Ultraflex Group

Selecting a mechanical or hydraulic steering system

Selecting a mechanical or hydraulic steering system Selection of steering system MECHANICAL STEERING SYSTEMS

Selecting a mechanical or hydraulic steering system

Choosing the appropriate system for your application can sometimes be confusing because of the variety of steering systems available. There are 4 basic steering types:

Mechanical Rotary, Mechanical Rack, Hydraulic and Power Steering that cover most of the styles of recreational powerboats. The Mechanical Rotary, Mechanical Rack and Pinion are available in standard or Zerotorque Feedback versions.

Selecting among these options is dependent upon the speed and handling characteristics of your particular boat. If your boat is an outboard or if it has a sterndrive without power steering, you need to consider steering systems that reduce the rudder torque feedback that you feel while driving your boat.

Feedback is the constant effort you have to put on the steering wheel just to go straight, and it is why it takes more effort to steer one direction than the other. The amount of feedback depends on the boat, the propeller and the steering system in the boat. Generally speaking, the faster you are going the more amount of effort you have to put on the steering wheel to keep the boat going straight.




Uflex offers rotary systems featuring a “Planetary Gear Design” with 3 satellite gears

which distributes steering feedback more evenly and effectively throughout the helm.

The result is a reduction in the amount of effort needed to steer the boat straight or

into the direction of the steering torque.


The Uflex Planetary Gear Design also spreads the wear of the steering direction

changes over a wider wear area which reduces overall wear and the correspondent

lost motion.






The competitively priced complete system from Uflex is called the Rotech. 

The Planetary Gear Design of the Rotech and FourTech contrasts conventional systems which have only one contact point between two drive gears.  The single contact point of conventional systems receives all the torque from the engine, which can eventually lead to uneven gear wear and correspondent lost motion in the steering.

The Rotech and FourTech include helm, bezel and cable. They are a direct replacement for competing rotary systems requiring no new holes in the dash.



For outboard boats, sterndrives without power assist or other applications with moderate torque loads it is recommended to upgrade to system with a clutch or gears which automatically lock out the steering torque while the system is not actively being turned.

Uflex offers the Accura and FourTech-2 ZTF systems with the same Planetary Gear Design but in a ZeroTorque configuration, which does not require a constant effort on the steering wheel to keep the boat going straight or in the intended direction.

A special spring clutch holds the steering system on its intended course until the next change in the direction is initiated by the driver.



Specifically designed for high performance and high efficiency applications, the Fourtech offers performance, flexibility and durability increased by top quality materials and construction.

The Fourtech-1 package includes T91 helm (PLANETARY?GEAR?DESIGN), bezel and highly flexible M90 Mach cable.

The Fourtech-2 ZTF package includes T93ZT (zero torque configuration) helm, bezel and M90 Mach cable and presents the same technical features as Fourtech-1.



Rack and Pinion steering systems are generally found on boats where space between the drivers knees and the steering helm is limited. Racks were particularly common in the early 70’s on ski boats where the freeboard of the boats were very small.

Today’s boats generally have enough space to fit a rotary helm, making the rack systems less popular as OEM installed option.

Rack and Pinion systems have the similar design issues as conventional rotary helms. Accordingly, all the steering loads are transmitted to one contact point and there is uneven wear in the system.




For boats that do have space constraints, Uflex offers the Racktech steering package that consists of a helm, bezel and steering cable. The ZeroTorque version of the Uflex rack and pinion is the Accutech, which features a spring clutch to allow for smooth transition in and out of the ZeroTorque mode.

Both systems come with the M86 Rack Cable which has an armor wrapped stranded wire core for high efficiency and smooth steering.

If you have a boat that has the space, it is recommended to take advantage of the Planetary Gear Designed rotary helms to reduce feedback and to improve longevity of the helm.



Hydraulics are more and more popular on mid to high horsepower outboard applications. The increased application of hydraulics has a lot to do with the increase in horsepower over the years, and the added torque that is inherent with 4 stroke outboards compared to 2 strokes. The high output torque of the 4 strokes has changed the propellers resulting in higher torque loads on the steering systems.

Hydraulic systems are very efficient in dealing with all torque conditions and often provide for fingertip steering effort.

Uflex offers a simple application guide to assist in selecting the appropriate model cylinder according the make and model of your engine at www.uflexusa.com.

The Uflex helms are compatible with competing helms, hoses, cylinders and oil, so you can easily install a Uflex component regardless of what item you need to replace.

Outboard systems are generally broken down into three systems; one for applications below 115 hp, one for applications below 150 hp and a different system for above 150 hp.



The most affordable hydraulic steering option in the market, the GoTech™, is the perfect solution for low horsepower up to 115 hp, high torque four stroke outboards.

Featuring a mid-mount composite helm and anodized aluminum front mount cylinder the GoTech™ offers smooth and easy steering with 4.5 turns lock to lock. It is an ideal system for pontoon boats, rigid hulled inflatables, walleye boats and any other application where mechanical steering is the not adequate for steering loads of today’s outboards.



Uflex offers the Hyco package which has a clever mounting system that allows you to install a front mount outboard cylinder without having to remove the engine. With the split tilt tube design of the Uflex Hyco, you can simply cut the old mechanical steering cable, insert the two tilt tube pieces independently and pin them to complete the hydraulic cylinder installation.

The cylinder is suspended in front of the engine and oil directed from the hydraulic helm moves the engine correspondent to the direction of the steering wheel. Suitable up to 150 hp installatons.



Larger horsepower applications require a more robust steering cylinder.

The Uflex Protech cylinder is designed for single, dual and triple engine applications (Please, contact our Technical Department for 3 engine installations). Featuring heavy duty seals, 304 electropolished link assemblies, and a carbon steel piston, it is built for the most demanding applications.




For especially high torque applications you may want to consider using a 1500 psi helm, which has relief valves set 500 Psi higher than the standard hydraulic helms which are rated to 1000 Psi. Bass, flats and other high horsepower boats with jackplates and shallow V deadrise experience extreme torque where the helm needs to have higher relief settings.

Uflex offers the Silversteer and Masterdrive helm and cylinder for these applications.

With the same benefits as the Protech cylinder, the Silversteer cylinder also features a keyed bullhorn design that maximizes the rigidity of the cylinder when dealing with peak torque loads.



Large inboard boats with displacement hulls can generate high torque loads.

Uflex offers a wide variety of hydraulic helms and cylinders that can be paired together to provide optimal steering for your application.