What is Motorcycle Trials?

Motorcycle Trials is all about riding a motorbike over and around obstacles. The idea came from manufacturers proving their bikes could go further and over rougher terrain than others. The original name was Reliability Trials, then came Observed Trials, and then just plain Trials. Today the emphasis has moved onto the rider as it assesses his/her ability to keep their feet up through the demanding and technical sections that make up modern trials. Vintage Trials is an attempt to recreate the type of sections used in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, using the appropriate vintage machines.

The victor in a Trial is the rider who has completed the course, usually consisting of laps of up to 12 individual sections, on the least marks incurred throughout the day. On each section there is usually a judge, known as an observer, who watches each rider through their section (some Club Trials use self-scoring or a buddy system, if observers are not available). The parameters of the section are determined by flags, tapes and markers, and riders must steer their bikes through pairs of flags or between tapes, and over all obstacles, which may be in that path. Usually red flags/markers/tapes mark the right hand side of the section, and blue for the left hand side. The ultimate aim is to get through the section without stopping or putting any feet down. If the rider does dab (put his/her feet down) then a 1 point penalty is incurred, and up to a maximum of 3 marks can be incurred in one section through dabbing. Continuous dabbing is called footing and the maximum of 3 marks still applies, except that a maximum of 5 marks is awarded if the rider fails to get through the section. If a rider manages to get through the section without the loss of any marks then a clean is awarded (0 penalty points are incurred by the rider).

So, it is only possible to score 0 or 1 or 2 or 3 or 5 in any one section, the minimum being 0 (clean) and the maximum 5 (fail).

The rider with the lowest total of marks at the end of the day is awarded with the premier trophy. There are many classes and categories (lines) which can be entered. These cater for beginner’s right through to expert skill level and various types/ages of machines..

CVMG Montreal Trials Classes

CLASSIC (Twin Shock): This class is aimed at later machines from the late 1960's to the early 1980's. Examples are Bultaco Sherpa including the six-speed 199B, Ossa MAR andYellow Gripper, Montesa Cota, Honda TL 125-250, Honda Reflex, Suzuki RL, Kawasaki KT, Yamaha TY 80, 175 and 250, Hodaka, SWM, and Fantic. Bikes must have twin shock rear suspension; no monoshock suspension is allowed. Motors must be air cooled. Brakes must be drum brakes. Disc brakes are not allowed. All components, including frames, engines, forks, and brakes must be from the period.

MONO: This class allows riders with more modern machines a chance to compete and includes any machine with monoshock rear suspension.

PRE ’65:  This class is aimed at pre-1965 four stroke or two stroke machines. Modifications and major components are limited to those of the era, typical of machines prior to 1965, or “like design”.  Depending on number of entries, this class could be divided into Vintage Heavyweight, Vintage Lightweight and Rigid – as the organisers discretion.

Vintage Heavyweight: This class is aimed at greater than 250cc four-stroke machines such as the Ariel HT, Triumph Twins, and Royal Enfield Bullet. Unit and non-unit construction are acceptable. Modifications and major components are limited to those of the era, typical of machines prior to 1965 or “like design”.

Vintage Lightweight: This class is aimed at four-stroke and two-stroke machines of 250cc or smaller, such as the Triumph Cub, BSA Singles, Villiers-powered Greeves, DOT and Cotton. Other machines will be allowed in this class at the discretion of the organisers. Unit and non-unit construction are acceptable. Modifications and major components are limited to those of the era, or “like design”.

Rigid: This class is aimed at early machines with rigid or plunger-type rear suspension. The frame must not include a rear swingarm. Front forks must be telescopic or girder and must originate from the same country of origin as the motor and frame. Modifications and major components are limited to those of the era, typical of machines of the 1950’s, or “like design”.

SIDECAR: This class is for any pre-1980 twin shock sidecar trials machine is eligible for the Sidecar class. There will be a single division for all Sidecar machines.

LADIES: This class is for lady riders on any type of machine – depending on number of entries, this class could be divided by machine type – at the organisers discretion. N.B. Lady riders may enter any other class (class of machine) as they wish.

JUNIOR:  This class is aimed at riders from 10 to 17 years old, riding with their parents consent and accompanied by one parent or guardian. Completion of separate consent and waiver forms is required. The accompanying parent, or guardian, is responsible for the conduct of the junior rider as well as deciding not to ride in a section that is considered over the current skill level of the rider.

N.B 1: These classes may be altered at the discretion of the event organisers and depending upon local conditions, machines entered, and experience level of the riders.

N.B 2: Typically these Classes are subdivided by Competition Category (Lines A, B, C)  - see “Competition Categories” below.


