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Thread: Engine Braking and Power Steering; who needs 'em?

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    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    Question Engine Braking and Power Steering; who needs 'em?

    Looking at my first ATV and trying to decide what's important?

    Some brands offer Engine Braking and/or Power Steering, and some don't.

    Some brands offer EB/PS on their quads, but not on their side-by-sides, or vice-versa?

    Don't want to start a brand war, just wondering about the actual features.

    Is engine braking and/or power steering a "must have" or only a "nice to have"?

    Does it matter more on SxS or quads?

    Thanx, Dave.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I have never had a quad with power steering but I can certainly see the benefits. The first 20+ years of ATV's sure didn't have it so I don't see it as a "must have". Certainly a very good feature though that should make riding a lot less tiring. I definitely like engine braking though and after owning an old polaris without it do consider it a "must have". It is just a lot safer to have more than one system to slow you down when riding in the mountains.

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    Polaris made a big deal out of their engine braking system because they needed to, their transmission design just free wheeled when not on the throttle. The other brands down-shift their auto tranmissions well enough that it's not an issue.

    As far as power steering. It's definately not a "must have" but it sure is nice.
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    Both are 'Nice to have' IMO....

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    They are both worth the extra money, IMO. My Grizz 700 has both engine braking and power steering, and there are some trails we've ridden that I'm so sore at the end of it that I can't imagine not having power steering. I definitely can ride farther in a day and recover faster afterward because of it. We have people ride with us that don't have P/S and I see how much faster they get beat up and tired, so to me it's worth it.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EagleRiverDee View Post
    They are both worth the extra money, IMO. My Grizz 700 has both engine braking and power steering, and there are some trails we've ridden that I'm so sore at the end of it that I can't imagine not having power steering. I definitely can ride farther in a day and recover faster afterward because of it. We have people ride with us that don't have P/S and I see how much faster they get beat up and tired, so to me it's worth it.
    All Yamaha's come with engine "breaking" free of charge. It's the engine "fixing" that costs ya!!

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    Default why wouldn't you?

    Engine braking...think of anti-lock brakes...rolling wheels have more steering control than non-rolling. Ever ride a non-suspended 1980's vintage mountain bike down a mountain? It gets very exciting when you miss time the application of brake pressure, i.e. when the tire is momentarily airborne after skipping over a rock, the wheel is locked, back on mother earth it's now sliding. And not in the direction you want it to be. You learn very quickly about feathering the brakes or how to pick bark outta your teeth. With EB, brake fade from over heated disc and pads, is not a concern while descending from, say a visit to B-29 site up off Schrock Road.

    Power steering...it just makes it easier...easier translates to less fatiguing at the tail end of a long ride. Less fatigue means I am less likely to make a mistake where I don't need to screw-up, potentially turning a perfectly good outing into a nightmare.

    Do you need either? No, but why wouldn't you want 'em?

    From the Yamaha website...550 Grizzly w/PS $8,699 vs. non-PS $7,999. 7% difference...heck, that's the sales tax in most places.

    Plus with PS...I can ride really, really fast, one-handed, with my hair on fire and not spill any beer.

    I meant root beer of course:-).
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    Quote Originally Posted by partychief360 View Post
    I can ride really, really fast, one-handed, with my hair on fire and not spill any beer.

    I meant root beer of course:-).
    That 's funny right there, I don't care who you are!

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    Member Rich_in_AK's Avatar
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    Just on resale value alone you come out ahead with the goodies !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich_in_AK View Post
    Just on resale value alone you come out ahead with the goodies !
    Mostly have ridden manual transmissions growing up so engine braking was up to how much I wanted to slow down going down a hill by choosing which gear I wanted to be in.....unless I wanted to go SUPER slow and accidental down shifted my way all the way to neutral....YIKES!!! In fact most of the wheelers I drove growing up and up to 3-4 years ago didn't really have breaks after a couple seasons. They breaks would simply wear out and we'd rely solely on downshift to slowdown.

    As far as power steering it could be nice for sure. Never felt like I go my butt kicked too much even with 30+ mile days off trail bouncing around the tundra. However load your front rack up with a hind quarter of a moose and try to pick your way through an alder patch and it could be REALLY nice then. Is power steering worth another $700....probably not for me, just need to hit the gym a bit more so my dinky T-Rex arms are up to the task.

