Riding in Soft Sand

Techniques for riding mountain bikes.
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Riding in Soft Sand

Postby wa_desert_rat » Tue May 03, 2011 10:27 am

If you are going to do a lot of riding on sand you should install the widest tires you can find and then pump them to the lowest air pressure that is consistent with your weight (so you don't get "pinch" punctures). On the beach I find that there is a spot just above the highest waves that is still somewhat damp and that's where I try to ride. Even so, I do sometimes find patches of soft sand; and then there is the problem of getting to (and from) the parts that are rideable.

There are bicycles made specifically for soft sand and snow (they're very popular in Alaska). These bikes have wider frames and forks to accommodate the wider tires and they are all built on 29er frames. Even so, sometimes even these bikes bog down in soft sand.

My technique for soft sand is to stay back on the rear wheel as much as possible and don't, whatever you do, put a lot of weight on the bars. Keep the weight either on the pedals (standing) or on the saddle. This will help that front tire "float" over the sand better. And keep a good grip on the handlebars because if the front wheel gets caught in the sand it can suddenly whip left or right and cause a nasty spill. By keeping your weight off the handlebars (but holding on to them with a good grip) you can help avoid the dreaded OTB (Over the Bars) crash.

In general, a 29er (a bicycle with 29-inch wheels instead of the more-common 26-inch wheels) will work better in the sand than a 26er because more "footprint" is on the ground from the larger diameter tires.

If your sandy beach is one that is next to salt water you will want to make sure that your bike is well protected from the nasty effects of salt water corrosion. Even if you have not ridden through the water just the proximity to salt air can create a corrosion problem; and, of course, that damp sand is damp from salty water. Although WD-40 is not generally recommended as a bike lubricant it does have the ability to displace water. Just remember to use a real lubricant on the moving bits of the bike. You can spray a light coating of WD-40 onto all the steel parts of your bike and then lightly rub it off with a clean rag. Mind you, the rag won't stay clean for long so I use those disposable (blue) towels on a roll available at many auto shops (and WalMart). You can use an air compressor or even a can of canned-air to blow any loose bits of sand or dirt off the bike first.

Riding on sand can be fun but frustrating. Have fun and keep your speed down. An OTB crash is something no one goes looking for. And remember to be cautious when riding around headlands of points of land. An incoming tide can make a return ride over that same beach impossible. On the west coast of North America (and in Oregon and Northern California especially) it's not uncommon to have hikers stranded by an incoming tide and require helicopter rescue. I prefer to ride on an outgoing tide anyway... more beach is available. :)
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Re: Riding in Soft Sand

Postby johnj2803 » Wed May 04, 2011 5:09 am

Thanks for this.I am in miami beach and sometimes riding on the beach is a necessity... For fun! :)
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Re: Riding in Soft Sand

Postby desertguns » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:05 pm

Good points, WDR. You know what I'm trying tire wise. The washes we have here are a little different animal than the beach & you can never be sure what to expect when you hit one. The scenario usually involves a short downhill run, a drop-off (of varying heights) into a wash, crossing the wash (anywhere from 5' to 30', then quickly looking for the best exit on the other side. Similar deal across open, relatively flat stretches of desert but without the high risk OTB. The consistency of the sand can change quickly & rapid downshifts are required. I absolutely hate the feeling of defeat if I get bogged down & have to push the bike out. Doesn't happen as often as it did when I started 10 months ago, but it still happens. My brief testing with the Dissents tell me they will also help – and shedding 30 lbs or so doesn't hurt either.

I'm working my way through the Technique threads & related video. I ride alone so I know I'm probably doing lots of things wrong. The whole point of the bike was to lose weight & have some fun, and plowing through the desert worked for both requirements. But I'm to the point where I do need to upgrade a couple of parts & work on how to ride correctly. The frickin' heat will be tapering off in a few weeks (was 116” at the house today) and I want to be ready to spend time riding; not working on the bike. Thanks again for the forum Ton's of knowledge here as well as some good folks.
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Re: Riding in Soft Sand

Postby wa_desert_rat » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:08 am

I am moving my Deception over to a better sand machine. I like the WTB Dissent 2.5-inch wide tires even though you have to put some spacers in to make the tire fit... and even though the Dissents are heavy (!)... I think it's worth while doing.

Actually, when I bought the Deception my interest was in a beach or desert riding machine capable of handling soft sand (but without spending $1500 for a new fatbike). This is an excellent compromise.

I like your fenders, too.

Desert... could you please post a couple of your photos in this thread to give people an idea of what you've done?

Thanks. :)
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Re: Riding in Soft Sand

Postby desertguns » Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:13 pm

Hey WDR – I'm still working on the new modification for the BOG front fender. I'll take some more pics with the new tires & fender setup in a few days. Here are links to pics already posted in various threads.

