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More CowBell 12-11-2011 10:47 AM

Noob to Trials. Which should I look for in a first bike?
I want to buy a used trials bike and I’m just not sure what to look for. I started riding dirt bikes on a Honda 50 when I was 5 years old. I’m now 46. I ride street, dirt & dual sport, and I was even into Fast50s racing for a few years (some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike). My question is this: what kind of trials bike do I look for? From some of the research I have done, I think I want a year 2000 to 2005 and to spend around $1800 to $3000. I’m not too sure what size engine to look for. Should I look for 2- stroke or 4-stroke? It looks like 4-strokes cost more money. Is it worth it to go with a 4-stroke as a first trials bike? Let me know what you think.

BikePilot 12-11-2011 03:28 PM

They are all really similar so it doesn't much matter. That said, 2 strokes are by far the most common and most popular. A few folks like four strokes better, but the large majority of people I've met like 2 strokes best.

Engine size doesn't much matter I think, most adults use something 250-300cc.

As a general rule of thumb in for 2000-2005 bikes, the Montesa Cota is oft regarded as the most durable and perhaps most nicely built. Its power is fairly soft (a good thing generally) and its a touch heavy (not a great thing, but also not really a disadvantage at least until you are good enough to hop all over I'd guess). I have one, I like it a lot. The montesa also has exceptionally good suspension.

The Sherco of that era is a bit lighter and more snappy feeling. It is well made, but has a more workman like appearance. It may also be a touch more difficult to keep it nice with a ton of hours. For example, I seem to remember that the footpeg mounts are part of the frame rather than replaceable. Very few will get enough hours for this to matter though. Probably the best in terms of outright performance/$$.

The betas seem nicely made except perhaps for what appears to be slightly less sophisticated shocks. I've heard tale of various year-specific issues here and there, but overall pretty robust. They feel sorta like the montesa, planted and slower-revving.

Early Gasgas models I'm told were on the heavyish side but quite durable, later ones (pros I think they are called) are lighter and reputed to be less robust. From a purely appearance standpoint they often look a bit more beat than others. Overall feel of the pros is a lot like the feel of the sherco, light and snappy. Just anecdotal older gasgas bikes seem to have more issues than others, but this could be entirely happenstance.

Note, this is all from a total n00b's perspective, the advanced riders here may see things differently.

Overall the bottom line is it really doesn't matter what you pick, they are all about 100000x times more capable than most riders will ever be, they are all reasonably well made and all get the job done just fine. It is probably wise to put as much emphasis on local support for the make as anything else, then just pick the cleanest, best-kept example you can find.

Of the four strokes the Beta appears to be the best to me, but I've not spent more than a few minutes on them.

isplat2 12-11-2011 04:46 PM

Thankyou..I can also use this info.

I posted a question in the "Montesa Long Range Tank" thread.

Basically...can you get a long range tank/seat combo for any of these "modern frame' style of bikes?

98% of my use of a trials bike would be just messing around in the woods at my camp.
The option to sit down while travelling the camp roads would be an asset.

I'm not trying to hi-jack your thread....I just need similar info.

BikePilot 12-11-2011 04:51 PM

For messing around in the woods why not get a woods bike like a KDX200? If you really want trials-ish with a seat how about a Gasgas Pampera 280? Trials bikes, imo, make pretty poor trail bikes. Even simple things like shifting gears quickly is hard to do on a trials bike (the shifter is way far forward so as to be totally out of the way in a section and you typically don't shift in a section, if you do, you've usually got all the time in the world to take your foot off the peg, shift and get with the program).

Note, some folks do really like trail riding on trials bikes so ymmv.

dhubbard422 12-11-2011 07:29 PM

I recommend buying a bike that has been well cared for and as new as you can afford. Trials bikes tend to fall into two camps, babied and nearly perfect or used and abused. I'd avoid one that looks trashed - but, if you're a good mechanic, like working on your bikes and the price is really, really low, you might find an ok deal... Newbies also tend to fall and scrape 'em up a bit, so I wouldn't worry about getting a real pretty one, unless of course, that's important to you.

For your price range, I recommend a 2-stroke. A 4-stroke in good condition, will (most likely) cost you more than your stated budget. They are also a bit heavier than their 2-stroke brethren, but they work really well in slippery conditions, i.e. mud.