    I really only drive a polaris 6x6 around anymore the weight on the front tires is never as much as a four wheeler to begin with so turns is always a breeze and even more so with a moose in the back.

    In my experience when selling used toys you rarely get the money out of the "extras" that are put on it. Sometimes they help sell it quicker. For example on the used market a used wheeler with stock tires that is priced at $4000, rarely will you get the exact same wheeler with aftermarket tires to sell for $4500.

    Which puts me in the camp of if you have the money and would rather spend it on power steering that gas for your truck and wheeler for more trips go for it if its worth it to you. Otherwise spend it on a winch and gasoline

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    Having owned a Polairs 500 X2 with engine breaking it was nice to have and I miss not having it on my 2010 Ranger 6X6. I have never felt the need for power steering and IMO power steering takes away from the feel of the trail. If you're having to fight or muscle the steering you should consider how the wheeler is approaching the obstacle and see if there is an easier way. Power steering will help you "force" the tires, front suspension, cv's, etc. into potentially damaging situations, whereas you would not physically be able to make the steering components hold that line or you'd at least notice there was an issue and either decide to power through or do something else.

    If I had to rank them #1 Engine breaking #2 Power Steering, but neither would be a deal breaker if there was a wheeler that I liked for other reasons.

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    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    1S1K, since you drive a Ranger 6X6, here's a follow up question:

    Why doesn't the Ranger 6X6 (or any of the Rangers, for that matter) have the engine braking feature?
    When the Sportsman 6X6 (and their quad models) DO?

    Polaris has me scratching my head, Dave.

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    I have a couple of Grizzlies, one with power steering and one without. I love the power steering. As far as engine braking goes, either of them will creep down a remarkably steep hill without ever touching the brakes if you start out slowly and don't let it get going too fast. On a hill that you are actually looking right down over the handlebars you might have to touch the brakes a little to keep it from building up speed. My brakes last forever on these machines because of that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PugtSounDav View Post
    1S1K, since you drive a Ranger 6X6, here's a follow up question:

    Why doesn't the Ranger 6X6 (or any of the Rangers, for that matter) have the engine braking feature?
    When the Sportsman 6X6 (and their quad models) DO?

    Polaris has me scratching my head, Dave.
    I have no idea. I'm not a gear head. I only buy them and drive them. I do know that most guys on the Polaris Ranger Club forum use rpms to "brake" the Rangers. Basically, if you practice you can find a sweet spot where the rpms are at minimal engagement without the Ranger going into freewheel. I think its around 1700 rpms. This helps with braking and in most spots, like Monument's decent you can keep a steady pace without having to hold the brake down the whole way. Also, there is talk that most aftermarket clutch kits usually decrease the rpms even lower before free wheel is achieved.

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    Member SusitnaAk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1S1K View Post
    I have no idea. I'm not a gear head. I only buy them and drive them. I do know that most guys on the Polaris Ranger Club forum use rpms to "brake" the Rangers. Basically, if you practice you can find a sweet spot where the rpms are at minimal engagement without the Ranger going into freewheel. I think its around 1700 rpms. This helps with braking and in most spots, like Monument's decent you can keep a steady pace without having to hold the brake down the whole way. Also, there is talk that most aftermarket clutch kits usually decrease the rpms even lower before free wheel is achieved.
    Me too i would like to know.. If you find out, I have a EBS, clutch set,& belt,
    that came off a 500 4stroke sportsman 6x6.Like new 60 miles on it..I didn,t like it couldn,t get used to it.Every time i let off the gas throw me forward I,m guess i,m old school after the first 4 machines i had didn,t have it i set up the new one like the old ones. Anyways if find out it would work on your machine?I would make a good deal on it I,m a flatlander swamp kinda of guy anyways, just not much need for it..

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    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    Like I stated at the outset, this will be my first ATV, so I don't "know" anything.

    But, I do "think" a few things: such as, that usually, more simple is more better.
    So, I tend to lean away from having more systems to maintain/repair on any vehicle.
    Therefore, I like the idea that the Polaris 6X6's don't "need" EPS because of their extra rear axles.

