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ProMark Offroad Blog

Why Use Plow Skid Shoes?

Plow skids

Plow skids make your wear bar last longer and protect the driveway surface.

Even the pros are pretty much split on whether or not they recommend using plow skids. Some of the factors that come into play include whether or not the ground is frozen, what type of driveway surface you’re plowing (and even the distinction between different types of gravel or how packed down it is), the weight of the plow blade, and the type of wear bar on your plow (steel or urethane).

Why Use Plow Skids?

Plow operators who use skid shoes generally use them for one of two reasons: 1) To keep from plowing gravel or stones into the yard, or 2) To make the wear bar last longer.

Skid shoes are designed to allow the plow blade to “float” just above the surface that you are plowing. This comes in handy for gravel driveways, crushed rock, pavers, uneven surfaces or slightly raised areas, and soft surfaces that can get marred by the plow blade. With the plow raised slightly, you are less likely to bulldoze gravel and stones into the yard and you will get a longer life out of your wear bar. The skid shoes allow you to follow the contour of the surface so the blade doesn’t catch or chatter.

How to Adjust Plow Skids

When plowing a dirt or gravel surface, adjust the plow shoes so that the blade is raised slightly above the surface. When plowing an asphalt or concrete surface, adjust the shoes to the same height as the plow blade to get a clean scrape. Some plow operators remove the skid shoes or raise them all the way up when they want to scrape the surface bare. If you’re not sure whether to use skid shoes or not, try plowing with them and then without them to see what works better for the conditions and surface that you’re trying to plow.

Choosing an ATV Winch for Snow Plowing

Eagle Original Mount ATV plow

A winch with a mechanical brake is better for plowing because it prevents the line from bleeding out.

In order to use your ATV plow, you need some type of lift mechanism. The three options you can choose from are a manual hand lift, a 12V electric winch, and an electric lift system. Some plow kits—such as the Cycle Country plow and Eagle Gen II plow—require an electric winch or lift, in which case a manual lift is not an option.

Why Use an ATV Winch for Plowing?

Since a large number of ATV owners already have winches installed on their machines, an electric winch is the simplest and most affordable option for lifting your plow. And if you don’t have a winch installed yet, it still might be one of your best options because of the fact that you can use it for offroad riding, landscaping, yard work, and plenty of other applications. A winch is good for more than just plowing.

1500 lb Winch

The 1500 lb XT winch comes with a mechanical braking system that's ideal for snow plow use.

Which ATV Winch Is Best for Plowing?

Some ATV winches are better for plowing than others. One of the differences between winches involves the type of braking system: mechanical or dynamic. A mechanical brake is a physical brake that works similar to the way the brakes work on your car. The mechanical brake stops the drum from turning when there is a load on the cable. A dynamic brake is built in to the winch. It uses the resistance from the winch motor to prevent the drum from turning. Hoisted weight may cause the winch line to bleed out on a winch with dynamic braking.

Winches with mechanical brakes are better at holding a load, which makes them a better option for plowing snow. With a mechanical brake, you won’t experience the plow slipping or line bleedout that you might experience with a dynamic brake.

What Size ATV Winch for Plowing?

Generally, almost any winch capacity will work for plowing. Even a light duty 1500 lb winch has more than enough power for most plow setups. If you plan to use the winch for more than just plowing, check out our article on choosing an ATV winch for tips on figuring out what size winch you need.

A mechanical brake is the key factor in choosing an ATV winch for plowing snow. The following ProMark Offroad winches come with mechanical braking systems:

ATV Plow Kits

ATV Plow

The Cycle Country ARM plows come with a universal mount, push tube, and blade. Just add an electric winch or lift kit, and you're all set for plowing season.

If you want to move dirt or snow with your ATV, you’re going to need an ATV plow kit. For a complete snow plow package, you’ll need the following components:

  1. Model specific or universal mount
  2. Push tube
  3. Plow blade
  4. Lift system (manual lift, electric winch, or electric lift)

Model Specific or Universal Mount

No matter what kind of snow plow you choose, you’re going to need some type of mount plate to secure the plow to your ATV. Most plow kits require a model specific mount. This type of mount is manufactured specifically for your make and model, so it provides the most secure mounting base. Some plow kits, such as the Cycle Country ARM plow, come with a universal mount. This means that the plow kit can be transferred between ATVs, so if you upgrade your bike or swap the plow between bikes, you don’t need to buy a new model specific mount to attach the plow.

Push Tube

The push tube is required to connect the plow blade to the mount bracket, which in turn connects to the ATV / UTV frame. Push tubes are made from heavy duty steel tubing. Some push tubes include multiple blade angle positions and three-way adjustments.

Plow Blade

Plow blades come in a wide variety of styles and sizes. ATV plow blades are available in sizes from 48 inches to 60 inches wide. A 50 to 54 inch width is the most popular size. A 60 inch width demands the extra power and weight of a large bore ATV. UTV plow blades are typically available in sizes from 60 inches to 72 inches wide.

