dirt bike tire pressure for sand

What Is The Best Dirt Bike Tire Pressure For Sand?

If you have a dirt bike and want to try sand dune riding, what is the best dirt bike tire pressure for sand?  Optimal air pressure is 12 psi in the front and 10 psi in the rear.  

Paddle tires are the best dirt bike tires for sand.  Consider changing the back tire from a standard off-road model to a paddle type.  

To secure your tires, use rim or bead locks to prevent low pressure flats.  

There are some other tunings you can do for running through sand, but tires and pressure are where you start.  I’ll share a few options you can choose from in this article.

What Is The Best Dirt Bike Tire air Pressure For Sand? 

When riding in dunes, lower the tire pressure to around 10 psi in the rear or lower if using a rim lock.  For the front tire, 11-12 psi is optimal. This allows more surface area of the tires to come in contact with the dunes and a better grip.  This makes it the best dirt bike tire pressure for the dunes.

Rocky Mountain ATV MC’s “Top 5 Motorcycle Sand Dune Riding Tips” is the best video I found on choosing dirt bike tires.  It has terrific dune riding tips.

What Is The Best Dirt Bike Tire For Sand?

The generally accepted sand modification is to use a knobby or blade tire in the front and a paddle model in the rear.  The knobby tire  in the front grabs for turns but has little pull for the power of rear.

Front Wheels

Knobby Off-Road.  This type is the standard issue for dirt bikes.  Although it provides versatility for most types of rides, it is not effective riding up dunes and through loose tracks.  For sand, you want a softer, intermediate type.

Sand Type.  You will want a front tire that floats on top of the sand but still tracks well. 

Blade.  These are also called a rib style for the front.  This is mostly smooth and round with a straight line ridge.  This is better for tracking and steering in the loose dirt and sand.

Rear Wheels

Paddle Off-Road.  They come in a 10-paddle, 8-paddle and 6-paddle configuration. 

The 6-paddle is much lighter and spins faster and fewer paddles digging into the ground.  This tire spools up faster and is better for racing.  For larger bikes, you will want to use the 8-paddle or the 10-paddle.  It has a tremendous pull up the dune with balance and control.

Why Is The Paddle Tire The Most Effective In Sand?

The paddle model has several scoops spaced wide apart that quickly pull the wheel through the sand.  This is the ideal one for the rear where the power is.  They all have a ‘straight’ paddle, whereas ATV and truck tires have optional offset paddle and a hybrid paddle.  

It is not good for turning or steering, so this is not good for the front. This is why it is the best dirt bike tire for sand (in the rear only).

The paddles are so efficient at moving across the sand, that you will see about a 30% lower gas consumption than when using the soft knobby in the rear.  

I have seen guys try to go up large dune hills using both knobby and paddle rear tires and the difference is noticeable. With the scoops, it rides straight up the hill while still in 3rd gear.  The knobby rear wheel stalls half way up and buries itself to the rim.

Paddle dirt bike tire in sand
Paddle Dirt Bike Tire In Sand

What Does A Bead Lock Do?

When you lower the air pressure to run flatter on the dunes, like in a turn, you run the risk of a bead, or sidewall, popping off the wheel rim, which would cause slipping of the tire inside the rim.  It is critical to secure it on the rim during low psi dune riding.

A bead lock rim is the best option for this problem.  It is a style of wheel that allows the bead of the tire to be sandwiched between this ring and the actual rim itself.  This ring lies outside the rim and prevents the bead popping out and causing a flat.

Dirt Bike Tire Beadlock
Dirt Bike Tire Bead Lock

How Does A Bead Lock Work?

The traditional bead lock has anywhere from 18 to 32 screws that hold the bead lock to the wheel.  The tire will then sit on top of the rim.  The rim lock will sit on top of the tire and then fasten on.  The lock will pinch against the tire and hold it in place, even in the lowest pressure situations.  You can actually run as little as 2-3 psi.  This allows for a much lower dirt bike tire pressure for sand dunes with better grip.

You will want to apply bead locks to your rims, even at a higher psi.  Most dirt bikes use one bead lock per wheel but some require two on the rear wheel.

What Does A Rim Lock Do?

An alternative solution is to use a rim lock.  Fix Your Dirt Bike’s “How The Rim Lock Works On Your Dirt Bike” is a terrific video that demonstrating the rim lock and how you can use it for your bike.

Conclusion: What Is The Best Dirt Bike Tire Pressure For Sand?

So, the best tire pressure for sand is 12 psi front and 10 psi in the rear.  The best dirt bike tire for sand is a paddle tire in the rear and a sand tire in the front. You should use a bead lock rim or rim locks to secure your tires to the wheel when running very low tire pressure.

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