Learning motorbike trials


"How do I get started in Trials?"

An introduction to the world of Trials



If you are unsure about just turning up and riding an event, why not come along to our next trial and have a walk around and see some sections and some riders in action, this will help you to get a feel of the event and how its run. 

Maybe even help out by picking an observer board up, again this helps you get an understanding of how trials work, and helps the club too!

So you'll understand the way to act and how those at at trial will expect you to behave read this - it's fun as well.


Practice - where can you ride? Not easy - all land belongs to someone even if you might think its 'waste land' its someone's and you must have their permission to ride on it before you can - simple. None of our regular trials venues are available for 'playing'  or practice with the notable exception of Hawks Nest..

Click here for places you can go to 'play'

Our Dead Easy Trials are designed for  those just starting in trials who can ride safely and competently with basic machine control skills but have little competitive or off road experience. When we say 'Dead Easy' we mean the easiest course will have very easy sections for an experienced adult rider on a modern well maintained trials bike. At our Dead Easy Trials there will be at least one other course or route through the sections which is more difficult for those wanting something a bit more challenging. Typically tighter turns or tricky ground such as rocks, tree roots or mud. Manchester 17 invented the Dead Easy format way back in the 1980's and its been much copied since - most clubs follow this idea if they advertise an event as 'Dead Easy' or 'Easy' or 'Beginner' / 'Novice' but sometimes what others think is very easy you might not. You can always check out beforehand by contacting the orgaising club directly.


Training / coaching and experience.

For those of you who want professional 'Trials School' type training, coaching or simply to experience some of road riding before making a commitment to getting a bike and all the kit there are a number of ACU approved Trials Schools. The club is not commercial in any way and does not take adverts or sponsorship but recognises the great work done by the following local rider:
 Stu Days https://www.trials-school.co.uk/

or near Leeds, with Dan Thorpe: http://www.bumpy.org.uk/

This is what the sport's governing body, the ACU, has to say about starting trials click here.



OK, you've bought or borrowed a bike, so all you need now is some riding gear.

When starting out there is no need to spend a fortune on all the very latest kit - helmets, boots, clothing etc, you can save money by buying older versions/second hand stuff (no one will know once its covered in mud!).

There is usually plenty of second hand stuff on sale on Ebay etc. 
(Probably best not buying second-hand helmets though, you never know what's happened to them previously!)

Trials clothing tends to be on the "close fitting" side, this is to prevent you snagging up on all the vegetation etc you ride past/through!  It may not be the most flattering or complimentary look, but once you are at the trial, you will only stand out if you AREN'T wearing it!


You will fall off, everyone does. As you get better you'll just fall off less and/or with more style.

Personal protective equipment is there to reduce the pain and damage. There are probably fewer rules for trials than any other form of motorsport when it comes to safety equipment/clothing etc- but there are some:

ALL TIMES)- either a "designed for trials" lid, or, if you must, an open face motocross style helmet . (Cycle and ski Helmets are NOT adequate!) - the rule book says (The ACU Handbook) helmets must be of a standard fit for use on the road.

Get a reasonably light weight open face helmet as full face and motocross stile helmets with big chin bars across the front are just too hot. You'll get hot even in a lightweight designed for trials helmet.

Your helmet must be worn at all times when you are on your bike and needs to be fastened properly.
Body and legs need covering, affording some protection from the rocks, thorns, thistles and nettles you will undoubtedly encounter!  Again, trials specific gear has padding and reinforced areas where you need them most, i.e. shins, knees, inner thigh etc.
We recommend the same for everyone, but its compulsory for Youths, to wear long sleeved tops covering the whole arm (IE not rolled up even when its hot) and gloves however HOT the weather may be.

Long motorcycle boots are a must!. Invest in some proper trials boots. They're not cheap (again you could get 2nd hand ones) but they'll last for ages if you look after them. 

Take care to get Trials boots with grippy soles and without steel plates on the tip as motocross boots often have smooth soles and steel reinforcing on the tip neither of which are any use when you're trying to push the bike over slimly slippery muddy rocks.
Try to get used to riding with gloves on and arms covered not to keep warm although that can be a bonus in the cold but when you fall its reflex to use your hands to break the fall and a thinly gloved hand is much more abrasion resistant than skin. Same goes for arms which when covered even by a thin shirt are so much less damaged in a fall than bare skin.



OK, you've seen an event, or your just a "go for it" kind of person and you cant wait to come along and have a go;

GREAT, well all you need to do now is:


Sort your club membership. Instructions on how to join the club can be found here


Go along to Manchester Xtreme - Owen or one of the team there will help sort your membership for you.


