I feel so inept

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Andyvh1959, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

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    Whenever I watch an expert trials rider, I feel fortunate just to walk steady upright:



    About the only thing I can do is come to a full stop on my R1200RT, feet up, hold for a second or two and move out. Do it a lot, on every ride as practice and a small challenge. Perhaps I should get myself a trials bike? But then, at 60 already not good to break things.



    Phenominal
    #1
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  2. Plawa

    Plawa dןǝɥ puǝs

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    Wait till you actually get one and then realize how much harder this stuff is even compared to what you expected... ask me how I know ;)
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  3. eatpasta

    eatpasta Lawnmower Target

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    I rode a trails bike once and thought that you could be happy for the rest of your life with that bike and a small yard.

    There's just so much to learn....it would take you the course of your natural life to get some of it
    #3
  4. CCitis

    CCitis Been here awhile

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    Agreed, it is incredible what they can do on two wheels.
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  5. D R

    D R Been here awhile

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    That would definitely be a useful skill for making it through some of the heavier, rush-hour commutes. Of course my fellow commuters might not like me bouncing over the tops of their vehicles like that.

    :lol3
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  6. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

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    What baffles me, for instance the jumping on the rear wheel only from post to post, is how the rider knows to exactly apply the right power and body actions to move so accurately in total balance. That and the power launches from dead stop to six feet vertically! Incredible.
    #6
  7. Motor7

    Motor7 Long timer

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    That's easy if you are not from planet earth...the guy is not human......

    -wow-
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  8. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

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    He farts helium.

    the_power_of_the_fart_by_crocoking06.jpg
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  9. dirty_t

    dirty_t Been here awhile

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    One word: flywheels. (Big ones).
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  10. Trialsguy

    Trialsguy Been here awhile

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    Funny story.... I was helping out in the Montesa paddock at a World trials round when a member of the press was asking about the works bikes that Bou and Fuji ride.

    His question to the lead mechanic was "Rumour has it that the bikes have really trick traction control , and that's is why Toni can pull off such fantastic moves"

    The mechanic replied... "Oh, very very trick control based on many years of bioelectric research. Would you like to see it ?"

    The press person's eyes got really big (about to land a huge scoop) and says "Absolutely!!!"

    The mechanic calls Toni over, lifts up his left hand, flexes his clutch finger and laughs.
    #10
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  11. TheProphet

    TheProphet Retired; Living the Dream

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    Very impressive indeed. Hours and hours and days and days and weeks and weeks of practice and dedication are involved. Likely the physical attributes of the rider come into play as well as level of personal discipline and dedication

    Comparable with a virtuoso musician, a great tennis player, a great Pool player, etc. Practice, practice, practice, and tons of time invested.

    Bike has to be set up specifically for this specific type of activity as well.
    #11
  12. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

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    Ballet on a motorcycle. Simply amazing. Y'know, I don't condone the idiot stunters playing in traffic for attention, but some of the stunters are really talented. But I had always thought, take the best stunters and the best trials riders, and have them switch bikes, and see who shows the best skills. Sure each rider would have to adjust to the bike and the skill sets they use. Still, my money would always be on the trials riders.
    #12
  13. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    The average guy will have his legs worn out after 20 seconds.
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  14. JETalmage

    JETalmage Been here awhile

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    Since I'm 64, perhaps I can help you with that.

    Disclaimer 1: This is going to be long, because it's something near and dear to my heart for over 40 years. Those disinterested, of course, don't have to read it. Those with the attention span of a three year old shouldn't even try. You have been warned.

    Disclaimer 2: I'm not an amazing Trials rider. Far from it. My highest skill attainment throughout my occasional club-level Trials competition involvement was--by scored definition--"lower-middle-of-the-pack" (Sportsman, the middle Class of STRA's five-Class system. And I don't recall even having ever won a Sportsman Class trophy.) But that fact actually buttresses my thesis because, although I love the comraderie and civilized, but not stodgy culture of the Trials community, that's not why I ride Trials bikes. I ride a lot, and I ride for fun, and Trials bikes have been by far my favorite kind of dirt bike since I first discovered them around 1970. Now for that thesis:

    Get yourself a Trials bike. Don't wait. Do it now. You don't know what you're missing.

    Being 60 is a non-issue. You're far less likely to break yourself on a Trials bike than on your R1200RT, and you'll be far more likely to still be riding it when you're 74 than a conventional-wisdom dirt bike.

    Seriously, Trials bikes are the dirt bike world's best-kept "secret" (at least in the US) and even fairly talented dirt riders who have never spent more than a few minutes on one don't know what they're missing.

