Garmin Force is a relatively new trolling motor, released in August 2019. The Ultrex has been the gold standard for bass fishing for many years.
The Force has a quiet brushless motor and Garmin’s advanced GPS features. The Ultrex has hybrid cable and electric steering, Minn Kota’s i-Pilot system, and an excellent reputation for reliability.
In this article, we discuss both trolling motors and compare their features side-by-side.
Let’s get started!
Garmin Force and Ultrex Compared
|Garmin Force||MK Ultrex|
|Pricing||Check Price||Check Price|
|Key Differences||Brushless Motor|
Universal Sonar 2
|Thrust Options||80lb (24v)|
|80 lb (24v)|
112 lb (36v)
|Shaft Lengths||50", 57"||45", 52", 60"|
|Steering||Electric||Cable & Electric|
|Use In||Freshwater &|
Motors and Voltage
The Ultrex comes in two different power versions:
- 80lb of thrust at 24v
- 112lb of trust at 36v
It uses a fairly standard brushed DC motor, which means you might need to replace the brushes in the future.
Garmin Force has a brushless DC motor, which can run either at 24 volts delivering 80 pounds of thrust, or at 36V, giving full 100 lb of thrust.
That means that you can run the Force on either two or three 12v batteries. This is great if you have a smaller boat but plan to upgrade to something heavier.
The advantages of brushless motors include:
- More efficiency
- Increased reliability and lifespan
- Reduced noise
- Almost no interference (important with fish finders)
Although on paper Garmin Force offers the maximum of 100 lb of thrust, Garmin measures thrust differently than Minn Kota. Garmin uses the ISO 13342 standard for measuring the static thrust of outboard motors.
Both motors come with a variable-speed controller, which delivers power smoothly forward and in reverse.
They can both run on lithium batteries.
Both trolling motors are available with the following shaft choices:
- Garmin Force: 50″, 57″
- Minn Kota Ultrex: 45″, 52″, 60″
Minn Kota offers a lifetime shaft warranty. That means the company will pay for the replacement if it ever gets damaged, no matter how it happens.
Garmin Force: Electric Steer
The Force comes with a fully electric steering system.
Electric steer motors are controlled by electrical signals sent whenever you push on a pedal or press a button on your remote.
That means that with the Garmin Force, there is a slight delay between your input and your motor’s reaction.
The electric steer is a matter of preference. If you have used a cable-steer foot pedal before, an electric steering system could feel unresponsive.
Cable Steer on the Ultrex
What sets the Ultrex apart from most trolling motors is its cable-steer foot pedal.
There is a direct link between the foot pedal and turning the motor. This makes them very responsive and popular with bass fishermen, who need to quickly maneuver around shallow cover.
It is very fast to move your boat around 360 degrees whenever you need it. Also, with a cable-steer, you always know which way the motor is pointing, which is extremely useful.
Wireless Control and Anchor Lock
Both the Ultrex and the Force are advanced GPS trolling motors that you can control with a wireless remote.
The Ultrex comes with an i-Pilot GPS system as standard, but you can upgrade to an i-Pilot Link. Unlike the standard i-Pilot, i-Pilot Link comes with a touchscreen remote.
The Garmin Force has and an excellent high-sensitivity GPS anchor lock and autopilot. It comes with a water-resistant floating remote.
The Force can be wirelessly integrated with a a Garmin Chartplotter.
Sonars and Transducers
What’s great about these motors is that the transducers are fully integrated with the lower unit. The wiring runs through the shaft, and the connectors are shielded to minimize interference.
The Ultrex includes a Universal Sonar 2 as standard. As the name suggests, you can use this sonar with various fish finders such as Humminbird, Lowrance, Garmin, and Eagle.
You can upgrade your Ultrex to MEGA Down and Side Imaging for additional features.
The Force comes with a superb Garmin sonar, a transducer that gives you high-wide CHIRP sonar ClearVü and SideVü imaging.
The transducer on the Force includes depth and temperature sensors. It also suffers from minimal interference thanks to Garmin’s brushless DC motor.
Both Motors Are Easy to Deploy
Minn Kota tries hard to make stowing and deploying their motors as easy as possible.
The Ultrex has a stainless steel nitrogen gas spring which makes lifting and otherwise heavy motor much easier.
The Garmin force has dual gas springs, which makes it exceptionally easy to stow and deploy.
After comparing all the features we believe that the Force is better than the Ultrex.
Garmin Force has a more powerful and efficient motor and its GPS anchoring is superb. It’s also more versatile, with the ability to run it on 24V and 36V, and in saltwater.
Even though there is a slight delay in steering input, it’s hardly noticeable.
However, if you’ve come from a cable-steer motor, and need the feedback agility only cable can offer, you will love the Ultrex!