Hagerty.com

The motorcycle event where low score wins and top speed is irrelevant

When talking about motorcycles, the conversation often detours to the performance capabilities and wild high speeds that even vintage bikes can achieve. Anyone whose ridden a motorcycle in anger will likely admit how intimidating the experience can be. What if there was a slow-speed event that captured all the fun of motorcycles with minimal risk of an ambulance ride? Welcome to observed trials.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/10/11/motorcycle-event-where-low-score-wins

I’ve done it (as a novice) and can vouch for everything in the article. They are peaceful, quiet events in beautiful environments with lots of encouraging camaraderie. You can enter with literally any motorcycle (but of course a street bike would be an unsalvagable handicap) and a helmet. Risk of injury is less than in your own kitchen. The better competitors will stun you with feats of skillful maneuvering you wouldn’t’ve thought possible.

1 Like

I had a Yamaha TT175 in the 70s and loved to poke around in the woods on it.

1 Like

So I take my old TY250 that I had put back together thinking I would try my hand at trials only to find that I was woefully outdated and the Gas Gas’s and such put me to shame. The “novice” course was a section of the expert course and, well, you can guess the outcome. I think I scored 100 or something like that, packed my bike up before the afternoon session and never looked back.

Mrblixx, there are vintage trials events with sections specifically designed for our older bikes, you will probably find them more fun on your Yamaha.

1 Like

@mrblixxx2000 - You are right, I could only imagine how terrible it would be to try and run a vintage bike at a modern trials event. However, like @adsinger mentioned, vintage trails events are significantly more approachable, still challenging, but at an appropriate level. ARHMA laid out some nice routes at Barber. I want to try next year for sure.

I used to have an Ossa Plonker ,Mick Andrews Replica. Low gear was like a granny, to be used in emergencys, and at idle was a slow walk. An observed trials bike back in the day when Bultaco, and Montessa. all of the aforementioned makes Spanish ruled. Some guys in the sport had Greeves, a wierd bike a leading link fork, and a couple of obscure British makes. Then the Japanese came.
Mick Andrews a factory rider and I believe world champion did a demonstration at the local dealership. Gosh, a melding of man and machine. On my best day I just might have been worthy to wash his bike. .

1 Like

Great article! Had no idea such a thing existed. Reminds me of a bicycle randonneur endurance “race,” in which the object is just to finish. No prizes awarded and riders are penalized if they get too far ahead of the pack.

Agree in general, but it can get a bit more exciting (and perhaps a little dangerous) for us older folks. I have 3 old trials bikes (Bultacos) and while they don’t run with the new iron from Gas Gas, etc. they are still fun. As to the danger, yes, much reduced, but I saw a guy at Barber event 3 years ago fall (slowly) but hit a rock and broke his arm. So enjoy but understand that nothing in life is COMPLETELY safe!

When I was a kid I worked at the local IGA store and saved money to buy a brand new 1970 Honda CL70. When I got tired of riding it at 9/10 95% of the time I knew that I couldn’t compete with the kids whose parents had bought them bigger Enduros. So once in a while I would dream of being a trails rider. All about control and getting through & over obstacles. Fun & challenging.

1 Like