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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Never leave your bike's fuel tap on when you are not riding.  This is especially important for the journey to a trial - the vibrations cause fuel to leak into the cylinder and wet the plug, and it becomes difficult or even impossible to start the bike.
  2. Use a new spark plug at the trial.  Nothing beats the ease of starting, the reluctance to stall, and the pure performance of a new spark plug.  Since plugs are about R35 each, it is worth it to have a new one every monthly trial.  One strategy is to fit a new plug for the trial, then swap it out when practicing so that the new plug is fresh for the next trial.  Every few months the "trial" plug becomes the "practice" plug and you buy a new "trial" plug.

In a two-stroke trials bike, we generally use 15ml of two-stroke oil to 1l of petrol (i.e. in a 5 liter fuel can, add 75ml of oil, and in a 10l can add 150ml.

Follow the instructions in the bike's User Manual.

Also, be aware that not all two-stroke oils can operate at such low concentrations.  For example, Castrol Power1 Racing synthetic oil is not rated at such low concentrations.  I use Ravenol synthetic.  Be especially wary of cheap oils, but check whether an expensive oil is rated at 1:66 mix ratios.

Front: 0.5bar (50kPa)

Rear: 0.3bar (33kPa)

Naturally, this is average.  If you are riding on sand, mud or low traction surfaces, you can go lower than that.  If you are quite heavy, riding rocks and hard edges, or generally hard (aka a bit clumsy) on a trials bike, increase the pressure slightly to protect the rims.

The idea is that the person who puts his foot down (a dab) the least often is the winner.

Dabs (1 point)

  • The basic unit is the dab (one foot down).  Each time either foot is put down is counted as a dab - so putting both feet down is 2 dabs.
  • once a rider has scored 3 dabs on a section, further dabs are not counted (i.e max score per successfully completed section is 3)

Penalties (5 points)

  • if you fall,
  • miss a flag, skip an obstacle or go over the section boundary,
  • cross over your path,
  • get off the bike (i.e. both feet down on the same side of the bike),
  • run back by more than one wheel rotation, or
  • take your hand off the handlebar while you have a foot down

Skipping a section

  • not starting a section will score a 10.
As you can see, it is worth your while to at least attempt every section.  If you are worried about falling, just pedalling through with your feet will score a 3 as opposed to a 5.


If there are no section marshalls (which in the Cape there aren't), it is up to you to record your score for each section.  This is done on a clipboard that is put at the end of each section, with a list of names and columns for each lap.  Put your score for the section in the right column (and write in your name if it is not already there).

Due to the slow speeds and grading of sections, trials is quite safe.  That is why we ride in t-shirts and open-face helmets.

Every competition or practice involves riding sections that are graded for the skill-level of the rider.  There are three basic skill levels, though in some regions there are intermediate levels between them:


  1. Clubman: this is the entry level.  The focus is on mastery of classic trials skills, like balance, tight turns and small obstacles that at no stage require absolute commitment (i.e. you can paddle over them if you need to).  We also make sure that at no time is failure likely to lead to injury (i.e. no balancing near big drops, and no sharp branches one might fall on).
  2. Intermediate: a stepper level to help riders develop the skills to ride at expert level.  Nominally, the intermediates ride the four easiest expert sections, and clubman lines on the remainder.  In practice, the group might ride all the expert sections, but agree to skip the dangerous or too difficult obstacles.
  3. Expert: at this level, the rider is expected to have good balance, and to be able to turn very tightly by hopping the bike.  Small splatters and bigger obstacles form part of their sections, along with easy drop-offs and slightly more risky situations.
  4. Master: At this level the splatters are big, drop-offs are more tricky, and the rider needs superb control to avoid a fall.  However, we still make sure the sections are as safe as possible.
So, as a beginner there is ample opportunity to start easily and safely, and to gradually grow your skill and confidence.  You can start at any age, and advance to as far as you are comfortable.  There are youngsters riding with their grandfathers, old-timers and newcomers.  This really is a sport for everyone.
The only danger is that you will become hooked on a fun outdoor sport that keeps you healthy and happy.
  • Arrive around 9am, we have a riders' briefing just before 10am and start at 10am
  • There are 8 sections (they are short), and we will ride 4 laps through them
  • The first lap is done together, because we all walk the section before riding it.  During the walk we explain the various lines and options, adjust obstacles if they are too difficult or dangerous, and plan our strategies.
  • At the end of each section is a sheet where you will enter your score.  We will explain scoring during the riders' briefing if there are people who don't know it.  Otherwise, look at our FAQ on trials scoring here.
  • This is not a race - between laps you can have a break, drink some water, or ask for help/advice.
  • You will need a helmet, gloves, pants and boots.  A t-shirt is fine, though elbow-guards and knee-guards if you have them are a good idea.  One or two people wear body armour.

Trials (also knowns as "footup trials"), is a motorcycle riding discipline where riders attempt to ride a short, technically challenging course without putting their feet on the ground.

Competitions involve riding several short, marked "sections" and tallying the number of times each rider puts their foot down ("dabs").  The sections are marked such that beginners have easier obstacles that require less skill and commitment, while experts need to ride more advanced lines.

The motorbike used for trials is very light and manoevreable. It has no seat as the rider stands on the footpegs, and the engine is designed to deliver smooth power at low speeds.  Unlike other offroad riding disciplines, there is seldom any spinning of wheels, and as a result of the extremely low tyre pressures used (0.3 bar or 5 psi) the environmental impact of a trials bike is very low.


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by Dr. Radut