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Riding trails, doing tight turns at the track, and jumping dunes are just a part of riding an ATV. Depending on what type of ATV you own and your riding style, you can be behind those handlebars for a very long time. At the end of a five or six hour ride up and back down a mountain, an hour long race, or riding several miles in the woods to sit in that perfect deer hunting stand you will probably end up saying “Man my arms are pretty sore! Can I find an ATV that has power steering?” The answer is yes, you can!
All ATVs do not come with power steering but the majority of newer model 4×4 utility ATVs do have Electronic Power Steering(EPS). Aftermarket EPS systems can be installed and we cover why you NEED power steering.
Most riders today will tell you that you don’t NEED power steering and that is true because people rode ATVs for over twenty years before the technology was introduced to the ATV community. Suzuki released the very first 4 wheel ATV in 1982 called the QuadRunner LT125. Twenty Four years later, Yamaha released their electronic power steering system on the 2006 Yamaha Grizzly 700 EPS.
ATV’s have come a long way since 1982 and I can tell you one thing, once you have ridden a big 4×4 ATV with power steering, you will not want to go back to driving one without it. There are many advantages to power steering but there are also just a FEW minor detractors that I will discuss further. Amazon has a large selection of power steering kits and you can bet that one will fit your machine!
What is Power Steering
Power Steering is not a very hard concept and does exactly what the name implies. It uses power, either hydraulic or electric, to assist the rider in turning their wheel to the left and right. This allows the rider to use significantly less effort to turn wheels when driving at normal speeds. It is also particularly useful for turning the wheels of your ATV while stopped or when moving at slower speeds and turning.
Some systems compensate for wheel movement with heavier ATVs by using more power to assist the rider in turning. This makes the ATV steer easier but it also gives the rider less “feel” of what is happening to their wheels. I will talk about this in more detail when I tell you about how power steering affects your ATV’s handling.
How Power Steering Affects Handling
Adding the assistance of power steering can affect how your ATV handles. There are good effects and not so good effects depending on your power steering system. Your ATV should be precise enough that when you turn the handlebars, the wheels respond in a timely manner but not assisted so much that it is effortless to turn them.
Let’s check out the many advantages of power steering.
Advantages of Power Steering on an ATV
The obvious advantage to power steering is that it reduces the effort the rider has to put in to turn the handlebars. This will reduce fatigue of your arms and shoulders tremendously as you ride for longer periods of time. The feedback you receive from the terrain you are riding is lessened substantially allowing for a much smoother ride.
For example: Riding on a very rough trail with large rocks and ruts can often jar the handlebar when riding over them but power can minimize how much the handlebars move. Riders have suffered broken thumbs and wrists riding over rough terrain without power steering when handlebar made a sudden sharp movement meaning power steering MAY help reduce injuries.
Hauling heavier loads becomes easier with a power steering system. Imagine an extra 200 pounds of gear being hauled from one end of the farm to another. Struggling to turn with that extra weight is greatly reduced. Slow speed turning and turning with larger wheels and tires are also affected.
With the many advantages of power steering, there are a few minor ones to consider, although none are really a deal breaker.
Disadvantages of Power Steering
In a perfect world, power steering would give you the best feedback from the terrain you are riding and the sensitivity would be just right allowing for a completely smooth ride. For ATVs to have perfect balance is nearly impossible so some compromises need to be made.
ATV manufacturers need to ensure their products can combine the ease of low speed turning while having good feedback to the riders movements of the handlebars and they can’t make their systems have the best in both worlds. There is an almost perfect balance that needs to be achieved. When that balance is not there, the following could occur.
For an ATV to have a super smooth ride and feel it has to have more assistance from the power steering systems. When you add more power from the steering system, it affects how responsive the handlebars are when the rider turns them and also affects how responsive the handlebars are when traveling over terrain.
This “hyper” responsiveness can lead to areas of “no travel” where the handlebars could have free play in them when moving from the middle of travel. This would cause less response time from rider input making the power steering inefficient.
Non Power Assisted Steering
Non power assisted steering is often called manual steering and only uses the force the rider exerts on the handlebars. This makes a non power assisted system more cumbersome to use and the advantages of using power steering versus non powered are illustrated above.
Non power assisted steering is better suited for lighter ATVs that don’t require as much force to turn the wheels due to the lower load weight. Sport ATVs are predominantly equipped with non power assisted steering systems.
I have felt first hand the fatigue and soreness first hand when riding my Polaris 525s. After a day of riding I felt like my arms were still shaking even though I was in the truck riding home.
You Can Add Power Steering to Your ATV
There are many aftermarket power steering units on the web today and they are all pretty much the same. They are in the $500 to $700 range to custom install your own electronic power steering (EPS) system.
Most kits come with a steering assist motor, steering stem, wiring harness, mounting brackets and hardware. The steps to installing these aftermarket systems is very straightforward. The only real technical part is splicing the correct wires together.
If your ATV doesn’t come standard with power steering and you think you need it then you can just search your model and power steering. Some riders view EPS as an amenity, others say it is a necessity and has made riding so much better. With the information here, I hope you can make the choice best for you but my next 4×4 atv WILL have EPS, even at a higher price point.