A flat tire is the most common bike problem at Burning Man so these tools are the bare minimum.
Here’s a minimal list of tools to perform routine bicycle maintenance in a burning man camp.
- Bicycle tire floor pump
- Spanner wrenches – metric
- Allen wrenches – metric
- Pedal wrench
- Water pump pliers
- Needle nose pliers
- Crescent wrench
- Pedal wrench
- Side cutters
- Tire levers – 3 or more plastic levers
- Tubes: usually 26″ x 1.75-2.5 covers a range of cruiser and mtb tires, schrader valve
- Lube – wax based or dry lube
- Shop rags for chain
- Spare bike locks
- Camp bike rack .. see this article from Burning Man Bike Rack Construction Manual
- Hand cleaner
In bigger camps someone will usually lose their bike. Consider bringing a spare camp bike.
Allen wrenches, side cutter, open end/box end wrench set, pedal wrench
A standard single speed beach cruiser with a rear rack and clip on front basket.
At Burning Man your bike is the main way you’ll get around. A lot of times you need to bring things with you or fetch things (like ice) so here are some common ways to do it using your trusty bicycle.
- front basket
- bicycle racks – rear rack, front rack
- box or milk crate attached to a rack
- panniers and bags attached to a rack
- bike trailer
- cargo bike
How to ride your bike safely through the sand at Burning Man. There are plenty of places on the playa and in Black Rock City that are sandy and riding your bicycle through them can be FUN if you know how! This short tutorial demonstrates riding thru sand on a mountain bike but the techniques are the same for ALL bikes – beach cruisers, fat bikes or whatever you are riding on the playa.
- Step 1: loosen up – relax on the approach
- Step 2: lift – unweight the front wheel
- Step 3: smooth – stay loose on the bike and pedal smoothly
Yes you do need a bike at Burning Man! Black Rock City is about 7 square miles (if you overlaid it BRC would cover most of downtown San Francisco). To get around at Burning Man a good, workable bicycle is vital for your transportation needs.
Below: Black Rock City superimposed on Manhattan.
Q. Is having a kickstand on your playa bike a necessity?
A. While it’s not a necessity – most people at the burn have a kickstand installed on their bike. Center Camp and a lot of theme camps have bike racks but a lot don’t. Most of the art and dance venues don’t have bike parking so a kickstand works well here. Bikes laying around on the ground are a hazard. It is also a lot easier to lock a group of bikes together when they’re standing up rather than laying down.
The best bike tires for Burning Man?
Type of Tire
The thing that you don’t want to happen, when you jump on your bike at the burn, is to auger into the sand and end up on your head!
So it is the width of your tire that is important on the playa and a 2″ width or greater works the best. A standard beach cruiser tire is 26″ diameter x 2.125″ wide and is perfect. The low profile cruiser tread pattern, that is pictured, is efficient too.
ALWAYS LOCK YOUR BIKE
Even though it is Burning Man …. bicycles have a way of disappearing on the playa if they are not locked. Even in your camp you’ll need to lock your bike. When you use the porta potties lock your bike. Anytime you stop – lock your bike.
The problem is not that there are malicious bike thieves afoot it is just inconsiderate people looking for a quick ride across the playa. So the lock that you bring to the burn doesn’t need to be able to withstand cutting or breaking – a pretty basic lock will work just fine at BRC. A combination lock is best so that you don’t have to keep track of keys. The “word” locks are cool because they’re easy to remember.
These Word Locks curl up for easy carrying.
FOR AN EFFICIENT AND QUIET RIDE – LUBRICATE YOUR BIKE CHAIN
The Black Rock Desert playa is a harsh environment for bike chains. At Burning Man you will need to lubricate your chain for your bicycle to function properly.
For riding in the desert we recommend using a “wax based lube” or “dry lube” that you can purchase from a bike shop. This type of lube needs to be applied more frequently than oil based lubes. Depending on how much you ride the chain should be lubricated every day or two. Luckily it is easy and quick to do.
A couple of examples are:
Clean Ride sets up as a dry wax film. There is no oily film to attract abrasive contaminants, so your chain and gears will perform better and last 2 to 3 times longer.
In the spirit of Radical Self Reliance here’s how to fix a flat bike tire.
If you find yourself in need of a spare tube, some tools or a pump then you can head over to the Bike Gods DIY Repair and still fix it yourself fast! 24/7 – it’s lighted at night and under shade for the day.
Or another option is that you can always come by our BGs camp during bike mechanic hours (M-F 12-4) and we’ll be happy to help you fix it 🙂
Riding your bike at Burning Man can be a real pain-in-the-ass! Especially if you haven’t ridden a bike in a while. If this is the case you’ll wanna go with a big cushy cruiser type saddle. It’s the best for short trips and like the name implies, cruising around the playa.
Make sure that your saddle is in good shape and doesn’t have any rips or tears that will allow the vinyl to scrape you when you are riding. Also the ‘ol “duct tape” repair doesn’t work on saddles at BRC. It heats up in the sun and becomes a sticky mess.
Cruiser bike seat