Hunters, casual trail riders, and utility workers worldwide love their UTVs. However, if there’s one aspect they could change, it would be to make their vehicles quieter.
In this post, we’ll look at different things you can do to achieve a slightly 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 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. 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 typical 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
Although dump beds are convenient, they are often prone to rattling. 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 an excellent 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 design, 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 also find variations in CVT noise between the different brands and models.
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 made of metal or plastic, tends to reflect the sound directly back into the cab, amplifying the noise.
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.
Most bikes have minor imperfections in their metal gears, engine components, and other moving parts that require some wear over time. This is a normal process; the bike needs some mileage to smooth 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.
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 sound-insulating materials or unnecessary panels. Keeping the weight down and power high is critical in these sports. So adding heavy dampening materials and extra exhaust mufflers is not an option.
But the need to communicate is still there, so they must 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 make the UTV quieter, but at least you won’t be as bothered by the cab noise.
A quality kit should make it easy to carry on a conversation. As a bonus, you can communicate with your riding buddies using the built-in VHF radio.
They are 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 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 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 on paved or other hard surfaces, consider investing in tires 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 specially designed on-road tires. These tires are smoother, slightly stiffer, and better balanced than pure off-road tires. As a result, they produce noticeably less noise when riding in areas where the large lugs of off-road tires cannot dig in.
As a bonus, you’ll get better on-road mileage, better comfort, a shorter braking distance, and less tire wear.
In conclusion, although UTVs are naturally loud due to their design and purpose, numerous ways exist to reduce their noise level and enhance your overall riding experience.
From strategic insulation and adjustments to considering more quiet alternatives like electric models or changing tires, there’s a solution for everyone.
The key is to find the right balance that satisfies your needs for quietness, performance, and practicality. Safe and enjoyable riding!