4 great bike rides in Dubai
There are probably several times in the average Dubai day that owning a motorcycle seems like the most sensible purchase you could make: sitting in traffic trying to get onto Al Khail Road, parking in Media City, getting around Karama during sunlight. Of course, the appeal of two wheels isn’t simply a matter of convenience. Ask any dedicated biker, and there’s not much to compare to the sensation of twisting back the throttle and heading out on to an uncrowded stretch of tarmac.
Here are four rides that showcase the best rides in the city.
1. Sheikh Zayed Road at night
It may sound obvious, but sometimes the best experiences are hidden in plain view. Nothing says Dubai quite like shiny glass-fronted towers rising to pierce the sky on both sides of the road, creating glittering canyons through which traffic pours day and night, and travelling the 70-odd kilometres from the Dubai World Trade Centre south towards the Abu Dhabi border will deliver this feeling several times on your journey.
As you twist the throttle from the Trade Centre roundabout, the sky seems to be supported on pillars of concrete and glass until the next interchange. And then the Burj Khalifa looms into your visor in all its pointed prominence, followed by the towers of Business Bay. Low-rise Al Quoz provides a respite but soon the towering edifices of New Dubai of the Marina and JLT take over, making the road seem like a river snaking through a wide gorge.
This straight road is the very definition of a cruise, easy-rider style, at a fast enough clip to feel exhilarating.
Route: E11, Sheikh Zayed Road
Pace: Highway cruise
Best time: Any time after the evening rush hour
2. Dubai Creek Loop
This one is all about the sights, sounds and smells – the whole experience of the old and the new together in one of the most unexpected stretches for a bike ride in Dubai. Starting from Al Ras at the head of Dubai Creek’s northern side, Baniyas Road hugs the river all the way down to the Dubai Creek Golf Club, passing the old dhow docks on one side and the hustle bustle of original Dubai on the other.
The pillars of Al Maktoum Bridge then come into view when the docks end. Take a right to cross the Creek and then right again onto Al Seef Road, continuing all the way to Al Fahidi Historic District. The abra stations and the Shindhaga district lend about as authentic an Arabian atmosphere as it’s possible to get in Dubai.
This area is also the street food hotspot of Dubai. I always try and spot the latest shawarma and kabab shop that has sprung up since my last ride and dunk in for a quick and tasty bite. Never disappoints. The Creek loop may be a small stretch, but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in charm and character, making the ride seem to last a lot longer.
Route: Baniyas Road, Al Maktoum Bridge, Al Seef Road
Pace: Slow and steady
Best time: Saturday mornings
3. Friday’s on Jumeirah Beach Road
Okay, this is less for the ride than the camaraderie. Jumeirah Beach Road is Dubai’s equivalent of the Las Vegas strip for bikers, and while it might not have towering casinos and replicas of the Eiffel Tower, it certainly has dozens of kindred spirits greeting you from the seats of their cruisers, choppers and sports bikes as they parade together, V-twins thumping away.
A rumble along this 12-kilometre stretch from the flag pole in the Al Diyafah area in the north to Madinat Jumeirah in the south spells biker cool, not least because of a constant sea breeze to cool those cylinder fins, and more importantly, under helmets and leather jackets.
It also helps that the stretch is littered with great cafes and eateries. You are not a biker in Dubai if you haven’t gone up and down this road and then made a refuelling stop at Biker’s Café opposite Mercato Mall for their trademark delicacies.
Route: E10, Jumeirah Beach Road, from 2nd of December Street to Madinat Jumeirah
Best time: After sundown
4. Dubai to Kalba
This is a route for any closet Grand Prix racers out there. Take the road out of Dubai from the Al Jaddaf area, past Ras Al Khor and head east. If you are not used to straight cruising for miles on end, the first part may seem a little soporific, but the low, rolling dunes on either side of the road do provide a lovely vista, especially if you start early and the slanting rays of the rising sun turn them orange.
Just when you have had your fill of pointing your front wheel straight, however, Al Madam comes into sight. Take a sharp left on the Al Dhaid Road and turn right at the Fillie Roundabout. The landscape changes dramatically in a few kilometres. As the mountains take over, my favourite part of the route begins: endless bends, and hairpins any biker would love to lean into. The pegs of my Aprilia scraping the tarmac at a few loopy turns never ceases to amaze me whenever I take this route.
When the road merges into the Sharjah-Kalba Road at Shoukah, the most delightful part of the ride begins. The tarmac is excellent with smooth turns and elevation changes. A couple of tunnels and a swoopy descent on the other side of the range towards Kalba with a full sea view and you are in biking nirvana.
Watch out for speed cameras, though, as this road will tempt you to give the throttle a rip.
Route: E44 from Dubai, the Al Dhaid Road from Al Madam and then the Sharjah-Kalba Road from Shoukah.
Pace: Grand Prix
Best time: Weekend afternoons, when the sportscars have disappeared