    The most amazing thing about Trials and Trials bikes is the persistence of absolutely bogus myths among most recreational dirt riders (again, especially in the US). Chronic myths already predictably evidenced in this thread:

    This is a particularly frustrating myth, because it is one of the most damaging to the sport and to the continuance of some of the most beautifully focused engineering in motorcycling. Fact is, any recreational dirt rider--at any skill level--can easily and quickly learn do more on a Trials bike than they can do on a conventional-wisdom dirt bike, specifically because they can continually try more things more safely. And those skills transfer advantageously to riding the whole spectrum of dirt bike genres.

    In fact, a Trials bike is one of the easiest and safest bikes to use to initially teach a completely new rider how to operate a motorcycle for these reasons:
    • The bike is unintimidating in bulk, weight, and seat height.
    • You can literally teach operation of the clutch without even operating the throttle, without stalling.
    • You can then gently introduce the throttle in first or second while walking or trotting alongside.
    What are now considered vintage Trials bikes work great to teach adults, because they can sit down, with both feet securely flat on the ground. Most can even lay it down and pick it back up between their spread legs. Full-size modern Trials bikes especially work great to teach short, young adolescents because their seats are even lower.

    I've introduced my fair share of completely new riders to motorcycling using a Trials bike, without incident. Two dear examples: I taught my own wife how to operate a motorcycle on a '73 Honda TL125. Within the same week, she was lofting the front wheel over small rises in smooth, controlled fashion--with a happy grin on her face. I did the same thing with my youngest son on a '95 Beta Techno. In both cases, it was their first exposure to a clutch.

    This used to be true, but not now. What most motorcyclists don't know is that Trials riding technique, and therefore Trials bike design, underwent a more "revolutionary" than "evolutionary" change somewhere along the mid-80s. To this day, it generally delineates "Vintage" from "Modern" Trials bike design philosophy.

    Perpetuating the "two wheeled tractor" characterization keeps too many experienced dirt riders from buying Trials bikes, because it's a throwback to the "vintage" decades, when Trials bikes were indeed designed to depend strongly on rotational inertia for their tractor-like torque. This (wrongly) translates to the "slow race" myth in the minds of excitement-motivated go-fast riders, especially in the current "extreme sports" infatuated culture.

    First off: Yes, organized Trials competition is not a speed-based race. But that doesn't mean it's a "slow race." It's not, and never has been. Even in the vintage days, you didn't ride a Trials bike "to ride slow"; you ride a Trials bike to ride in control at whatever speed is appropriate to the specific given natural terrain obstacle facing you at any given moment. A Trials bike can be ridden quite briskly, and commonly is. But it doesn't have to resort to wheelspin when the going gets tight. That encourages deliberate, understandable control as opposed to "just gas it and hold on" recklessness. "Just gassing it" might get you over the moderately-sized log, but doesn't fare well for making that 90 degree uphill turn immediately on the other side.

    Remember: Trials competition evolved from European style events (like the ISDT; International Six Days Trials) which featured individually-scored sections of obstacles, (testing technical skills and delighting spectators) but were otherwise very enduro-like events involving spirited speeds.

    And even today, when all scoring occurs in the observed sections, it's still not "slow racing." Every dirt bike rider of all genres needs to do this: Go to spectate any regional club-level event. (They're usually admission-free.) Witness the speeds at which many of the mid-to-upper classmen routinely and deftly traverse the narrow and winding trails of the "loop" between Sections and ask yourself: Could you could ride those same trails at the same speed with the same confidence on your current bike?

    While there, even at the regional club level, you will quite likely see upper-classmen doing some pretty amazing things starting from a practical dead stop, including the so-called "splatter" maneuvers onto the tops of sheer vertical head-height rock faces. And these are local guys, not Toni Bou clones. Some of them may also be National level competitors, but they are still family men riding club events on weekends for fun, with no higher "stakes" than a $10 trophy, and with a paying job to go to on Monday, and they are just as incredibly amazed and delighted at the incomparable skill of that deserving record-breaking World Champion as the rest of us.

    That bike that propels the club-level Expert from a near dead standstill doesn't do it by means of a tractor flywheel, but by means of instant, downright explosive throttle response, clutch control, and a whole lot of well-timed energetic body English. And the rider didn't break his legs six times to gain that skill. He developed it safely and methodically while having great fun with his riding buddies taking turns at "coach" and bike-catching "Minder."

    I'm purposely taking this comment out of its original context (quite befitting the posted video of Mr. Bou), just because it is nonetheless similar to another of the chronic misunderstandings of Trials and Trials bikes: the "Oh, I don't have the skills for that" myth.

