What are Trials and Motocross?

What Are Trials?

Spectating at a Trial will get you closer to the competition than any other motorsport event.  Many sections will allow spectators so close they could reach out and touch a rider.  Photo opportunities abound!

Motorcycle Trials, also termed Observed Trials, are non-speed events on specialized motorcycles.

Trials motorcycles are distinctive in that they are extremely lightweight, lack seating (they’re designed to be ridden standing up) and have suspension travel that is short, relative to a motocross or enduro motorcycle.

A Trials Rider negotiates a tough section as spectators watch intently.

Trials Scoring – Where are the 4’s?

A Trial event is split into sections where a competitor rides slowly through an obstacle course while attempting to avoid touching the ground with the feet. Every rider follows a specific ‘line’ through each section, depending on their abilities and the type of motorcycle they are riding.

Riders will ride up to the ‘section’, they will get off their bike and walk the course to get familiar with the obstacles.  After taking as long as they wish to look it over, they re-mount their bike and begin the section.  Only one rider is allowed in a section at a time.

In every section, the competitor is scored by an observer (hence the sport’s full name of “Observed Trials”) who counts how many times the competitor touches the ground with the foot (or any other part of the body). Each time a competitor touches the ground with a foot (commonly called a “dab”), the penalty is one point.

Possible scores in each section consist of 0, 1, 2, 3, or 5.

If a competitor makes his or her way through the section without touching the ground with a foot, a score of 0 (called “cleaning the section”) is earned. If he or she touches the ground only once, the score of 1 is earned. If they touch down twice, the score of 2 is earned. If they touch the ground three times or more, the score of 3 is earned, and stays there as long as the section is completed without stalling the motor, dismounting, going out of bounds or going backward. A rider can “paddle” through a section and still receive a score of 3.

If the competitor fails to complete the section (stopping, dismounting, going out of bounds or going backward) a score of 5 is earned.

After completing the section, the rider stops and receive their score from the observer.

The winner is the competitor with the least points at the end of the event.

Trials Spectator Notes

Vintage Trials sections are made up of 3 different lines (1, 2, and 3) The 3 line is the easiest and is used by the oldest bikes and also less skilled riders. The 2 line is for intermediate riders and generally the bikes will be newer than 1960. The 1 line is for experts who typically ride “newer” (still pre-1975) bikes.

First time spectators will be amazed at the terrain these riders are able to negotiate.

Trials is a very old sport, in 2011 we celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Scottish Six Days which held in Edinburgh, Scotland and which is still run today.


What is Motocross?

Motocross started life as Scrambles events begun as a British form of motorsport in the mid 1920’s.  Run on a mainly natural terrain course with some man-made obstacles like jumps, these events were very popular and were ‘imported’ to the United States, where they became known as Motocross.

Motocross racing (Vintage and Modern) is one of the most visually appealing forms of motorsports, with riders performing seemingly death-defying leaps, turns visibly at the edge of traction (as indicated by a sliding, spinning rear tire “roosting” dirt behind it), and the effort of riders clearly visible as they move their bodies around their motorcycles to balance the bikes for maximum speed.

Scoring for Motocross

Riders enter one of a variety of classes determined by the bike they are riding, their age, and their skill level. There are dozens of classes, and each class has its own race. Riders participate in two “motos” for their class (morning and afternoon), competing head-to-head against their peers.

Scoring for Motocross is much simpler than trials, first to the finish line wins! The two Moto scores are combined, and the class winner is determined by the rider with the best combined scores from both Motos.

Motocross demands much from the machine and the rider

Motocross Spectator Notes

Vintage motocross (or Scrambles) puts mainly pre-1975 model machines back on the terrain where it all began.  Many of the bikes are beautiful (and expensive!) enough to be shown in a museum, but the owners believe their true beauty is shown on the track.

Expect to see bikes from BSA, Norton, Matchless, AJS, along with early models from the ‘Japanese invasion’ of the 1970’s like Hodaka, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki.

Although many Vintage riders are older (there is an 80+ class), once they don helmet and riding gear and get out on the track, spectators will be hard pressed to tell the difference between a 28 year old and a 68 year old.