I think we can all agree that dirt bikes are some of the most versatile machines out there. You can take them anywhere and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it - even in the sand.

Dune riding for sure is a beast in and of itself. Riding on sand offers even the most expert rider a significant challenge and a completely whole new experience for anyone who has only spent time on the track or trail. Without a doubt one adventure every dirt bike owner must try is a day on the sand dunes.

What makes it even more special is, for most dirt bikers, the sand dunes aren't exactly right in their own backyard. For most, a day in the sand is the road less traveled and it'll be an all-day affair. But, whenever you decide to try your hands on the sand be it the beach or desert remember you can't just take your dirt bike off the trail and rip it in the sand without some prep work.

If you've ever been to the beach whether to lay out in the sun or simply stroll along the breakers one thing is quite evident - sand sticks to everything and finds every nook and cranny of your shoes, clothes, towels and anything you put on it. The same applies to your dirt bike.

Your bike can manage the muddiest of trails so it can certainly handle a day on the sand dunes. However, you'll need to do some prep work before you head out for the dunes to ensure you don't just spin your wheels and your bike survives to ride another day. In this guide we will cover the following tips for riding sand dunes:

Sand or Paddle Tires

Change out your regular knob tire in the rear for a paddle tire. These tires essentially paddle your bike through the sand and give you much more traction. Be prepared to throw around a lot of sand because, well, that's why they are called paddle tires.

If you don't have a paddle tire or don't want to spend the money on a tire to play in the sand once a year you can still use your regular knob tires. The key here is to let a lot of air out and run them between 8 and 12 psi. The lower pressure flattens the tire which gives you grip and flotation in the sand.

A note on using a paddle tire: consider running one tooth up on your rear sprocket with the paddle since it could make the bike lug.

Dirt Bike Paddle Tire

Sedona Dunatik MX Rear Paddle Tire

Price: $77.99 - $87.99


  • Ultra-light nylon carcass designs
  • Rear only
  • 2-ply
  • Excellent traction and flotation

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Chain Lube

Don't use regular chain lube! You'll gum up the chain, spokes and everything in between before you hit the first dune. Additionally, sand as you know is quite abrasive so the more of it you have stuck to your chain rotating at a high rate of speed the faster you'll wear down all your drive parts.

Instead of regular chain lube, use a light chain oil or even WD40 (but check first to make sure WD40 is adaptable to your drive parts), or don't use any lubrication at all. Inevitably, you're going to get sand in your drive chain and gears but using a viscosity lube will not be nearly as abrasive to your parts and you won't end up with an oily, sandy mess to clean.

Chain Lube for the Sand Dunes

Sunstar Off Road Chain Lube

Price: $6.36 - $10.36


  • Full synthetic lubricant
  • Approved and tested for any type of chain, including sealed ring chains
  • Special light viscosity formula that has a clear application
  • Waterproof

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If you're rocking aluminum sprockets, switch them out for steel sprockets especially if you spend a lot of time on the dunes. Steel sprockets are harder and stand up to the constant grind of the sand much better than aluminum.

Steel Sprocket Kit

Sunstar Steel Sprocket & Chain Kit

Price: $56.81 - $304.72


  • Case-hardened chromoly steel
  • Heat treatment for added strength and wear resistance
  • "Parkerizing" surface treatment for rust and corrosion resistance
  • Includes Choice of Drive Chain

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Air Filter

You're air filter is not designed to block a tidal wave of fine sand. You'll need to add some extra protection to keep your engine free from sand. We suggest using a Filterskin. It's membrane that stretches over your air filter that prevents any sand from entering the air intake yet keep the flow of air. A "cheap and dirty" method is to use pantyhose over the filter. If you go this route just be sure to keep an eye on it to make sure the pantyhose is still attached.

Air Filter Protection

PC Racing Filterskins

Price: $14.99


  • Catches up to 90 percent of dirt
  • Easy installation
  • Includes three Filterskins
  • Available in several sizes

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Check your engine coolant before starting your day on the dunes and then often throughout the day while you ride. Bikes tend to run a little more lean on sand plus the bike's engine works harder. Add on the paddle tire or low-pressure tires and you have a recipe for overheating your bike.

Make sure you bring along extra coolant and keep an eye on the engine temperature gauge. Some riders find success by taking frequent breaks from riding to allow the engine to cool off. Additionally, since sand dune riding often occurs in the desert you may be riding in the hot sun which only adds to the ingredients necessary to overheat your bike's engine.

Coolant for the Sand Dunes

Engine Ice

Price: $23.95


  • Made of Propylene Glycol - biodegradable and non-toxic
  • Premixed with deionized water to eliminate impurities
  • Proven to reduce operating temperatures by as much as 50F

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Get a Safety Flag

Yeah those flags may look like something you had on your bike as a kid but you don't want to ride off without one. Sand dunes are not only a great place to hide but almost act like a cloak of invisibility. Those steep hills hide even the loudest of 2-strokes. So get a flag that stretches at least eight-feet tall from the ground to the mast so others can see you. Most state sanction parks require the use of a safety flag anyway.

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Bring Extra Fuel

Lastly, bring fuel! Riding in the sand eats a lot of fuel so if you want to make it all day on the dunes, you're going to need enough gas to refuel several times.

Fuel Can/Jug

Utility Jug With Filler Hose

Price: $43.90


  • Clamps at each end with screw cap
  • Subjected to a 15-point quality test
  • Ergonomically contoured handle
  • Includes filler hose