HomeAccessoriesBest ATV Winches: Synthetic Rope And Steel Cable

Best ATV Winches: Synthetic Rope And Steel Cable

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Steel Vs Synthetic Winch Cable

Steel and synthetic rope ATV winches both have their pros and cons. Ultimately, it depends on how often you use your winch and the types of conditions you use it.

But, no matter what kind of winch you choose, it’s an essential piece of equipment that every rider should have when they head out on the trails.


Synthetic Rope Winches

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Safe
  • Floats
  • Strong
  • Light weight
  • No Kinks
  • Easier To Use
  • If it breaks, an emergency repair can be done by braiding it
  • Cons
  • More expensive than steel
  • Can get damaged by UV exposure, chemicals, heat, and abrasion
  • Prone to damage due to abrasion
  • May fray due to conditions or frequent use
  • Can absorb water which may make it heavier or could cause it to freeze and become unusable


Best ATV Winches With Synthetic Rope

Anbull 4,500 lb Synthetic Rope Winch

Wild ATV Rating: 4.7 (out of 5)

  • Winch Weight: 20.9 lbs
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 124 × 76 mm

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Attractive pricing
  • Breaking force of 23,809 lbs
  • Include mounting bracket
  • Light weight
  • Hawse fairlead
  • Wear resistant, alkali resistant and corrosion resistant
  • 3 sets of steel high-strength planetary gear mechanisms
  • 12V / 2.6 Kw motor
  • No-load speed: about 5.5m / min.
  • Load speed: about 1.1m / min.
  • Tight seal: IP67 rated dust, dirt and water proof
  • Sealed motor is guaranteed to be resistant to the harsh environments of off-roading and recovery
  • Includes both wired control handle and remote control
  • Wireless remote has 66′ radius
  • 1 year warranty.
  • Cable size: 50′ length / .22″ (5.5mm) diameter
  • Cons
  • May have to purchase a vehicle specific mount plate
  • Slower than other ATV winches
  • Remote control could use an upgrade

Orcish 4,500 lb Winch

Wild ATV Rating: 4.7 (out of 5)

  • Winch Weight: 24.3 lbs
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 124 x 76mm

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Attractive pricing
  • Includes two wireless remotes
  • Waterproof: IP67 Rating
  • Roller fairlead
  • Permanent magnet DC 12V motor with 1.7hp output
  • Steel planetary gears and stainless steel hardware
  • Sealed low amperage permanent magnet motor
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Cable size: 50′ length / .21″ (5.5mm) diameter
  • Cons
  • May have to purchase a vehicle specific mount plate
  • Some installations need longer bolts
  • Cables may be too short for SxS
  • Wire harness not the best design
  • Remote needs improvement – prone to not working and easily damaged
  • Battery cables could use an upgrade
  • Installation on a larger vehicle may require adjustments
  • Confusing instructions
  • Polarity for the battery terminals may be mislabeled on some instructions


Super ATV 3,500 lb Synthetic Rope Winch

Wild ATV Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

  • Winch Weight: 30.1 lbs
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 3.0″ x 4.87″

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Fits most winch ready bumpers
  • Permanent magnet 12V 1.2 Hp DC motor
  • Wireless remote with 50′ radius
  • Hawse fairlead
  • Brakes to hold the spool on inclines
  • Water resistant remote receiver
  • Wireless remote with auto shutoff
  • Wired rocker switch that can be dash mounted or handlebar mounted
  • Include mounting plate
  • Extra long heavy duty wires for 4-Seaters
  • 1 year warranty against manufacturing defects
  • Cable size: 50′ length / N/A diameter
  • Cons
  • May have to purchase a vehicle specific mount plate
  • Installing the solenoid may be tricky
  • US based manufacturer and distributer with two locations – one in Indiana, one in Louisiana.
  • Remote needs improvement – prone to not working and easily damaged
  • Instructions are not detailed enough
  • Wiring schematic is unnecessarily confusing
  • For a SxS, the suppled switch may not work, so you may need to purchase a different switch

Champion 3,500 lb Winch

Wild ATV Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

  • Winch Weight: 20.2 lbs
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 4.9″ x 3″

