Guide for first time motorcyclists

Classic trials advice for first time motorcyclists

So you’re thinking of entering an MCC trial?  Good for you!  There’s nothing quite like an MCC long distance trial (LDT).  Depending on how you found us, you may, or may not have some idea of what you’re in for.  Let’s assume you’ve no idea and we’ll try and fill you in.

We’ve been running classic LDT since before the First World War and they are still a great test of rider skill and fortitude.  They’re also great fun and a great adventure.

Our events are open to any biker with a driving licence. The Club is full of very friendly people so, if you’ve any queries, someone will offer an answer, or provide assistance.

If the thought of a breakdown, or difficulties on the trial is putting you off, don’t be; there’s always another competitor who’ll stop to help.  But, no organised assistance of any kind, except that provided by the Club, is allowed.  So your mate, or family can’t turn up with a can of petrol, or an inner tube.

What do I do in a long distance trial?

We’re talking here about the three big trials; the Exeter Trial, the Land’s End Trial and the Edinburgh Trial.  Very briefly, you’ll be doing the following:

  • Be released onto the road late at night, or in the early hours of the morning from a start point.
  • Ride on a variety of roads and lanes to an off-road section.
  • ‘Clean’, or ‘fail’ the section (more details below).
  • Repeat the second and third points about 15 to 20 times until the finish in the afternoon after which you’ll have covered something like 100 to 250 miles, depending on the trial.
  • Collect finishers certificate, drink beer/tea/coffee and relax.

‘Cleaning’ the section is the main aim.  You’ll get a fail for putting a foot down (a dab), stopping and, most definitely, for falling off.  In addition, some of the sections will have restarts, which have the additional fail of ‘rolling back’, or ‘footing’ beyond 3 yards (at least you can put your feet down at the restart).  And just when you thought that was it, a couple of the sections will be timed tests.  Oh, and there could be time controls on the route.  That about covers it.   Our LDT are not a race and there’s no overall winner.  You’ll be pitting yourself against the challenges set for you by the Club.

If you achieve a fault-free performance, you can claim a Gold, or a Tin award, depending on what class you’re in.  If your performance is not so good, then there’s a chance for a Silver, or a Bronze, again, depending on what class you’re in.  If your performance is bad, at least you’ll get a Finisher’s certificate.  If you don’t finish, well, there’s always next year.

How to enter


We’ve got it covered.  As a biker with your ACU Trials Registration Card, you’re covered by the ACU insurance from the start of the trial to the finish.  That insurance is free and provides third party cover.  You’ll still need your own Road Traffic Act insurance if you ride your bike to and from the start and finish.  You don’t have to take up the ACU insurance cover; you can arrange your own through your existing insurance company, who already may provide that cover, or may extend your existing cover.  However, many members encounter difficulties when trying to arrange that cover.

Now I’ve entered, what happens?

You’ll normally receive your pack of documents, i.e. Route Book, competition numbers, Control Card, by post about a fortnight before the trial.  The Route Book is an A4 printed book and gives your directions and instructions so you know where to go, know where the sections are, what the requirements for each are, times, etc.  The Route Book is also available as a downloadable Word document from the Club.  (Usually from a link published in the Club’s newsletter ‘News of the Week’.)  You can manipulate the Word document as you see fit, e.g. increase the font size, change the typeface, change the margins; this is especially useful if your eyes prefer a large font.

The route directions are good so you’ll not need maps on the trial, though, they can be useful if you get lost.  If you want to see where the trial travels, set aside a full evening to run through the route directions on a detailed roadmap, or on Ordnance Survey (OS) maps.

If you’d like to be ‘buddied up’ with a more experienced rider(s), contact Roger Bibbings , Press Officer (Bikes), who’ll see if there is a club member local to you that could offer advice and support.  That club member can help you understand the rules, such as positioning yourself for starts and restarts, the ‘3 yard footing rule’ and so on.

Ensure that you don’t forget to sign on at the start.  No signature means no ACU insurance, meaning you could be in financial and legal difficulties if involved in an incident.  No signature also means you’re regarded as not competing so no awards.

Next, see which bike to use