test-riding a fat-tire tommi sea bike on the beach

Beach Bike Handlebars
photo: velojoy

Readers: the weekend joyride listing is on vacation this week.

Ah, nothing beats the feel of the surf between your toes on a hot summer day. And, it’s all the sweeter when the spray is shooting up from a sturdy, fat-tire bicycle that’s made for riding on the beach.  Recently, I rented a Tommi Sea Terrain Destroyer and took it for a spin in Montauk, NY.

Be prepared for some stares. The novelty of a bicycle on the beach, along with the brightly colored frame and the XL tires, attract lots of attention. Christie O’Hara, manager (or, as her business card reads, “sales goddess”) of the Montauk Bike Shop, notes that the bikes, which she added to her rental stock last summer, draw plenty of commentary and questions from customers. Still, she says, people seem unsure about riding on sand.

So, what’s it like? Basically, the more packed the sand, the better the traction. Pedaling through the loose, dry stretch near the beach access proved challenging. On the other end of the spectrum, if I ventured too close to the surf, the bike’s wheels sank into the sand soaked by the waves’ retreat. The sweet spot was the wide band of compressed sand just above the surf line. There I was able to get up some speed and enjoy a smooth, steady ride. It was a pretty good workout, too, especially on inclines.

Beach Bike Rider
photo: velojoy

On my bouncy cruise back to the shop along a village street, I encountered a group of teenage boys on hybrids. What would they make of a lady on a bright yellow, fat-tire bike?

“Those are some major wheels,” I heard, as I passed.

Funny, that’s a comment I’m more accustomed to hearing applied to a girl or guy who’s rockin’ a set of Zipps.

The Tommi Sea Terrain Destroyer (right) is equipped with Shimano Nexus 7-speed internal hubs and Nexus roller brakes, aluminum fork and frame, and 4-in. Spyder tires. A simple cruiser model, which would be my pick for a mellow, low-maintenance beach vibe, also is offered.

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  • I also rented a Tommisea in Montauk. That was March of this year. I really enjoyed the bike and the concept. I got the itch and finally bought my own two weeks ago. I love it, great exercise and the more I use it the better I get at traversing the various beach terrains.
    My 17-year-old son love it as well, we may have to but another one.
    Keep an eye out for the old guy with the funny hat and the cool bike cruising the beaches all over Long Island.

  • Do you think beginners could use them on the beach and what is your impression of taking them on a sand hiking trail? Thanks

    • Hi Mark, I rode the Tommi Sea as a beginner myself, and it was fun. Since my only experience is with riding that bike on the beach, I’m sorry I can’t address the second half of your question. Thanks for reading!

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