Sand Riding Techniques
One of the hardest areas for new dual sporters to ride is sand. Perhaps it is due to the added weight of their street capable bike or their hesitancy to crack open the throttle. No matter what the reason, here is a list of techniques that will aid you in traversing the soft stuff. Who knows – after a while you may even like it.
-Power, Power, Power. Sand is a power robbing surface, so fight back as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to twist the throttle.
-Accelerate sooner, brake later. Sand is not a frictionless surface and takes longer than hard pack to accelerate on. Braking is much more rapid and in the deep stuff, you can stop fairly quickly by simply letting off the throttle.
-Easy on the front brake. Slamming the front brake will cause the front wheel to lock, slide, and likely cause you to dump your bike. Lock the rear instead, and use the front brake sparingly.
-Steer with the rear end. Don’t fight the front end. Throttle and somehip action will allow you to turn much more effectively than trying to dig in with the front.
-Practice in the wet and cold. Wet sand is much more tractable than when dry, allowing you to accelerate easier and turn with more control. Cold sand doesn’t grip as well as when it is wet, but still is better than hot dry sand.
- Weight is your enemy. Don’t overload your bike with unnecessary items, especially up high. Even adding a fender bag to your bike can affect it’s handling in the sand.
-Keep your weight to the rear of the bike. Keeping your weight towards the rear helps the rear tire keep traction and allows the front end to float over the sand. Besides wheeling a bike in the sand is difficult and looping a bike sans paddle tire is near impossible in loose sand.
-Don’t bury the rear end. If you start to get stuck, don’t sit on the bike and pin the throttle – You’ll only dig yourself deeper. Instead alternate the throttle in pulses to help the rear tire grab. If you really start to get stuck, hop off the bike and push and use the gas together to help dig it out.
-If despite your best efforts you end up like the bike in this picture,drop the bike to one side and drag the bike sideways out of the newly created hole, this is easier on your back than trying to lift the bike up out of the hole.
- Drop your air pressure. Lower pressure equals softer tires and more control. It also can lead to buggered rims if you run low pressures in areas with both sand and rocks, so be careful. Be sure to fit rim locks front and rear if you plan on running under 14 psi. Air back up to street pressures if you plan on running at highway speeds or you may overheat your tires and tubes.
-Don’t be afraid to fall. Sand is one of the more forgiving surfaces to fall on both in terms of personal injury and damage to your bike. Learn from your mistakes though, otherwise you will be falling again.
-Try a lighter bike. Borrow a friend’s motocrosser to take out on the dunes. Not only will you learn quicker, the techniques you learn will assist you with a heavier dual sport.
-New rubber. Throwing on a set of soft sand tires or even a rear paddle will make your bike handle significantly better in the sand. These tires will wear very quickly on pavement though, so be advised.
-Have fun. At the end of the day that is what riding is all about....