Sort your ACU Trials Registration. Again, instructions on how to do this can be found on our Club membership page.here

For those who just can't do 'online' here is a form but it cost more and can't be done with us:

ACU License Application / Trials Registration Form Here



Look out for our next “Dead Easy” trial; the dates are listed on this website here. We often also list them in the Trials & Motocross News (TMX). or on Trials Central but sometimes these services are not so reliable.



All our Trials are online entry via the ACU website, so keep an eye out for one that you want ride, then go to the Event Entry page and send your entry in. Click here and then in the blue bar at the top of the page 'Event Entry'

Then come along with your bike and kit and enjoy trials. At events like Dead Easy Trials it's not taken so seriously but still you'll be taking part in motorsport and if it's your first event expect a few butterflies in the stomach.

Remember whilst our “Dead Easy” trials are designed to be just that,  you must have basic bike skills and be capable of controlling of your machine. The sections aren't dangerous but you could be!

AT THE TRIAL (we recommend looking at out Etiquette leaflet to help see how others will expect you to behave  at an event)


Arriving/Signing On - Try and arrive early, at least half an hour before the start time for the trial (*this is shown on the website. This helps us get everyone signed on and sorted to get started on time. It also helps gauge the number of observers we are likely to have, and plan accordingly.

(Please do not arrive TOO early though.  There's no point in queuing 2 hours before the start when we are still finishing the route marking etc!!)

It also benefits YOU if you arrive early as you can maybe chat with a few folk and/or check out which route your going to ride during the trial.  If the sections look too hard or too easy you can ask where you signed on to change to a different route.  (Remember that at our Dead Easy trials we usually have two routes, a VERY easy route, for absolute beginners and a harder, more technical route). 

We are always very grateful if you bring a friend or family member along who would be willing to observe, Don't worry if they have never even been to a trial before, we can show them the ropes and explain the rules. That way they will have been an important part of the event as well.


Before the trial starts – once you have signed on, please don't fire up your engine until the start of the trial. This helps to avoid loads of bikes riding around where there are vans, cars and trailers and lots of people sorting themselves out. 

Not surprisingly, young riders/beginners, motorbikes and parked cars tend to make it an “accident waiting to happen”.  Understandably, owners tend to get a little upset when they end up with an '05 Gas Gas as a bonnet ornament on their brand new Audi estate!

Remember it is not a British Championship Round, so you DON’T get a practice lap, NO riding of the sections is allowed prior to the official start, "Dead Easy" trials may be on a “no award” basis, but we like to keep things fair!


Briefing - Just prior to the start time, we will call all the riders over into a group (usually by a prolonged blast of a car/air horn) to brief them on the course/safety etc. 

PLEASE ensure you arrive promptly to listen to this talk, EVEN if think you’ve heard all you need to know.  We WONT start the trial until all riders are together and we have gone through the safety / course information.  If you mess about turning up late, all you will do is delay the start of the trial!!

At this briefing we will hopefully explain all points necessary for you to have a safe enjoyable days trialling, including:

Safety Information – whilst all our Dead Easy trials are designed exactly as that, we cannot legislate for hazards between the sections, such as deep “bomb holes”, large rocks etc.  We will, however, warn you about them! 

We route mark ALL our trials, and this is there to both help you find the sections, but ALSO to help you avoid any other hazards, wherever possible.  REMEMBER though it is YOUR responsibility to follow the route marking, AND to ride safely and within YOUR limits, don’t get carried away and try to exceed your skill levels, this tends to lead to broken bikes and bruised / broken body parts! 

Weather conditions can also massively affect the trial, we will always try to allow for adverse conditions, but, put quite simply, grass gets slippery when it’s wet, ground gets muddy when it rains and rocks with mud on are slippery!  If it has forecast rain later in the day, get going and get the trial finished!!

Course rules/information - this will include the location of the sections, the number of sections per lap, and the number of laps we expect you to complete.  Dead Easy trials are designed to be fun, if four laps of 10 sections is just TOO much on your first outing, complete the number of laps you wish, but PLEASE inform the observers that you are not doing any more laps, this helps prevent them sitting out (quite often in the cold and wet) waiting for you to come and finish your last laps!

Generally you would start a trial at section one and do the sections in sequence, however at our Dead Easy trials we may ask riders to “split up” and go to different section numbers, this saves 80+ riders all descending on section 1 and there being massive queues all day. Again we will inform you of this at the briefing.

