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Power Steering on Six ATVs for 2010


(1/15/2010)

2010 Arctic Cat 550 H1 EFI S with power steering 

For those who have been waiting for Arctic Cat to offer power steering on an ATV, the wait is over. Six new 2010 models will come with Variable Assist electronic Power Steering (VAPS): three 550 models (including one TRV), and three 700 machines (including one TRV), which will arrive at dealerships beginning around March 1.

Each VAPS-equipped machine will have an “S” designation on the end of an already cumbersome alpha-numeric name (e.g. TRV 550 H1 EFI S). Each is identical to their non-VAPS mates in every way except for the power steering unit and necessary wiring (and of course the estimated $750 price premium).

2010 Arctic Cat ATV Power Steering

The unit consists of a sealed, brushless motor that acts like a torque converter, and fits snuggly in the front of the chassis (above). An input shaft on the top attaches to the ATV’s steering post, while and output shaft on the bottom connects with the remaining steering linkage.

Arctic Cat power steering unit

A cutaway of the brushless motor, with the input shaft. The entire VAPS unit weighs 14 lbs. and is designed with a lifespan that’s 10-times longer than their ATV, according to Cat.

When the rider turns the handlebars, an electronic control unit (ECU shown above) measures steering input force in relation to tire resistance and vehicle speed, then provides the appropriate assist to the steering column via the electronic motor.

Arctic Cat has programmed the ECU to maintain a light input effort, yet retain enough “feel” so that the rider can still detect what the tire contact patch is doing in relation to the terrain. This is the “Variable” element that Arctic Cat has wisely used to differentiate its system from competitors. I could easily feel the variability by playing at the extremes.

With the machine idling on pavement, you can turn the handlebars full lock-to-lock with a fraction of the effort required on a non-VAPS machine. But when cruising down a loose-gravel road at 40 mph – when a linear EPS system would deliver too much assist – the VAPS-equipped ATV delivers only the faintest detectible assist, leaving the rider with a solid idea of how much traction remains on the front end.

Trying to be impressive with Arctic Cat's power steering

Arctic Cat chose Moab, Utah, for their media unveiling in December, and for good reason. Rocky, rugged high-desert country with riding conditions that range from rock-crawling to high-speed hammering, Moab was an ideal environment to test VAPS and to understand its remarkable advantage.

I must admit I wasn’t one of those people clamoring for power steering. I’d never tried and, nor did I believe I needed it. This made my experience all the more enlightening and, frankly, overwhelming.

The difference between VAPS and no EPS is night and day. Steering effort is cut in half…and maybe more. The difference is most noticeable when negotiating rocks, tight turns and heavy-steering situations, and it’s clear to me other situations where I would be equally impressed: plowing snow; negotiating tight woods (especially with fully-loaded racks); and anytime when riding with a fully-locked differential.

2010 Arctic Cat power steering and finger pointing

Only with power steering would I attempt to ride down these rocks one-handed, while trying to point at the Arcticinsider decal on my visor. Seriously.

I don’t have experience with other systems, but Cat claims VAPS has a quicker assist speed, but without the “detached,” full-power-in-all-conditions feel that apparently is common to other brands. For what it’s worth, the other journalists in attendance agreed with Cat’s assessment.

Simply put: The comfort and ease of riding with VAPS is so noticeable, it left me wondering why Arctic Cat waited so long to bring it.

In fact, Cat spent three years developing their VAPS system, which explains why they’re a little late to the party but making a grand entrance in terms of bringing a highly-optimized and refined product.

 2010 Arctic Cat 700 TRV with power steering

Arctic Cat offers power steering on six different 2010 model year ATVS, including two TRV models like the 700 shown above.

 

 

 

 



Comments (13):

Brent King says:
1/15/2010 7:33:00 PM

I ride over 3000 miles in a good year , I however never have felt like I need power steering , I have driven a couple of yamaha atv's with PS and always felt like I had lost the whats under my tires input from the atv , and the feeling of knowing what is going to happen next . The idea of a variable assist sounds great , should still give the rider a feel for what they are driving on and when needed help make slow ***bersom turns over logs and rocks etc. WHEN ARE THEY TO BE AVAILABLE AT THE DEALERS ????????. 6500 MILE on the 2007 TRV 650 and its time for a new one . I was leaning toward the 1000 TRV , but this power steering stuff may keep me in the H1 world .
Steve Asche says:
1/15/2010 9:22:00 PM

Brent, 6500 miles? Its just getting broken in. My dad has the same machine and he has 27,000 miles. :-)

I too have ridden a Grizzly and was very uneasy riding it with the over-reactive power steering. I am hopeful this system offers a less noticeable enhancement at higher speeds. The Grizzly was VERY itchy at higher speeds.
Joe Furbee says:
6/16/2013 11:16:00 PM

Question, I have a 2007 Art.Cat 650 H1, do they make a conversion kit for power steering for this model ? If so , where can I read/buy it ?
Dave Alrick says:
3/14/2014 2:06:00 PM

I have a 2010 700 Arctic Cat ATV. After 7 - 8 miles of riding, the odometer goes crazy and the error code PO635 flashes on the instrument pod. I took the machine to the dealer in Mesa who told me the power steering unit is faulty, a $2500 replacement. I won't buy another Arctic Cat with VAPS again. Arctic Cat should stand behind this problem. Just search error code PO635 on Google and see all the other riders who are having the same problem.
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Santiago says:
12/19/2015 7:08:00 PM

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12/19/2015 7:08:00 PM

Nice car easy to drive..nice price all promises that was given in site and by e-mail from owerns was held 100%waited for me at the airport to get the car , waited for me to give the car back.I will trust them again if i return to this island .
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12/19/2015 7:08:00 PM

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