Link to WTB Dissent tire photos with Planet Bike BOG front fender extended (incomplete).
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=528

Link to original fender fab – Innova tires
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=539

Link to bike photo with Planet Bike model 7002 fender on front, modified Bell/Planet Bike 7002 on rear.
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=59&p=5040#p5040Hey WD

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Re: Riding in Soft Sand

Postby mark42 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:54 pm

I like to ride on the beach too. One suggestion I can offer is to NOT lube up the bike before going to the beach/sand. A dry chain and derailleur does not collect sand. A freshly oiled chain will get covered with sand and grind away on the chain rings and freewheels/cassettes. After the ride I would hose off the chain, etc, towel dry and lube.

JMHO

Mark.
2016 Raleigh Tomahawk 6061 MTB. Mods: Carbon Fiber 29" fork, 203 & 160 mm rotors. BB5. Deore derailleurs. Kenda K935 700x50c. Kenda Kwest 26x1.95 (2.185) . VUELTA 52T/42T/3OT. K-Pedc Pedals. 31.8mm Ritchie bar. Gavin gel foam saddle.
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Re: Riding in Soft Sand

Postby steady eddie » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:04 am

Just to add to here:

Wet sand is very sticky, but dry sand just falls off. If you allow you wet(ish) bike to dry off in the wind, then bounce it up and down, 90% of the (then dry) sand will fall off. Just by riding the bike around on the pavement, while it is drying off, will get a bunch of sand off the chain and etc.

What Mark has said above is good, EXCEPT for the spraying of water on it and the wiping down. Use an inverter and change your 12 v DC to 120 v AC, and run your electric, portable leaf blower. Blows the sand right off and everyone will believe you are a genius.. 8-)..

ANY wiping down will destroy the paint and chrome under the sand. < a word to the wise...
the sand is just like 80 grit sandpaper. Any mechanical thing, bike, ATV, dunebuggy, truck, will do much better if all of the exposed parts are run metal to metal with no grease or oil of any kind. This does require you to replace worn metal parts.. :( ..
Steady Eddie

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Re: Riding in Soft Sand

Postby mark42 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:38 am

steady eddie wrote:Just to add to here:

Wet sand is very sticky, but dry sand just falls off. If you allow you wet(ish) bike to dry off in the wind, then bounce it up and down, 90% of the (then dry) sand will fall off. Just by riding the bike around on the pavement, while it is drying off, will get a bunch of sand off the chain and etc.

What Mark has said above is good, EXCEPT for the spraying of water on it and the wiping down. Use an inverter and change your 12 v DC to 120 v AC, and run your electric, portable leaf blower. Blows the sand right off and everyone will believe you are a genius.. 8-)..

ANY wiping down will destroy the paint and chrome under the sand. < a word to the wise...
the sand is just like 80 grit sandpaper. Any mechanical thing, bike, ATV, dunebuggy, truck, will do much better if all of the exposed parts are run metal to metal with no grease or oil of any kind. This does require you to replace worn metal parts.. :( ..


Eddie, how do you get the salt off the bike if not by washing? Banging the bike will dislodge a lot of sand, but it won't get rid of the sand in crevices, nor will it get rid of salt. Riding on the beach, I can not avoid riding through water or having wind blow spray on the bike. The only way I know to get the salt off is to hose it down and towel dry. The hose takes off the sand too, so there is no scratching when washing. If I didn't, the bikes would be a pile of rust in no time. (another good reason to use stainless fasteners where ever possible if you are near salt)

Is there a better way to remove salt and sand than with the hose and a soapy sponge?
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Re: Riding in Soft Sand

Postby steady eddie » Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:26 am

mark42 wrote:Eddie, how do you get the salt off the bike if not by washing? Banging the bike will dislodge a lot of sand, but it won't get rid of the sand in crevices, nor will it get rid of salt. Riding on the beach, I can not avoid riding through water or having wind blow spray on the bike. The only way I know to get the salt off is to hose it down and towel dry. The hose takes off the sand too, so there is no scratching when washing. If I didn't, the bikes would be a pile of rust in no time. (another good reason to use stainless fasteners where ever possible if you are near salt)

Is there a better way to remove salt and sand than with the hose and a soapy sponge?

====
Mark--

Salt from the ocean is a whole different thing. The salt requires a different approach. You begin with a clean and dry bicycle. Then you spray-can the entire bike with a non-sticky, water repellent, like Fluid Film. I buy mine at the local John Deere Tractor Dealership.
It is an amazing product. Made from sheep's wool lanolin. Non toxic and very green. No petro in it.

Salt is a real problem in those parts of the country where the stuff is put on the roads in the winter. Like in Iowa, where my Grandfather grew corn. He always wiped.. :!: ..his rolling stock with a mix of motor oil and kerosene. No rust. Imagine my surprise when years later, I find out that the #1 ingredient in those "waterless" car wash products is nothing more than Grampa's kerosene.. :) ..

You are right about the salt from the ocean, it will rust up just about anything, overnight.
Even the dew in the campgrounds has salt in it, there.

The best defense is a good offense, and your best bet is Fluid Film. IMHO.

One of the things I found out, after duning in it for years, is that "sealed" bearings aren't.. :lol: .."Got Sand?"..
Steady Eddie

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