Bike/Equipment Check – we like to start our trial off by inspecting bikes and ensuring the riders have adequate (i.e. safe) clothing/footwear on (see above).  This helps ensure all riding attire and bikes are within the rules but also gives us the opportunity to have a nosey at the latest bike “bling” out there!

(Amongst other things we check to ensure that all bikes have trials tyres, ball/round-ended levers, no loose bits or sharp edges and we recommend that every bike has at least a  working kill-switch or better still a lanyard cut out which is compulsory in any case on machines ridden by youths)

Again, it is entirely YOUR responsibility to wear adequate protection and to ensure your bike is safe to ride.


Observers – Please respect the observers; remember they are giving up their time just so you can ride. If you upset them they may not come back and if you really upset them, YOU wont be welcome back!

Wait until they give you “the nod” before starting the section, this ensures that they are ready and the section is clear of any other riders etc.

Sometimes we unfortunately don’t have enough observers to cover all the sections. When this is the case we will put the observer boards at the unmanned sections, and it is up to the riders to observe each other. 

Remember, NEVER write your own score down, however honest you may be it is still classed as cheating, always get someone else to mark your score for you.

If every rider has a turn of marking someone else through the trial tends to run smoothly.

REMEMBER – if you provide an observer at the start of the trial we will reward you with a reduced price entry!

Read this for a good overview of how to behave as a rider at an event Etiquette leaflet

If you want to appreciate the job the observers do take a look at our Experts Guide to Observing leaflet


Marking (Observation) – The marking starts as soon as your front wheel spindle (axle) crosses between the start flags in a section and ends when it passes the end flags.

Manchester 17 use the TSR 22A rule which means you are allowed to stop without loosing a mark, not as per TSR 22B rule (known as non stop ) which some other clubs use and would cost you a 5.

Summary of - TRS22A - (Stop permitted)
0 = clean
1 = Footing once
2 = Footing twice
3 = Footing 3 or more times
5 = Failure see below
5 = rider asking for a 5 rather than attempting the section.
10= missing a section completely or given by an observer for misbehaviour.

Footing is;-
When ANY part of a riders body touches the ground or any part of the machine with the exception of the tyres or sump guard or the rider benefits from any part of his body or machine (as above) leaning on an obstacle (e.g. a tree or rock).

Failure is considered to have occurred if:

The machine moves backwards.

The rider does not have both hands on the handlebar WHEN HE FOOTS WHILST STATIONARY.



The rider dismounts from the machine. Dismount will be deemed to have occurred when both of the rider’s feet are on the ground at the same side of, or behind the machine.

A rider is requested to leave the section by the observer for “unnecessary delay”.

A machine does not stay within the intended limits of the section as defined by the Observer.

If any wheel of the machine crosses any boundary tape or goes over or on the wrong side of a marker, whether the wheel be on the ground or airborne, before the front wheel spindle passes the “Section ends” sign.

The rider is held responsible for displacing a marker or support in an observed section whereby the observer considers it necessary to reinstate the flag/marker prior to the passage of the next rider.

The displacing of any marking not relating to the competitor’s route will be considered to constitute a failure.

Travelling in a forward direction against the direction of the Section.

The motorcycle crosses its own track with either wheel.

The machine or rider receives outside assistance.

 A rider or person having an interest in a rider’s performance (a Dad for example) , who in any way alters the severity of a section without the authority of an official



Its not automatically a  failure if the engine stops. If the rider is skilful enough to either re start the engine without touching the ground or taking a hand off the bars and can roll the bike out of the ends cards without footing. Footing just once with a stalled engine or flicking the kick start out with a hand is a failure, a five!



Section Routes – again this will have been confirmed in the briefing but we generally run two routes at a Dead Easy trial.  We try to make ALL sections start and finish at the same place defined by the “Section Begins” and “Section Ends” cards, which also have the section number on them. If there is a different start or end of a section for different routes there will be a second "Section Begins" or "Section Ends" marker. As always if in doubt ask the observer.

Section Markers usually used:

Harder Route – this will be the blue and red flags/markers, just remember RED on your RIGHT,( BLUE on your left)

Easy Route
-  this will usually be marked with YELLOW flags (although we may use whites or white (right) and yellow (left))

We try to avoid using tape to mark sections.

Pictured: Part of a typical Dead Easy section, note the red and blue harder route, and the (wider) yellow markers for the easy route riders (allowing them to avoid the rocks!)

If you get to the section and get totally confused ask the observer, and always “walk” the section, this helps you understand where you are going, but also what obstacles you will encounter / need to avoid whilst actually riding it!

