Last Updated on March 11, 2023

Desert motorbiking is an exhilarating adventure that requires more than just a motorcycle and a sense of adventure. The sand dunes pose unique challenges that demand proper preparation to ensure your safety and enjoyment.

The first step to preparing for desert motorbiking is to ensure that your motorcycle is equipped with the right gearing. A low gear ratio is crucial for desert motorbiking. This helps your motorcycle have more torque and power to climb the steep sand dunes. Achieve a low gear ratio by using a smaller front sprocket or a larger rear sprocket. In general, a ratio of 13/50 or 14/50 is ideal for desert motorbiking.

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Adventure Riding in the Desert on a Motorcycle
Rider Racing Enduro Motorcycle in the Sand

Preparing Your Motorcycle for Desert Riding

Before hitting the desert, it’s crucial to ensure that your motorcycle is in top condition. Check the engine oil, air filter, and spark plugs to ensure that your motorcycle is running smoothly. It’s also essential to inspect your tires and make sure they have enough air pressure and tread depth. Replace any worn-out tires and carry a spare tube and tire repair kit in case of any punctures.

In the desert, you won’t find any motorcycle shops or gas stations, so it’s crucial to carry essential tools and supplies. Carry a tool kit, spare parts, water, and snacks to stay hydrated and energized during your ride. It’s also essential to carry a GPS device and a map to help you navigate through the desert.

Paddle Tires

The first thing you need to consider when riding in the sand dunes is your tires. Regular knob tires don’t provide enough traction in the sand dunes, making it difficult to control your motorcycle. The best tires for desert riding are paddle tires. Paddle tires have a unique design that allows them to dig into the sand and propel your motorcycle forward. If you don’t have paddle tires, you can still ride with regular tires by lowering the air pressure to 8-12 psi. This will flatten the tire and increase the surface area, giving you better traction and flotation in the sand.

Chain Lube

Sand is abrasive and can easily wear down your bike’s drive parts. Using regular chain lube will only gum up your chain and attract more sand. Instead, use light chain oil or WD40 to lubricate your chain and gears. This will minimize abrasion and make it easier to clean.

Best Dirt Bike Tires for Sand Dunes

Maxxis Maxxcross Desert IT

KENDA Parker DT K772

Pirelli Scorpion MX Soft 410

Best Chains for Sand Dunes

Best Dirt Bike Chain for Sand Dunes - Regina Gold-X
Regina Gold-X
Best Dirt Bike Chain for Sand Dunes - Regina Gold-Z
Regina Gold-Z
Best Dirt Bike Chain for Sand Dunes - EK MVXZ X-Ring
Video: Epic Sand Dunes Freeriding


If you’re spending a lot of time in the sand dunes, consider switching out your aluminum sprockets for steel ones. Steel sprockets are harder and can withstand the constant grind of the sand much better than aluminum.

Air Filter

Your bike’s air filter is not designed to block fine sand particles. To protect your engine from sand, use a Filterskin or pantyhose over your air filter. This will prevent sand from entering the air intake while allowing air to flow freely.


Sand dune riding can overheat your bike’s engine, especially if you’re running low-pressure tires or paddle tires. Check your engine coolant before you start riding and bring extra coolant to top up if necessary. Take frequent breaks to allow your engine to cool off, especially if you’re riding in the hot sun.

Safety Flag

When you’re riding in the sand dunes, visibility can be limited, and other riders may not see you until it’s too late. A safety flag can help make your bike visible from a distance and prevent accidents. The flag should be at least eight feet tall from the ground to the mast and mounted securely to your bike. Many state-sanctioned parks require the use of a safety flag, so be sure to check the local regulations before you head out.

Extra Fuel

Riding in the sand dunes can be a lot of fun, but it can also take a toll on your bike’s fuel consumption. The terrain is more challenging, and you may need to ride longer distances to get where you’re going. Be sure to bring extra fuel with you, so you don’t get stranded in the middle of nowhere. It’s better to have more fuel than you need than not enough.

Protective Gear and Accessories

In the harsh desert environment, it’s crucial to protect yourself and your motorcycle from the elements. Install a skid plate to protect your bike’s engine from rocks and debris. Wear proper riding gear, including a full-face helmet, goggles, gloves, and protective clothing. Carry essential tools and supplies, including a tool kit, spare parts, water, snacks, GPS device, and a map to help you navigate through the desert.

