Motocross Motocross Tips & Advice

5 Tips for Riding a Dirt Bike in Sand

gopro checklist

If you’ve ridden in the dunes before, you don’t need me to tell you how much fun they are. They are an absolute blast and something every rider should experience. I’ve put together five tips to so you can have a fun and safe trip while riding a dirt bike in the sand.

Tire Choice

The first tip is you got to have a paddle tire on your dirt bike. To get the full dune experience on your motorcycle, a paddle tire is going to be the way to go. I’ve ridden on a traditional knobby tire in the dunes before and they don’t even compare. Paddle tires give the rider a lot better traction, drive and handling. They also help the dirt bike stay on top of the sand a whole lot better. You can’t forget about wheelies! Paddle tires make wheelies possible in sand. The tire that I would recommend is the STI Sand Wedge. The reason I like this paddle tire is because it has center ridges between the scoops. This helps with straight line stability and cornering when riding a dirt bike in the sand. Check out this post for tips on how to change a dirt bike tire.

riding a dirt bike in sand

STI Sand Wedge Paddle Tire

If you frequent the dunes, I always recommend having an entire separate wheel with the paddle tire already mounted. If you’re like me, I like to change tires as little as possible. This allows for less wrenching and more riding!

As far as the front tire goes, I usually like to run a soft, intermediate tread tire. You do have an option to purchase sand specific front tires. Though they do help, they are not as important as having a sand specific rear tire.


The second tip is going to be gearing down your motorcycle. What I mean by this is adding teeth to the rear sprocket, or taking them away on the front sprocket. This is important is because it takes more power and torque to accelerate when riding in the dunes. Gearing down a motorcycle makes it easier to accelerate and puts less load on the motor when riding a dirt bike in sand. Check out this post for more on how to adjust your dirt bike gearing.

For bigger bikes, like a 450 four stroke or 250 two stroke, the stock gearing is already pretty good. You may only need to go one or two teeth higher in the rear because these bikes have so much power and torque already. For smaller bikes, like a 250 four stroke or a 125cc bike, adjusting the gearing could make a big difference. Some riders will add two to three teeth in the rear or they will take away one tooth in the front. This adjustment could make big difference when accelerating in sand. It will also help with the longevity of your dirt bike.

Air Box Protection

The third tip is going to be about taking care of your air filter and preventing sand from getting in your motor. When riding in the dunes you have to remember that the sand is extremely fine and will find its way in every nook and cranny. The last thing you want to do is suck sand into your air box. You want to make sure to oil your air filter on a regular basis. If you air filter needs replacing don’t hesitate to replace it.

Filter skins are a nice accessory that you can add to your bike to help prevent any sand or dust from getting into your air box. You want to start by oiling them the same way you would your air filter. You can then stretch one right over the top of your air filter. Filter skins help create a second barrier and give you that added peace of mind that no sand or dust is getting into your air box. The filter skins usually come with multiple in a pack and are fairly inexpensive. When one gets dirty, you can simply take it off and put a new one on. This will help prolong the time that you actually have to change out your air filter.


My fourth tip is going to seem like a no brainer. You’ve got to have an orange flag on your motorcycle. I say this for two reasons; first check your state and local laws because most likely you will be required to have a flag on your bike and second is the huge safety factor. Many accidents at the dunes are caused because riders don’t see each other. If you are coming up the face of a dune and someone’s coming up the back side or vice versa, a flag is going to give you the best chance of being seen and help prevent those dangerous accidents.

There are two really great accessories to help attach the flag to your motorcycle easily. The first is a tusk flag mount holder. It is a quick release, so it makes it super easy to get your flag on and off your bike. Another cool accessory to check out is called ZenXTen. This is a universal flag holder that is designed to go on the rear fender of just about any motorcycle.

riding a dirt bike in sand

Tusk Quick Release Flag Pole Holder

riding a dirt bike in sand

ZenXTen Universal Flag Mount



The fifth and final tip is all about safety. If you want to have a really good time at the dunes you have to make sure safety is a top priority. The first part of this tip is to never ride alone. If you are not paying attention, you can quickly become separated, secluded, or lost. If you get hurt or have bike problem, It may take hours for friends and family to find you.

The second part is to always be cautious of your surroundings and have a spotter when hitting jumps. For instance, when you are coming up to the top of a dune, you always want to know who and what is on the other side. A lot of accidents could be prevented if riders were aware of what was on the other side before going over it. A lot of riders go to the dunes looking for jumps because that is what they love to do. It is important to have a spotter stand at the top of the dune you are going to hit. You never want to go off a jump until you’ve received the coast is clear signal from your spotter. If you are the spotter, you want to make sure you are in a position that the rider can see and hear you clearly.   


Those are my top five tips for riding  a dirt bike in the sand. I do have one little bonus tip for you. Stay hydrated. You can either have a hydration pack on your back or make sure you have plenty of liquids at the truck. Most of the time where there are sand dunes, there is also extreme heat. You don’t want to become dehydrated or suffer a heat stroke. This is just another tip to take with you so you and your buddies have an awesome time riding the sand dunes. Leave a comment below with some of your favorite tips and tricks for riding in the sand dunes.


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How to Adjust your Dirt Bike Gearing

5 Tips for Changing a Dirt Bike Tire

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  • I appreciate your input about changing gears when riding in the sand. My brother and I love to drive around dirt bikes along with my friends during weekends. We plan to go to Arizona soon and it would be nice to purchase a different gear for our trek using 125cc 4 stroke engine bikes.

  • Thanks for mentioning adding teeth to the rear sprocket while riding on the sand. My friends and I are going riding in the sand dunes this weekend and I’m worried about changing gears for my bike. I’ll be sure to get everything ready to ride my dirt bike on the sand this weekend.