Plow blades are usually made from steel, poly, or aluminum. With advances in technology, plastic and aluminum blades are just as durable as steel. Different styles include V-shaped, straight, and state plow (also known as a country plow).

Lift System

You also need a way to lift the plow blade. If you already have an electric winch installed on your ATV, that’s the easiest route to go. You also have the choice of installing an electric lift system or a manual lift.

ATV Plow Weight

Compensating for the Weight of the Plow

A heavy ATV plow may require a stiffer suspension using spring spacers.

A heavy ATV plow may require a stiffer suspension using spring spacers.

Depending on the size of your ATV and the weight of your plow, you might find that even the stiffest suspension setting isn’t enough to compensate for the weight of the plow. One of the easiest ways to fix this is to add spacers to the front and rear springs. It’s a quick fix, and the spacers can just as quickly be taken out when plow season is over.


Stiffening the suspension with spacers will keep the plow blade from bottoming out on hills and steep driveways and improve the performance of your ATV when a heavy plow is attached.

Why Spacers Are Better Than HD Springs

Heavy duty springs are another option to stiffen the suspension, but spacers are preferred, since they can easily be inserted or removed as needed. When you have the plow on, you can install the spacers. And when plow season is over, you can just as easily remove the spacers for a better ride. (HD springs tend to make for a harder ride and tougher handling.) Spacers are also easier to install than new springs because they don’t require you to take anything apart. Just jack up the bike and install the spacers.

Keeping It Even

It’s best to keep the front and rear suspension at the same stiffness, so if you add spacers to the front springs, you’ll also want to add them to the rear. Since the spacers will raise the machine in the front end, make sure the rear is raised to the same height.

Adding Rear Weight

Another way to compensate for the extra plow weight on the front of your ATV is to load a few sandbags on the rear rack. The rear weight will help with traction and keep the plow from scraping the ground on steep grades. Make sure you strap down the sandbags to secure them in place.


ATV Plow with 52-inch Blade

ATV Plow with 52-inch Blade

What size plow blade should I get?


Most ATVs are roughly 48 inches wide. In order to clear a path wider than your ATV, you’ll need at least a 50-inch blade. Also, remember that if you angle the blade, the width of the cleared path will narrow.

Plow blade size also depends on the size of your ATV. Smaller ATVs (less than 500cc) may struggle under the weight of a 50-inch blade. In that case, you’ll want to go with something smaller. Larger ATVs (500cc or more) should easily be able to handle a 60-inch blade or longer. The biggest utility quads can handle even more—up to a 72-inch plow blade.

A smaller blade is lighter, easier to maneuver, and—if you use a manual lift—easier to lift. Larger blades are heavier and less maneuverable, but they cut a clean, wide path to get the job done quicker.

Straight plow blade or angled?

Straight blades are the best fit for general plowing needs. They keep the snow (gravel, dirt, etc.) in front of the ATV rather than falling off to the side. They are the best option for pushing materials straight forward and for leveling ground.

An angled plow blade (wider at one end than the other) is best for moving snow or other materials off to the side as you plow. This prevents snow from building up in front of the ATV and creating heavy loads.

What about the extra weight?

Because of the weight of the ATV plow and winch, you will need to up the suspension to the stiffest setting. Most shocks should be able to handle the extra front load, but if the stock shocks don’t cut it, you might need to look into aftermarket shocks.

What about traction?

Most 2WD quads and some underpowered 4WD ATVs will require tire chains for better traction. Two chains are good. Four chains are better. Make sure you have adequate clearance, especially if you chain up the front tires.

ATV Plow Wear Bar and Skids

Skids and Double-Sided Wear Bar for Cycle Country ATV Plow

Skids and Double-Sided Wear Bar
for Cycle Country ATV Plow

Skids and wear bars are designed to make your ATV plow last longer. Scraping across hard driveway surfaces is hard on the plow blade. The wear bar and skids take the brunt of this abuse so that the plow blade will last longer.

ATV Plow Wear Bars

Since the wear bar needs to be replaced as it wears out, it’s better to go with a double-sided wear bar. These types of wear bars are designed to be flipped over, so they last twice as long as a standard wear bar.

There are 2 types of ATV plow wear bars: steel and plastic. Steel wear bars are tougher than plastic, but they can also be tough on driveway surfaces. Plastic wear bars are easier on driveway surfaces and pavers.

ATV Plow Skids

Plow skids increase the life of the wear bar and minimize damage caused by the plow blade scraping the driveway surface. They also help when plowing uneven, rocky surfaces, by lifting the edge of the plow blade just enough to keep it from digging into the gravel or rock.

For level surfaces, adjust the plow skids to the same height as the wear bar on the plow blade. For uneven surfaces, adjust the skids so that the edge of the wear bar will glide just above the rocky surface.