Superwinch is a USA based company who develop and manufacture winches for the past 40years. Superwinch compete with premium brand in terms of quality and aftersales service.

Superwinch is the largest privately held designer, manufacturer and marketer of winch systems and accessories in the world. The Company produces a large variety of winch products including electric winches, power drives, hydraulic winches, accessories, parts and hubs that are sold to both the consumer and industrial end-markets. The Company’s winches have an outstanding reputation in the marketplace for their superior design, reliability and value proposition and have established a loyal following among off-road enthusiasts and industrial OEMs alike.

Superwinch develops, and manufactures Winches, Hoists and supporting accessory products for Global Consumer and Industrial markets.

Superwinch’s 45 years of experience is unmatched in engineering, designing, building and testing winches for recreation, recovery, industrial, utility and military pursuits. Superwinch’s global manufacturing facilities have grown to manufacture a broad range of winches; from electric to hydraulic, worm gear to planetary gear, and lead the marketing in advanced winching control.

Superwinch builds 1,000 to 50,000-pound capacity winches that can be found in diverse industries and applications across the globe sharing Superwinch’s trademark first class design, quality, value and solid construction for safe, simple and reliable operation.

The first Superwinch began as a project of Ford Motor Company.  The founder, Frank Tolsdorf seized the idea and envisioned a company dedicated to providing the best winches and the best service.  Superwinch was born.

Frank, a marketer, and entrepreneur by trade jumped at the chance to take this project privately and built Superwinch’s first facility in the northeast corner of Connecticut in partnership with a wire cable supplier.  Superwinch soon designed and manufactured a complete line of winches for the pleasure boating market.  The line featured winches up to 8,000lbs in capacity and a powered capstan.

Soon, it became obvious that a great many things could be improved by winches.  Aerospace engineer Ian Dodds joined the company to help keep Superwinch on the forefront of innovation. Superwinch diversified into satellite positioning systems.

Superwinch purchased New England based Mercury Electric Winch and UK based FW Winches Limited (formerly Fairey Winches, a division of the company that built Spitfire warplanes during World War II).  These acquisitions added manufacturing capabilities and expertise to Superwinch’s arsenal.  Superwinch became an instant player in the hydraulic and worm drive winch markets, expanded reach for electric winches and became an expert in overdrive gearboxes for Toyota and Land Rover.

Superwinch pioneered the use of synthetic ropes on winches and was the first to offer a complete winch with the rope as standard.  Citing lighter weight and increased safety, Superwinch became the first to build winches specifically made to resist the unique loading characteristics of synthetic rope.

In 2019 Superwinch was purchased by Westin Automotive, based in San Dimas, California, USA. Westin Automotive is an Aftermarket product manufacturer of off-road products. Innovation, passion and consistency have made Westin, one of the leading manufacturers for 40 years.

Selecting a winch

Only a select few winch brands design, engineer and manufacture all the components required to make their own winches. Clearly this aspect of the premium end of the market allows the quality level of the various parts to be precisely specified.

For most users the first question to ask is, “how often will you will use the winch”. This can assist in deciding whether to select a premium brand or an entry-level brand.

The second question to ask is, “what will the winch be used for”. To answer that, one needs to match the line pull capacity of the winch to the mass of the vehicle it must haul out of trouble.

To calculate this, take Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) and multiply x 1.5 (to take into account environmental factors and frictional losses). This gives one the minimum winch capacity required.

For example: A fully loaded vehicle weighs 2000kg x 1.5 = 3000kg. Most winches are rated in pounds, so divide kg/0.453, gives 6607lb. Add a safety margin and the minimum requirement is an 8000lb winch.

There are a number of other considerations:

  • How will the winch be mounted: external or inside the bumper, feet forward or feet down.
  • How much installation space is available
  • Type of cable and cable length required. This is dependent on what the winch will be used for. Most winches are supplied with a cable of 25-30m, steel or synthetic dependent on the variant and winch rating eg 8000lb, 12000lb etc. It is recommended not to exceed the manufacturer’s specification as the length and thingness of the cable is specified according to the motor capacity and length that the drum can hold. Exceeding the length of the cable or reducing the thickness of the cable can cause damage to the winch, or the cable can snap if it cannot handle the capacity that the winch is rated for.
  • Cable type will determine the type of fairlead needed (see below).
  • Decide on which cable layer on the drum the maximum load is likely to occur in your usage pattern (see how this varies below).

  • Decide on whether to purchase a sealed/semi-sealed or unsealed unit The new generation of winches in many cases are supplied as waterproof units. This means that the winch is completely sealed to preventing water from entering the motor and gear train. The control pack will also be supplied with a waterproof contactor and the control pack can be fully potted in cases, to protect the electrical wiring. A semi-sealed winch is water resistant with a water outlet point at the bottom of the motor. The water resistance will protect the winch from flooding, but moisture and water can still penetrate. The water outlet will allow the water to be expelled if the winch is fitted correctly. It is also recommended to roll the cable out and in again after the winch went through a water crossing. This will also allow the motor to heat and evaporate the moisture. An unsealed winch is not waterproof or water resistant at all. An unsealed winch will allow water into the winch, thereby damaging the winch and allowing rust to form. An unsealed winch should not be used for water crossings.
  • Determine the required duty cycle and expected usage (hours/time frame). This will influence the quality of winch needed.
  • From the above, you will know whether to purchase an entry level, premium or ultimate performance winch. An entry level winch is a lower specified winch which could be unsealed, the motor would be a standard slower performing motor. The duty cycle will be short and rated for usage on irregular basis such as monthly only. It will also be supplied with steel cable to lessen cost. It is priced at the lower end of a price category. A premium winch will be specified with stronger, manufacturer specified, engineered components for harsher applications and reliability. The duty cycles will be longer and rated for regular usage such as daily or weekly. A premium winch will also be rated as semi-sealed or waterproof. You will also have the option of a steel or synthetic cable. An ultimate performance winch is specified for regular applications in harsh conditions. The user will also benefit from various features added to it such as light indicator, thermal management, fast pulling speed under load and can exceed winch rating. These winches will also be used in competition due to it agility, reliability and quality build. These winches are also priced at the higher end and will have specific applications.
  • A premium winch is also identified by it pre- and after sales service.

