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Trials Definitions


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Observed Trials: According to NORBA "Events conducted over an obstacle course including such natural hazards as mud, rocks, water, etc. and can have any number of sections. The riders attempt to negotiate each section without putting down a foot (dab). Each dab (foot or hand) adds a point to the riders score. The rider with the lowest score wins the event."

Clean Section: No errors, or dabs.

Course: The observed trials area within, and including, the boundry markers, ribbons or flags. A rider is in the section when the front axle passes through the start gate and is finished with the section when the front axle passes through the finish gate.

Section:A single segment of the observed trials competition. There can be any number of sections at any given observed trials competition but the typical number is between five and ten. Sections should be of a natural and artificial mix, varying in length, difficulty and the type of obstacles, testing the skills of the rider in balance, strength, agility and endurance. The section should have a minimum width of 1 meter , excluding log crossings. The sections should not be of dangerous form. A rider is in the section when the front axle passes the start gate, and is finished when the front axle passes through the finish gate. A rider may begin at any section unless specified otherwise, but once started must complete the course in order.

Dab: Any contact which provides support for the rider (other than the pedal or skid plate).

Outside the section: Either tire or axle passing outside the ribbon and flags, dabbing outside is one point.

Gate Foul: Not riding the sections in the propper order, not following the proper course markings, or entering or exiting the wrong gate.

Stock Bike Class:
This is for all riders on traditional unmodified mountain bikes with a minimum 40" wheelbase, functional rear deraileur with 5 or more gears, no skid plate, no more than 10" of chainring clearance, and chainrings on one side of bottom bracket only, a minimum of 24" wheel in rear and a 26" front. A typical stock bike section may require the rider to negotiate tight turns on level ground, logs under 8", hills with questionable traction, and drop offs of less than 2'. Beginner and sport stock bike sections are designed to serve as an orientation to technical bike handling and to the trials scoring system.

Modified Bike Class:
This is for competitors with modified bikes, minimum 20" wheel. Brakes on each wheel, propelled by a pedal crank system. Trials bike sections can have turns that are tighter than the turning radius of most bikes, unlimited logs or rocks, with vertical faces. Also drop offs, double logs plus all combinations of any type of surface.

Observed Trials Scoring

The "checker or observer", delegated by the event director, will be the maximum authority in the section. In the case of more checkers at the same section, they perform as helpers to the delegated one.

  • Over the prescribed time limit - 5 points
  • Performing the section with no dabs (clean section) - 0 points
  • 1 dab - 1 point
  • 2 dabs - 2 points
  • 3 dabs - 3 points
  • 4 dabs - 3 points
  • 2 dabs at same time (foot & foot, foot & hand, foot & shoulder, knee & hand, hand & hand, etc.) - 5 points
  • Note: Touching allowed, leaning is not.
  • Leaning the handlebar on the ground, tree, wall etc. - 1 point
  • Touching the hand to any object. (other than oneself, or bike) - 5 points
  • Two dabs on the same side of the bicycle - 5 points
  • Sliding one foot on the ground (pivoting the foot, without moving is allowed.) - 3 points
  • Any help from toe or heel - 1 point
  • Getting outside the limits of the section with either tire (treading on or pushing the ribbon with the tire is allowed / axle is out) - 5 points
  • The section can not be modified by any rider - 10 points
  • One foot on the pedal and the other foot going over the longitudinal line of the bicycle frame - 0 points
  • One foot on the ground and other foot crossing the longitudinal line of the bicycle - 5 points
  • The checker is only due to listen to the rider for any objections or complaint, if anyone but the rider concerned should voice complaint...the penalization must be set by the event director - 10 points
  • Any discussion with the checker using foul language or unprofessional conduct. The penalty must be set through the event director - O/50 points
  • Losing the penalization card - disqualification
  • Breaking a ribbon, knocking down a course marker - 5 points
  • Dabbing outside the section - 1 point
  • Gate foul - 5 points
  • Pre riding the section - 100 points

Copyright © 1997 Dan Oachs, All rights reserved.