In the waning weeks of summer the blazing heat that makes most dune areas less than attractive for recreation begins to subside and the cooler temps of fall signal the beginning of sand season.
Running in the dunes is a unique experience requiring skills and equipment to ensure the fun is uninterrupted by sluggish performance or worst yet a hopelessly stuck vehicle in the middle of nowhere.
Two important considerations for playing in the sand are, power and traction. How do you get the most out of your available horsepower and how do you translate that into forward momentum?
Although more powerful than they've ever been, modern UTV's have relatively small engines and you'll need every bit of that horsepower to propel yourself up and over giant dunes to impress your friends. Spinning a heavy wheel and tire package isn't the best use of valuable horsepower when there are lighter options for the corners of your car.
When it comes to efficiency, traction is critical to making the most of the available power in your off road vehicle. To maximize traction we often speak of increasing the "footprint" of tires by deflating in order to mushroom the contact patch. Narrow tires dig into the sand causing the tire to push the sand requiring more effort (and power) to move forward. A wider footprint allows the tire to stay on top of the surface of the sand requiring less effort to maintain momentum consequently also less chance of becoming stuck.
With a sand paddle type tire the aggressive design will help with translating the spinning wheels to forward momentum but lower pressures are still necessary to maintain the flotation effect. Too low a pressure and the tire bead can come off the wheel, so bead security is also an important consideration. Using a wheel with technology like Bead Grip® wheels from Method can help reduce the risks associated with running lower tire pressures in the sand.
An added benefit of a Bead Grip® wheel over traditional mechanical bead lock wheels is the weight savings. Minimizing the unsprung weight in a UTV wheel can help to utilize the potential of limited engine power as well as reducing the stress to suspension components.