Accordingly, installing a winch on your ATV is probably the single best improvement you can make to the off-road capability of your rig. Having a winch on your rig or on one of the rigs in your group allows you to attempt obstacles that you wouldn’t dream of trying without one. Think of it as insurance in a way.
A few years ago we reviewed a Mile Marker winch and a mount plate from KFI products. The winch performed well but we were truly impressed with the mount plate. It may seem a bit strange to get excited about something as simple as a mount plate but the fit, finish and quality of it truly blew us away.
When we received a call from the folks at KFI announcing that they were going to start selling winches and recovery accessories we were truly intrigued. Corey Boelman of KFI Products told us that after more than a year of development and preparation they were ready to make their debut in the highly competitive marketplace of ATV and off-road accessories. We were anxious to see if KFI’s attention to detail and quality would carry over it to more complicated products.
A couple of weeks later we received a shiny new KFI A3000 ATV winch and another mount plate.
I won’t bore you with another glowing review of the simple mount plate except to say that once again we were impressed with the quality of the unit. The edges were finely machined, the powder coated finish seemed indestructible, the unit fit our machine perfectly and the instructions were written by someone who had actually performed the installation. The instructions even included pictures – we give extra points for pictures.
Once we completed the installation of the mount plate we grabbed the winch box and saw those three little words that we have all become so accustomed to seeing these days – Made in China. When we saw that our expectations were pretty low for the quality of the product in the box. We have seen more than our share of inexpensive Chinese winches and have typically walked away, less than impressed.
Once we got inside the box, however, we were surprised. Instead of cheap, low-grade plastic switchgear we found controls that were solid and had a very high quality feel. Instead of butter-soft, Phillips-head hardware that strips when you try to install it, we found high quality and attractive Allen head screws to mount the switches and electronics. And, Instead of a winch that looked like it had been cobbled together with soup cans and spray painted with a rattle-can we found a winch with a solid and well machined housing, a durable finish and an easy-to-use freespool control that activated with smooth precision.
The winch kit, mounting plate and a few simple tools were all we needed to perform the installation.
The only gotcha in the installation process was that once we had the unit wired per the instructions pressing the “out” button rolled the winch line in and pressing the “in” button sent the winch line out. To correct this little faux pas we simply reversed the wiring on the winch and it worked flawlessly. It turns out that KFI had included an update to the instructions telling us about this last minute configuration change but, let’s face it, by this time we were pretty much done with instructions.
The winch includes both a handlebar mounted control and a removable wired remote control. The hand held remote was custom designed to be large enough to fit comfortably in the hand of an average adult but small enough to be easily stored.
On the trail the A3000 performed flawlessly. While we were not blessed with enough rain to get our ATV stuck in a mirey abyss, we were able to tug ourselves up some hills and embankments. We were even able to help a stranded motorcyclist get his ride out of a tight spot. Through our admittedly light testing the A3000 never hiccupped.
It turns out that the KFI A3000 performs better than the other winches in its price class because it is different from the inside out. Rather than a plastic clutch knob the A3000 uses a cast aluminum unit. The unit is sealed to be water resistant and is actually submersible.
Sure, the A3000 lacks a few of the features of the big name brands. The wired remote is a little less high tech than some of the wireless remotes that have hit the market in the last few years. The old fashioned cable winch line isn’t quite as sexy as the synthetic lines that some winches are coming with now (Although KFI does offers synthetic line as an option). And the one year warrantee seems a little short compared to the lifetime warrantees offered by the big boys.
The KFI unit also lacks a feature that truly sets it apart – a huge price tag. At $160 the A3000 costs less than the accessory kits of some winches. Is $160 still to rich for your blood? KFI offers a 2000 lb. winch for as little as $110. Heck, you can barely fill up your tow rig with gas for less than that anymore. We haven’t tested the A2000 but we KFI assured us that it is held to the same high quality standards as its big brother. We were also told that a 4000 lb. winch is in the works for side-by-sides.
Only time will tell how well the KFI winch will hold up in the long run but at first glance we think this unit is going to give us several years of trouble free service. We think the product managers at KFI did a great job of delivering a high quality product at a rock-bottom price. Well done KFI.
|Kappers Fabricating, Inc.|
|1015 Industrial Drive
P.O. Box 32
Spring Valley, MN 55975