New to the desert...PSI recommendations?

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11/12/2020 10:39 PM

I grew up racing and riding in the midwest, with lots of rich soil and loamy tracks = traction! usually ran 13-16lbs depending on conditions. Been out to the desert a lot, lately, and traction is sometimes scarce. One guy I spoke with says he goes as low as 6lbs to get more grip.....seems crazy to me!!! What do you all run for a mix of hardpack and sand...(often together, to keep things interesting) ....anyone go as low as 6 lbs?....

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"Never name a hog you may have to eat" - Willie Nelson

11/16/2020 7:07 AM

Really depends on the rider and details of the trail. I generally run blue box bibs for most western desert riding. If you run a sturdy tire and only down slow technical stuff you can run pretty low pressure. I’ve gone as low as 8. For typical faster desert riding I usually run 15psi or so. Go to low and it’ll swap around in whoops and you’ll tear tires and bend rims.

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11/18/2020 10:39 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/18/2020 10:40 AM

Heres my logic for all styles of riding on my dirt bike:
Is it flat? No, run it. Yes, air it up to something around mid teens

In trials, Is it flat? No, run it. Yes, air it up to 4-6ish. laughing

Don't see a huge difference on the dirt bike majority of the time. I ride a variety from woods & some roots one day, to rocks largely the next, and high speed sections here and there. Higher air pressure seems to work good all around and never will be perfect for every scenario. This way i'm not constantly worrying and having to air up/air down my tires.

I notice it more on trials where if i'm over aired it makes every section harder, but once again, 4 or 6 psi, not a good enough rider to know the difference typically.

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11/19/2020 6:48 AM

1983YZ125 wrote:

Heres my logic for all styles of riding on my dirt bike:
Is it flat? No, run it. Yes, air it up to something around mid teens

In trials, Is it flat? No, run it. Yes, air it up to 4-6ish. laughing

Don't see a huge difference on the dirt bike majority of the time. I ride a variety from woods & some roots one day, to rocks largely the next, and high speed sections here and there. Higher air pressure seems to work good all around and never will be perfect for every scenario. This way i'm not constantly worrying and having to air up/air down my tires.

I notice it more on trials where if i'm over aired it makes every section harder, but once again, 4 or 6 psi, not a good enough rider to know the difference typically.

Normally I run 14.5psi, I went riding a few months ago and didn't check the pressure. The trail was a mix of hardpack clay and sand whoops, in the whoops my front got headshake that my bike hasn't ever had before. Got back to the truck and checked the pressure in my front, was 8 psi. Seemed like there wasn't as much bite in the corners as well, but the headshake was definitely noticable and not normal.

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11/22/2020 8:36 AM

I'd first start with Tire selection. The stock tires generally are great for Motocross or SX but are horrible in the desert.

My 2012 WR450 came with Dunlop MX tires and they scared the shit out of me in the desert. The front would knife just looking at sand.

I switched to a Maxxis Desert IT and haven't looked back. I run a 120 instead of a 110, which helps with the straight-line stability as well as helps in the sand. I've even used a 90 upfront instead of an 80 and liked that as well. If you ride a ton of sand that 90 front helps a lot but will make turning on hardpack slower. I also use a heavy duty tube front and rear which is 3mm.

As far as PSI I run 12 front and rear. Seems to have a good combination of being soft enough for traction but firm enough to hold up to jumping Trophy Truck whoops in fifth.

Traction has never been an issue.


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11/22/2020 7:37 PM

Supermega1 wrote:

I'd first start with Tire selection. The stock tires generally are great for Motocross or SX but are horrible in the desert.

My 2012 WR450 came with Dunlop MX tires and they scared the shit out of me in the desert. The front would knife just looking at sand.

I switched to a Maxxis Desert IT and haven't looked back. I run a 120 instead of a 110, which helps with the straight-line stability as well as helps in the sand. I've even used a 90 upfront instead of an 80 and liked that as well. If you ride a ton of sand that 90 front helps a lot but will make turning on hardpack slower. I also use a heavy duty tube front and rear which is 3mm.

As far as PSI I run 12 front and rear. Seems to have a good combination of being soft enough for traction but firm enough to hold up to jumping Trophy Truck whoops in fifth.

Traction has never been an issue.


Dunlop MX 53s on it now, they are a little squirrely in the sand..(figured it was more me than the Dunlops)

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"Never name a hog you may have to eat" - Willie Nelson