Product Review - Steady as She Goes
Most ATV and Side x Side owners enjoy recreational riding and some are hooked on the thrill of competition, but it’s the ability to transform into extremely capable work machines that has put one on every farm and job site in the country. Wherever there is something to haul, tow, or cut that doesn’t fit a tractor or full blown dump truck you can bet an ATV or Side x Side is ready to tackle the job. Some tasks require extra finesse and precision and that can be difficult when repeatedly jabbing at a throttle over rough, uneven terrain. Besides repeatedly jerking at the driver enough to induce nausea (or possibly labor) the work being attempted is bound to end up looking like a haircut. Slow and steady is the key to some tasks and we know of just the tool to get the job done.
Tasks like applying fertilizer, spraying herbicides, mowing, surveying, and even plant, soil, and geological research require precise speeds in order to improve accuracy. An ATV or Side x Side is often the perfect tool for the job since they offer nimble handling and minimal ground compaction. There is only one problem however; no manufacturer offers a model with any type of cruise control. There have been a few basic throttle control devices but these were little more than a set screw and throttle limiting mechanism. With fuel injection and electronic control units came precise ignition maps and that meant the engine speed could be calibrated much more efficiently and consistently.
MCCruise (Motorcycle Cruise Control) is an Australian company that developed a product called the SpeedSafe back in 2006 originally as a speed limiting device to improve rider safety. It was only natural that QuadCruise was introduced not long after as a means of controlling speed on ATVs. It certainly met that goal but it also caught the eye of large fleet managers such as the Union Pacific railroad which inspects their trains in transfer yards with ATVs. The railroad was thrilled with fewer employee accidents and down time, but another effect of the SpeedSafe was noticed as well. Their ATV fleet maintenance costs were drastically reduced as overall vehicle life went through the roof. Large agricultural companies were the next on board, and the largest seismic survey company in the U.S. claims they have saved nearly a million dollars on maintenance alone on their ATV fleet using the QUADCRUISE SPEEDSAFE limiters. As with so many inventions, SpeedSafe was the product of experience, both good and bad.
GOOD IDEAS from BAD EXPERIENCE
MCCruise director, Tony Guymer, was a long time rider and like most of us he was familiar with that old feeling of riding like a champion one moment, and the next there is dirt coming in your helmet as you skid along the trail. Like many from his region of the planet he is plainspoken, honest, direct, and tough. “I was just plain stupid” Guymer said. “I loaded the back of the vehicle with far too much weight, rode up a steep hill and hit a rock, tried to throttle out of it like you do on the track, and the bike rotated around the back wheels with me on it. Squashed me a bit as it rolled backwards and then sat there looking at me on its wheels! And there is NO QUESTION who was at fault – me!” That got Guymer thinking. If a highly experienced rider can find himself in trouble while doing a little work, what is a novice farm worker facing? With that the first MCCRUISE and later the QuadCruise idea were born.
HOW IT WORKS
The difference between the QuadCruise and SpeedSafe systems are this:
SpeedSafe provides full power up to a set top end speed and then it hits the preset rev limiter.
The QuadCruise system is designed for work requiring precision. It’s the only model-specific after-market cruise control built specifically for ATV's and Side x Sides to operate at consistent very low speeds. Designed operating range of the QuadCruise is between 2mph (3kph) and 15mph (25kph) and can typically hold the vehicle's speed within +/- 0.3mph (+/- 0.5kph) of the set speed over 95% of the time. It can also hold those speeds over rough ground, undulations, and hills.
To achieve accurate, repeatable results required integration with the vehicles electronics and throttle control, and even brakes systems on some models. It’s a highly impressive, extremely well designed piece of technology and it works. Depending on the model you are installing the QuadCruise or SpeedSafe kit on, the parts included with each kit will include the following:
A new computer module to perform the complex integration of computer maps, sensors and engine management systems.
All the sensors and sending units
All necessary wiring
Fasteners and hardware
Full instructions with pictures and tips.
Installing the QuadCruise SpeedSafe system isn’t exactly as easy as throwing on a new set of tires but it is manageable for most competent owners and mechanics. Should you get stuck they’ll be happy to guide you through it, but as they point out on their web site, “Simply EMAIL us with a brief description of the problem and a phone number and we will call you as soon as possible and diagnose the cause and advice how to fix it. This applies whether you do it, or a trained mechanic.” To make installation easier the QuadCruise and SpeedSafe systems both come with highly detailed instructions with plenty of pictures, tips, and tools needed to get you up and running. And when it’s running the QuadCruise and SpeedSafe system is a brilliant integration of technology, form and function.
IN THE FIELD
SpeedSafe performs exactly as described. The ATV or Side x Side engine reacts exactly as it did before the installation with full power available for towing a load or operation at lower speeds. When you hit the preset top speed however the rev limiter kicks in and you’re not going any faster, even if you point it downhill. This is exactly why fleet owners like the SpeedSafe. It’s really a device to keep the employees safe. Let’s be honest, not all employees are going to appreciate the lower top speed, and some will bounce it off the rev limiter continually, hoping for a little more top speed, but it’s not going to happen. If the rider continually abuses the engine like this they’re in for a little surprise; they point straight to the employees who are abusing the bikes. Taking things one step further, an innovation developed for the Union Pacific Railway is the ‘penalty mode’. If the bike stays on our very near the limiting speed for a few seconds, the speed limit drops. If you get off the limit for an extended period the speed limit reverts to the SET limit. However if you keep activating the limiter the speed drops more…and more…and more. Some people have to learn the hard way! Another recent innovation born out of customer request was a dual stage speed limit.
LandCorp, a New Zealand farming corporation has about 120 separate farms. When integrating the SpeedSafe on their Honda Pioneer 700’s they requested a low speed limit when the driver’s seat belt was unbuckled and a higher speed when the belt was properly fastened. Consider the SpeedSafe a premium safety device next to a good helmet.
The QuadCruise takes speed control one step further. This system can precisely control the ATV or Side x Side vehicle speed, and we’re talking fractions of a mile per hour. This allows for very precise measurements and applications of fertilizer or sprays. Some owners have even integrated their fertilizer spreader or sprayer controls to automatically shut down when the QuadCruise is shut off at the end of a field, and then resumes spraying or fertilizing when the QuadCruise is reactivated. It’s called precision farming for a reason and the QuadCruise makes it possible. Contract sprayers have reported the QuadCruise pays for itself in about six weeks thanks to exact applications. Moreover, you never have to go back and respray as a result of a patchy application. A novel application is found in New Zealand where kiwi fruit pollen is harvested and costs about $150 per gram!
RIDE SAFE with MCCRUISE
We are highly impressed with the MCRUISE SpeedSafe and QuadCruise systems. They’re extremely well designed and built with high quality components that will probably outlast the vehicle. We know of no other systems that do a better job of controlling a vehicles speed either for very precise work or to limit top speed. Besides longer vehicle life and reduced maintenance expense, more importantly both the SpeedSafe and QuadCruise have demonstrated a measured decrease in rider injury and increased rider safety. And that alone makes both systems a win.
6 KINGSTON STREET, MOUNT WAVERLEY VICTORIA 3149 AUSTRALIA
TEL. 61 3 9808 2804 FAX. 61 3 9808 2445
EMAIL US AT SALES@MCCRUISE.COM