In the early days of motorcycling, riders and manufacturers competed in ‘reliability trials’ to demonstrate their machine’s ability to continue running for multiple days over rough terrain. As such, trials is not a ‘race’ in the traditional sense. Nowadays, the reliability of motorcycles is no longer an issue, and the sport has evolved accordingly.
Moto-Trials (also known as ‘Observed Trials’) is now considered by some to the pinnacle of off-road riding, as the riders tackle the most severe terrain capable of being conquered by any two wheeled machine. When someone looks at the obstacles before the riding starts, a frequent comment is a simple ‘No way’. A big plus for the spectators is that they can watch from just a few feet away as the riders attempt seemingly impossible obstacles.
Moto-Trials competitions consist of ‘sections’ that are physically defined by marker tape. These sections contain challenging features, both natural and artificial. They may include streams, rocks, logs, and banks. Markers identify different skill class levels for competition; the better the competitor, the more severe the obstacles. A trail ‘loop’ connects the sections for the event. A typical event will have 10-12 sections and the competitor must ride the loop and complete the sections up to four times. Riders cannot practice the sections but may inspect each section just before being judged (or observed) on their ride. Then, one at a time, the riders will enter a section on their motorcycle, as an observer scores the rider’s performance.
Like golf, where the least amount of strokes on the course wins, trials are won by the person who touches their foot to the ground the least amount of times over the course of the event. The rider with the lowest score wins. The score goes to a maximum of 5 points for that section if they fail to reach the end gate in time or crash. Riding a section ‘clean’ without footing is the ultimate goal of all riders (a score of 0).
Moto-trials motorcycles are also very suitable for participation on trail-rides. Their maneuverability makes them particularly easy to manage. And it is of note that virtually all the top level enduro riders have trials riding in their background as all the skills are developed to a high degree by riding these bikes. Even motocross and road racing riders use moto- trials motorcycles to develop excellent clutch and throttle control.
Moto-Trials motorcycles are very specialized machines. Years of development have produced a lightweight, extremely well balanced machine with a powerful 2 or 4 stroke engine. The bikes are lightweight, have minimal fuel capacity and no seat, creating a highly maneuverable, and razor thin motorcycle. And because they are so small, moto-trials motorcycles are very suitable for beginners to learning to ride off-road giving a feeling of confidence when riding.
There are a number of manufacturers producing moto-trials motorcycles. Most originate from Europe. All currently available brands are available in NZ including spare parts.
While MotoTrials can be a very challenging and dramatic sport, WMCC offers classes for riders of all abilities, from beginners on up. Practice days are also offered along with trail rides.