Video: A Dust Zamboni for MTB Trails

Nov 9, 2021
by Old Man Mountain  

As we pass into the shoulder season and see the first rain of any substance in six months, our local trail crews are picking up their McLeods, their shovels, and their Pulaskis. Finally able to sink those tools into some actual substance, some soil that doesn’t billow into the air with each step and tread or flow off a shovel like water.

JP and Breeann emerging from a cloud of moon dust on a very dry day of filming the Dust Zamboni Video.
JP Purdom and Breeann Tegan emerging through a cloud of moon dust, on Lower Whoops in Bend, OR.

Bend, Oregon’s soil is sterile, literally. With less than 1% organic matter, it’s so low that it is scientifically sterile. The result of volcanic activity 50,000-100,000 years ago, a mere blink in geologic time, the ground is young here.

Derrick Bell aka Mr. Mister riding a Dust Zamboni built on front and rear Old Man Mountain racks.
Derrick Bell aka Mr. Mister riding the Dust Zamboni

The quick downpours and thunderstorms that pass over turn the trails to streams, sweeping away and consolidating the fine particles into sand traps of moon dust, leaving behind high silica content, hydrophobic soil that water will literally bead up on top of instead of saturating. So to get through the dry months and still ride some hero dirt, the obvious answer was to build the MTB equivalent of a Zamboni.

The Dust Zamboni rig. Built on Old Man Mountain Divide racks mounted to a crash test dummy painted Santa Cruz Bronson. The two sprayer tanks hold 14 liters of water and are connected to balance pressure and water levels. They are solenoid actuated by an electronic switch on the handlebar. Don t forget about the safety lights
The Dust Zamboni, capable of making hero dirt at a moment's notice.

Built on our new Old Man Mountain Divide racks mounted to a crash test dummy painted Santa Cruz Bronson, the Dust Zamboni has two sprayer tanks that hold 14L of water and are linked together to balance pressure and water levels. To save the water for where we need it, they are solenoid actuated by an electronic switch on the handlebar. Don't forget about the safety lights and rider uniform!

Old Man Mountain Divide rack on the front of a Santa Cruz Bronson with a revolving safety light mounted to the rack.
Built on Old Man Mountain Divide racks, that fit any bike.

The Dust Zamboni was super fun but we don't all have Mr. Mister riding ahead of us to wet the trail down. So, what do these alien, moon dust, conditions normally leave us with? They leave us one of the best trail networks in the US thanks to the tireless maintenance efforts from the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA). Their non-stop efforts to repair and maintain the trails go far beyond clearing blow downs. Your local trail organization is advocating for mountain biking with your local government, fundraising to pay for tools and materials, and organizing volunteers.

Riding Lower Whoops while filming the Dust Zamboni video for Old Man Mountain.
JP Purdom and Breeann Tegan on Lower Whoops in Bend, OR.

The vast majority of labor comes from your fellow riders. Your local trail organization will bring the tools and the plan, but they need you to pick them up and swing em! And, oooh, the satisfaction of riding a trail that you just spent the day tuning up is…well, you’ll just have to try it for yourself.

Our trails don’t build themselves so build yourself a Zamboni bike and get out there! Or find your local trail advocacy group and pick up a shovel - whichever’s easiest.

The Dust Zamboni rig. Built on an Old Man Mountain Divide rack the two sprayer tanks that hold 14 Liters of water They are connected to balance pressure and water levels. They are solenoid actuated by an electronic switch on the handlebar. Don t forget about the safety light
Built with dual fan sprayers for an even distribution overlapping where it matters most.

Learn more at

P.S. We at Old Man Mountain have recently felt the pain of the global shipping backlogs and while impatiently tapping our feet, waiting to hear when our parts would get space on a plane, we found ourselves without much for our production employees to do. To fill that time, we’ve decided to send our production crew out into the woods to help repair some trails until the parts arrive.