Cable considerations

The winch’s highest pulling capacity is measured on the first layer of cable on the winch drum. With every layer of cable on the drum, the winch loses approximately 10% of its pulling capacity (manufacturer dependent).

A minimum of five wraps around the drum is needed when using a steel cable, a full first layer is needed when using a synthetic cable. The remaining length of cable is useable for winching purposes. 

Steel versus synthetic

For commercial use, and ideally for hard recreational use too, the breaking strength of the steel or synthetic cable should be 1.4:1 stronger than the maximum capacity of the winch.

There are pros and cons for each cable choice. Decide on your priorities. 

  • Fatigue, wear and tear: The durability of a synthetic cable is limited. As it stretches, over time synthetic cable does not return to its normal form. If not used properly, synthetic cable wears out, reducing its strength and integrity. Steel cable kinks and strands visibly break after substantial abuse.
  • Weight: Synthetic cable is much lighter than steel and easier to handle.
  • Bending and drum diameter: Because it is so flexible, the first layer of synthetic cable can put very high pressure on a small surface area of a drum, often enough to cause deformation of the drum. This is not always immediately visible, and can lead to performance degradation over time. It is for this reason that a quality synthetic cable should be purchased that is specified to prevent deformation of the drum.
  • Cost: Synthetic cable is more expensive than steel. This is often offset by the saving in weight and ease of handling.

Fairlead choice

A fairlead guides the cable onto the winch drum, providing a pivoting surface. Steel cable requires a roller fairlead in most cases (manufacturer dependent), which projects from the vehicle and features four overlapping rollers which can deal with winching in almost any direction.

Synthetic cable requires a Hawse fairlead, a compact flush-mounted unit offering a smooth surface for the cable to glide over, as synthetics have a tendency to bind in a roller fairlead. Typically alloy, this surface would be damaged by repeated use of a steel cable.

Steel vs Synthetic


Steel Cable Synthetic
Pros Cons
Durable Prone to wear and tear
Predictable characteristics Less predictable (bending fatigue, elasticity)
Cheaper More expensive
Handles all weather Sensitive to UV when not coated
Functions as a heat sink Sensitive to heat – heat sleeve needed
Overlay can bind on the drum
Broken strands are not easily identified
Cons Pros
More difficult to handle Easier to handle
Broken strands a cut risk Easy on the hands
Heavier Lightweight
Snaps when it breaks Implodes when it breaks
Bends easily
Popular in the 4×4 community

Superwinch Talon 12.5

Models Talon 12.5 Wire: 1612200
Rated Line Pull 12,500 lbs (5,670 kgs)
Motor Sealed 6 hp (4.48 kw) Series Wound
Gearing 2-Stage Planetary and 2-Stage Spur
Gear Ratio 148:1
Solenoid Vented, Sealed Submersible Solenoid with 3-Year Warranty
Clutch Free-spooling Clutch/Pull and Turn
Brake Automatic/100% Load Holding (outside of drum)
Rope Wire Rope 9.5mm x 26m
Hook Heavy Duty/Clevis Pinned/Latched
Fairlead Heavy Duty 4-Way Roller Fairlead with Stainless Steel Rollers
Remote 3m Sealed Ergonomic Hand-held with Coiled Cord
Dimensions 624.20mm L x 157.50mm D x 278.15mm H
Drum Diameter 63.5mm
Drum Length 222.2mm
Mounting Bolt Pattern 254mm x 114.3mm
Installed Weight 42 kgs
Shipping Weight 48 kgs
Warranty 2Year /3-Year Electrical
Line Pull: 0 lbs 75 Amps Motor Draw / 62 FPM (18.9 MPM) Line Speed
Line Pull: 12,500 lbs 530 Amps Motor Draw /3.25 FPM (.99 MPM) Line Speed

Tiger Shark 9500

Models Tiger Shark 9,500 | Tiger Shark 9,500 SR (Synthetic)
Part Number TS9500-12V / TS9500SR-12V (Synthetic)
Rated Line Pull 9,500 lbs (4309 kg)
Motor Sealed 5.2 HP Series Wound
Gearing 3-Stage Planetary
Gear Ratio 218:1
Solenoid Weather Sealed Solenoid and Circuit Breaker Protected
Clutch Pull and Turn, Ergo
Brake Mechanical, Automatic Load Holding
Rope Wire 8.3mm x 29m| Synthetic 9,5mm x 25m
Hook Heavy Duty Clevis Pinned Latched
Fairlead Heavy-Duty, Stainless Steel 4-Way Roller | Anodized Aluminum Hawse
Remote 12′ Rubber Sealed Hand-held
Dimensions 529mm L x 160mm W x 234.5mm H
Drum Diameter 63.5mm
Drum Length 228.6mm
Installed Weight 41 kg | 26.7 kg
Shipping Weight 63.5 kgs
Warranty Limited 2 Year Warranty
Line Pull: 0 lbs 80 Amps Motor Draw/19 FPM (5.7 MPM) Line Speed
Line Pull: 12,500 lbs 340 Amps Motor Draw/4 FPM (1.2 M/M) Line Speed

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