The start of sand season in Southern California is a big deal.
Yes, we do know there is excellent sand dune riding in other places, and during other seasons. Little Sahara in Oklahoma packs in the people. Oregon’s coastal sand dunes, as well as Central Cal’s Oceano Dunes, offer pleasant summer duning. Choke Cherry Hill at Idaho’s St. Anthony Dunes is reportedly a mighty hill to climb. Utah’s Coral Pink Sand Dunes are unique and moto-friendly. Even Midwesterners can get in on the action at Michigan’s Silver Lake Dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan.
No sand dune experience – none – can compete with that offered by the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, better known as Glamis and located in southeastern California.
We do applaud the pride that fans of other riding areas feel for their hometown favorites. But once you’ve been to Glamis … Seriously, we do love the sand bounty presented to off-road enthusiasts. The diversity in geography and in riding seasons means the dune season never really ends.
Still, the new dune season unofficially opens October 1, 2011 at Glamis. Are you ready? Is your ATV, Dirt Bike, or Utility Vehicle ready?
Let’s be honest; all you really “need” to enjoy a trip to the sand dunes is a vehicle in good working condition. However, if it was all about “need,” we’d still be riding patched-up two-strokes from the 1980s (no offense to anyone still enjoying their patched-up two-stroke from the 1980s). Because “need” and “want” are often so closely connected, we’ll mix the two.
Do you need paddle tires? Maybe not.
Do you want paddle tires? Yes, of course.
ATV Riders – most of you with high-powered sport quads will enjoy the sand dunes more with paddle tires on your ATV. If your quad’s current knobbies are fairly new and in good condition, you can ride sand dunes with them – I’ve done it several times. Still, it’s kind of like eating sushi with a fork – it’s just a whole lot better with chopsticks. The right paddle tires will give you far better control of your machine, especially in softer and drier dunes like Glamis, and better overall performance.
Kenda K534 Sand Gecko V-Paddle Sand Tires
Lightweight casing. Tread design gives superlative traction and smooth performance. Great handling and stability in turns. No specific right and left tires. 2-Ply.
UTV Riders – Your paddle tire options are increasing every day. The more the better, of course, because a heavy UTV can really benefit from a good set of paddle tires. The right paddles can help your UTV stay on top of the sand, while also giving you good control through corners and strong acceleration, too.
ITP DuneStar Ribbed Angle Paddle Tires
Front and rear tires, are available up to 26-inch sizes. The tires are designed to help your UTV perform in the sand with better power transfer and steering control. Add a set of SS Alloy Wheels for the ultimate dune style and performance.
Dirt Bike Riders – You need a paddle tire more than anyone. A good eight- or 10-paddle tire mounted in back will help your bike float across the sand. You’ll also get far better control on take-off than with your likely aging knobbies, especially when climbing – and isn’t that the best part of the dunes? Up front, run a fairly open knobby tire designed for sandy MX tracks.
AMS Sand Snake Paddle Tires
Available in six- , eight- , or 10-paddle designs, the Sand Snake is a lightweight tire that will surely boost your bike’s fun-factor in the sand.
Tires are important. Suspension is a factor. Seat comfort counts. But in the sand, it’s all about your vehicle’s engine.
Sand will rob horsepower, making your 450 feel like a 250. Horsepower, of course, robs wallets. If you’re not currently up for horsepower-boosting engine mods just for the sand dunes, you should at least make sure your bike, ATV or UTV is making all the power it can, and delivering it when you need it.
DID YOU KNOW?
Chaparral’s Service Department can get your ride sand ready. For more info call 909-889-2761 ext. 410
ATV and dirt bike riders should consider gearing changes. We covered that in Catalog 95 last spring. A lot of Glamis duners – especially dirt bike riders – will tell you to gear down for the dunes. Try a countershaft sprocket that is one tooth smaller, or a rear sprocket that is one tooth larger. This will boost the machine’s ability to focus its power on the low-end, where you need it most to pull out of corners and from a stand still in soft sand.
Recommended: Buy a JT Sprocket countershaft sprocket one tooth smaller than stock, costs about $20 or less, and test it in the dunes.
Recommended: Care for your chain in the sand is crucial to its long life. Even if you’ll be an infrequent duner, bring along a lube spray like Bel-Ray Chain Lube (about $10) to help keep the sand from damaging your drive.
The most important thing you need to do in the sand is keep the sand out of your engine. You’ll get sand everywhere, and that’s mostly okay. But in your engine, it’s not okay.
Recommended: Bring an extra filter, cleaned and oiled, for each day of riding in the sand dunes. And try an Outerwears prefilter cover; it’s about $15 worth of insurance! These prefilters are also available to fit your UTV’s air filter.
You need to install a whip mast and flag on your vehicle. You can get a lighted one for night riding, too. The flags are cheap, as are the fiberglass whips. And that’s good, because you’ll break them.
Stiffy Aluminum Quick Release Mounts
There are many whip mounting options available, depending on your ride, and we like the Stiffy Aluminum Quick-Release mounts, available in several colors and sizes for less than $20.
You need to know well your vehicle’s fuel mileage, and then know that it will be worse in the sand. But you also need to know your body’s “fuel” mileage, then pack water with you when you ride.
Camelbak Classic 70 Oz. Hydration Pack
Hydration backpacks come in all sizes, shapes and colors. We like this Camelback 70 Oz. Hydration Pack ($44) because it combines a nice blend of backpack storage space and water carrying capacity, all at a good price.
We already said the sand will get everywhere, and that includes into your eyes. I’m not sure which is worse; both will shorten your dune-riding trip. Fortunately, both Oakley and Fox have goggles specially designed to help keep sand out of your eyes.
Fox Racing® Main Sand Goggle & Oakley® Sand Crowbar MX Goggle
The Fox Racing Main Sand Goggle ($40) adds additional foam to help cover vent ports and keep sand out. Oakley’s Crowbar MX Sand Goggle ($65) does the same, and adds anti-fog technology to the goggle lens. Both these goggles will be good for more than just dune riding.