3 Tips For Bike Prep And Handling Sand Dunes

Dan Jeter - Winter Park, CO

If you’re looking for a new and exciting adventure on your dirt bike, you may want to consider venturing out to the nearest sand dune. While the challenge imparted by sandy terrain can add a new thrill to your usual riding routine, it can also prove quite difficult to ride on.

Sand is one of the most difficult terrain conditions for dirt bikers and requires extra care and preparation on the part of the rider. It’s important to prepare your bike with the proper equipment and familiarize yourself with a new set of handling techniques before you head for the sand dunes.

1) Prep Your Bike Before You Set Out For The Dunes

The most important thing you can do to ensure your safety while riding in sand dunes is to outfit your dirt bike with paddle tires. These are well-named accessories, as they essentially “paddle” through loose sand. Resist the temptation to use your paddle tires on pavement, as this will wear them out almost immediately. You will also want to invest in a high-quality skin for your air filter as it is not designed to deal with high levels of sand – although some riders opt to go the inexpensive route by placing pantyhose over their filters! (We don’t advise this :-))

2) Invest In Safety Accessories And Attire

A fall on a sand dune is generally less dangerous than one on the open road, but it’s still a good idea to wear the proper safety accessories. A good helmet is a no-brainer, even though the U.S. Bureau of Land Management concedes it is not legally required. A full-face helmet and a good set of tear-off goggles will keep the sand away from your eyes. You’ll also want to protect your skin from the wind and sand with quality motocross jerseys and pants. You can get both from a reputable online dirt bike store.

3) Adjust Your Handling Technique For Sandy Terrain

Accelerating is always more important than braking when you’re riding in sand dunes. Slowing down is merely a matter of backing off the throttle, but accelerating can prove far more challenging, particularly when you’re mired in deep sand. You’ll also need to adjust your center of balance wherever sand is involved; shift too far forward and you will almost certainly find yourself taking a tumble. Keep your weight back and avoid using the front brake as much as possible.

As a beginner, this may seem like a lot to take in. You may find it beneficial to practice riding on moist sand before you attempt to conquer the dunes. Moist sand is far more stable, and a better bet for mastering the tips above. Once you’re comfortable with less challenging sand conditions, you’ll be ready to try for the real deal. Have fun!

ps… don’t forget your hammock for some after ride R+R or to use as a sun shade!

Stephanie Bersch