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Sting32 03-22-2010 09:47 PM

Getting into trials?
Thinking about it, want some free advice from just one man's opinion!?!

1st off, what bike to buy? As anything else in life you buy, get the newest you can afford... Assume you will enjoy the hell out of it, if not, since you buy used most likely on the 1st bike, you probably wont lose much, when you sell it.

(what bike to buy?)
not being an ahole, but that is like asking, what kind of fridge to store my beer? Tell us some things, for the shop? for the house, office what? ok... back to the bike, well... you got a budget in mind? Do you wanna compete? (what you plan to do with it usually modifies the budget the most you know). You think you will attend meets, or just to goof off on once in a while?

Be that as it may... I'll assume you might try and become a trials rider:

Here is my long standing insight into trials, assuming you will pursue trials, and bike selection. short version is buy a nice used, not too old bike, from a guy that rides at a club near you, a club you will attend. Now you have to temper this 2ways, 1 with you're new, and probably don't know the guy so check around. 2 sometimes there arent the bikes around the immediate area.

Long version: bike selection is like beer selection, camper selection, or car selection. If I had the money to just spend, I'd like michelob, a nice 1/2 million dollar deisel coach with a nice trailer/garage to pull behind it, and a 68 Shelby GT convertible to drive on weekends when the trials ISNT going on, lol. Ok, now Im telling you, Im not Bill Gates. so instead what I have, in order, is: Keystone light, a 16ft featherlight enclosed vnose trailer with makeshift bunk beds, and a 00 dakota extended cab with 130k miles on it...
(actually will take my 14ft scamper egg shaped camper, bikes in the Dakota half the times).

I have found after helping @25 friends near me over the years, and seeing hundred of people get started by other club members, over the years...

Get a bike near to what your friends are riding. meaning all my friends end up owning gasgas. Why? Well, for one thing, it is easy to get tips and advice for fixes and spares etc. Your gonna be busy enough (if you actually take up trials and like to get good at it (who wouldnt want to) that setbacks like broken things can really be a pita.

Plus, It is like any other competition. Admit it, it is not AS fun racing your 500 street rocket against similiar skilled rider as your self, who is on the a 1100, right? So if you buy an old sled and your buddies have new, it can be like the 500cc vs 1000cc bikes.

I know it seems to be catch 22 type of situation for getting into. Here is my analogy: I started bowling years ago. bought a ball and shoes then joined the league. what I mistake. I mean bowling was fun, but the equipment I bought was generic. what I found later was that I wanted more comfortable (better shoes) and a ball setup differently. But really, there was no way going in to know all of that, many people get by with what I had bought. But I learned a lot that 1st year, and the bowling got better with some "tweaks" here and there... I still have the bowling gear (in the attic somewhere) but Im sure I spent 300 bucks back then, and could have surely sold it back then for 150-200, it wasnt all wasted. same goes for bikes, IMHO, you will pass on your bike at some point, and shouldnt lose 1/2 of what you spend today, when you give up, assuming you take care of your stuff of course.

all I can add to it is buy your 1st bike with the knowledge that your are going to learn a lot of lessons, some in a hurry, some over time. 1st lesson is and will be, did I buy a decent bike? Well, it is safe to say, if everyone else is still riding the bike you have, pretty good bet that yep, got the right bike. Of course you can save money, buy an older bike etc, kinda like a car or bowling there... what can you work with?

Next post, what to do once you got the bike (also stolen from my previous postings)...

(big Bultaco Thunbs up to everyone!!!)

Sting32 03-22-2010 10:11 PM

Part 2, Got the bike, now what am I in for?

We've had over 25 riders get started at trials over the years, some have kept at it, all from dad getting people interested. He's infectious that way. So over the last 30 years, we kinda have a theoretical gameplan, for new riders we have...

Basics: (without putting your foot down of course!!!)

I think you NEED to get to where you can balance the trials bike standing still for at least a 5 count, at any given moment, when I say to, or anyone says to or you say to...

AND, can do a figure 8 in the space about 1 lane, of typical road wide, (single-car garage driveway is good too) Not the 3 acre turns you dirt bikers are used to! get that 8 tight...

AND It would be nice if you can go do a figure 8 on the side of a decent slope. A decent slope is one you can park your pickup on sideways, without fear of if falling over, for starters of course, from there you obviously need to get steeper...

And, get to where you can put your front tire "EXACTLY" where you "want" it, when you want to.

you will forever be working on, getting to where you can put your front tire "EXACTLY" where you "want" it, when you want to. {once this is mastered, start working on exactly where you want the rear tire to be!}

then you goto a meet and ride a competition, novice wont probably be too hard if you been riding bikes all those years.

Please note, the 3 things above are goals, not hard fast rules, especially the last one.

