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Trials is too hard to get started in

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Wow, trials is hard to get started in. Impossible to find a good, solid used trials bike unless you are in the secret club of folks who already have a trials bike. Most dealers can't spell trials. So I bought a used Beta Rev-3.

Its impossible to ride. It takes a Superman™ kick to turn the bike over. I can ride maybe 5 minutes and my legs are screaming. I get completely worn out, heart racing and sweat pouring off my head and body.

It looks like a small and light enduro bike. I can ride enduro bikes. I can ride street bikes. I've raced bikes. But I can't ride my trials bike.

And after 40 years, I have to buy a 3/4 helmet? I got one of the first Bell Star helmets in town, and every helmet I've bought since has been full face. I was told: "that enduro helmet will melt your brain" when I tried at a vintage trials event. I brought along my old enduro boots, they are so worn that they have no support. Just what you need for trials, right? Nope, the hard sole has zero traction on rocks, roots and mud, I kept falling down while walking the sections.

How do you get started? Will it ever be easier? How can I ride enough to go from impossibly terrible to just really bad if I can't manage to ride the bike more than 5 minutes at a time?

Are all you guys just born as Toni Bou?

Edited by pat22043
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Hey, no complaining allowed on day 1. Just giving you a hard time ;)

I actually got the same bike, '08 Rev 3 250 as my first bike. I don't like the left hand kick, usually I just get off and kick it with my right foot. Just rotate the motor to top dead center, and then I sort of step up and lean all my weight down into the peg, so it's not really hard on the leg it's just pushing my body weight into it.

 

It gets a lot easier if you keep at it. I found the stance to be very tiring on my neck and back mostly, but your legs shouldn't be getting tired very quickly, you may need to correct body positioning; it's possible you're dipping your knees or bending too much, your legs are fairly straight most of the time. Make sure your bike is properly set up - look up Ryan Young's bike setup video on youtube. Ryan Young says adjust handlebars forward, at least so they're perpendicular to the ground, and any farther forward than that is just bonus according to Ryan.

Don't push yourself to exhaustion, if you start getting sore or tired take a 15 minute break and when you get back on it, you'll actually feel better and more warmed up usually.

Here's sort of my 6-month progress report but when I started I felt just like you. If you don't have the luxury of practicing 2 or 3 days a week like I do, you can still practice balance in the garage. If I worked more on balance when starting out I would have crashed less, having good balance makes everything work better and builds confidence. You stop trying to see where you're gonna dab a foot (which always results in a dab) and just focusing on what's ahead.

 

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1 hour ago, jacob429 said:

Make sure your bike is properly set up - look up Ryan Young's bike setup video on youtube. Ryan Young says adjust handlebars forward, at least so they're perpendicular to the ground, and any farther forward than that is just bonus according to Ryan.

Here's sort of my 6-month progress report but when I started I felt just like you. 

Very encouraging progress.

The stance is the thing, its so weird and unnatural. I can't get any rest while standing. I'm old, tall and fat. I have a terrible time simply reaching the handlebars while standing. 

I'm thinking of getting some handlebar risers. Everyone says "don't do that" and I understand why, but I can't bend enough to get my hands on the bar. On my KTM, I have lowered and moved the pegs rear, and added a 40mm spacer on the bars, which are in the fully forward position. The cockpit of the Beta is so much smaller and I'm still a big guy. I'm thinking of one of those spacers that are pretty easy to add or remove, use it to get used to the standing and balance, and then remove it.

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26 minutes ago, pat22043 said:

Very encouraging progress.

The stance is the thing, its so weird and unnatural. I can't get any rest while standing. I'm old, tall and fat. I have a terrible time simply reaching the handlebars while standing. 

I'm thinking of getting some handlebar risers. Everyone says "don't do that" and I understand why, but I can't bend enough to get my hands on the bar. On my KTM, I have lowered and moved the pegs rear, and added a 40mm spacer on the bars, which are in the fully forward position. The cockpit of the Beta is so much smaller and I'm still a big guy. I'm thinking of one of those spacers that are pretty easy to add or remove, use it to get used to the standing and balance, and then remove it.

Making it comfortable enough to ride beats not riding at all in my opinion. And like you said when you get more used to it you can easily reverse it. There is truth in handlebar height and position; I have personally experienced a huge improvement after just a small handlebar adjustment a few degrees further forward.

I stood on a trials bicycle once and was shocked, that stance is even more dramatic and feels like you're folded up on it, I'm 5'10" for reference.

When I get some extra money I'll be sending off my Paioli shock for service. Thing is falling apart so I can't even ride the trials bike right now :(

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I'm not a trials rider, never rode in a trials event, however, I hang out here trying to learn because it transfers to my woods riding. Frustrating as it may seem, sometimes the challenge of it, can be the fun of it. 