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  • 288 1
 Can you make one that sprays dust onto trails for UK riders?
  • 12 2
 Came here to make a sarky comment about the UK, dust,, yOu DoNt KnOW How luCky U aRe Big Grin etc . only to find @TommyNunchuck has already done it. Not all heroes etc....!
  • 9 0
 Hmm....A seed spreader would probably throw the dust evenly. Wink We can trade some dirt.
  • 5 4
 you been out lately? lol

mid november and the trails are, dare I say.....dry.
  • 7 0
 I'll take the 2'x1" rear axle mount hedge trimmer attachment. Left & Right please. Thanks
  • 1 0
 @OldManMountainRacks: I looked around the OMM website, but didn't find:

1) What material are the racks made of ? (eg: 6061 Aluminum, 4130 Chromoly, etc) (I'm guessing Alum, but still would like confirmation)

2) Are they mfg'd in-house? If not, where?

Thanks !
  • 5 0
 @GT-CORRADO: The racks are 6061 Aluminum. We offer Made in USA versions of our racks that are made by the founder of the company Channing Hammond in southern California, and the rest of our racks are made in Taiwan.
  • 3 0
 @OldManMountainRacks: Kool, thanks for the quick response!
  • 4 0
 @snotrag: So my understanding is you folks get a good bit of moisture out there? Have I read that right?
  • 1 0
 That was a literal LOL for me. Thanks and well done Tommy.
  • 4 0
 @conoat: you don't live up North do you?! Not dry any more up here, it's grim again, just how we secretly like it!
  • 73 2
 Makes more sense than Kate Courtney's mechanic's bike
  • 2 16
flag Masonlord (Nov 9, 2021 at 7:15) (Below Threshold)
  • 16 0
 We supplied the racks for that bike too, haha! Once you have a rack that can fit on any bike you just start thinking of weird stuff to strap to it.
  • 28 0
 Well I sure hope trail time isn't allocated like ice time in Canada. Expensive, down to the minute, and the Zamboni pushes you aff the trail 3min early to get the speed walkers there turn!
  • 6 0
 Non-Canucks prolly won't understand this lol, but spot on!
  • 5 0
 @ridestuff: at least he doesn’t have to clean squids of the trails
  • 4 0
 Wait, what? Speed walkers on ice?! YouTube tonight, Canadian Speed Walkers on ice...fingers crossed that's a real thing.
  • 32 2
 Mostly impressed that this was not used as another opportunity to push the endless “advantages” of EMTBs.
  • 20 0
 Ridiculous but… I can’t see a negative.
  • 2 7
flag curendero (Nov 9, 2021 at 6:13) (Below Threshold)
 Silica poisoning workers MTBers....
  • 11 0
 I see a good sponsoring opportunity to rename this contraption Pivot Irrigation.
  • 11 1
 Bend, Oregon has the BEST trails in the PNW! Definitely should ride there when visiting. The rest is garbage, don't bother Smile
  • 2 0
 @RBalicious - I see through your attempt to push everyone onto Bend's mediocre-at-best trails and keep them off your trails!
  • 12 0
 The bike rides like a dream 'cause the damping's so dialled in.
  • 6 0
 You should see how well it sticks to the ground in a drop test.
  • 13 1
 This one actually has dampening instead of damping
  • 9 0
 this wins the internet today IMO.
  • 8 0
 I'm going to start going to the MX tracks and call the water trucks "dust zambonis" from now on.
  • 7 0
 So..... that new cannondale..
  • 5 0
 Basically an E bike
  • 4 0
 Maybe it's because I am in the Yukon... where was -16 C yesterday, but I was expecting this to be forming ice... that being said you could form the most terrrying winter trail with this thing.
  • 6 0
 It has a lot of unsprung mass.
  • 10 0
 The racks are rated for 70lbs each. Next time we'll have to do four tanks front and rear.
  • 1 1
 Thinking the same thing. Hanging it off the front triangle would make it vastly more rideable and last longer. It'll shake itself apart in no time as is.
  • 2 0
 review over technical terrain coming soon
  • 5 0
 I would like to submit a request that Mr. Mister leads out the 1s at the Chainbreaker 2022. Hahaha !
  • 4 0
 @OldManMountainRacks just couldn't wait until April 1 could you? Beer
  • 16 0
 Treat every day like April fools day
  • 4 0
 The Robert Axle project. this is all good stuff.
  • 4 0
 now build one that blows leaves
  • 1 0
 We'll have to bring it to upstate NY and startle the leaf-peepers.
  • 4 0
 Derrick Bell=Awesome human!
  • 3 0
 It's 2021 and I live in the Northeast. Can you please advise on what this "dust" is you speak of?
  • 4 0
 Took me way too long to get the Mr Mister joke
  • 2 0
 If the girls helmet is truly as loose on the ride sown as when she was "aired down" by the leaf blower, it's pretty much useless!
  • 4 0
  • 4 2
 This would do almost nothing in the Okanagan of BC. (If) it rains here, the trails are dry again within minutes.
  • 1 0
 Is it just that dry and well-draining, or is it more to do with tree cover?
  • 2 1
 @big-red: if we get a couple days of solid rain with cooler temps, then the moisture will stick around, but during ~June-August it doesn’t rain like that and can be quite hot. High levels of evaporation and ground that absorbs moisture quickly. Might get lucky if you ride while it’s raining lol
  • 1 0
 Those trails are fun bun can be very slick all summer. I crashed twice this year, both times in Bend. I must need more safety meetings when I visit.
  • 4 0
 This is so Bend.
  • 1 0
 I'd laugh if I hadn't heard word of a fat bike in my area with a leaf blower on the front that cleans up the trails every fall.
  • 1 0
 Kyrie Eleison down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Eleison through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Eleison where I'm going, will you follow?
  • 2 0
 I'll just breath dust and wash it down with beer from those 2 kegs on the back of your bike...
  • 2 0
 Tell us you're Canadian without saying that you're Canadian.