1.     All riders must be current CVMG members to compete.

2.     A rider may not ride more than one machine or compete in more than one class at any one meet.

3.     No rider under the legal age of majority in the province in which the trial takes place may compete without the written consent of his/her parents or legal guardians present at the trial

4.     The minimum age for Junior riders is 10 years old.

5.     Each rider is responsible for the actions of his family and pit crew

6.     A competitor who rides in a way that endangers officials, other riders, or the public will be subject to immediate disqualification. This applies to riding in the pits, in the sections, and between sections.

7.     Every rider is bound by the applicable rules described here.

Competition Categories (Lines)

At the discretion of the event organizers, sections may be divided into different lines for different skill levels

A – most difficult

B – average difficulty

C – less difficult

“A” line is more difficult than “B”, which is more difficult than “C”. The “C” line is designed for newcomers, less experienced and very old riders!

Riders must decide which Class to enter during registration and which Category (line) they will ride. They are encouraged to walk the sections to gauge their ability

For the overall annual championship results, it’s best to choose the class and line you are most comfortable with at the beginning of the season and remain in this category all year.

However, class and line can be changed during the year with agreement from the organisers. Of course, the organisers reserve the right to make a change depending on results!

Technical Inspection and Modifications

1.     Tires/wheels: Trials tires are required for all classes except for the Novice class at the event organizers discretion. No studs, spikes, or chains may be used. Any pre-1975 hub and rim from the proper era is acceptable. Only Twin Shock Class machines may use pre-1985 components.

2.     Suspension: No single shock machines shall compete except the Vincent and NSU (unless, at the event organizers discretion, a separate class is provided for). Front and rear dampers may only be replaced with units using technology available to the end of 1974. Only Twin Shock Class machines may use pre-1985 components. Suspension travel is limited to four inches in the rear and seven inches in the front. Ossa Bolger long-travel machines may compete with rear wheel travel limited to four inches.

3.     Noise: Silencers are required - No open exhaust systems

4.     Components and Modifications: No major components later than 1974. Specifically, engine, frame, gearbox, forks, braking systems and hubs. Twin Shock Class machines are limited to pre-1985 components. All modifications must be consistent with the spirit of the class. Excessive modifications or non-period modifications will be disqualified or required to compete in the next higher class. Specials made of components (i.e. engines/frames) spanning across different classes and/or eras must compete in the latest class that either of the components dictate.

5.     All motorcycles must comply with all applicable trials safety rules. Helmets are required and must be worn at all times when riding. Only DOT, Snell 90, 95, or any of the FIM approved certifications.

6.     At the event organizers discretion, all machines must have a front number plate (Min. 5" x 5" square) with a white background and a black number at least 3" high indicating which line will be ridden. This rule is not applicable if observers are not used.

7.     This list applies mainly to CLASSIC, PRE 65, and SIDECAR classes. With respect to “MONO”, the machine should comply with current FIM and CMA rules.

Scoring Procedures and Sections

1.     Scoring is done with the "marks lost" system

0 - Clean

1 - One dab

2 - Two dabs

3 - Three or more dabs (footing)

5 - Failure

5 - Failure to enter section

2.     Ties - The rider with the most number of cleans will be the winner. If the tie still cannot be broken, the oldest aged rider will be the winner.

3.     It is the responsibility of the rider to insure his scorecard is properly marked and turned in on time.

4.     Each section is divided in lines or splits with the C line being the easiest and the A line being the most difficult.

5.     Riders must ride their line chosen at sign up and may not ride the more difficult line in the section.

6.     Section shall be marked with ribbon or markers with Red on the right, Blue on the left, splits shown as appropriate.

7.     Section Start and End will be marked.

8.     Sections will not be ridden or practiced on prior to 24 hours before the event. Riders may walk sections prior to riding, but shall not change or alter the section in any way.

9.     Riders who do not finish the event or do not complete it in the allotted time, will be scored 5 points for each section missed.

10.                        If section observers are not available, self-scoring or buddy scoring will be used at the discretion of the event organisers.

Definitions for Trials Rules – “Non Stop” Trials

1.     Clean: No errors in a section

2.     Dab: Any intentional contact between the rider's foot or other part of the body and a supporting surface or object.

3.     Footing: More than two dabs, dragging a foot or paddling with both feet.

4.     Failure:

a.      Out of Bounds - riding outside boundaries or riding a different line; crossing own tracks.

b.     Stop - A complete loss of forward motion, whether intentional or not, i.e. front wheel stops rotation.

c.      Displacement of markers/ribbons – any disturbance of markers or ribbons requiring them to be reset

d.     Dismounting - both feet on the same side of motorcycle

5.     Failure to enter a section - refusal to cross the section entry markers with the front axle.

6.     Start/Finish of a Section: Start - front axle passes start gate. End - front axle passes end gate.

 Eric Pritchard

9th November 2021

(thanks to Bob Coy and Nick Pearson)