Story | Mark Hamerton Photos | Rob Shepard
If your machine didn’t come equipped with a winch or you’re considering a replacement, here’s one option in the aftermarket arena that may meet your needs.
The Bronco AC-12020-1 has all the features one could want in an ATV winch. Rated at 3500 lbs this unit will pull any big bore ATV out of just about any predicament. With the factory installed synthetic winch cable you no longer have to worry about rust, kinks, or stray shards of wire, and the additional wireless control makes independent rescues much faster and easier.
Installation can be broken down to three parts, the winch, the control box, and the handlebar switch, obviously followed by the connections between them. Our test ATV was a 2015 Polaris Sportsman 1000XP.
MOUNTING THE WINCH
The Bronco universal mounting bracket gives you several options for u-bolting the winch to your ATV frame, but for a strong professional installation you will require an OEM mounting bracket speciﬁc to your make & model. The fair-lead mounts to the front of the bracket with four nuts and bolts. The winch itself is designed with four threaded holes that exactly mate to standard mounting plates without any modiﬁcation. As you slide the winch in to the bracket you will need to feed the cable ahead and out through the fairlead. Install the four supplied bolts and the assembly is ready to mount in the ATV.
Although not necessary, we chose to lift the front of the ATV to bring the winch position up to a comfortable level. The front brush guard, grill, and plastic front cover fangs were removed to access the mounting location. As you slide the bracket in to place the bolt holes at the sides will align and the four large mounting bolts can be installed. Re-installation of the fangs and brush guard complete this step.
THE HANDLEBAR CONTROL
The supplied mounting bracket for the handlebar control switch can be conﬁgured in many ways to accommodate different locations and nearby items. We chose to clamp the unit on the left handlebar in such a way as the rider could operate the switch with their thumb while still holding the hand grip. We managed to thread the control cable along the bar, through the headlight pod, and down under the front cowling until it was freely hanging under the fender. With a few black tie wraps to secure the wire, the control switch installation was complete.
THE WINCH CONTROL BOX
Traditionally this box would be mounted at the rear of the ATV, often under the seat or under the rear fender out of the way and close to the battery. Newer units such as our Sportsman have the battery up front making the cable running shorter, but the space constraints extremely tight. We found a location to the side of the radiator where the box could be mounted to a support bar without obstructing anything.
All of the heavy gauge posts were labeled and wiring was simple. Two color coded wires from the winch to the control box, and two from the box to the battery. Each wire mounted on a threaded post and came with a rubber protector to push over once tight. The control switch wire connected to the box and a threaded collar tightened it on while sealing it from moisture.
After a successful test of the winch out and in we were ready for the ﬁnal step, tidying up the excess wire. For the purpose of this article, and to show readers that this winch can be installed with nothing more than a few wrenches and sockets we chose to carefully spool the wire and tie wrap it in a tight coil. The coil was then tied to the frame to keep it from wandering. This solution, although acceptable, left a mess of wire, somewhat visible from the left side of the ATV. Ideally one would trim the wires to the exact length but this would require special crimpers and other tools.
The installation was simple and took less than 2 hours to complete. The build quality of the components was quite impressive. With all the included features I am sure this rider will have many years of service from their quality Bronco winch.
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