Ever heard of Bicycle Trials?
What is Bicycle Trials?
Bicycle trials, often just referred to as “trials,” is an exhilarating and demanding cycling sport that pushes riders to their limits. Unlike traditional cycling events, where the objective is to cover a distance or complete a racecourse as quickly as possible, trials focus on maneuvering a bicycle over a series of challenging obstacles without putting a foot down (known as a dab).
Types of Bicycle Trials:
There are several types of bicycle trials, including:
- Observed Trials/Competition: In this format, riders compete on a marked course and are penalized for touching the ground or failing to complete an obstacle. The goal, pickup as many points as possible over the sections and within the time limit. A section consists of 6 gates each worth 10 points, complete the section without a dab and in the time limit you’ll get 60 points. If you do put a foot down you simply wont get the points for that gate but have the opportunity to continue with the section, do it 5 times and you must stop and take the points you scored up until that point. It’s an easy system with the simple objective of GET THE MOST POINTS! There are lots of different competition series that run around the world from World Championships to smaller local events. An example is the “South Coast Bike Trial” which we’ll get into later in this post.
*Jack Carthy at the 2022 UCI world championships*
- Natural Trials: Just like in the name, natural trials is the use of any rocks, forests, logs and any terrain that exists naturally. Natural obstacles come in all shapes and sizes with jagged edges and uneven surfaces making riding them that bit more challenging. Riding natural is a serious test of ones balance and precision and takes years of practice to master!
*Andrei Burton at Portland Bill*
- Street Trials: Urban riding involves navigating obstacles found in towns and cities, such as staircases, railings, walls and anything else you can find. Street riders typically ride in groups and make their way around these locations while stopping to session spots. (Session = to ride one spot from as many different approaches and moves before moving on to the next spot). Taps Gaps and Side hops or “TGS” was the name given to this type of riding as while the sport was coming up these were the moves that people were doing most, now things have progressed and street riders do a whole host of moves including hooks, balance moves, front wheel moves and more.*Danny MacAskill Mous Phone case advert*
Lets talk to the riders!
Sam Wheeler gave us a few words on how he got into trials and some of his most memorable moments in the sport… if you haven’t seen Sam ride you are missing out!
Sam: I got into Trials while on a family holiday in Weymouth, saw a dude jump down onto a dock on an old Saracen and that was it! I got started around the year 2000.
The most memorable moments have got to be travelling around Spain and France to the Worlds and just riding amazing places in between each round… really though any good ride with the right people is a memorable one.
We asked Luke Walder, one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet what he loves about trials and the community…
Luke: Trials is such a challenging sport that when you improve or learn a new technique the feeling of achievement is just so great. When new into the sport you can learn on the curb outside your house with a couple of friends or find somewhere locally where there are small obstacles to tackle.
The community is what really makes Trials a great sport to be involved in, everyone is supportive regardless of your age or ability. Riders are willing to help you in your journey, even the top riders in the world are friendly, helpful and supportive!
Down at the rugged southwestern tip of England you’ll find yourself in Cornwall, an iconic place to ride trials in the UK. I spoke with Alex Dark, a 32 year old trials rider from Pasty land!
Alex: I’ve been riding now for about 13 years and still enjoying it. I’m an engineer by trade so because of this I have always enjoyed making , repairing, adapting and modifying trials components and frames. I’ve ridden stock (26″ bike) pretty much the whole time I’ve been on a trials bike. .
I guess I ride in a fairly old school TGS (taps, gaps, side hops) way, preferring street to natural and proper song length edits to Instagram clips. Previously done some competition riding, also now riding for RPM displays doing a few demos a year.
The riding scene in Cornwall is pretty strong. Not too many people but all dedicated and decent guys who normally ride twice a week. Cornwall’s got some pretty great riding ; beach natural , tors , quarries , street and sea defences.
Finally we spoke with Charlie Rolls, a UCI Trials world champion! Here is what he had to say…
Charlie: I started riding trials back on 2007 when I was just 6 years old. I got into it with a bit of a push from my parents who wanted me to ride motorcycle trials. However, after going to visit a bike trials competition we soon fell in love with the relaxed feel of the community.
Lots of riders offered us advice and help on how to get started and how to learn the basics. Today I’m ranked 3rd in the world and looking back it’s crazy to see where I’ve come from. I learnt most of my techniques from videos on YouTube and other riders in the UK. I spent many hours on my own in my barn on the farm I live at, perfecting my riding!
Bike Trial Academy (Click here)
Me and mum currently run practice days at my home for any newcomers of the sport to begin there journey. And of course, for all riders to train at my trials park.
“We are a non profit organisation based in Cambridgeshire wanting to promote bike trials, encourage new riders, help established riders, provide training and hold events.
Bike trials is a relatively small sport in the UK and we are giving back by doing our bit to keep it growing.”
How can I learn?
Charlie: I make many videos giving tips for trials riders as well as tutorials on specific techniques.
All available on Patreon for a small fee!
Group Rides and Events
Trials is a tight-knit community full of people who are willing to help and support each other, the best way to get involved is through Facebook where there are groups specifically for riders/people looking to get into the sport.
You’ll also be able to buy and sell bikes through these groups or even ask for advice on what bike might suit you.
If group rides sound like your thing then you are in luck!
On the spot map you can add you own spots or find new spots that others have added.
What are you waiting for… get involved.
and always wear your helmet!Written on September 27th, 2023 by Saddle Safari