If you’re looking to convert the steel cable that came on your UTV winch to synthetic winch rope, you will soon get lost in a maze of brands and options on what to get. Not all winch rope is created equal. UTV Revolution is here to walk you through everything you need to know from how to properly convert from steel cable to synthetic line to what we consider the best winch ropes on the market today.
Synthetic rope is significantly lighter and much easier to handle compared to steel cable. Synthetic line also has a higher breaking strength and stores less energy because it doesn’t stretch as much as steel during a pull. This means that it in event that your synthetic line does break, the significantly less energy from the mass and elongation of the rope has a much lesser chance of causing catastrophic damage or injury. If you play in water or mud, the fact that synthetic winch rope will float comes in as an added bonus. While wearing gloves during a recovery is always recommended, we know not everyone does. Synthetic line won’t develop the sharp burrs that can occur on steel cable, making it safer to handle without gloves. However, fibers can still pick up debris from the ground, so it is wise to use best recovery practices when using your winch.
The one downside to synthetic winch line is that it is easier to cut on sharp surfaces and it doesn’t have the abrasion resistance of aircraft grade steel winch cable. For this reason, most synthetic winch lines come with an abrasion guard that you can slide along the winch line if you see that your synthetic rope is going to make contact with a surface.
What You Need to Convert from Steel Cable to Synthetic Rope
Fortunately, it is easy to change your UTV winch from that old, heavy and dangerous steel cable to synthetic rope. You just need to determine what size line you need, a little prep on your winch and to replace your fairlead.
Winches that are 3,500 lbs or less can use 3/16″ synthetic line and most drums hold up to around 50′ of rope. If your winch is rated for 4,500 to 5,500 lbs, then you will want to use a synthetic line that is 1/4″ thick. Do not use thinner line than these recommendations on your winch. Even though thinner line may have a breaking strength that is beyond your winch’s capacity, all rigging should have a safety factor built into them of at least 1.5X the rated line pull.
Next, you need to replace your fairlead. Steel cable use will create burrs and sharp points on a roller fairlead that will quickly damage synthetic line, so replacing it with a hawse fairlead is a must. The XTV Hawse Fairlead from Factor 55 is the nicest aftermarket fairlead that we have seen on the market. It is CNC machined from 1 inch thick USA 6000 series aluminum bar, which creates a larger outside radius at the winch line opening. This creates much less stress on your rope compared to the 1/2″ thick standard hawse fairleads from most other companies. The hard annodized ceramic coating of the fairlead also creates less friction, which means less heat compared to other fairleads.
Finally, you need to inspect the drum of your winch. One again, steel cable will create burrs and sharp points on your winch drum that can damage your synthetic winch line. Sand of file down at sharp points that you find on the drum. It doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth, you just need to remove any sharp points that can degrade your new rope.
Master Pull Superline
Founded in 1996, Master Pull is one of the orignials in the offroad recovery industry. The Superline from Master Pull is the strongest winch line on the market today. The 3/16″ Superline has a minimum breaking strength of 10,000 lbs and the 1/4″ is rated from a MBS of an insane 14,960 lbs, compared to the 7,700 lbs average of other ropes in the industry.
The Superline is made with pre-stretched and heat set Dyneema synthetic rope. This is a special process of heating and pre-stretching a larger diameter rope into a smaller diameter. This gives the rope a very high breaking strength when compared to steel or other synthetic winch lines in the same diameter. The pre-stretching also makes the rope more dense, which helps prevent chafing materials, such as dirt and sand, from getting lodged in the strands of the rope, which over time will degrade performance of the line.
The Superline features a 6′ drum guard that protects against drum abrasion and is coated with polyurethane for added UV and chemical resistance. It also includes a removable rock guard for extra protection against chafe and wear.
Custom Splice Diamondback Mainline Winch Rope
Todd Stauffer created Custom Splice back in 2005 and has grown to one of the most respected names in the industry among both enthusiasts and competitors. Custom Splice continues to evolve in both quality and affordability with their Diamondback Winch Rope.
Custom Splice’s Diamondback has a tightly woven “Snakeskin” Exterior to guard against abrasion and protect the core from damage from the outside. The 1/4″ synthetic line has a 7,300 lbs average minimum breaking strength.
The Diamondback include a 5′ chafe guard and one end is spliced with a steel tube thimble eyelet. The Drum end has a crimped on connector for attaching to drums with a button head screw. This end can be cut off if your winch has a different connection. The double braided construction helps keep dirt away from the load bearing core. Offered in eight different colors, the Diamondback not only offers a high quality synthetic UTV winch rope, but is going to look great doing it.
Bubba Rope Powersports Winch Line
Bubba Rope is one of the innovative leaders in the offroad recovery market. Many of their ideas for recovery products have been adopted by other companies throughout the industry. While they’re often imitated, the original products are almost always among the best.
Bubba Rope has pushed the envelope of innovation further again with their Powersports Winch Line. The Bubba Rope synthetic winch line is one of the most advanced lines you can use. This winch line uses ses advanced HMPE Plasma® synthetic rope. This is the strongest rope for its weight and added a light weight non-metal eye. Coming in at less than 1 lb, the rope is 86% lighter than steel lines and 25% lighter than other synthetic winch lines on the market. The rope is coated throughout the entire assembly in heavy Gator-ize® vinyl armor resulting in no line fuzzing and better protection against abrasion, sand and ultraviolet light. The line color is banded every 5′ so that you can quickly gauge the amount of rope you have out at any time. The rope is rated at 8,000 lbs minimum breaking strength.
The winch line comes with a Gator Jaw soft shackle, a patented winch line grabber and a removable chafe guard to protect your rope from sharp edges. The winch line grabber is among one of our favorite features of the rope in that it provides an easier way to wrap your winch line on the drum instead of attaching with a screw or trying to feed through a hole, which can be infuriating.
Ucreative Synthetic Winch Line
Our budget pick for the list. Though it’s manufactured overseas, if you’re looking for a cheap rope of fairly good quality, this would be the one to get. Made of heavy duty synthetic fiber, this is a strong and durable rope that offers good UV resistance.
The winch line comes with a 5′ adjustable anti-chafe sleeve and stainless steel thimble for attaching your hook. Though the advertised minimum breaking strength is listed at 7,700 lbs, we question that rating since that is the number from Amsteel Blue fiber, made by Samson. We would venture to guess that this is more likely in the 6,800 to 7,000 lbs range.
The Ucreative synthetic winch line comes in both blue and dark grey colors. While this line isn’t as strong or long lasting as others on our list, it’s still a great budget upgrade from steel cable.