Remember stay within the flags at all times and whilst we try to mark sections to be as clear and unambiguous as possible, stay within the natural line of the markers, so on a turn that isn’t clearly marked, DON’T go taking the “wide line” that has you half way back to the van, keep within that (imaginary) natural line!



Riding the sections/trials etiquette – whilst turning up at your very first section of your very first trial can be very daunting (yes I remember that feeling well!) if you remember a few simple points you will soon relax and start enjoying it: See our leaflet Trials Etiquette.

When arriving at the section:
park your bike up sensibly and safely in a position that doesn’t block access to the section for other riders, and where it is not likely to fall over causing a domino effect on all the other parked bikes (NOT a good way to introduce yourself!).

Walking the section:
Walk the section, keeping an eye out for riders entering it, and listening out for the observer’s instructions. If he/she asks you to “clear the section”, do so straight away! Again, if you are confused by anything ask another rider or the observer, they’re a friendly bunch, even if they all look very serious prior to their first clean!!

When you are happy you know where you are going in the section, get in the queue, again this can be quite confusing with a jumble of bikes/riders, but try and get your position and keep it, if unsure ask the rider at the side/slightly in front of you who is in front.  However eager you are to get that section over with DON’T go pushing your way to the front of the queue!!

Conversely, don’t allow ALL the other riders in the queue to go before you, it may not be fun having other riders watch you wobble your way through those early sections, but you will never finish in time if you let everyone go before you!

Take time when queuing to have a friendly chat with other riders, the "older guys" will always have some good tips for you!

Your turn:
When you are at the front of the queue and it is you turn WAIT for the observer to wave you into the section (they use different methods, a nod of the head, a wave of the observer board sometimes they may even use a whistle).  This ensure they are ready to start to observe you, and that the section is clear.  Observers tend to get upset when there is more than one rider on the section, or you blast through it and they were in the middle of pouring themselves a brew!

Tip: try not to get to close to the section begins, give yourself a bit of room to set off and get steady on the bike BEFORE you enter the section!

Final Lap:
After you have completed three laps you will be getting the hang of things, remember, when completing each section for the final time, to thank the observer.  That way the observer also knows that he should have your score say 4 times and if he's not for some reason he gets the chance to tell you so you can correct things by having another go!

Observing in the rain and the cold is NOT a glamorous job, but our sport would die out without them, so don't forget a "thank-you!"



Time Limits – whilst there is no official time limit on completing the trial, observers and the rest of the organisers have got homes to go to, and a lot of work to do AFTER the trial (pulling the sections/route marking, washing bibs, doing results, reports, ACU paperwork and so on) so please DON’T hang around. 

Stop for a quick drink/refuel by all means, but don’t start firing the BBQ up half way through the trial!!  Newer riders are generally slower at finishing than more experienced riders, but if you keep going at a steady pace you shouldn’t be that far behind the rest!


 When you have finished, please -

Return your number bibs:
these are relatively expensive items to the club, but it also causes us great trouble at the next trial when numbers are missing!

Give us some feedback:
Please remember a LOT of work has gone into organising the trial, and we ALWAYS appreciate some feedback in terms of the organisation, section severity, route marking etc.  If you feel it was great tell us, if you feel it was not so good also tell us, and tell us why! 

Try not to be too critical about factors outside of our control, we are after all trying to ensure a lot of riders with a range of experience and skill levels ALL have a good, and most importantly SAFE day. 

Remember what was too easy for you, may not have been for another rider!

Tidy Up:  
We are on property that has been kindly loaned to us by local land owners; please repay their generosity by ensuring you take home ALL of your rubbish etc.  NEVER discard of any petrol/oil/chemicals etc on the land (there is quite often livestock on it).

Anyone found doing so, or wilfully damaging fences, gates or walls will be permanently excluded from ALL Manchester 17 events)

10 After the Event –


We don't issue paper copies of results anymore  - we put the results on this web site and on the clubs Face Book Trials Group page where you can pick em up. We always give individual scores for each lap and even give scores for those who don't manage to complete the whole course - most club don't. Generally the results will be published by the end of the day after the trail - often before.



Often we will also have loads of pictures or video from the event which will be available free from the clubs photo sharing web site.



Will usually be sent to TMX for publication in print in the next issue (when they have space) and also put on the this web site - look for News on the Trials Home page.


Next event:

Will usually be shown on the results as well as here on the web site and in TMX and on Trials Central.






Images courtesy of "the club camera", the Green family and John Shirt.  See all our photo albums by clicking here.


Note: ALL pictures appearing on, and linked from, this website were taken by and/or supplied by club members.

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