either a brushless ring motor or a worm gear system, they apply a force to the steering shaft, thus providing a little assist to make steering easier for the driver.  They are also speed and torque sensitive, with an on-board computer calculating just the right amount of torque needed.  Usually they provide the most assist when steering is normally the hardest (low speeds) and less assist when steering is normally easiest (at high speeds) for consistent feel.  A huge advantage is they also sense the sudden jerk from impacts, such as when you accidently clip a rut, log, or rock along the trail, and they can apply a counterforce to take up the impact rather than jamming all of the force into your wrist.  EPS is great for all day trail riding, but when you have a heavy load on the front end, such as with a snow plow or fully loaded racks, they are a gift from above, or more accurately, Ohio.   vendor.2013.wicked-bilt.installing.powersteering.polaris-rzr.electric-motor.JPG

Wicked Bilt

Wicked Bilt is the aftermarket expert in Electronic Power Steering, thanks to decades of steering experience.  Wicked Bilt’s sister company, UNISTEER, and the parent company, MAVAL MANUFACTURING, have been building steering systems since 1987.  Since then they’ve produced EPS systems for just about every type of vehicle both on and off-road.  They’re an official OEM supplier to auto, agriculture, and even powersports manufacturers.  In fact, if you buy EPS from some of the factories, it was built by Maval / Wicked Bilt back in Ohio.  The bottom line is, they know what they’re doing, and they’re very, very good at it.  

The Wicked Bilt catalog covers just about every Side x Side manufacturer and most models.  The only model they don’t appear to build EPS for is the Honda Big Red, but with the introduction of the new Pioneer, they’ll likely include a Honda in their catalog as well.  We were looking for a steering system for our trail happy Polaris RZR 800.  It’s already a blast on the trails, and we were hoping to make it even better.  One call to Wicked Bilt, and we had a weekend project on the way.

Here Comes the Fun

Kids look to Santa as the person bearing cool toys.  We look for the UPS guy and when his brown “sleigh” rattles into our drive, we rush to the door with all the glee of any jami-clad, cherub cheeked kid bounding down the stairs, two at a time, on Christmas morning.  The big box from Wicked Bilt didn’t come with a bow, but everything arrived in great shape and we couldn’t wait to get to work.

We unpacked our new Wicked Bilt kit, arranging all the parts while looking over the instructions.  The instructions are well written with plenty of pictures.  They also list the tools needed, and Wicked Bilt did a great job of helping make the task easier, even describing how to hold the drill when making a hole. Line by line, we worked through the instructions and about our only comment would be that if you own a right angle attachment for your drill, making the mounting bracket holes will be slightly easier.  In addition to the tools they list in the kit, there are three tools we would add that you will find very handy for the job.  

  1. A portable work light.  This will make it a lot easier to see under the dash.
  2. A Vise Grip.  Always a handy tool for holding parts when drilling.
  3. A right angle drill.  Not completely necessary, but nice to have.  

Before you begin installing the Wicked Bilt power steering kit, there is one thing you MUST do!  vendor.2013.wicked-bilt.installing.powersteering.polaris-rzr.steering-shaft.JPG

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE WHEELS and STEERING WHEEL STRAIGHT!!!  You need the wheels aligned so the steering wheel is not cocked to one side after the installation.

When installing the power light on your kit, pick a spot on the dash where it will be easy to see (preferably shaded so the light shows up better) but won’t interfere with other switches.  Also, as with any wiring job, make sure your connections are tight and sealed either with heat shrink tubing or silicone.  Route wires carefully so they don’t catch on any hot parts, sharp edges, or moving parts, and use plenty of zip ties to do a nice, neat job of securing everything.  When it comes time to make a ground connection, if you intend to ground to the frame rather than the battery, we always sand or file a little paint off at the ground point for an excellent connection.  A good ground is crucial for any wiring project.  Total time for installing the Wicked Bilt kit on our Polaris RZR was a little over 2 ½ hours.

Ride Time

Our man Rick installed the Wicked Bilt power steering system on the Polaris RZR and after a quick first ride, he summed up how it worked.  When asked how it felt, his response was, “WOW!  This was a great addition to the RZR!  It works great without wearing down your arms, and it adds hours to your driving day.”  We like how the Wicked Bilt kit provides just enough steering assist to make steering easier without taking away feel.  It responds smoothly with no hesitation, and even much better than some factory systems that feel notchy, almost like an Atari gaming system.  Its ability to absorb any impact from objects along the trail is a huge benefit as well, and it’s a lot easier on your wrists.  Since Maval has been building OEM parts for decades, we also have great confidence in the long term durability of the Wicked Bilt kit, and we like how they’ve sealed the electronics for ultimate weather protection.  Rick suggests taking it a little easy on your first rides to get used to the machine’s new handling, but after that you can ride it all day, all weekend, and probably until you trade in your machine with no problems.  The Wicked Bilt power steering kit is a quality component that adds a lot of value for the money.  We love it!  vendor.2013.wicked-bilt.installing.powersteering.polaris-rzr.steering-wheel.JPG

2012-13 Polaris RZR 570 & 800 Midsize Trail Power Steering

Msrp: $849.00

Part #: 8052480

WICKED BILT

1555 Enterprise Parkway

Twinsburg OH 44087 

Phone: 1-855-248-9111

www.wickedbilt.com

November 8, 2013

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