    The only time I was actually happy to hear that very cliché was the day both the speaker and I were standing in the Capitol Cycle showroom, drooling over what I didn't know would soon become my own beloved Honda Montesa 300RR. ( I just knew at least for the moment the bike would be there for a while longer for me to drool some more before eventually someone who knew what it really was snatched it up. I didn't know that my beloved wife--she whom I taught to ride on that TL125 36 years prior--would have it delivered to me the very next Friday.)

    But in my normal state of mind, I hate to hear the "I don't have the skills..." dismissal. Makes me bite my tongue, which reflexively wants so badly to say "Baloney! That's why you need it, guy! You don't know what you're missing and, with that mindset, never will!)

    Probably more genuinely than any other motorcycling genre, when you buy a Trials bike, you really do own the "factory rider's bike." Sure, the team rider's bike is hand-massaged and meticulously tuned, but it's the bike. These bikes are devotedly built by small firms. Even the Honda Montesa is still assembled by Montesa. Modern Trials bikes are not manufactured to blow away the sales records of YamaSuziKawaHon. They are built by guys who "get it." And the pride of ownership is delicious. If I could only keep one bike, it would be my Trials bike. Even my KTMs would have to go. When I can ride no longer, I fully expect I'll still have my Trials bike, if only to admire it as the masterpiece of mechanical art it is.

    And despite their exotic elegance and feather lightness, they are some of the most rugged, reliable, and low-maintenance dirt bikes you will ever own.

    (By way of full disclosure, I'm convinced my bike is the sole exception to this rule. It's the same model as Mr. Bou's, but it just won't do what his does. I keep explaining this to the owner of Capitol Cycle and demanding a full replacement under warranty. But he just chuckles.)

    There it is. The big one. The death blow. The DEAL BREAKER of all myths. The inevitable, irrefutable "Where's the seat?!" gambit.

    "It's right in front of you, sir. You're about to trip over it. Stop straining your neck, step back from your celestial telescope, and open your eyes (and mind)."

    Consider: What do all of us self-deluded "hot shoes" do on our dualsport, enduro, and MX bikes, as soon as the trail becomes anything more technically challenging than what really is--let's face it--just a narrow, but still fairly flat dirt surface? We stand up. Why? Certainly not to "lower our center of gravity" as the classic laughable faux pas claims, but for three legitimate reasons:

    • It further isolates our bodies and brains from the rapid-fire jostling, enabling us to better maintain control.
    • It reciprocally somewhat isolates the bike itself from much of the damping effect of our portly bods, thereby letting it more effectively do what it was designed to do.
    • It gives us more opportunity to advantageously affect the disposition of the bike (i.e., body English), thereby enabling the combination of man-and-machine to do things neither can do alone (the essence of that mysterious appeal of dirt motorcycling altogether).
    Well, at least somewhat. In the fore-aft direction.

    It was wisely discovered long, long ago in Trials bike design that your "advantageously affecting the bike's disposition" is severely disadvantaged--especially in the lateral direction--by a lofty throne continually interfering with your thighs by holding you six inches above your legs' reach by means of your crotch!

    Yeah, yeah, the MX-inspired current dirt bike fashion of a flat horizontal slide extending all the way between the rear fender to the steering stem allows you to slide your seated crotch farther forward while blasting around machine-manicured berms. But most of us are not blasting around machine-manicured loamy berms and doing aerial circus tricks over 30' triple jumps in the natural-terrain woods.

    Trendy lofty plank-straight seats also inhibit longitudinal body English. For example:

    In the real world, we ride downhills. Sometimes they are relatively short, but very steep, like the wall of a 10' deep narrow stream. Other times they are moderately steep but long and oh-by-the-way root-, rut-, and rock-strewn, with abrupt corners at the bottom. And in both situations, there's often no wide open airline runway at the bottom, so downward momentum must be minimized at every opportunity along the way, and failing to keep as much of your body mass as rearward as physically possible is the difference between a fun controlled descent and six months of recovery from a broken collar bone caused by a too lightly-loaded long travel rear suspension springing you over the bars upon contact with what should have been an insignificant bump.

    Watch Trials riders do those downhills without drama. Their arms are fully extended, and their tushies are flexing the rear fender downward, almost sitting on the rear tire. Doing that keeps the center-of-gravity behind the contact patch of the front wheel, even while braking strongly. Well, unless you have the proportions of a grand-daddy-long-legs spider, you can't do that as effectively on a bike with a crotch-restricting seat.

    And there are other common situations--ranging from negotiating the inertia-robbing final section of long uphill climbs to dipping deep to preload the suspension for moderately high rock steps. The same principle applies: The body of the bike needs to be as out of the way of the rider as possible.

