It’s been a long, hot summer for the Southwest sector of the country. Fall weather and cooler temperatures mean the gear gets collected, the bike gets prepped, and the weekends get booked. Desert riding season is here! In order to prevent last minute scrambling, and maximize your saddle time, we’ve come up with six tips to making your first desert trip of the season a success.
1. Air Filter Prep
Your bike’s intake system is crucial to having a crisp running machine. Having a fresh or clean air filter is especially important in desert riding conditions where things may be a bit more on the dusty side. Make sure the filter is oiled properly to prevent those small particles of dirt from ruining your day. Also consider running a pre-filter screen such as a Filterskin to add an additional layer of protection for those harsh riding conditions.
2. Chain Protection
Because of how abrasive sand is to the drive line, we recommend using an extremely light chain lube or nothing at all. Sand is going to find it’s way into the o-rings and/or gears. Using your standard chain lube will make that stuff cake up and increase the amount of wear and tear on the sprockets and chain, shortening their life drastically.
3. Tire Choice
Choosing the right tire could make the difference between traction heaven and simply making a lot of noise. For the deep sand, give a paddle tire a shot. It will offer a ton of traction by digging in to that loose stuff, perfect for the dunes. For the lighter sand conditions, consider going with a soft or sand knobby tire. This will offer solid traction in the loose stuff, but still offer pretty good traction in the intermediate soil as well. Replace those standard duty tubes with heavy duty ones while you’re in there. Sand mixed with tires and tubes can chafe the tube, basically wearing away the rubber tube. The thicker, heavy duty tubes provide an extra layer of defense.
If you plan on using your traditional off-road gear, we’d recommend picking up a few items to make your desert experience much more enjoyable. Desert goggles are a must, as the foam is much more dense, preventing the small particles from entering and getting into your eyes. Check out the tinted lenses offered for your goggles as well. It’s always bright out there and a tinted lens is guaranteed to make your eyes less fatigued. Hydration is always key. While the temps are bit cooler, it’s still wise to carry some water with you. Consider riding with a hydration system. Not only will you have the ability to carry water, but many of them offer pockets to store snacks, tools, spark plugs, and spare tubes. This is a must for desert riding.
5. Don’t Forget Your Flag
This one’s particular for dune riding, but make sure to outfit your ride with safety flag. Not only is it a requirement at state dune riding parks, but it will help make you more visible when you’re out there tucked behind those behemoth sized dunes.
6. Get Your Permit
If you’re hitting up the dunes, make sure to stay legal and get a permit for your transportation. The permit fees go back into the BLM operational costs including maintenance and safety for the land use.
So that’s it! There’s a few basic tips and tricks of the trade that will help get you prepped up for the desert ride you’ve been jonesing for since last year. Think we missed something? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org on what works for you.