Hunters, casual trail riders and utility workers around the world love their UTVs. But if they were to change one thing, it was to make their bike a bit quieter.
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 with dampening materials
The presence of huge panels made of thin, non-insulated materials is one of the main reasons why UTV’s are so loud. The sound waves get reflected right back into the cab, enhancing the cab noise. In addition, the flexible panels take up any vibration the bike makes, and convert it into noise.
To stop some of the sound reflecting effect as well as any rattling sounds, you can line any smooth surfaces with an appropriate lining.
Try painting the dump bed with a bed liner to make it vibrate less. The roof can be lined with some Dynamat or similar product to break off the sound waves and stop them from being reflected.
The 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 as well. 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. Maby 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 easy.
Things like the steel hook latch for the dump bed, doors, and dump bed hatch are common sources for potential rattling sounds. Adjust them so that they 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 as well. 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 not important to you, this may be a good option to reduce both the sound and weight of your machine.
4. Make the exhaust system quieter
A lot of the nose a UTV makes are made from the exhaust gasses exiting the exhaust system. The easiest way to improve this is to get an aftermarket muffler or system that is specifically made to be less noisy. You should find bolt-on kits for most major brands, and with the right system, you should notice a drastic improvement.
There are a lot of other cool tricks and modifications you can do to make the exhaust a lot less noisy as well. 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 will generally make less noise that belt driven transmissions which rely on friction to drive the bike forward.
The manufacturers are continuously improving 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 system that is well balanced 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, which help to reduce the noise.
7. Let the UTV break in properly
If your UTV is brand new, it’s a good idea to use it 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 continue to improve afterward.
On most bikes, there will be some small imperfections in the metal gears, engine components and other moving parts that need to wear down. This is completely normal, the bike just needs some mileage to smoothen things out.
The small metal filings that wear down will be washed away with the oil and gets trapped on a magnet, often placed on the tip of the oil drain plug.
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 not having to chase top performance, the bike designers are allowed to tune the exhaust with more weight of noise canceling rather than just horsepower. The engine itself can be set up to run more smoothly as well.
A multiple-cylinders will generally make fewer vibrations than a huge single cylinder because the weight of the moving pistons evens out. All of 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 kind of 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 intercom in their helmets. These systems both dampen the noise and allows them to communicate with each other.
So if adding weight to your UTV is not an option for you as well, consider investing in a proper race headsets/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 on the expensive side, but if you can afford it, 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 of 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 further improve, they may very well end up becoming viable alternatives to gas-powered bikes for those who are 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 the 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.