How to Install a Winch on ATV – Easy to Follow Guide (2021)
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more
In the past decade, off-road activities have become even more popular. ATVs are commonly used for off-road adventures. As a result of increased interest in off-road adventures, demand for ATVs has been growing steadily.
The fact that they are available at different price points helps feed this demand. ATVs are designed nimble and reliable to handle off-road tracks with ease. But even with their off-road design, from time to time, they get stuck.
When this happens, you’ll need a winch to get it unstuck.
In the wilderness, calling roadside support isn’t much of an option. A winch is your best chance of getting home in time for dinner. If you are sold on getting a winch, the next step is deciding which one to purchase and how to install a winch on your ATV.
But so that we are on the same page, let’s start from the top.
What’s a Winch?
A winch is a device designed to lift and haul cars out of sticky situations. It consists of a cable, chain, or rope winding around a drum rotating horizontally. They are powered by an electric or hydraulic motor. Though they started getting a lot of attention in recent decades, they aren’t new devices. Moreover, they’ve evolved into better, more efficient devices.
Today, you can install a winch on your ATV for a couple of reasons to aid your off-road endeavors:
- Recreational activities – a winch comes in handy during recreational off-road activities like mountain and rock climbing. An ATV can handle various rough terrains, but some might be overly slippery or unpredictable. These terrains often cause your ATV to slip and even fall over. A winch can help you avoid the situation getting worse. Moreover, with a winch, you can fasten to a stable position so that you have something to hold when you climb.
- Recovering others – A winch helps your ATV and other off-road enthusiasts.
For an ATV, the best winch to purchase is a bush winch.
What’s a Bush Winch?
A Bush winch is the best ATV winch since they are portable and easy to use. Bush winches are powered by the ATV’s engine and are perfect for when you are stuck in mud, ice, or sand.
How to Install a Winch on ATV (incl. Installing Bush Winches)
Bush winches are easy to install, and you don’t need complicated tools to complete this task. Even better, you can remove them just as easily. Simply pull it out when you need to, and you are done.
Now you are probably wondering if it’s safe enough to use. Yes, it is. But even then, you should be cautious with your handling and use. Below are some precautions and safety tips to apply.
- Always ensure your anchor point is stable – the anchor point you choose should be strong enough to hold the weight of your ATV.
- Winch the ATV slowly – you might be frustrated for being stuck, but don’t be tempted to rush the process. Winch yourself slowly from your position and monitor your progress.
- Stay clear of the winch and ATV – As you winch your ATV, stay a safe distance away to avoid an injury.
Installing the Wheel Nuts
Remove your ATVs stock nuts, replace them with those that came with your Bush Winch, and secure them. Below are some tips to know:
- Ensure the Bush wheel nuts are a fit – the Bush Winch wheel nuts should fit, as well as the stock wheel nuts fit on the ATV wheel.
- Bush Winch installation needs wheel nuts – these when nuts will act as the winch’s anchoring point during winch installation.
- These Bush wheel nuts can be permanently installed. If you choose to do this, ensure you check their tightness regularly.
Installing the Winch
Align the Bush Winch base plate holes and then push them in and twist. The twisting is done in the opposite direction to the wheel’s direction.
Note: you should only attach the winch when you need it.
Attach the Winch Rope
Weave your winch rope through the spool’s cutouts and later put three extra wraps on the spool. The winch rope is kept in place by friction. The spool accepts a maximum of 60 meters of rope. If you end up with any extra winch rope length, add it to the winch line.
- Don’t tie the end of your winch rope to the Winch’s cutouts. Also, don’t use shackles or knots when attaching the rope to the winch.
- You should only use the winch rope that comes with your Bush Winch.
Bush winches work best when the anchor points are parallel or at an acute angle from the ATV’s side. When finding a stable position for your ATVs anchor, have the following in mind:
- Pulling from multiple anchor points spreads your load when pulling
- Don’t pull from one anchor point since you risk running over the rope
Note: Sometimes, there are additional instructions on the winch’s user guide. Always refer to it when installing your Bush Winch.
What Winch Will Fit My ATV?
A good way to determine what winch size will fit your ATV is to multiply the weight of your winch by 1.5. Most often, a winch rating between 2500 lbs and 3500 lbs should be enough for ATV winching. A smaller ATV may require a smaller winch than a larger ATV.
Why Use a Winch on an ATV?
The purpose of a winch is to exert a force that pulls objects towards it using a cable or rope. If your ATV is stuck in the mud or sand, tie a cable to an object with a higher mass and act as the anchor. Boulders and trees make for perfect anchors.
Can I Mount ATV Winch Upside Down?
You can mount many ATVs upside down provided you ensure the cable or rope spools on the inside of winch drum closer to the winch base. However, there are some exceptions where manufacturers don’t recommend mounting their winches upside down.
Now that you have an idea of installing a winch on the ATV, you should be more confident taking it off-road. Remember to take necessary precautions and read through the instruction manual before starting the installation.
I’m Ruiru Kibet, an avid writer and techie that has taken a keen interest in offroading. As I explore nature and troubleshoot with different offroad products and techniques, I’ll share them with you. The goal is dumb it down and help you experience the best of nature.