Driving in the desert Part 1

The basics to learn how to ride the bike on the dunes and on the sand by Pietro Tupputi. Part one: preparing the bike.

driving desert course live out sand

Pietro Tupputi explains to us, in 2 articles, the theory and technique that are the basis of his courses in the deserts of Tunisia and Morocco.


Strange but true, let's start this tutorial from motorcycle, the technique can be improved on the spot: arriving with a vehicle with problems could stop your career as Saharan pilots ahead of time.
Often we only try to improve performance, engine, suspension, exhaust ... forgetting the most important factor for those traveling in countries where there are often no spare parts and assistance, l'reliability. For journeys in the Desert the current single-cylinder racing cars are enough and advance: what I believe is a valid preparation is seek maximum reliability and eliminate any risk of breakage. Let me explain in a simple way: changing a battery that is already two years old is a preparation (on injection models it could be a problem to have a knocked out battery), changing the front and rear wheel bearings if they have not been replaced for a long time is a preparation ...

driving desert course live out sandSo determined what I mean by preparazione, there are several checks to do before venturing: check and if in doubt replace the broadcast complete, change the oil if it has already covered several km, the engine one in the case of the 4T and the gearbox in the 2T. Starting with filter clean and, if possible, if the motorcycle provides it, fit an additional over filter. Check the pads brakes, replace the brake fluid if it is more than two years old. A check must also be reserved for the levers of the swingarm and any losses from forks. A subsidiary a viti various especially in the 2T and, if necessary, pass them with blue threadlocker. Replace the candle in case you haven't done it in a while. In short, a nice and complete maintenance of your bike is the best preparation that you can reserve for it, even if it may seem expensive, in return she will always bring you home.

Don't forget: any pneumatic enduro racing is suitable for the purpose, my advice is to use at least Mid / Hard to have more resistance to wear in the rocky sections. In case you plan to have several consecutive experiences in the Desert, it is worth considering much more resistant rally tires. Rooms or Mousse: for the chambers surely you have to go to the reinforced ones, I have been using Michelin 4 mm for years. Mousses can be used as long as they are new or recent. It is not pleasant to find yourself in the sand with mousses that no longer hold the tire bead on the rim.

Transmission: the chain it goes completely delubricated, it is best to arrive at the event with a new or recent broadcast. The crown is preferable with steel teeth for greater wear resistance, especially if the engine displacement is high. For ratios, you can safely leave those from classic Enduro, I do not recommend extending too much unless long transfers or a prevalence of fast and flowing tracks are expected.

Handlebar / foot pegs: Aluminum handguards are highly recommended, they are the only ones that can preserve the levers in the event of a fall. I also recommend a nice round of Teflon on the bracelets of the brake and clutch levers, to allow them to rotate in the event of a fall without breaking the levers. It also offers the advantage of being able to adjust the position of the same by exerting only a little force. Driving will be (or should be predominantly upright), so if you are tall enough, it is better to provide adequate handlebar risers. Wide footpegs are not vital, but they are certainly more comfortable.

driving desert course live out sandSul easel pay attention to the artisan modifications, often those beautiful plates are mounted to increase the support base, check carefully for any interference with the swingarm, which risks ending up (not very magical) of the woman sawed in two. The mass that is added also increases the inertia of the stand, which, moreover, cannot be blocked by the dedicated elastic given the larger base.  My advice is to park the bike as indicated in the next article.

Air filter: well cleaned and oiled, if possible and the motorcycle model requires it, it is advisable to mount an over filter. Remember that if the distance is mainly on sand, the filter will get less dirty. The main enemy is the dusty tracks, especially if you travel in the wake of other motorcycles. In the latter case it is advisable to provide a second filter already oiled and kept in a sealed bag ready to be assembled halfway through the journey.

Spare parts: spare brake and clutch levers, spark plug (make sure you have the right key to remove it), false chain link, pre-oiled spare air filter, front and rear inner tubes, optional gear lever. These are the essential spare parts as long as you have followed the directions for preparing the bike, otherwise the list should probably be extended a little.

Good! You are now wondering at this point how should i park the bike? Follow us on the next article for all the secrets and tips of driving (and parking) on ​​the sand.

driving desert course live out sandPeter Tupputi boasts over ten years of experience in motorcycles as a former rider, driving instructor, mechanic and rescuer. He spends most of his time in the desert on a motorcycle or 4 × 4. For over 10 years with LIVE OUT, organizes and accompanies people on road and off-road trips.