Hilton Head Island is blessed with long, sandy beaches that are open to biking. The beaches are public and utilizing a bike makes it very easy to explore and ditch the crowds at popular access points. You can bring along a fishing rod or a picnic while taking advantage of the Hilton Head Island paradise.
Types of Bikes for the Beach
The amount of surface area on the tires is a major influencer for beach bikes. Skinny tires that make bikes fast on paved surfaces will struggle in the sand. The best bikes for beach riding are fat tires bikes that spread the weight across a broader track. Airing down the tire a bit will add additional traction in soft sand as well. You can still grab a cruiser or mountain bike and get by on many beaches, but a true fat tire back is recommended for anyone planning to pursue beach riding on a regular basis. Fat tire bikes do however require more energy to ride on the streets. Really focus the fat tire riding on the beaches and off-road surfaces rather than around town. Many locals own separate bikes for town and the beaches.
Riding Style to Stay Moving
Riding on sand is much different than paved roads and even gravel. The tires have a natural tendency to sink and the sand creates resistance. You want to use low gears to keep moving at a steady pace. Once you have enough momentum to get rolling, don’t stop. Just keep on cruising and avoid shifting gears or braking. Pay attention to your position on the beach as well. An outgoing tide is ideal because it leaves behind packed sand. Look for that section of sand where the water has retreated and find the hard spots. When you catch it right, cruising becomes surprisingly easy.
Accessorize Your Bike
Don’t go overboard and weigh down your bile with heavy items but do consider some basic accessories for carrying gear. Anglers can strap a milk crate to the back with rod holders and space for tackle boxes and equipment. A set of simple saddlebags is ideal for carrying a blanket and picnic supplies as well. Of course, you can always throw on a backpack with water and basic gear before heading to the beach. Speaking of water, carry plenty because you might work up a sweat while riding on the beach.
Where to Go on Hilton Head
Hilton Head has some great beaches to explore. The environment is very friendly for riding because the beaches themselves are all public. You still must access at a public entry point and always respect private property but riding above the water line is perfectly legal. Beaches like Coligny Park and Folly Field are popular for visitors but bikers can ride away from the crowds. Consider accessing less popular beaches and use your bike to really get away while finding secret spots to lounge, catch fish and swim. Fish Haul Beach Park, Hickory Forest Beach, Bradley Beach, Islanders Beach Park, Singleton Beach and Burkes Beach are just a few of the amazing places to begin a bike riding journey. Look for sneaky public access points and find your own piece of paradise through beach biking.
The sand is hard on bikes and gear in general. Sand particles and saltwater combine to wreak havoc on gears, brakes and metal components. After each beach biking session, give your bike a rinse with freshwater to remove salt and sand. Hit the gears and really flush everything out. After it dries, add oil to the chain to keep things running smoothly and your bike will perform without issues for a long time.
If you ride with any frequency, consider a seasonal tune-up as well to run through all of the bike components. Several bicycle mechanics and sales companies are available for tune-ups and expert information about biking on the local beaches. When the season ends, give the bike a major cleaning before storing for any significant period of time. Hit the gears, cracks and crevices with water and a brush to remove salt deposits and sand. When you return, the bike will be rust free and ready for action.