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Well known Company
  • Lots of customer feedback
  • Hawse Fairlead
  • Full Load Line Speed (ft/min): 3.30
  • No Load Line Speed (ft/min) 9.80
  • 1.4-horsepower (12-volt) DC motor
  • Three-stage planetary gear system
  • Includes remote control
  • Free-spooling clutch for easy use
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Cable size: 50′ length / 3/16″ diameter
  • Cons
  • Remote only has a length of 10.3′ reach
  • May need to purchase separate mount kit
  • Poor customer support
  • Bolts could use an upgrade
  • Control buttons are very hard to use, require a lot of pressure to work
  • Installation on a SxS may require longer cables
  • May not be ideal at the full 3,500 lbs rating


Warn 4,500 lb Rope Winch

Wild ATV Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

  • Winch Weight: 26.4 lbs (approximate)
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 3.0″ x 4.87″

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Respected company
  • Lightweight, easy-to-handle Spydura synthetic rope
  • Hawse Fairlead
  • Robust new clutch design
  • Build-in load limiter
  • Controller with multiple mounting options to fit a variety of vehicles
  • Wired remote
  • Combines motor and contactor for easy installation and superior performance
  • Durable all-metal construction
  • Black powder-coated finish for corrosion resistance
  • IP68-rated waterproof sealing
  • All metal 3-stage planetary gear train
  • Load-holding mechanical brake
  • Digital control with load and temperature information
  • Limited lifetime mechanical warranty, 3 year electrical warranty
  • Cable size: 50′ length / 1/4″ diameter
  • Cons
  • One of the most expensive ATV winches
  • No wireless remote
  • May need to purchase separate mount kit
  • Some bumpers may require modification in order for it to fit
  • Blue light on the switch is always on
  • Quality control issues – sometimes the wrong wiring harness is included
  • Some vehicles may require longer battery cables


Steel Cable Winches

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Less expensive than synthetic rope winches
  • Performs better in abrasive conditions
  • Better for frequent heavy use
  • Better in wet winter conditions
  • Requires less maintenance
  • Cons
  • Can Kink
  • Heavy
  • May rust
  • Dangerous if it breaks
  • The metal can form burrs or “splinters” that can cut your hands


Best ATV Winches With Steel Cable

Open Road 4,500 lb Cable Winch

Wild ATV Rating: 4.9 (out of 5)

  • Winch Weight: 26 lbs
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 3.0″ x 4.88″

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • 12V DC 1.7HP/1.2kw Copper Wire Permanent Magnet Motor
  • Precise 3-stage planetary gear
  • Full Load Line Speed (ft/min): 4.3
  • No Load Line Speed (ft/min) 16
  • Roller fairlead
  • Includes 2 remotes -1 wired, 1 wireless
  • Handlebar mount mini-rocker switch
  • Wireless remote range is 33″
  • 1 year product warranty
  • Cable size: 50′ length / 7/32″diameter
  • Cons
  • Not a well known brand/established brand
  • Recommended use does not include lifting
  • May need to purchase separate mount kit
  • Not enough contextual feedback

Super Winch 3,000 lb Winch

Wild ATV Rating: 4.7 (out of 5)

  • Winch Weight: 26 lbs
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 3.0″ x 4.87″ (76mm x 124mm)

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Rated for 3,000 lbs
  • Attractive Price
  • Roller fairlead
  • Mounting plate
  • Sealed low amperage permanent magnet motor
  • Handle bar mount rocker switch + handheld remote
  • Mechanical and dynamic brake
  • Rugged full metal 3-stage planetary gear train
  • Wired handheld remote with 12′ lead
  • Works with most winch mount kits
  • Cable size: 50′ length / 3/16″ diameter
  • Cons
  • Included mount kit may not work for all vehicles
  • May need to purchase separate mount kit
  • Installing the solenoid may be tricky
  • May need to purchase additional hardware to install the solenoid
  • Engage/Disengage switch is plastic and would be better if it was beefed up a little
  • RZR and other large vehicles may need longer wires
  • Some quality control issues reported with the battery and solenoid

Warn 2,500 lb Steel Cable Winch

Wild ATV Rating: 4.7 (out of 5)

  • Winch Weight: 27 lbs
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 3.0″ x 4.87″ (76mm x 124mm)

