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I'm looking to install a winch on my ATV but I'm not sure if I should get the synthetic or steel cable. Who has either and why did you go that route? Also what brand are you using?
Googling this question was a waste of time as most of the comments were from people who heard or had a distant relative etc.
 

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I can't completely answer, because I've not owned synthetic. But, I've been considering the same question, so I'll share.
I have a winch on my ATV, with steel cable. It has been perfectly fine, and the winch seldom gets used. Certainly not enough to have caused any fraying or damage. And, that is the biggest advantage of synthetic, to me- a cable that is easier on the hands. The slight weight difference wouldn't matter on my ATV, and I don't need a cable to float. So, the only real advantage, for me, is how synthetic rope doesn't have frayed wire that can cut you.
So, to conclude my own thoughts on it, I wouldn't spend the money to replace my good steel cable with synthetic rope, but if I were buying a new winch, I'd probably go for rope- if the price is comparable. If rope is significantly higher, I don't see enough advantage to justify it. That is based on my own infrequent winch use.
 

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I have a 3500# Superwinch mounted on my CUT that has the steel cable. I've had no problems with it and see no point in replacing it. The advantage I see of the synthetic cable is that it is much lighter and more flexible when you drag it out. Especially if you let the spool freewheel and pull the cable out manually. If you are doing that every day (or several times a day) that might be a big issue but if you are only using it a couple of times/year, not so much.

I don't use mine enough to justify the cost of the synthetic cable in my mind.
 

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Synthetic rope is lighter and more flexible than cable, but not as abrasion or UV light resistant. For rope, your fairlead and snatch blocks or other accessories that the rope runs over need to be very smooth. If you've used those accessories with cable you probably need to replace them when you go to rope because the cable wears into the metal and creates sharp points that will damage synthetic rope. You also have to be more cautious not to allow the cable to cross things that may damage it like rocks or downed trees. The better ropes come with sleeves that you can slide down the rope to help protect portions of it. Mud and grit can get into the fibers and act as an abrasive as well, so you need to keep it clean. Synthetic is theoretically safer because it isn't supposed to whip like cable if it breaks, but I've not broken either one.

I was going to switch my 12,000 lb winch over to rope because it weighs over 100 lbs with the receiver mount and any savings there will make it easier to move. Unfortunately the cost of the rope, new fair leads and new snatch blocks just didn't make sense. I also like the extra abrasion resistance of the cable because it does occasionally drag on the tail of a trailer or something. I agree with Jim, if you're using the winch a lot then going synthetic might be a good choice but not for lighter use.
 

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Synthetic rope is lighter and more flexible than cable, but not as abrasion or UV light resistant. For rope, your fairlead and snatch blocks or other accessories that the rope runs over need to be very smooth. If you've used those accessories with cable you probably need to replace them when you go to rope because the cable wears into the metal and creates sharp points that will damage synthetic rope. You also have to be more cautious not to allow the cable to cross things that may damage it like rocks or downed trees. The better ropes come with sleeves that you can slide down the rope to help protect portions of it. Mud and grit can get into the fibers and act as an abrasive as well, so you need to keep it clean. Synthetic is theoretically safer because it isn't supposed to whip like cable if it breaks, but I've not broken either one.

I was going to switch my 12,000 lb winch over to rope because it weighs over 100 lbs with the receiver mount and any savings there will make it easier to move. Unfortunately the cost of the rope, new fair leads and new snatch blocks just didn't make sense. I also like the extra abrasion resistance of the cable because it does occasionally drag on the tail of a trailer or something. I agree with Jim, if you're using the winch a lot then going synthetic might be a good choice but not for lighter use.
I also don't have any real world experience with the synthetic rope, however the issue above is what tends to make me stray away from the idea. You have to have the winch under a cover when not in use and also most ropes have a critical heat tolerance that can be exceeded by the winch brake when operating. I luckily have never had a cable fail on my Wrangler, but I always use a cable blanket or dampener however you want to look at it, just in case.
 

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Cable on my Atv, Gator and 12000 lb truck winch also. I didn't go with synthetic rope either due to abrasive situations you get into. Have had no problems with cable.
 

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I changed the cable on my Jeep winch from cable to synthetic rope. I won the synthetic rope in a raffle so :gizmo: wasn't a factor.

I had to change my roller fairlead to a hawse fairlead. In addition to needing a smooth fairlead, the rope manufacturer recommended the hawse over the roller.

You do need to be more careful about how or where you use the synthetic rope because even a little abrasion will kill them.

On the positive side, handing it was much easier. I still wore gloves, but I really didn't need to.

FWIW, I wouldn't buy a synthetic rope to replace wire for a general purpose winch. For a special purpose, then yes I would consider it. With a good pair of gloves and proper winching techniques, traditional wire rope is hard to beat.
 

