Are Honda Odysseys Good at the Sand Dunes?

Is the Odyssey Good in Sand Dunes?

The Honda Odysseys are unique ATVs for many reasons. Ahead of their time by at least 20 years and short lived, they are a rare machine to take out anywhere you go. Finding fun places to ride these machines can be tricky for many reasons. The stock suspension on the FL250 is just front suspension and it is pretty minimal. The stock suspension on the FL350 is better but the stock shocks are practically rock hard, especially the rear shocks. The other major drawback of these machines is the turning radius. Most of the weight is in the back and the only way to really get the Odysseys to turn is by going fast and power sliding around curves. If you are driving at low speeds, don't be surprised when you turn the steering wheel and nothing really happens... Finally, the other major drawback on these machines is they tend to run hot due to the air cooled engine being located behind the driver. These factors make finding an ideal place to ride that really brings the enjoyment of these vintage machines a challenge.

In my experience the place I have found to be the most enjoyable riding experience is actually in the sand dunes. The Sand Dunes at Pismo Beach / Oceano Dunes SVRA is about as good as it gets for an all around enjoyable riding experience. Yes, there are more impressive riding sand dunes out there and I profess, I've only been to Pismo for dune riding. 

The reason I like Pismo Beach for riding my Honda Odyssey FL350 so much is that it really has the right combination of features that make riding fun in the Odyssey. Now, I have to preface this with the acknowledgement that Odysseys are not well adapted to riding in the sand dunes due to overheating. The FL250 and FL350 are heavy machines and the air cooled two stroke engines will struggle to stay cool in this environment and unless you are careful, you will overheat the engine. I highly, highly encourage a water cooled setup or at the very minimum a temperature gauge. Before I had a water cooled setup, I purchased a temp gauge and kept a close eye on it. When the temps got too high, I would stop for a bit and let the engine cool down.

Aside from the temperatures, what makes Pismo Beach / Oceano Dunes SVRA so great for Odysseys is that you can literally go ANYWHERE you want. Like it or not, the Odyssey isn't a great trail runner just because tight corners and rocky sections will be a challenge. On the sand dunes however, it is a completely different story. You can bomb around to your heart's content with little fear of getting stuck on something technical. A good set of paddle tires are definitely a plus though my first time there I didn't have any and still had a blast. 

Just be careful about jumping! The FL350s were never designed to be jumped. The issue is that the gear box will not free spin so in order to jump at all, once in the air you have to let off the throttle to disengage the clutch and allow for wheel spin on landing. If you don't manage to do this, there is a good chance you will shred the bearings inside.

All in all if I had a choice between going to the sand dunes or a network of trails, I probably would pick the sand dunes first. Granted, my ride time in a good set of trails is limited but I think there is a lot of freedom to have fun with friends in the dunes where you can keep an eye on each other and not have to be right on top all the time. The Odyssey makes for a fun dune riding experience but you will have to make investments into cooling and tires to get the most of it.

Check out this article for how to plan a trip and start making plans!

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