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Riding the Dunes: Best Dirt Bikes for Sand

06/06/2022

Looking for the best dirt bikes for sand dunes? Riding the dunes offers a much different feeling than track or trail, and once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to experience it again and again. Not only does riding the dunes take lots of coordination, but it also requires the right dirt bike. Here’s our roundup of the best dirt bikes for sand.

Yamaha YZ250
Yamaha YZ250 in blue

Yamaha YZ250

If you’re on the hunt for a great off-road desert bike, look no further than the 2-stroke Yamaha YZ250. This versatile bike handles great on the dunes with just a few modifications, and the 2-stroke engine performs well on sand due to its lightness and maneuverability. With endless customization options, you can build your own bike according to your needs and the terrain you’ll be racing on the most.

KTM 300 XC-W
KTM 300 XC-W in orange

KTM 300 XC-W

One of the best enduro motorbikes in the market is the KTM 300 XC-W, a top-performing 2-stroke dirt bike for soft sand terrain. Thanks to this model’s ergonomics and specially designed bodywork, as well as a frame that helps riders pick a line with incredible accuracy, desert racing is a breeze.

Honda CR250
KTM 300 XC-W in red

Honda CR250

While the Honda CR250R is no longer in production, it still makes a great dirt bike for sand dunes and desert trails. If you want to save some money on your desert rider, a secondhand CR250 is a great option.

Yamaha YZ450F
Yamaha YZ450F in blue

Yamaha YZ450F

The Yamaha YZ450F rides great on any type of terrain, including desert sands. It’s a four-stroke motocross bike that started the four-stroke engine revolution and provides optimum handling and performance from track to trail, sand dunes and more.

KTM 450 XC-W
KTM 450 XC-W in orange

KTM 450 XC-W

Featuring high-tech SOHC 4-stroke technology, KTM’s 450 XC-W is one of the top-performing desert bikes you can find. If you’re looking for a bike with optimum output, this model combines low weight and high displacement, making it the most capable desert racer KTM produces.

Honda CRF450X
Honda CRF450X in red

Honda CRF450X

In general, 4-stroke dirt bikes feature a more complex engine, making them a bit bulkier than 2-strokes. While that may mean slower riding on the dunes, you’ll still enjoy great performance on most types of sand or desert terrain. The Honda CRF is a 4-stroke off-road motorcycle that’s excellent for riding the dunes. It features a wide-ratio transmission that offers the perfect gear for any situation or terrain, whether you’re slowly crawling the rocks or racing in the open desert.

Motocross rider ripping up the dunes
Motocross rider ripping up the dunes

Preparing your bike for sand riding

No matter which bike you buy, you need to set it up properly before you hit the dunes. Riding in sand puts major strain on the engine, sapping power and causing it to rev higher, in turn creating more heat than usual. If you don’t prepare your bike properly, there are several things that could go wrong and cost you money—not to mention keep you off your bike. Here’s what you need to do before you ride your bike in sand:

Oil

Riding on sand causes a bike’s engine to run very hot, making the oil break down quickly. If your bike’s nearing its scheduled oil change, get it done before riding in sand to make sure the engine gets the best lubrication possible.

Tires

You need quality tires to ride in deep sand. If your tires are looking the worse for wear, it’s a bad idea to take them out on the sand. It’s best to invest in a sand riding tire—the tall knobs and spacing is ideal for cutting through sand. Also, drop your tire pressure down to 8-10 psi when riding on sand.

Suspension

Whenever you’re riding in sand, you need to keep your weight near the back of the bike. You can keep weight off your front wheel by increasing the rear ride height by 5 to 10mm. You should also firm up the suspension so you can easily handle sand jumps and whoops, then slow the rebound in the rear to keep the bike from bucking as you ride.

Air filter

Even if you weren’t on a particularly dusty ride, you should always clean your air filter after every time you hit the dunes. Sand is worse than dirt when it comes to the health of your engine, so keeping the filter clean is essential.

No matter what dirt bike you buy, you’re going to need the right dirt bike tools and accessories to keep it ready to hit the dunes. From trailer transport kits to professional motorcycle shop kits, Black Widow Pro helps you maintain, service and care for your dirt bike for years of exhilarating riding, no matter the terrain.

What bike are you planning to use to ride the dunes? Tell us below!

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