Desert Rider Virgin

G'day All TTalkers,

I was hoping that you guys could fill me in with some hints for desert riding and bike setup. I am desert riding virgin :) and my only experience is on tight single track trails, mud riding etc.

I am heading for a 500k desert ride next weekend and am prepping my bike as follows:

Metzler Heavy Duty tubes front and rear

Michelin M12 rear

Metzler MC5 front

Filter skins (oiled pantyhose)

15 psi front and rear (?)

Obviously spare L+R levers, spare tube, plug, joining link, bike pump, spanners etc. etc.

I'm currently running 14:50 gearing but will it be OK to up the CS sprocket to 15 teeth to cope with higher speeds? What gearing do you run for the high speed rides?

What about my suspension? Should I increase the compression to stiffen up the forks and shock for the soft sand? Rebound as well?

Anything else other than holding it WIDE OPEN?

:D Your thoughts and experience on riding this type of terrain will be appreciated.

Cheerfully the desert virgin,


I don't race in the desert, but a recent Dirt Rider article written by Ty Davis said that as much as 20psi may be necessary for safe (flat-free) desert racing. Good luck and have fun. Oh yea, go CHAD REED!


Sounds like you have the basics. Just remember there are surprises. I wouldn't get an itchy throttle hand too early in the process. Moto guys and novices tend to grossly underestimate how much experience it takes to ride the desert fast AND safely. Green bushes=water. Water=sandwashes, rocks, and holes. Big piles of sand=deep holes. Road crossings are most dangerous at speed, and don't jump over anything if you don't know what's on the other side. Don't ride alone.

I used to ride fast in dust. Luckily, I am still alive and healthy enough to know better now. Carry water and energy bar, even if there are food stops. Scan the trail both up close and far away. The faster you go, the farther ahead you look. Stand up a lot. Wear your protective gear.



hey grum, a year ago i was in the same boat as u so i tell u what i did, first drink alot of water before the ride, i dont care if u get sick of water, i made this mistake only to pass out in the dez, i started racing last fall and usualy run 18-21 psi F and R, stand up as much as u can and weight the front wheel a ton, espically in the loose poofy stuff, a good tip is if u cant see the other side of a obsticle SLOW DOWN, large rocks have a way of hiding themsleves out here, other than what everyone else has said have fun, and dont chase those mirages of naked women, ive been trying for 8 months now and can never seem to catch them

Gotta have a Camelback or other drink system.

Use baby oil on the foam portion of your goggles to keep the fine dust out.

AmourAll the lenses of your goggles to keep the dust from sticking.

Depending on how many rocks in yor area, up to 18 lbs of air.

Bandaids on your nipples. (Don't laugh. Have your chest protector rub up and down for 3 or 4 hours)

Don't ride faster than you can see.

Pace yourself.

That's it! You're a desert racer!

FastGregg, GlennT, Dan and Mat,

Thanks for the replies guys. Yes I will certainly be on the lookout for some naked chicks in the desert.

Prepped the bike over the weekend. Reoiled the airfilter, regreased stearing head bearings and tightened every nut and bolt on the bike. Oil was changed 50k's previous.

That was good advice on the rocks, roots and washouts. I will remember your words of wisdom. Evil Simon - C'mon you hold it wide open. Good Simon -Not so fast - watch for those damned hidden rocks.

I always ride with a camelbac but will probably take 4L instead of 2.

In regards to armour - I purchased myself some Dainese "Ninja Turtle" armour for christmas. It gets bloody hot whilst riding with it on. The safety features such as spine protection, shoulder, elbow, kidney and chest plate make it all worthwhile.

My neighbour was riding last year and had a minor getoff at 20-25 kph. As he threw the bike and on impact with the ground he landed on that 1 in 10 million spot on his back. Four hours later he was in ICU complete paraplegic. :) He now rides a 3 seat, VW powered trike :D .

Anyhow thanks for the info and keep it on the back wheel.


If you can get a smaller rear gear I would go for it because the larger C/S will shorten the wheel base. Whitch in turn makes the bike less stable at higher speeds. Also drop the forks in the clamps if they are not already. Also makes a more stable bike at speed.Good luck.

I too have the ninja turtle outfit. So far temps are cold but it is still hot. However better to be cooked than served up on a stretcher. In any case if you race in AZ type desert its soooo arid you won't notice the sweat build up....there is none!!! Just make sure you drink regularly and fill your camel back up if ever you get the chance.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now