Riding a bicycle on the beach can be an amazing experience, with miles of real estate at your disposal. It’s one of those experiences you have to try at least once.
I have had the chance to ride beaches on the west and east coasts of the United States in Oregon, Maryland, and Florida.
In this post, I’ll dive into everything you need to know for riding a bike on the beach.
Table of Contents
- What type of bike should you ride on the beach?
- Beach riding tips and bike maintenance
- Tire choices for beach riding
- Tire air pressure for beach riding
- Rules and regulations to be aware of
- Best beaches for bike riding
What type of bicycle is ideal for beach riding?
While there are a lot of different types of bikes available, what is called a ‘fat bike’ is ideal to maximize traction. Fat bikes are bicycles designed to accommodate wider tires, with a modified frame compared to a standard bike.
The most important factor when riding any bike on sand-covered beaches is to make sure you have a set of wide tires.
Bike maintenance and best practices for beach riding
Before riding on the beach, here are 3 simple things to keep in mind if you’ve never taken a bike out on the beach.
- Be sure to check the air pressure in your tires and chain lubrication. Bring a spare pump if you plan to ride on sand and pavement (more on this later)
- Be sure to rinse off all sand and saltwater from your bike after returning from the beach. Use soap or wax if needed.
- Stay in lower gears to maximize traction, especially in loose land
Why fat bikes with wider tires are ideal for beach riding
Since all fat bikes have wide tires, they offer loads of adjustment when it comes to tire pressure. The increased surface area also makes stability and traction easier as well.
For hard-packed sand, fat tires can be pumped up firm which is nice. For conditions where you’re riding on soft, loose sand, the surface area of a wider tire will make it easier to achieve traction.
There are many manufacturers that make fat tires, including:
Depending on the fat bike you ride, you can get fat tires up to 5” wide! These are excellent for beach rides.
Plus tires are the next best choice for riding beaches, followed by wide mountain bike tires. These bicycle tire types can still allow for some adjustments to pressure, but don’t perform quite as well in loose sand.
Can you ride a mountain bike on the beach?
While fat bikes are primarily designed to travel over snowy trails are ideal for beach riding, mountain bikes can work in some conditions too.
If you are trying to bike on loose sand mountain bike tires are not the best, but on beaches that are firmly packed, they are fine.
This really depends on the beach.
Some beaches have very firmly packed sand like Daytona Beach, Florida, that can be driven on by almost any car. These beaches are great for riders on mountain bikes or even a beach cruiser. Other beaches may require you to run lower tire pressure as you ride.
This is where fat tires really shine.
When it comes to tire width, the more surface area the better when riding on sand. Below is a basic categorization provided by TheProCloset.com:
- Mountain bike tires: Tire tread is generally 1.9”-2.6” wide
- Plus bike tires: Tire tread is generally 2.8”-3.0” wide
- Fat bike tires: Tire tread is generally 4.0”-5.0”
Can you ride a road bike on the beach?
Since most road bikes are designed for speed have tires less than 1.9” wide, you’ll generally want to keep these off the beach. If your frame can accommodate a wider tire, swapping them is an option.
Thin tires won’t be able to handle loose sand, so lowering the tire pressure won’t do any good for traction.
Why reduce air pressure when riding a bicycle on sand?
With any tire, you’ll want to reduce tire pressure on loose sand, since doing so will provide additional traction and keep your wheels from spinning.
What is the ideal tire pressure for bicycles when riding on sand?
For most conditions and for most people, the ideal tire pressure for riding through relatively loose beach sand is anywhere from 5 psi to 10 psi.
For softer sand, 5-7 psi will offer better traction, but for tightly-packed sand, you are probably okay at around 10psi or a bit more.
With tightly-packed wet sand near water, riding closer to 20 psi may be acceptable as well.
The ideal bicycle tire pressure depends on the weight of the rider as well, in addition to the surface you are riding. For beach sand, most people tend to start out at around 10 psi and remove air as needed.
Is it legal to bike on the beach?
It is legal in many places to bike on the beach, but not all. Sometimes biking is allowed on the beach only for part of the year, or even limited/not allowed due to species that occupy the beach.
Beach bike riding can be limited during nesting season
Recreational activities –including beach bike riding, can be limited due to nesting seasons for specific animals.
For example, in Oregon, beach biking is not allowed from March to September due to the Snowy Plover nesting season. Night riding may be prohibited in other areas, due to sea turtle nesting.
Oftentimes on the East Coast, I have witnessed sea turtle nests being roped off to prevent those recreating on the beach from disturbing it.
Tip: Check beforehand if planning to ride your bike on a particular beach
It is important to check to see if there are any regulations for riding or recreating on the beach before booking a vacation. Oftentimes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or another local organization will have limitations to beach use posted online and onsite.
Want to ride a dirtbike on the beach? Do your research
If you’re into ATVs or dirtbikes, some beaches like Oceano Dunes in California or parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks do allow dirtbikes on beaches. Many times, certain beaches that allow vehicles on them during winter months will also allow ATVs and dirtbikes.
Keep in mind, your dirtbike will typically need to be legally registered with plates. If you’re planning to ride on the beach, the most important factor is to do your research beforehand.
A few of the best beaches for bike riding in the United States
While there are literally thousands, below is a shortlist of my favorite places to ride on the beach (in no particular order).
There are several places to enter the beach in Bandon, OR. Low tide is the ideal time to explore this area. You’ll be amazed by the sea stars and urchins resting in the tide pools!
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
This beach is hard-packed enough to drive on! If you are looking for a place to ride almost any bike, this will do. The Atlantic is also warm enough for riders to stop on the beach and take a dip in the water mid-ride.
Assateague Island, Maryland
This beach is known for its wild horses. At low tide (or if you are running lower air pressure) it is great for riding on a fat bike.
We biked on the state-owned beach on the island when we visited the area. If you are adventurous, I suggest taking a night ride on the beach. Hundreds of crabs will scurry around in front of your headlight, which is truly an amazing sight!
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach is well-known in Oregon. Part of Goonies was filmed there! This beach is a great option if you are riding out west with its beautiful scenery.
Mickler’s Landing, Florida
Mickler’s Landing is situated in a nice area just outside of Jacksonville, Florida, and also a popular surfing location. If you have fat tires I suggest checking out this beach for riding.
Overall, bike riding on the beach is great fun. If you are looking to get out in the sun and explore the marine ecosystem it’s a great alternative to walking.
Just keep in mind, bike type, tire choice, and laws/regulations for the area are something to be aware of.
Fat tires are the best choice for beach riding, but if you are in an area with firm-enough sand (like New Symrna Beach) almost any bike can take on the terrain. If you’re a beginner looking for a good budget beach bike, check out the Moongoose Dolomite here on Amazon. While there are several other name brands at a variety of price points, this is a good choice for a casual rider.
Have fun and be safe! Leave a comment below and share your experience!