The definition of the word \'trial\' is a test of performance, qualities, or of someone or something to assess its suitability or performance. Thus, bike trials are a sport that test the bike skills of individuals through the course of a series of sections complete with obstacles. Observed trials are those that are watched by a judge or other figure responsible for rule adherence and the assessment of penalties.
To compete in bike trials, you need a specific type of bicycle (wide handle bars, lightweight components, single speed low gears, powerful brakes, a thick rear tire with low pressure and best of all...you generally will have no seat!) as well as the ability to maneuver it on a course. The goal is to not accrue penalty points, and this can be done by making minimal foot contact with the ground feet. You must complete tasks such as jumping your bike from one obstacle to another.
Bike trials are not for the faint of heart, especially at high competition levels, but they are fun and exciting, even from the viewpoint of a spectator. The imagination that goes into creating the coursing as well as the intense determination of the riders competing are sure to suck you right in and make you want to give it a shot yourself. If you do decide to give it a go, there are 4 different classes in the United States in which you can compete-Beginner, Sport, Expert, and Pro.
To participate, you will need to master balance and concentration as well as having control over your bike at all times. Courses have multiple sections, usually 40-100 feet long, but you may have to ride a section more than once. Sections last 2-3 minutes and can include all sorts of obstacles, be they water-hazards, man-made obstacles such as junk cars, tree trunks & stumps, tires, pallets, and much more. It may sound like a lot, but there is only one rider on the course at a time so you won\'t have to deal with interference from other riders while you navigate your course. You can use one of two types of bikes: modified trial bikes with 20 inch wheels, low tires, one gear, and a skid plate or a stock bike that is basically a mountain bike with gears that is 26 inches tall.
If you do decide to give bike trials a shot, be sure to invest in safety gear such as a helmet and shin guards for starters. There are some dangers associated with this sport but also plenty of adrenaline, so have fun out there. The sky is the limit as long as you keep your feet off the ground.