Dune Shredding! - 5 Tips to Prep Your ATV or Dirt Bike
Whether you prefer two wheels or four, there’s nothing quite like riding the dunes! With so many different options for beaches and desert recreational areas that allow you to hit the sand, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself planning your next trip.
Other than not forgetting to bring the flip-flops and tank-tops, it’s easy to overlook some of the planning and preparation that goes into a trip like this. With so much open space and a seemingly endless horizon of fun, dune prep is the single most important part of a trip. Just like it would for a ride in the backwoods, a heightened awareness of your surroundings can be the ultimate difference maker on how well your sand dune trip goes. Although we all might enjoy a good learning experience, we have a few tips to cover on how to prep your ATV or dirt bike for the sand dunes. Trust us: these painless recommendations will get your machine ready for the sand, and keep you twisting that throttle without any maintenance interruptions!
Change Your Oil
If you’ve ever tried running in the sand, then you know how much harder you have to work compared to running on pavement. Well, the same goes for your engine. While you're attempting to roost your friends and family around you, the rotations per minute (RPM) on your machine are running higher than normal, resulting in much higher engine temperatures. Giving your dirt bike or ATV proper lubrication will help it perform for you without failure. The same can be said for your gearbox. These metal pieces that keep your engine and transmission running require just a little bit of care in exchange for a whole lot of hard work. You get to have fun shredding in sand as they turn and burn!
Think of an oil change as a code of conduct: it’s just good practice to change it before a demanding trip to the dunes, and really doesn’t require much time or expense on your part.
Check, Clean and Replace your Air Filter
Clean airflow is essential to your engine's performance while riding in the dunes. Because no matter how hard you try, sand will find its way to the filter, and it’s up to you to keep it out of the engine. Not every machine uses the same style of filter, and each version needs a second layer of defense to keep sand out of the system. When using a foam filter, it’s important to keep it clean for your engine on each ride. Plan ahead and stock a few extra filters for every bike or ATV on the trailer to ensure a smooth strip. Even if you plan on getting into the air box on a daily basis for cleaning, riding with a dust cover or pre-clean filter is a no-brainer.
If you’re riding with a press-flange air filter, we highly recommend you grease that baby up to seal the edges. And if you really love your machine, then you might consider a trusty K&N filter with an Outerwears sand cover. This combo will help your engine run like a champ. Find the right filter for your bike or ATV before heading out to the sand.
Lubricate your Chain and Swap your Sprocket
Sand is just like the food you give a small child: it gets everywhere! No matter how rugged your bike or quad is, you will find sand in places that you never thought possible.
Sand might be one of the most abrasive substances your machine will come across in its lifetime. It grinds through raw metal like you wouldn’t believe! Using a low-viscosity lube can keep that sand from blasting your chain, and can help reduce wear-and-tear on your parts. Aluminum is light, but steel stands the test of time. As the sand quickly blasts your sprocket time and again, you want to have confidence in its ability to last. By swapping out your current sprocket with a steel replacement, the drivetrain on your dirt bike or ATV will last much longer.
Choose your Tires and Adjust the Pressure
Even for experienced riders, getting traction in the sand can be a tricky skill to master. For this reason, you might consider throwing some paddle tires on your machine to make life a bit easier. With many types of paddle tires available, it helps to decide whether to get them or not ahead of when and how you plan on riding the dunes. From straight-cup to V-cup tires, you have various options for intense hill climbs or pure roosting ability. Not everyone wants to throw down their hard earned money for a new set of rubber tires, so making adjustments with the current setup is also an option. By running your sport tires at the lowest air pressures that keep the bead in place, your machine will float in the sand much easier.
Mount a Flag
Riding on the dunes is one of the most exhilarating activities a rider can experience from behind the handlebars. Although motorsports playgrounds seem to offer wide-open vistas and miles of land, you’d be surprised how easy it is to get disoriented or caught off guard by a shadow hiding another rider. While flying up and over a tall dune, it’s nearly impossible to see what or who is on the other side. This is where a good flag comes into play. While prepping for your trip, get a bright flag that stands at least 8-feet tall for your machine. You can even get creative and customize your own flag a la "Mad Max"!
Whether it's beaches or the desert, riding in the sand is grueling on your machine. With some preventative maintenance, your dirt bike or ATV can be outfitted to run smoothly over the dunes, and save you time and money for your next trip.