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The Niva's centre-differential lock in the transfer-case is great, and helps Nivas leave many lesser 4x4s behind.
However, the Niva's main off-road weakness is the lack of locking front and rear differentials as a standard fitment. This means that if one wheel is spinning without traction at both ends you will still grind to a halt. The answer is a limited-slip-diff (LSD) or locking-differential (locker) which effectively means both rear wheels need to be spinning without traction before you are stopped.
Please note I can't vouch for any of the suppliers listed below as I have not dealt with them personally.
Also note prices are subject to change with time and fluctuating exchange rates etc.
Click on images for larger version.
Lada World in Denmark sell Russian ATB (Automatic Torque Biasing) LSDs and will export worldwide.
Lada Sport in Germany have offers several off-the-shelf LSDs for Nivas for a long time.
Likewise Ozzie Dave , exported Russian off-the-shelf Russian Niva LSDs but is currently not trading.
Russian Niva LSDs available are available at several Russian makers and dealers (though little is known about the various units):
4x4 Shop in Russia have the cheapest Niva LSD that I've found at around US$350. No idea if they or it is reputable (it looks the same as Ladaworld's) - I love to hear from anyone that has one fitted?
OKB sell Russian Quaife style LSD for Ladas for around US$350.
Other Russian LSD suppliers include: Niva Shop , Koroffka4x4 , Kart Tuning , Niva Diesel , and F Design .
Russian made Niva LSDs
EBay dealer cornet1956 sells ATB LSDs from Russia for around US$640, and millhouse87 reports that he speaks English and was good to deal with.
"DAK" Self-locking Diff
The DAK (Differential Automatic Krasikov) is new and appears to lock 90% in one direction and 100% in the other (may be a similar design to a previous diff made by Warn reputed to be weak). DAKs are reputed to be easy to break due to an unpredictable locking nature (which can also break axles) and/or a manufacturing problem with early units, later ones seem to have addressed manufacturing issues - discussion here. Available here, and sold by Ebay seller axelleratorer.
Phil at Bits of Italy in Melbourne, Australia can make LSDs and was recommended by Lada Parts Australia.
LSDs were an option on Fiat saloons which have a similar diff as the Niva (eg 124 based) and may be a direct bolt or easily modified into the Lada; eg any LSD that will fit a Fiat 124 should fit a Niva or be easily adapted. Fiat 124 diff centre sections are a direct bolt in. Fiat 125 may also bolt in (and the splines are the same as the 124/Nivas).
See Ford into Lada diff
Phantom Grip make a 'fake' LSD. They list one for the rwd Fiat, but no one has tried it in a Lada housing as yet. And they don't have the best of reputations in fwd drag racing circles, so they may or may not have good attributes for off-roading (I'd love to hear for someone who's used a PG in a 4x4?).
If someone can give me accurate measurements of a Niva diff (inside of carrier between gears top-bottom, side to side from flat surface of gears, and the diameter of the diff pin) PG will be able to tell me if one will fit?
Update: I believe someone on Difflock is planning on trialing a PG in a Niva in the near future...
A batch of Detroit Lockers (automatic lockers) were converted in Australia for Niva housings. I have one of these and will report back when I've fitted it.
Protrack in Greece make an air-locker for the Niva, listed at 720 Euro complete with compressor. Read Hoodoo's fitting notes and report.
Theologiti's Protrack prototype
K&S in Germany offer a Niva vacuum locker on their site or at Power-Trax (axle 0.94", 22 Spline, fits front and rear) at just under 1000 Euro (fitted I believe).
K&S Locker on a Niva
A Brazilian locker is close to production by Natal4x4 (2009).
A manually locking diff was available and manufactured in Australia, but this unit is no longer available new, but you may occasionally find them on Australian Ebay.
KAM Diff are looking at a group buy for LSDs and/or Lockers, hopefully priced around 400 euro. Details here .
Lockers from other differentials have been customised into Niva differentials:
Unknown Niva locker (probably custom fabricated from something else).
Fiddle brakes the Poor Man's LSD (line-locks could be used for a more elegant version).
Low-ratio diff swap
Ford into Lada diff
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