All this info is great! I was just there for halloween and blew the sidewall out of my paddle so had to run my dirt tires and let me tell you it SUCKED! yes you can go pretty much anywhere without paddles but you really have to stay in the gas to avoid being stuck in a bad spot. In my honest opinion i would buy paddles especially if your new to the sxs thing because you will probably not want to be in the gas that much until you get the feel for the limits of your machine. With the paddles you can get away with just putting around until your comfortable. Once you go to the dunes you'll be hooked and want to keep coming. You can buy paddles pretty reasonable for like the sti strippers, that's what i started with just to get out there now i run skats which are way lighter and hook up a lot more. Either way your going to have a good time. Welcome to the dark side. Be prepared to spend a lot of $$$$$$$$$ as you go you'll find more and more things to add to your machine but it's worth every penny for the fun you'll have.