Mountain Biking through Sand

Mountain biking through sand, for the most part, sucks. But if you’ve got no choice keep this in mind: spinning = good, mashing = bad.

Yes I am a masher but when it comes time to riding through a sandy area, I mentally remind myself to spin at a higher cadence. Spinning at a higher cadence provides a steady power transfer to the rear wheel which will help move you through the sand better than mashing. When you mash, the power transfer to the rear wheel comes in spurts. The gaps between the spurts of power will immediately stop your forward momentum as the sand grabs onto the wheels. When enough of these build up, it becomes extremely difficult to continue riding through the sand.

So when you come onto a sand area: drop a few gears, sit in your saddle and spin away through the sand section. The goal is to maintain your constant forward progress because once the bike stops trying to restart in the sand is a very difficult task.

5 Replies to “Mountain Biking through Sand”

  1. This is very true. I read about it in Mountain Bike action a year or so ago and also watched the pro in the sand pits of Fontana! Spin they all said, stay light on your bike and spin!! Thanks Jeremy for posting this “How To”

  2. I have a LOT of experience mountain biking in the sand…and spinning is really the only way to power through.

    Another good tip is “no sudden moves” — steering, braking or otherwise. Keep it smooth and light and you won’t bog down. Rapid steering changes will put you on the ground as your front wheel washes out..just like on ice (but falling in sand doesn’t hurt nearly as much). Of course, hard braking will rob any forward momentum you have and will make starting back off nearly impossible if the sand is deep enough.

  3. A side note, the techniques for riding in sand also work for riding in snow,

    high RPMs/low gear, not only keeps constant forward momentum, it also gives you time to react to a slide-out or other such event.

  4. Jer – Great advise… This is the method I use to get through Whiting Ranch’s sandpits. I dont always get through them, sorta takes the fun out of the ride 🙁

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