PRODUCT EVALUATION: Warn 1.5ci Winch; A winch for the rest of us

Every now and then we at Dirt Wheels come across a product that makes us say, “Why didn’t we think of that? This is great!” That’s what we thought when we first laid eyes on the Warn 1.5ci winch. It’s a winch rated at 1500 pounds pulling capacity, made to mount on sport quads and smaller ATVs.
“Sport quads,” you say? That’s right—and that’s the brilliance of this winch. Warn realized that with untold hundreds of thousands of sport quad ATV riders out there, why not offer them a winch product? It didn’t have to be a bigger, heavier winch, necessary to haul an 800cc 4×4 beast out of trouble. It could be smaller, lighter, and only need to have the oomph to pull a sport quad out of the muck. With that theme in mind, they set to work, designing a smaller yet powerful winch.

1.5ci SPECS
The Warn 1.5ci ($310) comes to the table weighing only 11.5 pounds. Weight is important to sport quad riders, where having a lighter machine keeps the performance and “fun factor” of the machine high. Warn succeeded in getting the weight down nicely, even though their 3000-pound rated 3.0ci is only 19 pounds.
The nuts and bolts of the 1.5ci are 1500 pounds of pulling power, plus such features as a mechanical brake, all-weather contactor, 10-gauge wiring, three-stage planetary gear train, freespooling clutch and a hawse fairlead. For the gearheads among you, the gear ratio on the Warn 1.5ci is 103:1. And get this: the 12V motor has only .4 horsepower, yet can pull up to 1500 pounds. Amazing. Warn recommends a battery rated to a minimum of 12amp/hour for winching duties. You can’t use the winch on non-battery, stator-equipped quads such as the Honda TRX450R or Kawasaki Mojave.

Warn makes mount kits for many different sport and utility applications, including the Honda 400EX and 250EX, Bombardier Traxter, Arctic Cat 400, Kawasaki Prairie and KFX700, Suzuki QuadRunner and Z-400, Yamaha Warrior and Raptor, and many others. We chose to mount our 1.5ci on our trusty Yamaha 660R Raptor.
Mounting the Warn 1.5ci is straightforward. First, you bolt the supplied mounting plate to the front bumper. Then you bolt on the hawse fairlead, and then the winch itself. All of this will take about 30 minutes. The instructions for mounting the plate and fairlead have great photos and are specific to the Raptor.
Next you’ll need to position the wiring in a secure, safe location and mount it in place, as well as attach the leads to the battery terminals. Finally, don’t forget to mount the control switch on the left side of the handlebars. There’s plenty of length to the supplied wiring, and mounting it all was easy. Total time for install: one hour with two people working together. The instructions for this phase are not model-specific.

We took our Warn 1.5ci-equipped Raptor to the hills above the town of Acton. We used the Bombardier Rally (tested elsewhere in this issue, by the way) as a guinea pig.
Unlike bigger Warn winches, where you twist the end section on the winch to lock or unspool the rope, you flip a small lever on the winch to let the rope (50 feet of 5/32 inch steel cable) spool out. This lever is about our only nitpick of the whole thing. It’s just a tad flimsy and loose. Then (using gloves, of course) you grab the red strap on the winch hook and pull the cable out to the target quad. The rope spools out quickly and easily. Attach a recovery strap and D-shackle to the stuck ATV, then attach the winch hook to the D-shackle and you’re ready to begin.
The thumb-operated switch is clearly marked “In” or “Out”, plus there are small graphics showing the winch rope going in or out to avoid any confusion. We pulled the 388-pound Bombardier Rally up a small but steep slope with zero problems. The little Warn 1.5ci didn’t flinch as it tugged it up. Could it handle a 700-pound utility quad? At 1500-pounds pull rating, you bet. You’d probably want to brace the winch-equipped ATV’s wheels with rocks, but it would definitely do the trick.

If you have an aftermarket front bumper mounted, or plan to install one, do your research to make sure the Warn will fit the bumper you have in mind. The eleven-pound weight on the front will affect your wheelies a bit, but not much. Just pop the clutch a bit harder and lean back.
We have always recommended riding in pairs, but there are many people who still insist on trail riding alone. But if you must ride solo, at least install a winch on your quad, so if you get unexpectedly stuck, you can get out more easily. Now there’s no excuse if you ride a sport quad alone—there’s a winch you can fit. And, of course, if you do wisely ride in pairs or as a group, now you can put a small, light winch on your sport quad and pull yourself or a buddy out of trouble. Now that’s riding smart. Warn, (800) 910-1122,