Hunters, casual trail riders, and utility workers worldwide love their UTVs. But if they were to change one thing, it was to make their bike a bit quieter.
Why do UTVs need to be so loud after all?
In this post, we’ll have a look at different things you can do to achieve a bit more quiet ride.
1. Line the Dump Bed, Roof, and Engine Cover
The presence of huge panels made of thin, non-insulated materials is one of the main reasons why UTVs are so loud.
The sound waves get reflected right back into the cab, enhancing the cab’s noise. Also, the flexible panels take up any vibration from the engine and convert it into noise.
You can line any smooth surface with an appropriate lining to stop some of the sound-reflecting effects and rattling sounds.
Try painting the dump bed with a bed liner to make it vibrate less. The roof can be lined with some Dynamat or a similar product to break off the sound waves and stop them from being reflected.
Then install some heat-resistant Dynamat inside the engine cover to dampen the noise even more.
If you want to go all the way, consider also installing some insulation to the floorboards and door panels. Just remember that the weight of all this dampening material does add up.
It’s always a good idea to start by insulating the most affected components like the roof, engine cover, and bed to begin with. Maybe this is all it takes to achieve acceptable noise levels.
A possible downside of adding insulation is the cleaning job after riding in mud. Look for materials that won’t soak up moisture and can handle being washed using a pressure washer.
2. Eliminate any Rattling Noises
If your bike is making any rattling noises, there is a good chance they can be addressed and eliminated quite easily.
Things like the steel hook latch for the dump bed, doors, and dump bed hatch are common sources of potential rattling sounds. Adjust them to lock in place with no free play, or add a piece of rubber trimming around the edges to shut them up.
Exhaust header guards that have come loose will also make quite the spectacle. Tighten the bolts back up to fix the issue.
3. Install a Dump-Bed Delete Kit
They sure can be useful, but dump beds are known to rattle quite a bit. This affects both the ones made from plastic and the ones made out of sheet metal. A simple way of eliminating the noise is by removing what’s causing it.
Some manufacturers offer so-called bed-delete kits that enable you to remove your dump bed without ruining the looks of your bike. If the bed is unimportant to you, removing the bed can be a good option to reduce your machine’s sound and weight.
4. Make the Exhaust System Quieter
A lot of the noise a UTV makes is from the exhaust gasses exiting the exhaust system. The easiest way to improve this is to get an aftermarket muffler or system specifically made less noisy. You should find bolt-on kits for most major brands, and with the right system, you should notice a drastic improvement.
In this post, I look into different ways of making an ATV exhaust quieter. Many of the same principles apply to UTVs.
5. Get a Bike With an All-Gear Driven Transmission
Choose a UTV that has a transmission with all metal gears instead of a more common CVT transmission that uses belts and pulleys.
These systems generally make less noise than belt-driven transmissions, which rely on friction to drive the bike forward.
The manufacturers continuously improve their CVT systems to make them more effective and less noisy. Some do a better job than others, so you’ll find variations in CVT noise between the different brands and models as well.
Look for a well-balanced system to reduce vibrations and has a proper housing design to dampen the noise.
6. Install a Soft-Top Roof, or Remove It Completely
The smooth surface of a thin sheet roof, whether it is made out of metal or plastic, will echo the sound straight back into the cab.
Soft roofs are not as durable, but their more porous surface will break the sound waves, reducing the noise.
7. Allow the UTV to Break in Properly
If your UTV is brand new, it’s a good idea to use it for a while before discarding it as too noisy. Why? Because many new UTV owners experience their machines becoming noticeably quieter after the initial service and continuing to improve afterward.
There are small imperfections in the metal gears, engine components, and other moving parts that need to wear down on most bikes. This is completely normal; the bike needs some mileage to smoothen things out.
The small metal filings that wear down will be washed away with the oil and trapped on a magnet, often placed on the oil drain plug’s tip.
8. Choose a Multiple-Cylinder Engine With a Moderate Power Output
Unless you are into racing or want the most extreme trail machine, you can probably get by with a more moderately powered engine in the bike. Not only are these usually cheaper, but they are also less noisy as well.
When top performance is not the main objective, the engineers can design the exhaust more centered towards noise-canceling rather than just horsepower. The engine itself can be set up to run more smoothly as well. centered towards
A multi-cylinder engine typically vibrates more than a larger single-cylinder engine because it evens out the moving pistons’ weight. This adds up to a much quieter ride compared to the performance machines.
9. Use a Headset/Intercom
Take a look at rally-car drivers or any other motorsport that has a co-pilot inside the cab together with the driver.
Notice that their cars are completely stripped of any sound-insulating materials or unnecessary panels. Keeping the weight down and power high is key in these sports. So adding heavy dampening materials and extra exhaust mufflers is not really an option.
But the need to communicate properly is still there. So they have to find other solutions.
The way to solve this problem is by using beefy headsets or intercoms in their helmets. These systems both dampen the noise and allow them to communicate with each other.
If adding weight to your UTV is not an option, consider investing in a proper race headset /intercom. This does not actually make the UTV quieter, but at least you won’t be as bothered by the cab noise.
A quality kit should make it possible to carry on a conversation with ease. As a bonus, you will be able to communicate with your riding buddies as well, using the built-in VHF radio.
They are a bit expensive, but if you can afford them, it may be the best money you’ve spent on your bike.
10. Consider Going Hybrid or Electric
If none of the above satisfy your search for silence, you may consider looking into a fully electric or maybe a hybrid UTV instead. Several manufacturers are offering these types of machines, and they are increasing in popularity.
If they continue to improve further, they may very well become viable alternatives to gas-powered bikes for those looking for a silent ride.
Just remember that these bikes will neither be completely silent. Tire noise, squeaking, and transmission whine depending on what type of transmission it uses, will still be there, just as with the gas-powered alternatives.
11. Get Some Quiet Tires for On-Road Use
If you ride a lot on paved or other hard surfaces, consider investing in a set of tires meant for on-road use. The aggressive tire patterns you find on all-terrain or mud tires are great for snow, mud, dirt, and gravel but will make a lot of noise when riding on hard surfaces.
Most major brands of UTV tires offer tires that are specially made to be used on-road. They are smoother, a bit stiffer, and more balanced than pure off-road tires. All of which makes them noticeably less noisy whenever riding in areas where big lugs cannot dig in.
As a bonus, you’ll get better on-road mileage, better comfort, a shorter braking distance, and less tire wear.