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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Trials has thrills without the spills

PUBLISHED: 14:09 23 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

MOTOR TRIALS: IF the noise and exhilaration of high-speed motor sport are not quite up your street, why not have a go at something a little more sedate, not to mention less risky?

Motor trials are a sociable way to see the countryside and yet they still involve lots of roaring engines and motor oil for all those who live and breathe motorbikes (I know you're out there).

IF the noise and exhilaration of high-speed motor sport are not quite up your street, why not have a go at something a little more sedate, not to mention less risky?

Motor trials are a sociable way to see the countryside and yet they still involve lots of roaring engines and motor oil for all those who live and breathe motorbikes (I know you're out there).

The idea is that rather than trying to be the fastest competitor and risking your neck (or various other bits) in the process, trials are more of a test of control and balance when riding a motorbike over rough terrain.

Each course is made up of a number of sections, each approximately 100m in length, which may include steep hills, fallen trees, mud or other natural obstacles.

Competitors ride each section individually, where they are observed and scored on their performance, amassing penalty points for, among other things, stopping, footing (i.e., putting your foot on the ground) or failing to complete the section. The rider's speed through the section is unimportant.

In the Suffolk area, one motor trials club has been run since the late 40s by a group of enthusiasts keen on all forms of motorcycling, both road and sporting. In fact, one of the original members still remains part of the Essex and Suffolk Border Motorcycle club, in the form of Jim Eley, the club president.

Generally the club is still run on those original ideas, although it is now mainly biased towards trials, the only events actually organised by the club. However, members do also compete in moto-cross and use road bikes with a team competing in a national touring event at the beginning of July each year.

Paul Fenn, club secretary, said: "The sport attracts a wide range of people. We have kids of seven or eight, right up to people in their 60s and 70s. It's the kind of sport where people can just keep going. "We have different classes which cater for the different age groups, such as Over 40s, but often we may get a father and son competing against each other, for example. There are also special classes for older bikes and such like."

So what's the attraction?

"Why does anyone do anything?," said Paul. "Why do some people like football more than rugby? But I suppose we do trials rather than any other motor sport because trials are a lot more light-hearted and friendly and they are not so dangerous by any means.

"Riders are not racing against each other and speed is not the important thing, so it 's very safe."

Most motorsport is also quite expensive to take part in, but trials do not seem to be quite such a financial nightmare.

"The bikes are not cheap," said Paul. "But once you have bought one they cost very little to maintain because they rarely get damaged. And because it's not a speed event, having brand new machinery is not so essential, although it's nice."

Let's cut to the chase. How much are we talking about?

"Ok, well a new trials motorcycle costs about £3000, but a good second-hand one can be found for around £800."

Another bonus is that unlike other motor sports, this one does not require a fancy leather suit or anything, although obviously it is again nice to have the right 'gear'. All you need is a helmet (that is essential though) and some boots. Everything else is just up to the rider (although I should imagine that a skirt or kilt is probably not advisable!)

The motorcycles used are purpose-built and mainly of Spanish or Italian origin. They are fully silenced and generally road legal and in fact, many are registered and ridden on the road.

All events are run under regulations laid down by the sport's governing body, the Auto Cycle Union (ACU), who appoint a steward at each event to ensure compliance. They split the country into areas or 'centres', with this centre being the Eastern Centre, which covers Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. Events are organised by various clubs in each section in rotation to ensure that there is something going on most weekends.

Events are rarely advertised other than in the sport's own media, but if you are interested in becoming involved, please feel free to contact Paul on 01473 830666.

Finding land on which to run these events is a constant problem, and if anyone can help with this please let Paul know.

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