Dirt Bike Sand Riding Tips & Techniques

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Believe it or not, some people don’t enjoy sand riding. I never used to myself, but that was only because I lacked confidence. Once you begin applying the right techniques and spend some time in the dunes, you’ll be amazed at how much smoother and faster you will be. And damn, it’s so much fun!

When you find a sick place to ride it’s like being a kid in a lolly-scramble… huge sand bowls you can tear apart… big natural jumps and kickers you can hit… wide open spaces to whip that front wheel up and do long wheelies… and plenty of hard-packed sand to lay your bike over and do power-slides. Wicked!

Before you do head out, consider these things first:

  • For the best riding conditions, you want damp or wet sand. This makes it firmer providing better traction and control.
  • You definitely want a powerful bike. Anything less than a 250cc two stroke and you’ll probably struggle for power. Though it’s all relative if you’re a 45kg midget.
  • Drop the tyre pressure down to around 10 – 12 psi. This will make a noticeable difference to your traction and control. Just make sure you don’t hit any hard objects (roots, rocks e.t.c) as you may bugger the rims.
  • Take refreshments. I also enjoy cold root beer in my backpack, but only 1 or 2! But if you’re not that way inclined you should still take loads of water. It’s thirsty work in those dunes esp. in summer.
  • Take plenty of spare petrol. Riding in the sand requires you to be hard on the throttle. Your bike will suck the fuel back faster than you can finish saying… “oh sh#! I just ran out of gas!”

Sand Riding Tips:

  • Most of the time you should have your body position & weight further back than if you were riding dirt or hard-pack. This keeps the front wheel gliding over the shifty sand. If you do dig it in, you’ll find yourself doing a fine impersonation of Superman over the handle bars.
  • Keep the gas on! In the early days of riding sand, your natural tendency will be to back off when the front wheel feels like it’s going to wash out – this will only make it worse. Holding the power on propels you forward and lifts the front wheel out of the soft sand. It gives you control over the direction you are trying to follow.
  • If you are turning hard, tight corners, shift your body right up to the front of the bike. Make love to that petrol tank! This takes the weight off the rear wheel allowing you to whip it around in a flurry of sand roost. Again, keep the throttle pinned and lean into the direction you are heading. When done properly this looks and feels sick!
  • Remember to use your legs to grip the bike as much as possible. This not only stabilizes you over rough terrain but will relieve the pressure in your arms.

Final Note:

Sand riding punishes your bike. Sand gets into every little nook and cranny. It will wear out moving parts a lot quicker than normal. Make sure you wash your bike thoroughly after every ride, and always clean the air filter . Use a light CRC spray on the chain rather than a thick chain lube. You don’t want sand clinging to the chain.

Jim Harmer

I'm the co-owner of Dirt Bike Planet. I live in Star, Idaho and enjoy dirt biking with my wife and two boys throughout the Idaho mountains.

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