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My personal preference is wire rope over synthetic on my quad. Mainly because of the abuse it can take without worry of it accidentally getting sliced. Being a smaller diameter on an ATV lends it to quicker failure with minimal damage.
I also like my roller fairlead.
Just my personal opinion.
 

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Synthetic every time. My neighbors and I have all changed to synthetic line on the winches mounted to our atv's. None of us have experienced failures or short life with a lot of work. They will wear out, but they don't shed wire like cables. I got tired of giving blood samples all the time from frayed cable. The line can be tied in a knot and I carry about a 10' length in the tool box for a really strong but limp piece of cord. Ours were pretty expensive back then but, through the miracle of capitalism, Harbor Freight has a 4700 pound breaking strength line for $25.

ATV/UTV Synthetic Rope & Fairlead Kit

Jay
 

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Mine on the Pioneer has cable , since it was on the machine I had no choice. I've used it 4 or 5 times over the past year no troubles with the cable.
:dunno::dunno:
 

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Synthetic every time. My neighbors and I have all changed to synthetic line on the winches mounted to our atv's. None of us have experienced failures or short life with a lot of work. They will wear out, but they don't shed wire like cables. I got tired of giving blood samples all the time from frayed cable. The line can be tied in a knot and I carry about a 10' length in the tool box for a really strong but limp piece of cord. Ours were pretty expensive back then but, through the miracle of capitalism, Harbor Freight has a 4700 pound breaking strength line for $25.

ATV/UTV Synthetic Rope & Fairlead Kit

Jay
Jay - erosion of a braided synthetic or steel cable is but one concern of mine, corrosion (rust) being the other, especially in the mild steel wire used to make this wire. Any nick or scrape on the steel becomes a potential corrosion node, which ultimately becomes a stress riser and failure point. It is useful, however, to gather the experiences and opinions of others on this fine forum ;a 4700lb. max working static load synthetic rope impresses me greatly,

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Follow-up

I went with synthetic rope and a 4500# KFI winch. The dealer will give me a new rope if I break it he's so confident, but will see if that comes about in the future. The feedback was interesting a welcomed from the GTT site. I asked a couple of other websites the same question and heard crickets
 

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Love my Amstel blue synthetic line.. I ride a lot in crazy, muddy, rocky terrain.. I'm stuck - my buddies are stuck - people we meet on the trails are stuck.. Really easy on your hands, easy to work with in those less than ideal conditions on the trail. spools up smother and easier than steel by far.. easier on trees if you hook to one. And if it breaks there's no Kinetic energy stored that can take your head off the way a steel line can if it snaps.. And If it did break (I've never seen it) it's not ideal but you can tie a knot in it and you're good to go.. I've never had mine break or frey and I'm really hard on it.. If I decide to clean my quad After a wet/muddy ride.. I just free wheel the winch and pull it out and put it in a pile on the ground. Soak it with the hose, hang it from my front bumper till it dries and then spool it back in.. One hand on the winch button and one hand keeping it taught as it wraps back into the winch and I do it bare handed. I carry my steel cable as a last resort back up. You'll never see a winch of mine with anything but synthetic rope.
 

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I went with synthetic rope and a 4500# KFI winch. The dealer will give me a new rope if I break it he's so confident, but will see if that comes about in the future. The feedback was interesting a welcomed from the GTT site. I asked a couple of other websites the same question and heard crickets
Can't beat that deal! I'd try it too if they would replace it for free.
I'm sure you are gonna love it.
 

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Can't give you an exact number, but it's high. I have some on my Jeep rated in at least the 8-10k lbs range. I know it comes higher. Many people use it on Jeeps, etc. for off-road recovery.

I'm sure you can get it as heavy as you need it.
 

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We use synthetic rope on the crane to retrieve the car out at Bonneville. The first year we used wire rope and the salt simply ate it up. It rusted and frayed and was a nightmare to touch.

We hesitantly switched to synthetic rope. We were sure the corrosive environment wouldn't effect the synthetic rope like it did the wire rope but we were concerned about the UV on the open trailer plus the massive sunlight from the blue skies and white reflective surface.

After 6 years we finally decided to replace the rope. Other than fading the purple color out of it the UV didn't seem to really effect the rope that badly. We trailer in the open so that rope has seen a load of UV over six years. We are thinking about making a cover for the spool to reduce the UV further and maybe get 12 years instead of 6.

Best part is you can unspool the rope and inspect it by running it through your fingers WITHOUT getting stabbed with a frayed and rusty wire. At 5/16" you get 12,300 of tensile strength and it weighs next to nothing compared to the wire rope equivalent. No memory in it either. If you left it wrapped up for 50 years it would still come out soft and straight. It will take an odd shape when wrapped on the drum but it doesn't seem to effect performance.
 
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