There is often confusion between Trials and Trails bikes. This is probably fair enough given the similarity in the names and the apparent similarity in the bikes used. Basically Trail refers to either mountain biking on off-road trails or BMX Dirt jump riding which is sometimes referred to as ‘riding trail’. To further complicate matters there is also ‘time trial’. These are ‘against the clock’ road-racing events on modified road bikes.
The Trials we refer to here is ‘observed bicycle trials’. Trials’ riding is a skilful discipline where the rider slowly negotiates man-made and natural obstacles using controlled braking, track stands and balancing. If this isn’t hard enough, in competition all this is done against the clock with penalty points for riders who put their feet down.
All trials bikes have very powerful brakes, which are usually disc or hydraulic rim type. The tyres have to be very grippy and are therefore made of very soft compounds. The wheels and tyres are wider than normal which increases the contact patch giving better balance. Gearing is low as the bikes are ridden slowly but allow for quick acceleration in ‘pedal assisted’ hopping. Trials bikes can be odd looking as the saddles are very low and small or not there at all! The rider does not need them and of course it helps to reduce overall weight.
Trials bikes are no longer standard mountain bikes, as over the years they have evolved and become two types of trials-specific bikes: the ‘Modified’ and the ‘Stock’ (now different classes in competition).
The Modified (Mod) bikes use a 20-inch wheel, which allows for a smaller, lighter frame. The Mods typically have one gear and bash guards to protect the frame when jumping or balancing. The term ‘Mod’ comes from the fact that the original bikes were BMXs, heavily modified for trials.
Stock bikes are more common, they have 26-inch wheels and originate from the mountain bike. Nowadays the name is often used to describe any trials bike that has 26-inch wheels.
Prices range from £320 – £900.
April 13, 2012 Bike Guides