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Well known respected company
  • Excellent feedback
  • Roller fairlead
  • Handlebar-mounted rocker switch
  • Robust new clutch design
  • All-metal construction with black powder-coated finish for corrosion resistance
  • IP68-rated waterproof seal
  • All-metal three-stage planetary gear train
  • Load-holding mechanical brake
  • Cable size: 50′ length / 3/16″ diameter
  • Lifetime mechanical warranty and 3 year electrical warranty 
  • Cons
  • One of the more expensive ATV winches
  • May need to purchase separate mount kit
  • No remote control – corded or hand held
  • No dash mount control switch
  • RZR and other large vehicles may need longer wires
  • Quality control issues
  • Wire could use an upgrade
  • Terminal posts aren’t clockable
  • The plate to mount the fairlead isn’t included

Genuine Polaris Sportsman 2,500 lb Winch

Wild ATV Rating: 4.7 (out of 5)

  • Winch Weight: 8 lbs
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: N/A. Fits Sportsman 450 and 570

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Respected brand
  • Made specifically for the Sportsman 450 and 570
  • Roller fairlead
  • Almost entirely plug and play
  • One of the fastest, easiest installations
  • Handlebar switch
  • Connects directly to the Polaris wire harness
  • Fully sealed motor
  • Included mount plate will 100% fit
  • Cable size: 50′ length / 3/16″ diameter
  • Cons
  • More expensive option
  • No remote
  • Designed specifically for the Sportsman
  • If you try to install this on an SP you will need to relocate the solenoid
  • No extra give in the wire, so you have to run it exactly as directed

Zeak 5,500 lb Steel Cable Winch

Wild ATV Rating: 4.6 (out of 5)

  • Winch Weight: 35.9 lbs
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 3″ × 6.6″

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • All metal construction, powder coated finish for corrosion resistance
  • 1.6 hp 12V DC permanent magnet motor
  • 3-stage planetary gear train
  • Full Load Line Speed (ft/min): 3.93
  • No Load Line Speed (ft/min) 19
  • Load-holding dynamic brake
  • Corded handheld remote with 50″ cable
  • 4-way roller fairlead
  • Weather-sealed solenoid
  • Circuit breaker protected
  • 1 year electrical warranty.
  • Cable size: 50′ length / 5/16 diameter
  • Cons
  • No cord free remote control
  • No handlebar/cab mount switch option
  • May need to purchase separate mount kit
  • Poor customer service
  • Quality control issues
  • Missing instructions

Durability

Steel beats synthetic when it comes to durability.

In virtually every other category except price, ATV winches with synthetic rope are a clear cut winner. But steel cable is more durable than synthetic rope.

If you use your ATV winch often or in harsh conditions with a lot of sand, rocks, mud or moisture, then steel is a winner. Steel isn’t as susceptible to wear and tear from rubbing.

Mud, moisture and sand can get worked into the fibers of the synthetic rope causing it to break down over time. With general maintenance and cleaning, you can minimize this damage, but it need to be factored into the general equation.


Safety

No doubt about it, synthetic rope wins in the safety category.

When a steel cable snaps, it whips violently with a lot of energy. This creates a dangerous situation that can result in injury. Also, the longer the cable the bigger the whip. A steel cable stores more energy than a synthetic rope, so it can whip violently around in every direction before it loses steam and falls to the ground.

Synthetic rope will also snap back if it breaks, but it’s a lot less dramatic and a lot less dangerous. Think rubber band snap vs a hard metal whip. A synthetic rope will snap, recoil and then quickly fall to the ground. It doesn’t continue to whip around in the air creating a hazard.

Steel winch lines can also form burrs or splinters over time that can draw blood. Strong work gloves can help limit the damage, but even with gloves and using “best practices” you can still tear up your hands.


Weight

Synthetic rope is a lot lighter than steel, in some cases up to 80% lighter.

Not only is it easier to work with the lighter synthetic rope, but it also lightens your vehicle weight load.  This will reduce wear and tear on your ATV while also increasing your gas mileage (maybe not dramatically, but every little bit helps).

ATV winches that use synthetic rope vs steel cable could shave off as much as 30 lbs in weight.


Strength

It seems like steel rope should be stronger than synthetic line, but it’s actually the opposite.

Synthetic rope can  have a breaking strength of 30% – 90% more than steel rope depending on the type/brand of synthetic rope.

An increase in strength also means that you could potentially use a synthetic rope with a smaller diameter. This would allow you to have a longer length of rope on your ATV winch without increasing the weight.


Kinks

Steel rope is susceptible to kinks.

Kinks = weakness.

With use, it’s possible for a steel rope to get a kink in it. When this happens, the cable will get weak where the kink occurred and is no longer safe to use.

You don’t have to worry at all about kinks with a synthetic rope winch.

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