Emergency Kit

It’s always a good idea to be prepared for the worst when you’re out in the desert. Bring an emergency kit with you that includes a first aid kit, a fire starter, a flashlight, and a whistle. If you get lost or injured, these items can help you stay safe until help arrives.

Desert Motorcycle Riding
Desert Motocross Race

Tips for Riding a Bike in the Desert

When it comes to adventure, nothing beats the thrill of riding a motorbike in the desert. The sense of freedom, the vast expanse of sand, and the challenging terrain make it a popular activity for adrenaline junkies. But before you rev up your engine and take on the dunes, there are a few things you should know. Here are some tips and tricks for riding a motorbike in the desert.

Choose the Right Bike

First things first – choose the right type of engine for your desert adventure. If you’re just cruising around or taking a leisurely tour, a four-stroke motorcycle could be suitable. However, if you’re looking for a true off-road experience, you’ll want to go for a two-stroke Enduro racing motorcycle or a motocross bike. These are typically smaller, single-cylinder bikes that are more agile and better equipped to handle the soft sand of the desert. Two-stroke engines produce more power and can give you a thrilling ride, but they require more maintenance and have a shorter lifespan compared to four-stroke engines.

If you’re just cruising around or taking a leisurely tour, a heavy touring motorcycle could be suitable. However, if you’re looking for a true off-road experience, you’ll want to go for a light Enduro racing motorcycle or a motocross bike. These are typically smaller, single-cylinder bikes that are more agile and better equipped to handle the soft sand of the desert.

Get Ready to Rock

Before setting out on your desert adventure, it’s essential to make sure you’re physically and mentally prepared. You’ll need to be in good shape and have enough food and water to sustain you during your ride.

Don’t forget to pack all the necessary gear, including a first aid kit and a tool kit, to tackle any unexpected breakdowns or injuries that may arise during your journey.

Make sure all the nuts and bolts are tight, the brakes and tires are in good shape, and the oil and fluids are at the correct levels. Checking your bike’s chain tension and sprocket wear is also vital, as sand can wear them out quickly.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

It might be tempting to go full throttle from the start, but it’s crucial to take it slow and ease into your ride. Riding on sand requires a different technique than riding on regular terrain, so it’s important to take the time to get used to it. Don’t push yourself too hard too fast, as this can lead to accidents and injuries.

Remember that you’re riding in a desert environment where the weather can be extreme, so it’s also essential to keep an eye on the temperature and the sun exposure. Make sure to take regular breaks and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Master the Technique

When riding on soft sand, you’ll need to adjust your riding technique. One key adjustment is to keep your weight farther back than you would on regular terrain. This helps to keep the front wheel up and prevent it from sinking into the sand.

Additionally, it’s important to learn how to read the dunes and understand which side is harder and which is softer. When climbing a dune, make sure to keep the throttle steady and don’t stop until you reach the top.

Remember that the type of bike you choose can also affect your riding technique. Two-stroke bikes have a more abrupt power delivery and require more rider input, while four-stroke bikes have a smoother power delivery and can handle higher speeds in the sand.

Expect the Unexpected

The desert is full of surprises, so it’s essential to remember that anything can happen when riding in the desert. Sand dunes can shift and change quickly, and there may be unexpected obstacles in your path. Always keep your eyes peeled and be ready to adjust your riding technique as needed.

If you do get stuck in the sand, don’t panic. Lay the bike on its side to allow the sand to slide off, and then try again. It’s also important to have a basic understanding of bike mechanics, so you can troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Knowing how to change a tire, replace a chain, or fix a broken clutch cable can save you time and frustration on the trail.

Have a Blast!

At the end of the day, desert biking is all about having fun and experiencing the thrill of the ride. Take the time to appreciate the stunning scenery and the feeling of freedom that comes with biking through the dunes.

Don’t forget to capture the memories with photos or videos, but also remember to be respectful of the environment and other riders. Stick to designated trails and avoid damaging vegetation or disturbing wildlife. By following these tips, you can have a safe and unforgettable desert biking adventure.

Read also: Desert Motocross Racing


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