Arabian Sandbiking

Surly’s Moonlander has evolved fat biking to a whole new level. Key for cyclists living in regions that are mainly desert, like Arabia, is the ability to run the new 100mm Clown Shoe rims and 4.7″ Big Fat Larry tyres because they work unbelievably well in the dunes.

On this page I’m going to collect some resources together for either existing or prospective sand bikers in the region. I hope you find it useful.

Firstly, mainly for the fat skeptics and newbies, a couple of videos showing my bike working.

First up is the first one I did. I put it together very shortly after I got the bike and it includes camera angles to show the tyres on the sand. The area is Al Quadra with me starting the ride from the Dubai Cycling Course’s first carpark

Next is another early ride, this time in the area around Hill 59. This was a great ride and while the video is a bit long winded, like all my videos :/, it shows the ability of the Moonlander to rock crawl as I climbed along the ridge of the hill. Kevin West told me not to try cycling up the hill which is of course a red rag to a bull 🙂

Last is a more recent overly long series of clips from a ride in the Shweib area. On this ride you can seen I’ve started to get to grips with the way the tyres find traction and the feel of the sand. The riding is getting more and more like conventional mountain biking throwing the bike around a bit more, using the dune ridgelines as the deserts single track and carving lines through the bike park like lines formed by the deserts sand

Here are some links to strava activity pages showing some of the rides I’ve done. These are temporary until I have some ride guides done with gpx files including waypoints and tracks included. They’ll give you a starting point for a few places to go

First up a ride in the Al Quadra area between the Dubai Outer Bypass Road (611) and Bab Al Shams. Its an interesting area to explore with lots to see including lots of gazelle, occasional onyx, camel farms and, on a friday morning, guys out training their falcons.

Next is a ride at Swheib starting from out on the Dubai to Al Ain Road. Fantastic single track style riding area with lots to play on

An area that is going to prove very interesting is the southern Oman coast. During the summer the returning monsoon wind blows cold air from the sea giving a thin strip of land along the coastline very very pleasant weather 10 degrees cooler than inland. Reliable surf pounds the deserted beaches and the coastal desert terrain is a very interesting mix of stark dunes, rocky knolls and scrub vegetated sand.

Lastly the 2 days of the Liwa crossing. I will do a detailed guide to this truely world class ride shortly but for now here are the links to the strava activities. Day 1 and day 2

Next up lets look at resources available and the community of cyclists riding in the dunes here:

I’ve set up a regionally facebook group, called Arabian Sand Bikers, to serve as a starting point for riders to get in touch with each other. From sharing places to ride and routes to looking at some of the equipment options that folks are using here go to

The I Love My Surly Moonlander facebook group has been super useful source of information and inspiration.

MTBR has a fatbike specific forum and this can be a good place to get information not yet known locally. Not many folks on there ride on sand though but its worth a visit and saving in your favourites as a resource

Penultimate links are to some images:
From early inital testing out on the Al Quadra road
From Damian and myselfs first Liwa trip
Project “self supported epicrides” requires a way of carrying kit and lots of water. Here are some images looking to this
Lastly Guida’s images from the Liwa Trip

In this initial draft of the page I’ll leave you with an article I wrote for Outdoor UAE’s July 2012 issue sharing my initial experiences and revelations

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