What is Observed Trials?

The American Motorcyclist Association NATC series says it best, so read on for their description of this very fun sport!

The Early Days:

In the early days of motorcycling, riders and manufacturers competed in “reliability trials” to demonstrate their machine’s ability to continue running for multiple days over rough terrain. As such, trials is not a “race” in the traditional sense. Nowadays, the reliability of motorcycles is no longer an issue, and the sport has evolved accordingly.

Spectator Friendly:

MotoTrials (also known as “Observed Trials”) is now the pinnacle of off-road riding, as the riders tackle the most severe terrain capable of being conquered by any two or four-wheeled machine. When someone looks at the obstacles before the riding starts, a frequent comment is a simple “No way!”. A big plus for the spectators is that they can watch from just a few feet away as the riders attempt seemingly impossible obstacles.

Nuts and Bolts:

MotoTrials competitions consist of “sections” that are physically defined by marker tape. These sections contain challenging features, both natural and artificial. They may include streambeds, boulders, logs, and slopes. Markers identify different skill class levels for competition; the better the competitor, the more severe the obstacles. A trail “loop” connects the sections for the event. A typical event will have 10-12 sections and the competitor must ride the loop and complete the sections up to three times. Riders cannot practice the sections but may inspect each section just before being judged (or observed) on their ride. Then, one at a time, the riders will enter a section on their motorcycle, as an observer scores the rider’s performance.

Like golf, where the least amount of strokes on the course wins, trials are won by the person who touches their foot to the ground the least amount of times over the course of the event. The rider with the lowest score wins. The score goes to a maximum of 5 points for that section if they fail to reach the end gate in time or crash. Riding a section “clean” without footing is the ultimate goal of all riders (a score of 0).

The Bikes:

MotoTrials motorcycles are very specialized machines. Years of development have produced a lightweight, extremely well balanced machine with a powerful 2 or 4 stroke engine. The bikes have high ground clearance, minimal fuel capacity and no seat, creating a highly maneuverable, very lightweight, and razor thin motorcycle.


There are many local clubs around the US that host events locally (see them HERE), with some putting on as many as 20 events per year. The United States MotoTrials National Series is governed by the AMA and the North American Trials Council (NATC). The series hosts the best riders of various classes, and consists of 6 to 12 events held in various parts of the country.

There are select riders in the USA that have the skill to compete at the World Championship level and these riders compete for a spot on the American Trial des Nations Team. The Trial des Nations is held in various countries in the fall of each year, and is a nation vs. nation team competition.

To sum it up:

While MotoTrials can be a very challenging and dramatic sport, local clubs have classes for riders of all abilities, from beginners on up. Of all the motorcycle sports, it is probably the most “family-friendly”, and kids can enjoy healthy competition alongside their Moms and Dads and share in an activity that they love. Additionally, trials is easy on the environment. Because of the nature of the bikes and the competitions, environmental damage is minimal, and some clubs have riding areas that have been used for decades with little evidence of any damage to the environment. Search out a local club today and get started.

And you have already found your local club in the Treasure Valley Area!