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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:22 pm 
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Still on the Trailer Member

Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:54 pm
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Hello

Looking to buy a used 4x4 but would like to pin down which ones have a true locking front differential feature.
So far I've found the Kawasaki and Suzuki V-twin models and also the Prairie 360. Believe the Yamaha Grizzly 350 but not sure or if any other models.
How early did this feature show up and is it a plus to have?

Thanks


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:14 am 
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ATVing To The End
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Those who have it think they need it, those who don't have it think they do not. Purely a matter of personal choice. If you plan to rock crawl or run in deep mud, the locker front diff can be a benefit. Actually, deep muddin can be accomplished quite successfully without it. We used to do serious muddin with 2-wd quads (we did get stuck a lot :mrgreen: ). Otherwise it is a feature you will likely never use.

Some want it "just in case". But, should you forget to unlock it and speed up, the locked front axle can be a serious control deficit, which is why Honda only uses it in machines that are seriously speed limited. Like the Big Red UTV. I believe most quad makers that use lockable front diffs have limited speed when locked, as control of a 500-800 pound quad at speeds above 8-10 mph with the diff locked is beyond the average riders strength capability. And way beyond that of a child under 14-16, or females in general. Should the switch get accidentally bumped and lock the diff at speed, an accident is almost a certainty with any rider.

Personally, I have never had one and have never needed one. I do not remember when it became a common feature, but my 1999 Kodiak did not have it. If you are looking to buy used, the owner/dealer will surely know if their quad has it or not. If new, it will be a selling feature and they will tell you right up front.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:19 am 
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Polaris has always had a locked front on all 4x4 models. The others you mentioned came about sometime in the mid 2000's, say 05-06, when all the major manufacturers started the size and feature wars to gain sales.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:25 pm 
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ATV Junkie

Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2006 11:05 pm
Posts: 754
Location: Farmington, New Mexico
WoodsRuner wrote:
Those who have it think they need it, those who don't have it think they do not.


I don't know how I missed this when the topic started.

Don't speak for all of us who don't have diff lock. My Wolverine 450 doesn't have it, and yet I know there's times I have badly needed it. Even on flat sandy ground when trying to tug a downed tree off the trail, diff lock would have helped a lot.

So yes, I DO need it...

I also know of other owners of ATVs that don't have diff lock that understand the need for it. So you can't speak for them either.

ANY TIME one front wheel is spinning faster than the other, diff lock helps even IF the machine can make it through or over whatever the obstacle is. It's not just about if it's absolutely needed, it's also about how much effort you are willing to exert to go where you want to go.

For the original poster: Here is a link to a video of a Grizzly 400 (without diff lock) and a Grizzly 450 (with diff lock) showing how much easier the Grizzly 450 went where the operator pointed the machine with the differential locked when compared to the 400:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8r9rz8b-A0&feature=fvw

Now I know that the Grizz 400 could have done better had the rider actually been working harder. But the point of this video is to show how much of a difference diff lock can make with 2 otherwise identically equipped machines (even the tires are the same), and with 2 riders that appear to have the same amount of skill. In fact, I think the 400 weighs less, so that would make up for some of the disadvantage of not having a locker.

The 450's locker made a VERY obvious difference in how easy it climbed in the video. It's almost like a day and night difference. After a little bit, you can tell which one is the 400 because you can obviously see one front tire is spinning.

Regardless, like I have said before, it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. And yes, there HAVE been times I HAVE needed it it and not had it, causing me to either get stuck, or making it harder to get UNstuck.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:47 pm 
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ATVing To The End
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I know many riders who, starting about 2000, have or have had diff lock, and have never used it. So, for them, and me, it is a useless function. But they just HAD to have it. I would guess about 5% of riders ever really needed it and have used it. You are apparently in that 5%. Most everyone else is not.

I also think a lot of riders believe diff lock is the "magic cure" for their own lack of riding skills in hairy situations. I doubt a diff lock would have helped in your pulling a tree off the trails. As long as all 4 wheels were on the ground, you were getting the most out of what you had. Unless for what ever reason you had one wheel in the air, no diff lock would have helped.

The one situation that I have seen diff lock do any real good was rock climbing when one wheel leaves the ground (rocks). Other than that, it is a pretty much useless.

25 years ago there was no diff lock, no 4wd in fact, yet we managed to go through the mud and over the rocks and trees.
So I guess it is mostly in how one uses what one has. I took a 2wd
Kawi 300 to Tellico in the late 90's. All the other riders had 4wd quads. on the way down, they constantly moaned about having to winch me out of places they knew I would get stuck. I did get stuck once, when a rear wheel slid into a wedge between boulders. But they were all amazed that I was able to take that little Kawi where I did. Many times I had to stand on one side of the quad, both feet on one foot peg, to keep the quad from rolling or losing traction, but I made it. Would I try that today? No way, I am too old for that [profanity] now. LOL.

But in the long run, no 4wd or diff lock will make up for lack of rider skills.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:28 pm 
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WoodsRuner wrote:
I am too old for that [profanity] now. LOL.


No comment :sarcasm: . Sorry, couldn't let that one go :bigups: .


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:17 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2006 11:05 pm
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Much of what helps 2wd machines is less weight. A 2wd will almost always pull better than a 4wd in 2wd. The same is true of trucks and SUVs as well.

I also know for a fact that a 2wd truck with a limited slip or locker does better off road than a 2wd with an open differential. But for someone that never goes off road, they might say it's useless to them too.

