The Bottom Line
This product will silence your exhaust a little bit, but you may find out as I did that exhaust noise is only a fraction of the racket made by your ATV or UTV. I think the Silent Rider does all it can, but it's not much and in my case it was far from enough to really silence my ride.
- Made in USA.
- Made of 14 gauge aluminized steel.
- Not too difficult to remove.
- One-year manufacturer's warranty; 30-day return policy.
- Some welding must be done for most installations (including mine).
- My machine is still pretty loud - even louder than an un-silenced one with a larger engine.
- Decibel meter test shows a sound reduction of only 2-3 dB.
- I tried it on another machine (2007 700 XP EFI 4x4), with the same results.
- Not a muffler replacement - the Silent Rider works with your muffler.
- After welding (or bolting, for some models) on the adapter, the Silent Rider slips on and off relatively easily.
- Reduces the exhaust noise produced by your machine.
- One-year manufacturer's warranty. 30-day return policy if purchased from manufacturer.
I was pretty happy when I learned about the Silent Rider, and I really looked forward to trying it on my 2006 Polaris Ranger. The Ranger is a pretty good woods vehicle, but it's not exactly quiet, and I'd love to be able to ride around with a little more stealth.
What it is
The Silent Rider is not a replacement for your muffler; instead it's meant to be added to the exhaust after the muffler. It's not permanent, and can be removed fairly easily should you wish to do so. The manufacturer tells customers to "expect up to a 60% reduction in the exhaust noise of your ATV," so I had high hopes.
I listened to some comparisons online, and was less than impressed... the differences just seemed so minimal, and in fact I had a hard time telling the difference between "before" and "after" samples. But it's hard to tell for sure when listening to a recording, so the only thing to do was to try it out for myself. Before long, I had one on its way to my door.
When it arrived, I slipped it and the adapter onto the muffler and tried it - and was underwhelmed. But the fit between the adapter and the exhaust pipe was loose, so I told myself that some noise might be getting out at that location. So I fired up my welder and got on with the installation.
The Silent Rider slips onto some factory mufflers (it's not meant to be used with aftermarket mufflers and might not be compatible with them). Other machines require an adapter to be bolted or welded on to the rear of the muffler. Mine needed to be welded, which was not a problem because I own a wire welder and know how to use it. For those who don't, you might be facing an additional expense of taking your ATV or UTV to a welding shop and paying someone to do the welding.
After the Install
Here's an entry I made in my notes after installing it and listening to the Ranger: Well, I got it installed but the difference seems negligible. Yes, the exhaust is more quiet - but no, it's not silent by any means.
By "more quiet," I mean a little bit more quiet - and that was only the exhaust noise. There's a lot more non-exhaust noise made by some machines than you might think. I know I was a bit surprised and disappointed that the overall noise of my Ranger was only reduced by a small amount.
Later tests showed that actual sound reduction only measures 2 or 3 decibels, which isn't much.
Testing 1, 2, 3
After a few months, I was finally able to get three Polaris Rangers together to do a noise comparison test. I had a group of impartial listeners position themselves a hundred yards or so from - and out of sight of - a dirt road. Then we drove our Rangers by in random order, both at high and low speeds, and in different order.
The results showed that my Ranger wasn't the quietest of the bunch. A 2007 700 4x4 with more miles on it was the quietest. My 2006 500 4x4 was in the middle of the pack, and a friend's 2002 500 4x4 was the loudest - but the listeners said there wasn't a lot of difference between the two 500s. Both of the other Rangers wore their original factory mufflers.
At the manufacturer's request, I used a decibel meter app on my iPhone and tested my machine with and without the Silent Rider installed. The difference, both at idle and with the engine revved, was miniscule (2 decibels, perhaps 3) and very hard to detect by ear.
Then they sent me a brand new unit, which I tried on my machine with no change in result (I could detect only 1 or 2 dB reduction, at most), and then installed on a Ranger 700 XP EFI 4x4 and found only 1 to 2 dB noise reduction there. Full disclosure: I did not weld the adapter to the tailpipe of the 700 for that test, but I securely sealed the adapter to the tailpipe using tape and I guarantee that it was not leaking. I did weld the adapter to my 2005 Ranger, and used it on that machine for several months.
When I removed it from my Ranger, I detected no change in noise level and have now sent both units back to the manufacturer.
From all of this, I have to conclude that while the Silent Rider will reduce noise by a tiny amount, the reduction in overall vehicle noise is minimal in many (if not most) cases. Although I appreciate any reduction in noise, I sadly found almost no detectable sound reduction with the Silent Rider, and my dreams of putt-putting unobtrusively through the woods without making much disturbance have evaporated.
In the end, the cost ($172 plus shipping for most models at press time) is pretty steep for the little bit of noise reduction you get, and unfortunately I have to say that, in my opinion, it's just not worth it.
- Russ Chastain
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Disclosure: Review samples were loaned to the author by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.