The simplicity and mobility of a fat tire bike makes it the perfect alternate candidate for cruising the beach.
Traditionally surfcasting the open beaches has always been done with a 4×4 vehicle. Acquiring beach permits when they go on sale every season is a normal routine for many. When I first started surfcasting I didn’t even have a 4×4. All the spots I was able to access were by my own two feet. I got quite used to this and actually caught a lot of fish by walking. This method did force me to thoroughly fish all the troughs, sandbars and dips on the beach. Spotting baitfish was much easier due to me paying more attention to my surroundings. At times I’d say driving might make me a lazier surf fisherman. Mainly focusing on one spot instead of prospecting spots along the way if I were to walk. Anyway, I’m not going to get off topic here. Like I said, for years the two ways to do it were either walking or driving.
More recently I’ve seen a growing trend of using fat tire bikes on the sand. Years ago I used to see a few bikers casually going down the beach during the day with their big goofy tires. Those bikes seemed to move so effortlessly. I always though it looked interesting but never gave it much thought. They were just day trippers going along enjoying the scenery and getting exercise. More recently I’ve noticed more and more bikes cruising the sand. Some equipped with rod holders and gear storage. This is when my attention was really caught. Some nights these bikes would zip right by me walking. They were stealthy and fast.
The simplicity and mobility of a fat tire bike makes it the perfect alternate candidate for cruising the beach. Just air the tires down according to the softness of the sand and peddle away. Somewhere in the range of 8 psi for sand and 20 psi for pavement works. As of now permits are not required to use them on the beach so that in itself saves you some money. Also using these bikes gives you the ability to access spots that are normally tough or impossible to get to walking or driving. While at times it may require some planning or a ride over pavement and sand to access your destination, it is more possible to do with this great tool.
None of these bike come rigged ready to fish so some modifications are needed to make them more ideal. Incorporating some sort of basket into the back end of your bike helps transport gear down the beach. Being a surfcaster you know how important it is to have certain tools, plugs, and pieces of equipment with you at all times. While you may not be able to hold as much as a beach buggy, proper packing and planning helps in being more than ready for most situations. Something the size of a milk crate will work just fine for holding everything. That gives you enough room to fit a plug bag, some extra tackle, or any other piece of equipment you see suitable for the trip.
A small hand pump and a tire gauge are some recommended tools to always have when bike riding on the beach. On both sides of the crate it’s a wise idea to incorporate rod holders. I like to make mine out of PVC pipe so this way I can cut them to the exact sizing I want. Fasten them to the crate with a couple of hose clamps. I like to cut a notch into the pipe also to stop the rod from spinning around. A rubber muffler hose fitted at the top will prevent any damage to the stem of the reel when riding on bumpy roads. Incorporating some sort of water bottle holder on the bike is a wise idea also. Riding on those muggy summer night can definitely get tiring.
If you plan on doing any night fishing, rig some sort of lights onto your bike. I found that the easiest thing to do sometimes is rigging a headlight to the handlebars and simple turning it on and off when need be. Both traveling the pavement and the sand can be dangerous at night without any sort of lights to guide you so definitely put that towards the top of the modifications list.
Of course with fat tire bikes comes the electric option. These type of bikes offer even more benefits than the already useful traditional models. E-bikes can be used with no electric power, pedal assist, or are pure battery driven. Of course the more you use the battery, the quicker it drains. Still these bikes have an amazing range of up to 45 miles with pedal assist. Even more amazing is that they can reach speeds up to 20 mph unassisted. On the sand I don’t recommend going that fast but you can still cruise at a comfortable speed to get you to most spots very quickly.
You can cover ground just as far as a 4×4 but without all the hassle of one. Plus beach bikes can be very stealthy for those night fishing missions. Combine everything and you have a bike that unlocks so many opportunities you never had before. In the long run utilizing a bike for fishing can become cheaper than running a truck up and down the beach. Also I have to add they are very fun to use on top of it all.
Pros And Cons
Now you might be wondering why not just go with the E-bike at this point. Well that’s a good question. Both the E-bike and the regular non-electric bikes have downsides and upsides that I will go over. First up is the E-bike. These bikes give you the option to use a no pedal assist, pedal assist or pure electric power. Having all these options is a great benefit. You can get to spots even quicker and use less energy in the process.
The downside to this is getting lazy while riding. I know that if I had the option of using only electric power, I’d be abusing it, which in result would drain the battery rather quick and would shorten the range it can go before I have to purely use my own power. This isn’t ideal for those people trying to get good exercise out of them. I have ridden these bikes before and they are quite a bit heavier than the non-electric powered ones. This means they can be a bit tougher to pedal if your battery does happen to die. Another downside of electric is getting the bike on and off the racks becomes a little more difficult due to the weight as well.
These bikes as you know by now are electric powered. Which means a few things. More parts to break and more money spent trying to fix them. Don’t get me wrong though these machines are very high quality and are meant to take a beating but like anything that rides on the beach they will wear down due to the terrain and salt after time. Proper maintenance will help with the longevity of your bike. This includes giving it a rinse with fresh water, wiping it down after every use, lubrication of moving parts and regular tune ups to ensure the bike will have less chance of actually breaking on the beach.
Another downside to going electric is the initial buying price. While some options actually aren’t too outrageous, they still cost a pretty penny, usually well over a grand. Non-electric bikes go for much less most of the time. You can find some models for only a few hundred dollars that will work great on our local beaches.
My suggestion would be to start off with a non-electric bike if you haven’t done this before, even if you plan on going with an E-bike after some time. See if you like the way a bike rides on the beach and if it works for you. For some people it may not be comfortable or as ideal as they think. Sand riding is different than pavement riding. It’s better to start off cheaper than to go all in and realize beach biking isn’t for you.
I’ve done my research on brands, both electric and non-electric. A couple that keep popping up consistently are Mongoose and Rad Power Bikes. Mongoose bikes are a known brand that offer several different fat tire bikes. All at reasonable prices too. If you’re looking to get into the beach bike game and not dish out any extra money for electric, one of these might be worth taking a look at.
On the other side of things, if the E-bikes interest you, take a look at the Rad Power Bikes. They have several different options to choose from. While the price tag on all of the ones they offer are north of a grand, this is still a relatively inexpensive price in the E-bike world. The reviews on the bikes these companies have are exceptional. Whatever route you decide to go with, you will be more than happy. If you ever do run into any issues with these bikes, the customer service is top of the line with these companies.