Much of what helped 2wd machines years ago was balloon tires, which they don't usually have these days. They now have harder tires partly due to larger rims. The softer tires back then helped traction, plain and simple, by keeping more tread on the ground and helping distribute weight between the drive wheels better.

Another thing is that now, trails are often more torn up than they were back then and are harder to make it without 4wd and diff lock. Just in my 10 years of going to Kentucky, I've witnessed this myself.

As far as the tree is concerned, my Wolverine got to where it wouldn't move it because one front wheel wasn't turning, and both were touching the ground. Even snatching it helped very little. But when I gave it front brake, that slowed the spinning wheel and transferred some torque to the non-spinning wheel. When I did that, it would ever so slowly start to pull the tree. Had I not given it front brake, the tree would NOT have moved at all.

The only problem with that was the fact that using the front brakes to help transfer torque resulted in the engine bogging and slowing progress.

I know for a fact that a front locker would have helped a lot, and it wouldn't have bogged the engine.

I have seen other times that a locker would have helped, such as sandy hillclimbs with both front tires on the ground, or even hard slick hillclimbs in Kentucky with both front wheels on the ground. Engine torque often makes one wheel spin faster than the other, so it doesn't always have to do with a wheel in the air.

Another thing that can make a locker useful is with both wheels touching, but one is on hard ground and the other is on loose or soft ground.

In fact, if you saw the video, the Grizzly 400 spun 1 front wheel and it appeared that both were touching the ground with a pretty even amount of weight on both.

The Grizzly 450 obviously did better with the locker. It was very easy to see. And on the same terrain as well.

Again, it isn't necessarily about if a locker is absolutely needed to go from point "A" to point "B". It also has to do with how much effort you want to put into it. A locker can very well make it easier. I have experienced this with my Brute, as well as with 4wd street legal vehicles.

Even you stated how much effort it took to take the Kawasaki 300 where you took it. Fact is, it sounds like 4wd and a locker would have made it easier, correct? And that is part of my point.

Just like with 4wd and a winch, it still is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

But then again, not everyone gets in situations where they will need it. But some do. The original poster didn't say what type of riding he will be doing, but he did ask if it is a plus to have. I say yes.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 7:17 am 
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ATVing To The End
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You are well entitled to your opinion, William. But I will submit that the Honda front diff is superior to your Wolvy front diff, as I have never seen a Honda diff do what yours did with the tree attached. As long as the front wheels have contact with the ground, they pull. Of course the Wolvy is not a true ute quad, and that may be the reason. Yamaha apparently saw no need for a torque sensing diff on the Wolvy. There is a difference between a limited slip and a torque sensing diff.

If you indeed see the need for a front locker, then by all means you should have one. I will reiterate that I have never saw such a need, and never, in 25 years of off-roading, needed one. I have ridden some of the most serious trails in the eastern US (Tellico, the Wagon Wheel trails in WV., those trails on my Rincon in fact), and never felt I needed one. Indeed, never felt I was in any situation where one would even be advantageous. But, our differences is what keeps the various ATV manufacturers in business.

I will also say, had I have a 4wd, locking diff quad at at Tellico, I don't feel it would have been nearly as much fun as it was. :mrgreen:
Of course, these days, I am more concerned about not breaking bones than I am about having fun. :lol:

And, geezer old pal, at your advanced age, no comment is the best comment. :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:02 am 
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Actually, I have seen videos on YouTube of Honda ATVs with one front tire spinning.

The Honda geardriven limited slip, although not a multiplate clutch type, is still a limited slip.

For that matter, Suzuki has a geardriven limited slip like Honda has, and they STILL saw fit to add a locker. Why hasn't Honda done so?

Wait, yes they have done so. The Big Red UTV has a front locker, so they obviously saw a need for it. Isn't the Big Red based in the Rincon? So why was the Rincon's front differential not adequate for the Big Red?

I do expect that Honda will soon start adding front lockers. If they do, and also add a low range and preferably a 4 or 5 speed auto to the Rincon, I would consider one when it comes time to buy.

There are truck versions of the same geardriven limited slip Honda uses. I think the original was the Gleason Torsen differential. There's also one made my the same company that makes the Detroit Locker called the Truetrac.

Although better than a clutch type limited slip in that there are no clutch plates to wear, or overheat and temporarily lose effectiveness, by all accounts given on the 4wd truck/SUV forums they still fall short of a locker when it comes to torque transfer to the wheel with the most traction.

In fact, some have argued on the truck/SUV forums that a geardriven limited slip is as useless as a clutch type. But then again, those are the people that tend to get more extreme off road.

And yes, it CAN be fun without a locker. I took my Wolverine up an extreme stepped rock face in Kentucky called Binocular, which is near Slade and north of Beattyville. Getting to the top 30+ minutes later, I felt a sense of accomplishment. This same rock face caused problems for my Brute, mainly because of having the wrong tires and the light front end trying to come off the ground. I winched the Brute up the 2 worst sections because of safety concerns because I was afraid it would flip over backwards.

Regardless, at your age, I'm sure a locker might help keep you from having to make your old muscles exert too much force. A locker could help preserve your body. :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:39 pm 
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ATVing To The End
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Videos are not personal experience, and do not count. Any Honda hater can rig such a exposition. And do not think it has not been done. It has. A certain Polaris fan I know did just that.

The new Big Red is limited to around 43 mph, because of the front locker. The Rincon will never have one, I will bet on it. Unless they too are speed limited.

Have you ever even rode a locked front end quad? They are 3x harder to steer than a slipper diff. Will wear my old arms out in no time. Wait, I know you have, you had the Kawi. You must be a young buck, to make that comment. :mrgreen:


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