Can I Ride a Mountain Bike on the Beach?

It’s time to go to the beach and it’s important to take the necessities with you, sunscreen, bathing suit, dog, and of course your bike. The only problem is that you have a mountain bike and while you know it is designed for off-terrain riding, you aren’t sure if it is ready to meet the challenge of the soft beach sand.

As a practical matter, mountain bikes, with a lot of effort can be taken to the beach. However, there are some beaches that forbid mountain bikes. Before you pack for the beach, call ahead and find out if the beach allows mountain bikes. So while you can technically ride on the soft sands of the beach with your mountain bike, it won’t be easy, but it can be done. And done by riding close to the water’s edge where the sand is slightly more packed.

Why not?

The mountain bike is designed for off-road excursions. There is no doubt that the beach is off-road, so why not take that mountain bike to the beach? Well, there is the sand. The soft sand is not a friend of the mountain bike. You will either find yourself struggling with getting traction or cursing as you are once again picking yourself up from the wipe out you experience as you try to navigate a mountain bike through the soft sand of the beaches.

The Basics for Your Bike

  • Use a gear that spins you at a high cadence, but not too high. Try 85-95rpm, that way you will keep spinning as you are maneuvering through the sand. This should help you stay in control.
  • Slightly lower your tire pressure. Think of it as the “fat tire” solution. Your tires’ surface area will increase preventing you from sinking.
  • If you are thinking of making this sandy excursion a thing, consider swapping out your normal wheels for wider ones. Wider is better.
  • Use Teflon spray lubricant chain lube. Do not use it right before you ride because it will not have enough time to evaporate. But the lube when applied prevents the sand from sticking to the chain.
Ride on bike on the beach. Sport and active life concept

The Basics for You

  • Ride at a controlled fast pace. Riding too slow increases your chances of getting stuck. Riding too fast insures you are to wipe out.
  • Keep your speed steady to maintain momentum and avoid getting stuck.
  • If you make any sharp turns you can almost guarantee that the front tire will dig in and you will go flying over the handlebars.
  • Do not stop quickly. The bike will pitch forward and again you will go flying over the handlebars.
  • If you have to hit the brakes, you know to avoid the beach volleyball game, occasional kid running in front of you, the family of sea crabs trying to make their way back into the water, whatever, only use the rear brakes. It is better than using both brakes because you will not stop quickly and go flying over the handlebars.

Safety First…Here are Some Wise Safety Tips from

  • Make sure you can make your way across the entire terrain. The place can look different even if you have ridden it before. Take a map, compass or GPS unit.
  • Know your exit routes. If you have difficulty you can make the quickest and safest way to get help and get out.
  • Plan out your main routes before night to make sure you can see the way and that you will not get lost once darkness comes.
  • Double-check that you have your mobile phone, it is fully charged, and you have another source of power.
  • Know the numbers to call during an emergency, including the nearby hospital the local police department, the rescue service, or a friend who will come and get you.
  • Tell someone close to you where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Know the weather conditions before you get out there. For instance too hot and you are at risk for sunstroke.
  • Take enough food and water for the entire time you contemplate being out there.
  • Do not push yourself.
  • If you come across a section of sand you think is beyond your current skill level to get through, swallow your pride, dismount and walk across with your bike instead of attempting to ride it through.

It’s the beach right, nothing bad happens on the beach only in the water, said a mountain biker never. Mountain bikers know that the real hazards are on the beach, particularly when the are trying to get across the beach on their bikes. While yes, you can ride a mountain bike on the beach, the truth is your mountain bike isn’t the best option. But you are going to do it anyway…so remember:

  1. Stay away from loose sand. Try to aim for the wet sand or that thin layer of sand over hard soil. It will be just like riding on wet grass.
  2. Stay near the water but out of water range.
  3. Do not lean over the front wheel. You will want to in order to get more traction, but don’t Sit back in the saddle and keep your weight centered over the rear of the bike.
  4. Ride slower than you normally would.
  5. You are not going to be able to steer the same way you normally would. Slowly lean your body and use counter pressure to turn your bike.
  6. Relax. You are going to be in for a bumpy ride. Let your body absorb the shock of the bumps and stay in control.

Take the advice of those who insists on riding their mountain bikes in the sand. It isn’t going to be easy, but it is doable. There really is no good reason to ride soft sand on that mountain bike, unless you are just proving that you can, adding another skill to the repertoire. So go ahead and do it. And remember in sand style counts. Ride with your weight back not over the handlebars. Keep a high steady cadence and steer with weight shifts not handle bar movements. But most importantly never ever think that you are too good just to get off and walk it through some rough (and by rough, I mean soft sandy) patches. Walking is way better than taking a header over the handlebars.

Get out there and try it once if you must. But remember the soft sandy beaches may look pretty and inviting but they are not the friend of your mountain bike. And always call and make sure that mountain bikes are allowed on that particular beach, some aren’t.

Mike Rausa

I'm a 42 year old married father of 3 that fell in love with mountain biking late in life. Mountain biking quickly became my go to fitness activity. I created this blog to help beginners to advanced riders with tips and strategies to improve your riding experience. More About Me...

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