All of the bikes from 2000 - 2005 have their good points. In good condition, all are capable mounts.

The Montesa 315 is a good bike. It's well made. As mentioned earlier, the suspension is good. However, it is a bit heavy and it also carries a bit of a premium $. The Beta Rev 3 is also well made and very reliable. No other brand turns as well as a Beta. Disclaimer: I have ridden Beta since '04... The Sherco is good, I rode Sherco from '00 - 03 (and I enjoyed it), but, I'd avoid the '06 model as it turns like a truck. The Gas Gas Pro is trick and very light. The Pro model was introduced in '02 and it had some teething issues for the first few years. If you decide that you want a Pro, I'd definitely recommend looking for a later year model. The earlier Gas Gas TXT is reliable, but, it's definitely older technology. I rode a TXT prior to riding Sherco.

Again, all brands have their strengths. Get something that you like - something that inspires you to ride. A good dealer that is near you, one that stocks some parts in the model you end up with, is a plus.

Happy bike hunting!

dhubbard422 12-11-2011 07:38 PM

I've only seen long range tank and seat combos for the Montesa and Beta. However, number plate gas tanks are available for any bike to help extend your range. Scorpa also sold a "long range" model.

FWIW, I love trail riding on a trials bike!

Pro_Marinero 12-13-2011 03:43 PM

FYI On GG pros - 02 and 03 had a steeper angled steering stem. Quick turns for advanced riders but twitchy for novices. Fixed in 04 to satisfy broader market Engines can be changed by a rider but not frames.

Do some searching in here. All of these questions have been well covered. You'll find a lot of your info is already available including various brand opinions and carrying fuel.

Rapid Dog 12-14-2011 11:00 AM

I've been wanting a trials bike for ages just for fitness and pleasure. I'm not ready to spend a load on the latest high-tech stuff.
I'm looking at a 1995 GasGas250 that appears to be well cared for, and about what I'd like to spend.
$1600 for this sweetie.

There's also this 2001 Sherco 2.9 for $1700.

Any opinions?

dptropepe 12-14-2011 11:28 AM

The Sherco is the better deal.

Happy Seal 12-14-2011 03:13 PM

I was told to pull the LS cover ( 3 bolts ) off the Sherco to check for radial play oon the crank. Common problem for the Shercos. Or just listen for the clunk. Other than that nice bikes! good luck!

neilking 12-14-2011 05:09 PM

A bad main bearig may not exibit any abnormal play. This was the case with an '01 that I bought. Cost about $200 in parts to repair. I think the Sherco is the better deal even if you have to replace the main bearings.

dhubbard422 12-14-2011 09:46 PM

I have owned both of these specific year models and the Sherco is a more capable bike.

However, the JT25 looks very clean. This often equates to a little used and/or well maintained example. It's hard to tell from the Sherco pic, but, if it is as clean and well maintained as the Gas Gas, I would expect it to be worth up to a few hundred dollars more than the Gas Gas. Typically, I would also expect a '95 JT25 to carry a slightly lower price tag than the asking price, but, with bikes of this age, the value depends primarily on condition and there are exceptions.

FWIW, I had more mechanical issues with the '01 Sherco than I did with the Gas Gas JT25. Not enough to stop me from buying an '02 Sherco, but, still a surprise. I had a failure with the water pump, which was an easily fixed, but common issue and I had a kick starter gear failure with either the '00 or '01 Sherco... (sorry, but I can't remember which year that failed on...) All-in-all the '00, '01, '02 & '03 Sherco's I owned were very reliable, but the '95 JT25 seemed almost bullet proof.

Bent_boot42 12-15-2011 11:41 AM

Go team Sherco! :clap

I also had to do the water pump on mine ('04) but it is super easy and only cost $30 with the gasket etc.

Shercoman 12-15-2011 03:30 PM

The second owner of the '02 sherco I bought new is still riding it very regularly and the engine has never been apart.
I know how much I rode it (and partially siezed it once going down the road) and it's still going strong.
Each brand probably has it's "Monday built" bikes.

pecos 12-18-2011 05:50 PM

Is there a specific year range that one should stay in? Or is buying a trials bike really about getting the latest model for what your budget is?

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