Automotive-inspired part sells faster than it’s produced
High Lifter’s DHT (Dual Heat Treated) ATV and side-by-side axle was released less than eight months ago, but it’s already proving to be a top seller.
When the part was unveiled in February at Dealer Expo, High Lifter thought it had manufactured enough for 120 days worth of orders; instead the first batch sold out in 55 days, and the momentum has been building ever since.
The DHT axle features dual heat treatment and thermoplastic boots inspired by the auto industry. Both components, developed by an engineer who previously worked on Hummers for General Motors, contribute to the longevity of the part.
In the dual heat treatment process, the cages and housings are given two passes with a poly compound to strengthen the axle and extend its life.
“We make two passes — no other axle company does that. They do in the automotive industry, but they don’t in the powersports industry, so we borrowed that,” High Lifter general sales manager Dan Doughty told Powersports Business.
The dual heat treatment also produces less swelling because, combined with Mobil 1 Synthetic Grease, the axles create a lower heat profile than competitors’ axles.
“Now we have a situation where there’s just no heat issue. That’s very unusual for an axle,” Doughty said.
The other prominent feature is the Thermoplastic Polyester Elastomer puncture-resistant boot, also a nod to auto axles.
“The thermoplastic boot is the same kind of boot that you find on a military Hummer, so what that says is weather doesn’t bother it because these are running around in Iraq, 120-130 degrees in the desert,” Doughty explained. “They can also run around in 30 below zero weather in Alaska, and it doesn’t bother them, so no cracking, anything like that. It’s very difficult to cut it or to puncture it in any way.”
Because of these two features, riders are drawn to the DHT axle as it’s less likely to break when compared to a standard axle.
“The two main things that cause axle failure are heat and boot damage, and we’ve taken care of both of them. If you can take care of either one of those two issues, you’ve licked 95 percent of the problems,” sales manager Jeff Newman said.
Other notable features include a double band on the boot and a tolerance of 36 degrees of angle, accommodating lifts of up to three inches. Each axle also features a one-year unlimited warranty.
“Ours is unconditional. You know, if it breaks 10 times, we’ll fix it 10 times. But with an OE axle, it’s over; done. So if you ask somebody to spend a little more than an OE axle costs — and I mean a very small amount — and you know you have something this good, why not offer them a warranty that gives them peace of mind?” Doughty explained.
So far, fewer than 1 percent of the axles sold have returned on warranty.
The DHT, which runs $279.95-$299.95, is currently available for Polaris and Can-Am models, and versions for Yamaha and Kawasaki ATVs and side-by-sides are in the works. Each is assembled at High Lifter’s Shreveport, La., headquarters, and each is designed specifically for the individual models.
“We cut each bar length precise to the given application. We didn’t have a universal bar that might fit reasonably OK in two or three axles. We wanted it dead on the money,” Doughty said.
About 18 months of R&D and countless dollars went into building the DHT axle, Doughty said, but so far the investment is paying off. Dealers are asking for more axles than High Lifter can keep on its shelves, but the company says that’s a good problem to have, and they’re working hard to keep up.
“The demand is so high that as soon as we make a batch, they’re gone,” Newman reported. “And then you start booking future orders for future production, so by the time we build those, they’re already sold to somebody else. I mean it’s hard to even keep them in our inventory because the product is that good.”