*checks notes*

  • 1 0
 Need a fleet of these to roam the trails down here in Socal!

(or at least we would if we weren't in a severe drought, again...)
  • 2 0
 Doesn’t look osha approved !
  • 19 0
 They don't like it when we race the pallet jacks either but....
  • 2 0
 Hey, you know that 'Mista Mista Lady'... I think I just killed her!
  • 2 0
 My next invention is dual pony kegs with built in jockey box
  • 3 0
  • 1 0
 Can we get the exact opposite? We need one to dry the trails out so they can open them back up
  • 4 0
 We could strap some flame throwers on??
  • 8 0
 @OldManMountainRacks: On my local (mostly clay) trails, this has been discussed... a lot. We figure that if we just fire all that swampy clay into ceramic, we could be the next Moab.
  • 3 0
 @pixelguru: That's our problem, the clay just doesn't dry out, and at this time of year with the temperatures hovering around freezing temps, it doesn't even get a chance. I like the flame thrower idea, will also help with the biodegradation of all the leaves as well
  • 1 0
 excuse to build another bike?
  • 2 0
 Always looking for another excuse!
  • 1 1
 Cool idea, but in my parts that would just make sticky dust that gets all over your shins, bike, and shoes.
  • 1 0
 NO BS. I had this idea 8 years ago.
  • 1 0
 Anxiously waiting for leaf blower version for my neck of the woods
  • 2 3
 There's 4 mins of my life I'll never get back.
  • 4 5
 This looks like an amazing use case for a eMTB... double your water load
  • 3 6
 How many gallons is 14L lol??
  • 1 0
 @mi-bike: hahahaha man it was a damn joke. What has the world come to? Oh well I guess if I sat and stressed down votes I would care. No worries here.
  • 1 0
 @krumpdancer101: no, the imperial system (or whatever they use stateside) is a joke
  • 1 0
 @mi-bike: we use both.
  • 1 0
 @krumpdancer101: I'd keep that a secret if I were you
  • 1 0
 @mi-bike: why?? It works out great!!
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