Do ATVs Have Speed Governors?

Speed governors can save lives, especially considering that the injury and death rate for off-highway vehicles or OHVs like ATVs and UTVs can be surprisingly high. You may be interested in a speed governor for yourself or a fellow ATV buddy. Do ATVs include speed governors by default?

ATVs may include speed governors, especially on youth models. If yours lacks a speed governor and you want to limit your speed, you can always buy an aftermarket speed limiter and install it.

In today’s article, we’ll talk about all things ATV speed governors, including how they work, why you need one, and how to install an aftermarket version if your ATV doesn’t already have one. You’re not going to want to miss it!

So, Do ATVs Have Speed Governors?

A speed governor is also known as a speed limiter. As that name implies, the device’s job is to prevent an ATV or other OHV from reaching exceptionally fast speeds that could be deemed dangerous.

While you would think that speed governors would be default features on ATVs, they aren’t. Some models might include a speed limiter, but others will not.

Considering that many ATVs also lack speedometers, the omission of a speed governor in conjunction with that is even more dangerous. 

You’d have no way to gauge your speed let alone easily control it.

Fortunately, if you’re interested in a speed governor for your ATV, you can buy an aftermarket product and install it yourself. Later, we’ll tell you how to do just that.

How Does a Speed Governor Work?

Before you can decide whether you want a speed governor for your ATV, you want to better understand the technology. 

Allow us to explain how speed limiters work in this section.

You can either choose the set speed limit, or the speed governor will impose the speed limit. You’ll know the speed governor’s top speed when you purchase it, so if that speed is too low for you, keep searching until you find a different limiter.

When operating your ATV, if you stick within that set speed limit or slightly under, everything with your vehicle will be fine. You’ll have the same level of power, control, and performance that you always do.

Should you surpass the set speed, though, the ATV will begin to lose power. This doesn’t happen all at once but gradually.

What’s going on behind the scenes is that the speed governor is causing the engine to misfire at an increased rate, which imposes your speed and makes it nearly impossible for you to stay at a speed higher than the set limit.

Once you begin driving at a slower speed, your ATV will resume normal operations.

Usually, there are two modes for reducing your speed, a soft cut mode, and a hard cut mode.

Table comparing two modes for reducing speed on ATVs, soft cut mode and hard cut mode. Soft cut mode causes only slight misfires. They still occur at a very fast pace, thought, between 2-6 misfires a second. Hart cut mode misfires are harder and still fast between 4 to 5 a second.

The soft cut mode causes only slight misfires. They’re still happening at a very fast pace, though, between two and six misfires a second.

In hard cut mode, the misfires are harder and still fast, between four and five a second.

Some speed governors even have an included penalty mode, which is meant to assist in modifying behavior.

In penalty mode, the ATV may automatically operate at a slower speed for a set period of time. Either that or penalty mode will reduce the set speed even further, thus making the ATV operator drive even slower.

Check out our ATV Page to Learn More!

How to Install a Speed Governor on Your ATV

If you’re interested in using a speed governor but your ATV doesn’t have one, that means buying an aftermarket version and installing it, as we said. Here’s everything you need to know to get your ATV outfitted with a speed limiter!

Step 1: Buy Your Speed Governor Kit

By far, the most popular manufacturer of speed limiters is UTVSpeedSafe.

Created in 2006, UTVSpeedSafe is a speed governing solution for side-by-sides, UTVs, ATVs, and other OHVs. 

SpeedSafe is designed to increase the rate of misfires to the point where an ATV operator doesn’t even want to go over the speed limit anymore.

Plus, as we talked about earlier, they’ll have less speed as they go, which also further disincentivizes them to continue speeding.

SpeedSafe caps your top speed at 15 miles per hour, but you can adjust the limiting speed if need be before you start driving.

The key, though, is that the ATV operator is not supposed to be able to adjust their own speed, as that would defeat the purpose of the speed governor.

UTVSpeedSafe has speed governors for all sorts of ATV, UTV, and side-by-side models, including by manufacturers like Honda, Kubota, Yamaha, and Polaris. You can shop a selection of speed limiters here.

Step 2: Install the Computer

Once your speed governor kit arrives on your doorstep, it’s time to get started installing everything.

According to UTVSpeedSafe, it should take you between 60 and 90 minutes to get the speed limiter ready to go.

First, you need to slot the computer in the front compartment of your vehicle.

Step 3: Fit the Setup Control Switch

Next, there’s the handheld setup control switch. This goes on the ATV and can activate when cruise control is running. 

When installing this component, be sure to follow the included instructions, as you don’t want to allow the operator of the ATV to be able to set the speed of the SpeedSafe device.

Step 4: Connect the Wiring Harness

The wiring harness controls the speed and power signals and attaches to the instrument cluster connectors on your ATV. 

The wiring harness terminals should back out of the matching terminal and connector, then you should attach the speed governor harness to the plugs in your ATV.

The ground power comes from your ATV battery’s negative terminal.

Step 5: Attach the Relay Harness

You’re not quite done with harnesses yet. Next, you have to install the relay harness, which attaches to the engine fuel stop solenoid. 

The point is so the relay harness can stop the engine if it comes to that.

The relay harness and main speed limiter harness should be connected. Installing the relay harness uses the connectors that your ATV already relies on, so you can easily figure out what goes where.

How to Control Speed on a Kid’s ATV

You recently gifted your child their first ATV, and while they’re having tons of fun, they’ve also been speeding quite a lot.

You’re concerned about them getting hurt even with your supervision, and rightfully so!

While you can always use a speed governor for their ATV, you can also manually control their speed by tinkering with a few components of their youth vehicle. Here’s what you need to know.

Step 1 – First, Loosen the Throttle Limiting Screw

Begin by setting the throttle controls, which you can do by adjusting the screw you’ll see protruding near the vehicle’s right brake lever.

The throttle limiting screw should be loose but not so loose that it’s going to come right out. 

Step 2 – Now Tighten the Throttle Limiting Screw Completely

Once you’ve got the ATV’s degree of throttle where you want it, you should use a screwdriver to turn the throttle limiting screw in as tightly as it can go. Don’t strip the screw but get it tight.

This restricts how fast the ATV goes, and a tighter setting does indeed mean less speed.

Step 3 – Tighten Up the Jam Nut

Next, you want to tighten the nearby jam nut so the throttle limiting screw won’t move out of place. You can usually do this by hand, but feel free to use a clamp or a wrench if you’re having a hard time.

Step 4 – Install an Exhaust Restrictor Plate

Finally, you want to outfit your child’s ATV with an exhaust restrictor plate, which prevents how much airflow can exit the exhaust. This, too, is another means of controlling speed.

Make sure the exhaust restrictor-plate fits your child’s youth ATV make and model.

Final Thoughts

ATV speed governors are recommended for riders of all ages, as the speed limiter chokes off your vehicle once you surpass a certain speed.

You can reduce the rate of OHV accidents and enjoy greater peace of mind when riding with your buddies or watching your child on their ATV.

Now that you know how to install an ATV speed governor, safer days are ahead!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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