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24 minutes ago, 1gr8bldr said:

I'm not a trials rider, never rode in a trials event, however, I hang out here trying to learn because it transfers to my woods riding. Frustrating as it may seem, sometimes the challenge of it, can be the fun of it. 

I've also never rode an event so I suppose that disqualifys me. It can be frustrating tho, and by the time I get back on the trials bike it will have been months. The trials bike is way less forgiving of poor technique so I'll be horrible when I get back on it haha. The enduro bike is easier to me now, or at least it is now that I got the new Beta. 

Edit: I still much prefer learning new stuff on the trials bike because while it does demand good technique, it is more forgiving when you crash. Easy dismounts and less broken parts usually.

Edited by jacob429

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1 hour ago, jacob429 said:

 The trials bike is way less forgiving of poor technique so I'll be horrible when I get back on it haha.

That is an understatement. Any poor technique and I pay, and I'm nearly all poor technique. I need practice just to get up to horrible.

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6 minutes ago, pat22043 said:

That is an understatement. Any poor technique and I pay, and I'm nearly all poor technique. I need practice just to get up to horrible.

Haha, you'll be fine. Equally as important as technique, if not more so, is confidence. Usually takes some time to build, and for months I started on the smallest things to warm up timing and build confidence before hitting anything harder. The recipe for success is knowing you're going to nail that log or section; either focusing on what you need to do to pull it off or not thinking at all and let it come to you. I'm still a beginner to trials but this has been key for me, I used to think about where I would dab or bail if needed but now the only thing I think about is what I need to do to make it and don't worry about the rest, try to anyway. 

Stuff will start coming together you'll have a bunch of "ah-ha!" moments when you keep at it. I had tons of those when watching my footage, I'd always try to spot errors and think about the mechanics and physics of everything, but I do way over analyze stuff.

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Just have fun...

 

The biggest problem with trials is everyone makes everything look easy.  In my trials club most of the riders have been riding since they were children.  So they might have 20 or 30 years of trials experience.  The fact that they are so smooth and everything they do some so naturally to them makes everything look easy and effortless.  When I started even the simplest looking things seemed impossible.

I'm two years in and I still ride the novice line in competitions and will screw around on intermediate stuff when I get out to practice.  Unfortunately I don't have property to practice on and I've been extremely busy this year so I havent practiced much between our 10 competitions which explains why I still ride novice.  But I have a ton of fun even though I'm not a natural at it.

Props to Jacob, he's riding extremely well for only have been doing it for 6 months.  But a lot of what he's doing would fall into "intermediate" class. He's doing double blips, floater turns, holding pressure, etc.  None of that is required in the beginner or novice classes.  And as good as he looks at those obstacles, it's completely different in a real section where you can't line up to them from 20 feet back.  In a real competition you'll be making something like 40 section attempts and riding for 4-5 hours so fatigue also plays into it. Each section is a number of turns, hills, obstacles all strung together such that it makes each one difficult if you do not perform the previous one perfectly and get you bike positioned within an inch of where it needs to be for the next one.  A good score in "intermediate" is under 20 dabs over 40 sections.  Last week two riders rode 40 sections with a clean card (0 dabs).

My point to all this is that there is more to trials than just riding individual obstacles.  There is a lot of strategy on how to tackle a section, what you and your bike can and can't do.  What you're good at and what you aren't.  The art of taking a dab is huge.  If you are forced to take a dab make it count.  When I started every dab turned into 3 or 4 because I took them on the wrong side, didn't plan, etc.   I've seen some new guys with natural skills who can ride all the big obstacles show up, ride a higher class like intermediate, struggle and have very high scores.  Even though they were capable of riding every obstacle individually they didn't have all that nuance that is learned in the lower classes and couldn't put it all together.  

Start in the lower classes (beginner or novice).  Make sure you are having fun and are a little challenged.  Learn all the basics such as balance, turns, off camber riding, section strategy, how to take a dab, etc.  Don't get frustrated if you struggle with some aspect.  Only tackle new skills when it's appropriate and they are within your grasp.  You club members should be able to help you know when you're ready to step up to a new skill.

A note on conditioning...  That will just come with time.  Around here our trials competitions are 40 section attempts.  That's typically 8 or 10 sections connected by a loop of single track to add an endurance element,  We'd then ride 4 or 5 loops to get our 40 sections in.   That's a good solid 4-5 hours although you do get to stop for a water/food break at the end of each loop.  When I did my first competition last year, by the end I was so exhausted I couldn't get my bike loaded up.  My clutch hand cramped so bad I couldn't open it.  I woke up so sore the next day I could barely move.  Fast forward to this year, my first event was a two day event which meant 80 section attempts and a total of 8-10 hours of riding over those two days.  At the end of the second day I was actually a little bummed it was over and would have liked to have ridden a little more.  That's the difference a year of riding makes.  Just give it time and put in the time in the bike.  It will come automatically without you having to do anything special.