    But, for some reason "engine braking" doesn't seem like an "extra system" in any transmission.
    It seems more like an integral part that should work whenever I'm not "on the throttle".
    Having a "freewheeling" drivetrain, where ya have to either feather the throttle going downhill,
    OR apply the brakes all the time (and eventually wear them out faster), seems a little strange?

    And the fact that the 6X6 Sportsman HAS engine braking, while the 6X6 Ranger DOES NOT,
    makes me "think" that Polaris intentionally chose to build these two vehicles differently.
    Maybe there's a perfectly good reason, or maybe it was a cost savings marketing decision???

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    Quote Originally Posted by PugtSounDav View Post
    It seems more like an integral part that should work whenever I'm not "on the throttle".
    Having a "freewheeling" drivetrain, where ya have to either feather the throttle going downhill,
    OR apply the brakes all the time (and eventually wear them out faster), seems a little strange?
    Go test drive a Yamaha Grizzly and see what a well designed engine breaking and power steering system does (450, 550, and 700 all have power steering as an option). On a Yamaha engine breaking is integral, not an afterthought. The power steering assists the rider without taking away from control. Yamaha's are also lighter in weight, something you'll appreciate when your stuck or just moving it around in your garage. 2011 Grizzly 550 = 658lbs, 2011 Sportsman 550 = 722lbs. I'm not brand bashing, just trying to answer your question in post #1 (I own 2 polaris and 2 Yamaha snowmachines and ATV's).

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    Default A few more points

    I feel that it's both a safety and comfort issue. With a machine with excellent engine braking, all you have to worry about on a hairy, white knuckle descent is one control, your thumb. You just drive down the hill modulating the throttle to stay in control. No worrying about what tires are sliding, either you've got enough grip in your tires or you don't and if you don't, you're going to be sliding no matter what and having the control in your thumb to keep them planted might mean the difference between disaster and making it down safely. All you have to do is ease the throttle on and off to spin the tires to match your ATVs speed on the terrain and you'll hook back up. If this seems like no big deal to you, you've never seen someone sliding to and fro out of control until one of their front tires finds a hole and catapults the rider down hill only to be chased by a cartwheeling ATV!!!!

    For power steering, it just flat rocks. You don't take the same hits to your wrists, elbows and shoulders on a long hard day. If you're a riding enthusiast, you can ride longer, harder and faster (must be a guy thing) than without. You don't ache as bad. You're not just traumatized at the end of a long day. It's a physics thing. ATVs are heavy and without the power steering assisting you, every hit on the trail gets handled by you. With power steering, you're driving the ATV, not the other way around!

    I'm particularly partial to my new Can-Ams engine braking and power steering capabilities. It's awesome on tight trails to not have to hoss the bars around and ride the brakes. You just sit and ride. You can turn the bars with your finger tips. Heck, on my old machine, sometimes no matter how hard I tried, the bars wouldn't turn on a technical trail if wedged in a rut or rock. The added control is amazing for fatigue and safety concerns.

    Almost every single time I've seen someone get hurt, it's at the end of the day when they're tired. This is where the added control and decreased fatigue is worth it's weight in gold.

    One avoided little short trip to the ER would pay for a whole machine!

    Just food for thought.

  19. #19

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    It depends on what you want from your riding experience. Do you want to get there in maximum comfort? Or do you like the lightest bike possible with lots of feedback? I for one don't like the trend towards totally isolating the rider from the riding experience. Auto transmissions, power this and that, 750lb quads, are not necessarily an improvement to me. I do, however, love the suspension setups on newer bikes. IRS is awesome. My first atv was a 198x Suzuki 125 3 wheeler with NO suspension. I was a kid and I loved it, but no way I would pound myself like that now......

  20. #20

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    I still remember my son-in-law yelling "look out" when the brakes on the 1996 6x6 went out. We were on a hill and he flew by me. Fortunately the pucker brush stopped him. After we realized no one was hurt we laughed about it for the rest of the day. So yeah, I will have some kind of engine braking on a machine. The next machine I buy for my wife will have power steering. If the Polaris 6x6 Ranger had power steering and more leg room I would have bought it instead of the Big Boss I just got.

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