If you have never ridden a modern trials bike, you simply don’t know what you’re missing. The ability to negotiate rough terrain is unmatched by anything on two wheels, but the real secret is how much fun they are to ride! The combination of light weight (150 lbs), incredible low-speed handling, very quiet, and a torquey engine allow them to go practically anywhere with ease. Not only will you have fun, but you’ll experience new places to ride, meet new friends and learn new skills that will take you to the next level of motorcycling. Intrigued? You should be.
Most trials riders own other types of motorcycles as well. A trials bike is the perfect second bike because it compliments the riding you are doing now, whether it be motocross, trail or even street. You’ll find it’s the ultimate tool for cross training as well as “Adventure Riding”. We’ll explain it all here, and when you’re done reading this booklet, you’ll know all about trials and the funny looking bike with no seat.
A trials bike is unlike anything you’ve ever ridden. Comparing one to a conventional off-road bike is like comparing a Cessna to a 747. Imagine riding a standard off-road bike (XR, WR, EX/C; you name it) up a steep mountain trail with several miles of rock ledges, tight switchbacks and loose rubble. Unless you’re Ty Davis, you would soon become exhausted as you lifted, pushed and cursed your way to the top. Now imagine conquering the same trail with ease while lofting the front wheel over those rock ledges with full control and near-perfect traction. Then picture yourself floating the front wheel around those tight switchbacks in a continuous feet-up wheelie turn! You can do that and more on a trials bike, and you’ll have a blast doing it.
Trials riding can be difficult for sure, but the bike itself is not difficult to ride. It is actually quite “user friendly”, despite its amazing capability. Think about it. The bikes weigh only 160 pounds, have a low seat height, smooth power (although surprisingly snappy), soft, sticky tires and are easy to start. How could that be hard to ride? If you have any off-road riding experience at all, you’ll soon be crossing logs and climbing vertical steps that you never could have imagined before.
Trials riding is physically demanding. When you first start out, you’re legs will burn, your hands will ache and your arms will turn to putty. That’s a good thing, of course, because eventually your muscles will adapt and you’ll be in much better shape for all types of riding. The sneaky part is that an intensive workout can be accomplished in half an hour in an area the size of a backyard.
Every off-road riding parent wants to teach his or her child to ride well, but let’s face it; it’s difficult to ride together when your kid is on a Z-50 and you’re on a CR250. But with a trials bike, you can actually ride WITH your child while demonstrating proper brake and throttle control, turning and balance - the basic skills that are key to becoming a competent rider (trials OR otherwise). You’ll spend more time together and you’ll both gain more from the experience.
The special trials tires are a key part of the bike’s amazing capability. The rubber is super-soft and the carcass is designed to flex at low pressure and grip better than anything you’ve ever tried before. The rear tire is tubeless and typically run between 4-5 PSI. Punctures can be fixed using a standard tubeless tire plug kit.
You’ve got the usual air filter cleaning ritual, of course, and a chain to lube. The gearbox and fork oil ought to be changed occasionally along with a check of all the nuts and bolts for tightness, but that’s about it. The engines are well designed, and since they don’t spend much time at redline, they seem to last forever. Piston rings last many years, as do chains, sprockets, clutches and brakes. About the biggest expense are tires, which range between $150.00- $200.00 a set, but they, too, last quite a while.
Everyone asks this question, where’s the seat? There isn’t a seat in the normal sense, but there is a wide, smooth place to sit down. This “seat” is actually quite comfortable; the problem is it’s so low that sit-down riding is awkward, even for short riders. Why is this? Simple. Trials (or any technical riding) is done standing up, and the low seat allows your legs to absorb more impact before your butt hits the seat. This “leg suspension travel” is very important when crossing a three-foot log, for example, and contributes to the trials bike’s amazing maneuverability. Plus, the low seat allows you to “dab” (touch the ground) in spots not possible on a regular bike. And if the going gets really tough, you actually CAN sit down and “paddle” very effectively with both feet. Beta offers a long-range seat and tank for those who wish to have more fuel and an actual seat.
After a bit of practice on the bike, you may want to enter an Observed Trials competition. Mototrial competition is very similar to golf. Both are individual sports requiring concentration and patience. The lowest score wins. These events test your riding skill against other riders with similar skills. Six different classes exist from Beginner to Expert, so regardless of your ability, there is an appropriate class to enter. There is even a special kids class with three separate divisions of its own. Most trials are held in the forest, desert or mountains, usually far from any town. A typical event consists of a fairly easy trail “loop”, three to seven miles in length and marked with pink ribbon. Within this loop, ten “sections” are marked with red and blue ribbon or tape. (Red marks the right boundaries and blue the left). Each class rides a different route through the section, and the goal is to ride each one without “dabbing” a foot or crossing any boundaries. The rider can walk each section first to become familiar with it, but is not allowed to pre-ride it. The “checker” (also called an observer – hence the name “Observed Trials”) will score the rider and punch his scorecard.
Scoring is as follows:
0 Points: Called a “clean”, is the best you can get and the goal of every rider.
1 Point: Completing the section with only a single “dab” or a single feet-up stop.
2 Points: Completing the section with either two dabs, two stops or a stop with a foot down.
3 Points: The “Three” is awarded for completing the section with three or more dabs, stops or a combination of the two. If you paddle your way through a section, but do not go out of bounds or stall the engine, you will receive a “Three”.
5 Points: The “Five” is given for failure to complete the section. This could be caused by not making an obstacle and stalling, riding out of bounds, falling down or moving backwards.
At the end of each loop, the rider turns in his or her scorecard and receives the next one. If desired, the rider may take a few minutes between loops to rest, grab a drink or snack and check over the bike before heading out on the next loop. Because a trials event is not a race, the atmosphere is much more laid back, and you are free to ride by yourself or with anyone you choose. Many ride with a group of friends and cheer (or heckle!) each other on. It’s great fun! The event is over once you have completed the required (usually three) loops. Instead of a definite time cut-off, there is typically a “sweep” about four or five hours after the start, and as long as you have begun your last loop and remain ahead of the sweep crew, you are OK on time. Novice is the beginning class and consists of sections that are about as difficult as an easy trail ride.
The next class is Sportsman followed by Intermediate, Advanced, Master and Expert. Only a select few are capable of riding Expert-class trials, but everyone likes to watch! Even if you aren’t ready to try trials just yet, come on out to an event and be a spectator. It costs nothing, and you are free to walk to the various sections, take pictures and get within a few feet of the riders. Sounds fun because it is! Go out and try Mototrial today!