But you need to get to a competition before you practice a bunch of stuff, that may not help ya. Kinda like being the best free-throw shooter before they pick the starting lineup, if you cant dribble, it really doesnt matter as you will be on the bench, not being fouled if you get my drift.
Same with trials, I know people impress the hell out of themselves jumping logs, or rocks and ledges, but in the trials itself, cant make the turn involved in the section to jump the log, etc, etc,...

2 more things you have to force yourself to do as a beginner, learn to take advice, passively-actively, and what to ignore . Passively is kinda complexely easy; you have to figure out (usualy it stand out fast) who the rider in your class that has 'trials' figured out, or rides best. You passively(watching)-Actively(get off your bike and shut up and learn):
1. learn from him as you watch how he looks at the section.
2: you watch how (WHERE) he rides the section.

He/she {yes she, there are quite a few gals that ride!, and the bikes are perfect for them, low speeds etc...} might have more balance, so sometimes you wont (this trip) be able to ride exactly where they did, but in novice/beginner, this usually isnt the case, but just in case just note it. Youre going to learn to do it, start now by finding the prefered lines, etc etc. there are times you cut one corner a bit, there are times you dont dare cut the corner...

Seems simple enough, but this will wear you out, mentaly as well as physically at first.
But my point is now, youre home, NOW you know what skills you need to work on! Was it turning that got you in trouble? was it the small hill you got stuck on? or was it the little log that bothered you. couldn't you keep your balance?
Otherwise I have seen people work too hard at things they assumed they would need to be able to do (not saying you wont need it).
My last bit of advice is: Get a buddy started, it is much more fun with friends learning and pushing each other.

My advice above and in this post, works for the people you meet that may or may not be as good a rider as you... so im keeping is simple!

Remember, over 30+ years of this, I have met people that "have ridden a motorcycle" and I have met people that "RIDE" motorcycles. there is a huge swing in "talent" no matter how they answered the question.

What I worry about is trying to type a quick glimpse, without glossing over some fine points. balancing, turning, tracking (aka bike control)... on a trials bike is totally different at 0mph. I knew guys that could race past you at 50mph, could run over a quarter in a turn everytime or anything they wanted to, but at less than 3 mph, he couldnt get within a foot.

In trials, especially as you get better and higher classes, it is going to be just increasingly more important; to be on the right line. Just as being on the right line when racing, sure with some skills that come later you can readjust your line, just like MX guys to in mid air, but lets keep this simple for now.

Rule #1 of beginner trials, if it looks like you could get hurt trying this section TODAY, DO NOT TRY IT TODAY!!!
you will be back in a month to try more as you get better!
PS. this is the #1 rule no matter what class you try, from master to beginner.

About your early competitions:
Many clubs around me, dont have enough new riders to have "Beginner sections" But most will make them if they know there will be beginner riders wanting to ride, that cant handle NOVICE sections... so depending of populations, your milage may vary on beginner or novice...

Near me, (KS, OK, MO, and NE) novice is going to be like a harder "trail ride" made tricky. Many clubs the novice is easier enough to let beginners ride, just remember rule #1 above!!!

harder and tricky, this is different than being made "Dangerous". Most novice rides usually will have some kind of hill, a turn or 2, and possibly an obstacle, to cross, that unless you have NO BIKE CONTROL, should NOT even come close to risking anything but a brused ego, or elbow if you manage to fall akwardly. SOmetimes the "Loop" can be more frustrating for novices than the trials.

So if you are one of those people (like me) who likes an insight, here is another...

"What was the person who set up this section thinking...": (the novice/beginner class edit)

(In good terms, not the one you say when you fell off and got a five, lol...)
The trials master or section builder is an experienced, upper class trials competitor. But today, he has taken on the job of "extracting points" from all riders, without undue risk of your bodily injury.

Again for Novice sections, he's laying out the section, he wants you to drive along/over/around this hill, by these trees that he knows the main thing that will trip you up is balance, speed, and ability to put the front wheel where you need it to be. after you drive that, he's probably going to make you turn kind of sharp, and go around a tree or rock or something or 2, to prove your balance this far, wasn't a fluke.

Novice obstacles will be about a normal railroad tie in size or manner at worst usually. Nothing too hard, usually well traveled (read not loose rocks and what have you). really, nothing in any one part of the section to make you squirm, but putting the turns, and everything i one section, it will make you work to go clean...

What is nice is, every trials the trials master has a natural "something" about trials that occurs without him even having to work at it. It is something for most of us to deal with: I mean, once we put up ribbons, for boundries, a start and a finish, & you walk it a few times (you know you cant practice it or nothing before you ride for score). Well, that trail you can do in your sleep, all of a sudden becomes something your mind and body has to "beat" today. I laugh all the time, that I can ride over some things all day long in practice, but put up tape and have someone watch you, and you dab, five and what have you.

well, hopefully that will help...

(big ol Bultaco Thumbs up to everyone) :thumb (found it!)

Brewtus 03-23-2010 06:17 AM

:thumb :thumb :thumb :thumb :thumb

Great thread! Keep it coming!

