I am a newer desert rider (Nevada) although growing up in the midwest, I have ridden motorcycle my whole life. I purchased a XR650R. My Question is that I'm having a tough time riding in the soft stuff. I rode my friends drz450 and that seemed to "float" in the gravel trails. My 650 seems to want to "plow" into the soft stuff. I've uncorked the thing to help throttle response, but it doesn't help much. My friend swears his DRZ handled the same way before he got a complete exhaust system and bars. Does anyone think by adding an exhaust system, like a Big Gun will help the way it handles? Also any other suggestions would be appreciated.


Putting an exhaust on it will not help handling at all. Maybe shed a few pounds that's all. Furthermore, I've heard that the stock exhaust is the best hit for midrange on the bike. In the soft stuff it's all throttle and lean back on that baby. That's how I do it. Don't let off the gas or she'll dive in like quick sand. Hope this helps..



You cannot ride up on the tank in the soft stuff. Keep your weight shifted toward the rear wheel. Also, do not grip the handlebars tightly. The steering reminds me of when I drove a 5 Ton Dump truck for a summer, the steering wheel felt like it was moving around alot but the truck stayed in its lane. Stay loose on the handgrips and let the front end wander without reacting to every little move of the front end.

When the front end starts to wander too much get on the gas and slide farther back on the seat. This lightens the front wheel. Stay loose on the handgrips and steer with the rear wheel (sitting down, knees firm against the bike). I love to play in the long sandy stretches of primitive roads. Allows for some 50 mph rear wheel navigation.

The real fun is rutted sandy single lane dirt trails with high centers. This teaches you to look far ahead. I'm not going as fast so I can stand up on the pegs instead of sitting.

needsprayer summed it up pretty good.

try to imagine your driving a boat when riding in sand. you can't make literal/immed. direction changes, you have to start your turning process well ahead of the turn and inch the bike right or left. stay off the front end, keep your weight back, and use your legs to counterbalance the bike when turning. you should imagine that your triple clamps have been locked in place and the only way to turn is by shifting weight to the opposite side of the bike depending on the direction you want to go. also, stay off the front brake and clutch, use engine breaking in the corners with a little back breaking.

and remember, momentum is everything in sand. if your'e running a sandwash you want to keep you speed up so the bike gets up on top of the sand, just like a boat. plus, your fear of crashing should be relaxed since you know you have a soft place to crash should you stack up at 60 mph...

another thing is if you still have it, get rid of the stock front tire. it's junk and the thing wants to push and slide in corners and soft sand. i've been running one of the dunlop models for loamy soil. i can't remember the model number but i can double check tonight. this tire doesn't last as long in the desert but it is about the only thing that will make the bike turn and help with traction up front.

I have had good luck with the S12's in the sand.

It helps to dial in more compression damping in the fork also.

Light a candle and bow to the North...Wear a garlic necklace...Cut the head off a goat and drink it's....Oooops wrong Forum! :D Sorry! :)

I'm running the Maxxis Sur Cross in the front. I tried it on a whim as I was/am very impressed with the Maxxis IT fronts as well as really impressed with the backs. This Sur Cross rocks in the sand. I'm mean it tracks GREAT! It's a directional tread. Seems to work good for Ocotillo.

Rokatt Report...Over 'n Out

PS. Secret. Thanks for Jerry's info. :D

Hey Guys,

Thanks for all of the help - I'm going to try all of that for my next ride. What about tire pressure, it seems that If I have lower tire pressure that helps. What's a good PSI for desert. I encounter Rocks and stuff so I can't run them too soft! :)

I run the Michelin Desert tire up front. It is a directional tire also and it tracks well. :)

BAJA rear tire, with a Terraflex waiting in the wings. :D

I am dual sported and don't want the tire pressure to be soft at high speeds. I generally run 16psi F, 18psi R. If I was playing in dunes I would reduce these pressures significantly and put on a paddle tire.

Take the money you were going to spend on the exhaust and get a steering damper with it. Worked for me. :)

I think everybody offered great advice. What works for me is:

1) Experiment with the air pressure in your front tire to find what works best for you. Dropping 1 to 2 PSI can make a significant difference in the sand.

2) Some tires are more friendly than others in the sand, so find out what your friends DRZ is using and consider that as a potential candidate for the areas you ride in.

