The great thing about ATVs and Side x Sides is their versatility. Whether you ride across endless miles of barren desert, knee deep snow, shifting sand, or slimy mud, your ATV is uniquely suited for whatever type of terrain you come across. They’re the transformers of the power sports world, and when it’s time to go to work, they can again be transformed into one of the most useful tools you will ever own. There are parts you can add, though, that definitely increase your ATV or Side x Side’s versatility, and bigger tires and wheels, accessory storage, and a winch are at the top of the list.
It’s easy enough to bolt on bigger wheels or a storage box, but winches usually take a little more effort to install in order to work properly. A clear set of instructions makes the job much easier, especially if your machine is pre-wired for it. However, there is more to using the winch than reeling out the cable and dragging yourself or a buddy out of a jam. If you've ever tried to sell used cars that aren't running anymore, then you've likely already had experience with winches, as the dealer drags your car onto their truck. For advice on how to use a winch safely, and to properly maintain it, we went to our friends at BlitzKrueg.
BlitzKrueg sees many riders who buy a winch and then either use it incorrectly or fail to maintain it properly. Consequently, when the time comes that they really need their winch to work, they are literally between a rock and a hard place, or up the creek without a paddle. Either way, you get the picture. There are a couple ways to prevent that, and one thing BlitzKrueg offers is several sizes of replacement, synthetic rope in varying strengths.
There are several reasons for replacing a solid cable with synthetic rope. The major benefit is synthetic rope has a higher overall strength rating while weighing much less than a steel cable of the same size. Synthetic rope doesn’t fray with sharp edges or a handful of needle sharp points that invariably find their way into your fingers, like steel cable does. It also comes off the spool without the “memory” common to steel that causes it to coil itself back up. It also won’t rust, kink, stretch, or conduct electricity. In the event you do work a synthetic rope beyond its’ ultimate yield point, it will not recoil and whip dangerously past anything or anybody that gets in the way. Besides all the safety benefits and other reasons to go with synthetic rope, the final advantage is less maintenance. It even floats in water; which is why it is preferred in the marine industry. However, not all synthetic ropes are created equal.
BlitzKrueg recommends only 2 grades of ropes: Standard Amsteel and the Amsteel blue™. The difference is in ultimate strength, and for most winching they prefer the Amsteel Blue. The Blue is made from a 12 strand braid from the world's strongest fiber, Dyneema® SK75. Just because it is the world’s strongest fiber doesn’t mean you can’t screw it up, however, and the easiest and quickest way most people wreck a synthetic rope is to let it fray. BlitzKrueg also provides their rope with an extra large, solid steel thimble loop at the end to spread the load and prevent fraying.
BlitzKrueg has developed several other unique parts for your ATV and UTV that will protect your winch and pull rope. The first place to prevent damage is near the winch itself, and BlitzKrueg offers both the stationary and roller fairleads out of UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) plastic. UHMW is known for its ability to resist abrasion and for its self-lubricating characteristics. This is why it is also a common material for chain sliders. In this case, the synthetic rope easily glides past it with no damage to either. BlitzKrueg is the only company making UHMW fairleads specifically for ATVs and UTVs, and they also offer aluminum Fairleads in colors that match the rope.
The second part BlitzKrueg is making specifically for ATVs and UTVs is the “Snatch Block.” The snatch block is the pulley commonly anchored to a stable obstacle to increase the pulling force of the winch. BlitzKrueg’s snatch block includes no sharp edges or surfaces that could fray the rope as well.
A third item you want to have on your rope is a “Winch Saver.” The winch saver is actually a highly durable, little rubber donut that slides over the cable and helps prevent the hook from banging around on the fairleads when the rope is retracted all the way. It also protects the rope from any sharp edges on the hook, and it protects the winch from extra stress when reeling all the way in.
BlitzKrueg also fields more than their fair share of questions from customers, and these are the common recommendations they make. NEVER wind the winch rope or cable around the anchor point and hook back onto itself. Instead, ALWAYS use a nylon sling or strap around the tree or anchor point to avoid damaging your rope or the tree.
ALWAYS use a winch saver.
Only use the stock steel fairleads if they are new and work freely, otherwise change them out for UHMW or aluminum.
When plowing snow, use only a short piece of rope. This will help reduce wear on your longer and more expensive line, and it will help eliminate the rope from becoming tangled (bird nesting). Also, only lift the plow up to clear the obstacle or back up, but don’t continually run it against the maximum heights stops. Continually lifting to the stops stresses both the rope and the winch.
After operating in deep mud or water, reel the rope out and wash it off, along with the winch itself. Dirt, mud, and grit will definitely shorten the life of your winch.
When winching, keep the motor running on the unit being pulled. Winches take a lot of electricity, and it’s not going to do you any good to winch your ATV or UTV from the mud, only to be stuck on the trail with a battery that now won’t crank over the engine.
A winch is an invaluable tool to have on any trail ride. We’ve used them where we never thought we would, and like many tools, when you need one, nothing else will do. BlitzKrueg has the tools and knowledge to do the job right.