NMTrailboss 03-23-2010 06:41 AM


This is a great thread topic.
Great information!!! :thumb Keep it coming! :nod

jjustj 03-23-2010 07:25 AM

Great Thread!!
Protection, true trials is a very slow speed sport with balance and skill. However you will, fall from time to time. I strongly suggest ATGATT.
All The Gear All The Time!
Helmet ( cooler the better) you will sweat alot.
Boots (flexible) yet protective
Gloves ( good feel )
Knee and shin protection ( under or over riding pants)
elbow and fore arm guards.
I also have found that a small drink system is essential. As witnessed b a few in Wyoming a few years ago as i failed in a section climbing a steep rock, looped it, fell onto my back, cusioned by the backpack and drink system.

One other tip, ( if i may hijack) is breathing, sounds simple enough but. before entering a section, 10-12 slow deep breaths, having your heart rate down from previous section or loop.
remembering to breathe during a section, sounds silly right? It isn't.

One last tip. looking ahead in the section, not concentrating on your front wheel, the brain processes the information given it. If you are looking ahead, the brain thinks you have gone over the immediate area in front of you .

Most of all, have fun, its about you beating or conquering a section.
Riding with those riders better than you will improve your abilities, they must have respect for you and never try to get you to do anything you are not comfortable with. Trails to me is 70% mental 30% Physical.
Confidence comes with time and practice.


POWDR 03-23-2010 08:51 AM

I'm ok with falling
This is great!:beer I am just getting into trials. I am terrible :fall:kurtand I absolutely love it :thumb Keep the info coming. Thanks

Fred1956 03-23-2010 08:58 AM

Great advice guys, Thank you from a "new guy". Sting are you going to Sooner Cup this weekend?

Sting32 03-23-2010 07:51 PM

JJustj, good info, hope this helps some people out!

You guys, one thing I guess I would like to mention, to go with what JJ said, trying to ride trials in MX boots, is like trying to run in ski boots. our boots are more of protection from pinches and 'some' twisting, but the boots are like sneakers compared to MX boots. I just want you to know that, because I have tried to MX-bike trail riding (very little) in trials boots, and really, they would be as worthless at a >15mph fall off, or graizing a stump, as cowboy boots or tennies. our boots lets us move our feet where MX types are harder and more rugged, and wants to keep you from twisting your feet/ankles off. {From what I have seen/tried on}


Originally Posted by Fred1956
Great advice guys, Thank you from a "new guy". Sting are you going to Sooner Cup this weekend?

So far that is what I planned... Im tryin to get sheet packed. Look for me late friday night, (as of tonight anyway, plans could change) in a red dakota, 14' Scamp camper, and 2 gasgasers...
Dear old dad is staying home I guess. again plans could change. :freaky

Fred1956 03-24-2010 08:00 AM

Will do, I'd like to say hi and introduce meself. I'll be late Fri nite myself as I'm picking my son up in Missouri.

So far that is what I planned... Im tryin to get sheet packed. Look for me late friday night, (as of tonight anyway, plans could change) in a red dakota, 14' Scamp camper, and 2 gasgasers...
Dear old dad is staying home I guess. again plans could change. :freaky[/quote]

NMTrailboss 03-24-2010 08:44 PM


Originally Posted by jjustj
Trails to me is 70% mental 30% Physical.

So, so true!! :thumb

jjustj 03-24-2010 09:29 PM

no wonder i suck at it so bad!!!! LOL

Originally Posted by NMTrailboss
So, so true!! :thumb


Brewtus 03-25-2010 06:29 AM

That makes two of us, J! :lol3

Sting32 04-14-2010 09:06 PM


Originally Posted by Sting32
Part 2, Got the bike, now what am I in for?

(big ol Bultaco Thumbs up to everyone) :thumb (found it!)

Crap, how long until I can upload a picture?

L.T. 04-16-2010 05:21 AM

Hi,this is my first actual post even though i have been lurking for a long time.Thank's for taking the time to put out some great info. for us newbies.I am looking for a used bike now to give it a try.Gonna start out riding in the many acres of wood's around the house (playing) and will see where it goes from there :evil .I grew up riding/racing moto-x and hare scrambles on quad's,but know this is a whole different animal.Lot's of basic info for me to learn such as not riding in moto-x boot's :huh .45 year's old and never gave it a thought,that is why i like this site,learn some thing new from people with actual knowledge every time i log on.

xrmattaz 04-16-2010 01:34 PM

I picked up my Gas Gas Raga a couple of months ago, on a whim. Figgered I'd just use it for a bit of lightweight trail riding/cross training for my mountain biking, etc. That all changed last week, when I met.....

The local chapter of the old dudes trials club!

This group of 60+ year olds has taken me under their wings, and taught me SO much in just 10 hours, thus far. I'm already comfortable hopping up over boulders/step ups, etc. that I would have never attempted on my own.....having the time of my life, as well as being exhausted after a few hours of following these fellers around. Trials riders really are a good bunch!

I'm hooked.

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