    So here is where the myth-and-cliché crowd recites the "I'm over the hill for that" tripe. That's why I've saved for last the most common-needed reason for the extremely lowered seats of modern Trials bikes: Turns.

    A bike leans when it turns. The more a bike leans, the tighter it can turn. And regardless of your skill, stamina, age, or current mood, a Trials bike urges you to explore all kinds of new fun potential that you had no idea was even there because you've just been whizzing right by it while sticking to the same old boring earthen grooves you've ridden a thousand times.

    Most of that neglected virgin terrain is going to involve tight turns. It is incredible fun to not just climb straight up and roll straight down your favorite hillside, but to slither back-and-forth and up-and-down and figure-eight all over its face. You can't really let the bike lean like it needs to while keeping the man-and-bike package balanced relative to gravity if the friggin' seat is already pushing aginst the inside of your thigh.

    Now, with all that said, hear this: It DOES NOT HURT to stand on a Trials bike. They are designed for that posture. The pegs are inches farther rearward than on ordinary dirt bikes. When you're riding one, it feels quite natural to stand.

    And yes, you can ride all day that way. But you probably won't. Why? Because again, a Trials bike irresistibly encourages you to try new things; to push your personal limits, because you can do so without undue risk. So it can be a bit of a mild healthy workout. So you stop, sit (yes, it does have a seat), drink some water, and discuss with your riding bud what you're gonna try next. Riding alone? Same thing. Alone or with a group, you're going to lean the bike against a tree and "walk the section" to pick a line and convince yourself that you really can give it a shot.

    Okay. My job's done here.

    Beta? Gas Gas? Honda Montesa? Scorpa? Sherco? TRS? Vertigo? (Who am I forgetting?) Doesn't matter. Toss a coin.

    Don't wait. Do it now. You don't know what you're missing.

    JET
    #14
  15. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    While certainly not a reason to avoid such pursuits for personal gratification, one must also recognize very few people have the gifts to attain those rare levels of perfection.
    #15
  16. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

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    Wow,...JETalmage, now THAT is a reply worthy of a write up as an associate editor of a cycle magazine. Well written and said.

    Perhaps I have an avenue of cycling I have not exercised. I have done an annual Field & Forest Ride twice on a stripped down, stock suspension 83 Honda XL600R on which I surprised myself in the tight twisty technical sections through the trees when the handlebar would barely fit through, and the same the next few years on my 07 Suzuki DRZ400E. I enjoyed the tight sections requiring precise throttle and clutch control while standing on the pegs. At times I've practiced riding around my city lot between and around the trees. But I have always wanted to learn how to effectively climb over obstacles and wheelie with precision and control.

    I do have a 81 Honda XR200R project bike that could be a bike style similar to a trials bike to learn on, hmmmm.
    #16
  17. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Absolutely! Get some tires and logs, go wild. Just trying to wheelie and turn 90-180 on the rear wheel is adcictive. I started on a Sherpa T back in 1971, still have the bike, but haven't ridden it in like 30 years or more. I really should... another project.

    Lots of practice. The best anology - trials is to motorcycling as golf is to sports. Golf is simple to play, but frustratingly difficult to play well. Trials is simple to ride, but frustratingly difficult to do well. Takes a lot of riding and practice to develop the skills and control. I remember around 1975 when riders like Marland Whaley started loading the rear suspension and jumping. Back then it was a 5 if forward progres stopped, so no balancing and bouncing done back then. But the bouncing and balancing and backing up adds to the top level so so much.
    #17
  18. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Like most people who have watched a trials rider seemingly defying gravity and the laws of physics, I have always been fascinated by it. After reading JETalmagde's post I have to say I'm intrigued by the idea of trying it. The biggest obstacle for me is just logistics. I don't have room in my garage for another bike and I'd have to load it in my truck and take it somewhere to ride. I got rid of my KDX200 because I wasn't riding it. Too much of a hassle to truck it somewhere to ride. I much prefer to be able to just jump on a bike and ride.

    Having said that, I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy trying trials riding. I also love Gymkhana which is in some ways like trials riding in that it's relatively slow and requires balance and skill. If the opportunity presents itself I may just give trials a try.
    #18
  19. William Wolfen

    William Wolfen Dirt Seeker

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    Now there's an idea! Riding Gymkhana on a trials bike!
    #19
  20. eatpasta

    eatpasta Lawnmower Target

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    if I ever want to feel inept but at the same time, enegised to go practice more - I watch Graham jarvis videos. the guy is just magic but what he does always seems possible somehow even if its not really possible

    #20