Doc

 

Edited by Doc_d
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- Maybe is good having a Trial course. Improving your body english (not modifying your bike) can help A LOT in your endurance and heart rate.
- Yes, you need a open helmet and a Trials boot. Fresh air to breath and heel flex to tight turns and splats.
- Best way to start over so many years on Enduro's is spending 2 months only ridding Trials. You need to get rid off all that bad body habits and straight throttle english. (Not mentioning clutch finesse)
- Focus on your progress not on your fails. After a month you suddenly will start to see the magic happen.
- Sections, Natural terrain, Backyard, expeditions, extreme trails....there a lot of options...you will find what you like more. Don't think trials is only obstacles.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlVS8Mj1VDsG_ThYpguXWMk6gGCjucJ5D

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My 1st few days on my trials bike I wondered what the heck was wrong with my head. I just waisted $10000...
I couldn't ride up or over a darn thing on a bike that was supposed to help transform me into an enduro legend
I hope you didn't get into this because of my stupid videos. I've gotten more grief from too many people already.

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43 minutes ago, Pittbull said:

I couldn't ride up or over a darn thing on a bike that was supposed to help transform me into an enduro legend emoji38.png
I hope you didn't get into this because of my stupid videos. I've gotten more grief from too many people already.

Your videos and Barry's contributed. I too want to ride like Graham and Jonny and Taddy.

I took some coaching Monday, and found out that I don't even know how to turn. Not a full lock turn, but a simple turn. I can sort of turn left. I can't turn right. I was trying to turn right and fall off the bike. Not a dab, I fall off, was flat on the ground.

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48 minutes ago, pat22043 said:

Your videos and Barry's contributed. I too want to ride like Graham and Jonny and Taddy.

I took some coaching Monday, and found out that I don't even know how to turn. Not a full lock turn, but a simple turn. I can sort of turn left. I can't turn right. I was trying to turn right and fall off the bike. Not a dab, I fall off, was flat on the ground.

Trials is humbling.  Many people ride motorcycles (roads, trail, MX) and have all kinds of fundemental problems and bad habits.  Trials makes you start over from square 1, confront all those issues, solve all those old bad habits and learn there are basic things you simply don't know.

Start out with wide turns with momentum and work on slowing them down and tightening them up.  It will take time before your brain starts developing the coordination you need so give it time and just keep working on it.  Using speed and momentum is a crutch, so even though you'll use it when you are just starting out, the goal is to get slower and slower until you are just barely creeping.  Ideally if I yelled "stop" to you at any point in the turn you could stop and be perfectly balanced for at least a few seconds.  If you stop and immediately fall you weren't perfectly balanced and were relying on momentum to keep you up.

The best piece of advice I was ever given about turns in relation to trials is if you are going to dab or fall, 99.999999999999% of the time it's to the inside of the turn.  It's almost impossible to get your weight too far to the outside.  

In turns, if you are falling or dabbing that only happens for one reason.  Your body was not balanced with the bike.  If you fall or dab to the inside, which is the case 99.9999999% of the time, it's because you did not shift your body weight far enough to the outside.  So keep that in mind the next time you fall or dab.  Was it to the inside?  If so, do it again and hang your butt out to the outside more.

Do not look at your front tire when turning.  If I'm doing a 180 degree turn my head is turned completely over my shoulder looking back  as far as I can to the direction I'll be going when I complete the turn.

I'm long winded, I know, but one more thought.  Trials will never be easy.  For a beginner they'll be challenged by turns.  For an intermediate rider maybe it's large logs approached at an angle.  For experts maybe it's splattering up a 5 foot tall vertical.  In our clubs every rider from beginner to expert cheers when a beginner cleans a section because even the experts know for that rider's level that was a big challenge and big accomplishment.  That's what trials is about.  For you in your first year you'll have your own personal challenges riding whatever level you ride.  Even if you were a complete natural you'd still be just as challenged but perhaps riding a harder line.  Enjoy it, have fun and just work on competing against yourself to be a little better.  Realize that it will take time and you'll have some periods of frustration and there will be periods of elation when new things finally click or you find a particular skill that comes easy to you.  Just stick with it and give it a chance.  If it was easy everyone would do it.