3) Your riding position is vital in the sand. Keep your weight back so the front end stays light.

4) Try to keep the throttle fairly constant and make slow steady changes. Don't chop the throttle or let off the throttle quickly or engine braking will cause the front end to dive & plow. Once this happens things get squirly and then the bike is riding you before too long.

5) Ride one gear higher than the gear you'd normally use. If you do let off the throttle, then the engine braking won't be as severe. This will also help to minimize some of the squirlyness, especially at lower speeds.

6) Keep your speed up and she'll carve nicely, but riding super slow in twisty deep sandy terrain can be chalenging no matter which bike you're on, unless you're on a FatCat, ATV, etc.

7) Suspension spring rates also play into this equation. Make sure to have your bike sprung for your riding weight. Then make sure the static & dynamic sag is properly setup. If your sag is off, it will affect the sensitivity/twitchyness of your bikes steering.

8) Suspension clicker setup can also help out. You may want to try adding in some more low speed compression by turning the clickers in another 1 to 2 turns. Keep adding a few more clicks at a time to see if that helps and don't be worried if your clickers are maxed out if you plan to ride in the sand a lot. Adding more low speed compression will help to keep the front end from packing. If you have your suspension revalved by a competent suspension tuner, they can also help you out in the sand with a valve stack that's more friendly for your riding needs.

Seems like just about everything has been covered. Just remember to get your bike slowed down before you enter the turn. Trying to slow while turning will cause the front to plow. Then accelerate smoothly through the turn to keep the front end light. Once you're comfortable with that, get used to sliding the rear into the turn and then showering your friends on lesser bikes with gravel as you leave them behind. :)

Hey Guys,

Thanks for all of the help - I'm going to try all of that for my next ride. What about tire pressure, it seems that If I have lower tire pressure that helps. What's a good PSI for desert. I encounter Rocks and stuff so I can't run them too soft! :)

16 to 17 up front 17 to 18 on the ass end.

you give up performance in the sand and will chew through tires a lot quicker. but if you run anything less you are a target for flats.

also, couple other dez tips:

1. run moose or bridgestone heavy duty tubes.

2. when you replace your tubes get rid of the rubber band and run a layer of duct tape around your rim

3. use a a lot of baby powder inside the tire and around the tube.

4. if you're really serious about being bulletproof in the desert, consider a second rim lock on the ass end. this has been the subject of debate but if you're a straight shot with a drill you shouldn't create any trouble. running a second rim lock will help overspin and also, should you get a flat it will hold all the guts inside the tire and you can ride out without having a rubber hand grenade under your arse.

a rubber hand grenade under your arse.

:):D :D :D :D :D

The 2 biggest things that improved my soft stuff riding were:

1. Replace the stock frt tire - I run the Dunlop 756, what an improvement!

2. Steering's like cheating, got rid of the "hunt" the front had.

I run my 650 at Glamis Sanddunes (leaving friday morn) and the bike handles great considering it is so heavy. I noticed that having clickers stiffer helps in the sand a lot. I also think that each bike needs to be ridin a certain way in the sand, for example I rode my friends KTM 520 in the sand and it wobbled all over the place the first ride, then I got used to it and it was fine. Same w/ another friends CR500, I later got used to it and no more wobbling. I am sure with all the good tips here you will find a technique that works for you.

1. get rid of front tire.

2. buy steering stabilizer.

3. Then cut the head off a goat! :)

Wrong forum again Rokatt88 :):D

3. Then cut the head off a goat!


OK, so maybe the goat idea might have some merit. I was in a deep rut 16-18 inches wide (truck tire size) filled with sand. This was after a good ride and on my way home. I was thinking, instead of riding, and the front end started getting heavy. Instead of getting way back and giving it more gas, I let the bike move (big mistake) to the right. Well that simply brought me up against the side of the rut. I ended up in an awkward position, with the front wheel trying to ride up the side of the rut. I knew that it wasn't going to get any better so I throttled down and slide on the right side to a stop. Luckily there were no witnesses and all I did was add some more beauty marks to my BRP and a slight pull of my calf muscle. I picked the bike up and rode right out of there, sandy rut and all.

Funny thing was the bike never quit running while it was laying on its side, slightly elevated (stock carb). I did hit the kill button before picking up the bike and then restarted without much effort.

Sand is fun, but tricky and demands your complete attention.

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