Doc

Edited by Doc_d
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Your videos and Barry's contributed. I too want to ride like Graham and Jonny and Taddy.
I took some coaching Monday, and found out that I don't even know how to turn. Not a full lock turn, but a simple turn. I can sort of turn left. I can't turn right. I was trying to turn right and fall off the bike. Not a dab, I fall off, was flat on the ground.

Met a guy all the way down in Moab last spring on the Slick Rock. Somehow he recognized me and said his wife wanted to have a word with me
Said it was because of my vids that he had to buy another bike, a trials bike and she was pissed. Small world...
If you're having a tough time staying motivated working on the basics, head to the hills. I found it much easier to work on things when they were relevant to what I really wanted to achieve. Also didn't seem to get as tired when I was having fun. You still need to work on the basics but you can come back to that later. Just ride the darn bike and have fun. Ride it like an enduro until you've got the right muscles in the right places to sustain practice without getting defeated. Remember this is supposed to be fun...
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@Pitbull - what's your YouTube channel?  I'd like to check it out.

 

Doc

 

Edit: Duh!  Never mind, I see it's in your signature.

Edited by Doc_d

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[mention=7445]Pitbull[/mention] - what's your YouTube channel?  I'd like to check it out.
 
Doc
 
Edit: Duh!  Never mind, I see it's in your signature.

Careful there's a lot of waisted time on that YouTube channel of mine...
The "Braking Bad Habits" series of videos are the ones I used in a lame attempt to show some old farts struggle to ride a trials bike...

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1 hour ago, Doc_d said:

Trials is humbling.  Many people ride motorcycles (roads, trail, MX) and have all kinds of fundemental problems and bad habits.  Trials makes you start over from square 1, confront all those issues, solve all those old bad habits and learn there are basic things you simply don't know.

Start out with wide turns with momentum and work on slowing them down and tightening them up.  It will take time before your brain starts developing the coordination you need so give it time and just keep working on it.  Using speed and momentum is a crutch, so even though you'll use it when you are just starting out, the goal is to get slower and slower until you are just barely creeping.  Ideally if I yelled "stop" to you at any point in the turn you could stop and be perfectly balanced for at least a few seconds.  If you stop and immediately fall you weren't perfectly balanced and were relying on momentum to keep you up.

The best piece of advice I was ever given about turns in relation to trials is if you are going to dab or fall, 99.999999999999% of the time it's to the inside of the turn.  It's almost impossible to get your weight too far to the outside.  

In turns, if you are falling or dabbing that only happens for one reason.  Your body was not balanced with the bike.  If you fall or dab to the inside, which is the case 99.9999999% of the time, it's because you did not shift your body weight far enough to the outside.  So keep that in mind the next time you fall or dab.  Was it to the inside?  If so, do it again and hang your butt out to the outside more.

Do not look at your front tire when turning.  If I'm doing a 180 degree turn my head is turned completely over my shoulder looking back  as far as I can to the direction I'll be going when I complete the turn.

I'm long winded, I know, but one more thought.  Trials will never be easy.  For a beginner they'll be challenged by turns.  For an intermediate rider maybe it's large logs approached at an angle.  For experts maybe it's splattering up a 5 foot tall vertical.  In our clubs every rider from beginner to expert cheers when a beginner cleans a section because even the experts know for that rider's level that was a big challenge and big accomplishment.  That's what trials is about.  For you in your first year you'll have your own personal challenges riding whatever level you ride.  Even if you were a complete natural you'd still be just as challenged but perhaps riding a harder line.  Enjoy it, have fun and just work on competing against yourself to be a little better.  Realize that it will take time and you'll have some periods of frustration and there will be periods of elation when new things finally click or you find a particular skill that comes easy to you.  Just stick with it and give it a chance.  If it was easy everyone would do it.

Doc

I appreciate you sharing  advice and hope that more like this could be shared to make this forum the best trials forum around. It has good participation, but seems as though it should have more. Sometimes I wonder if the trials crowd has another forum elsewhere? 

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5 minutes ago, Pittbull said:


Careful there's a lot of waisted time on that YouTube channel of mine... emoji38.png
The "Braking Bad Habits" series of videos are the ones I used in a lame attempt to show some old farts struggle to ride a trials bike...

I'm a subscriber and have enjoyed the videos. The technique, the terrain, the countryside

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15 minutes ago, 1gr8bldr said:

I appreciate you sharing  advice and hope that more like this could be shared to make this forum the best trials forum around. It has good participation, but seems as though it should have more. Sometimes I wonder if the trials crowd has another forum elsewhere? 

Trials is very small in the U.S. compared to Europe so there isn't much activity on this forum.  There is another forum that is strictly related to trials called Trials Central.

Doc 

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