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Trials-Torque Articles

The 30-Year Road to Producing a World Champion
Relax to the Max!
Jake's World
Posting on Ihatove Website - Dancho and Mitsuo Back Home Safe & Sound
Nobukazu Ohtsuki
More Challenges for Takumi Narita
An Interview with Yasuo Manzawa - founder of the Ihatove Trial
Which Bike? A Beginner's Perspective by David Atwool
Oceania Championship - Tauranga 5 April 2007
Kiwirider - March 2007
Simon Wearmouth visits NonStop Adventure
The Nelson Mail- October 2006
The Nelson Mail - 23rd October 2006
Kiwi Rider - October 2006
Dirt Rider Downunder - September 2006
2006 Idemistsu Ihatove Trial - Japan
60th Anniversary Kaikoura 3-Day 2006
The Leader - June 2006
DirtRider DownUnder -Jan 2006
KiwiRider -Jan 2006
The Nelson Mail - 28th November 2005
The Nelson Mail - 18th November 2005
The Leader - 9th June 2005

New Zealand Trials News

New Project "Special Events unit"

29th January 2013
Special events unit
Special events unit

Having managed to purchase the TRX 350 4x4 very early last year and now with the addition of the ATV trailer, which I am currently specially kitting out to carry all the required material to be able to completely set out an event, without the need to return to home base to collect more pegs etc. This combination will go a long way to helping make the task of marking out off road events much more enjoyable.

This will be a handy unit with future events. The Ihatove and the Nelson round of the Sth Island Champs are just a couple that I can think of that are just around the corner.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has supported the NZ Ihatove events to date as your involvement has gone a long way to make it possible to build a good inventory of equipment so we can run more fun filled events in the future.

Entries are starting to poor on in for the NZ Ihatove next month, the programme is going to the printers midway through next week, so ping us some details so we can include you, even if you are still not sure. We will understand as I am the worlds best at making a last minute commitment.

Thanking you All


A must read for all Motorcyclists: Off road and On road

22nd January 2013
NonStop Adventure "Stephen Oliver"
NonStop Adventure "Stephen Oliver"

This is to help some of the non believers to get their head around the reasons why the change is needed.


At last we have come the full circle and we are going to see the front wheels of trials bikes rotating whilst in a marked section. About time as well, the sport of trials has been slowly declining for years and finally the FIM has stepped in to save it from itself.

Seeing a rider balancing on the bike while his minder does a geographical survey of the terrain, then a verbal report and advice to the waiting rider doesn't exactly make very spectacular TV viewing. Events cannot run to time, spectators stay home. Other riders get pissed at the delays and there is much gnashing of teeth. Then it rains, so creating more delays while the minders set about working out the coefficient of friction between rubber and a wet rock.

Here in New Zealand we should all be overjoyed at the return to non-stop rules and here is why.

This country doesn't have the rider base to support Trials in all the major centres across all the skill levels under the "stop and have a cup of tea system". The skill set is relevant only to that particular sport. Now, it's probably the smallest participant sport in all the disciplines under the control of MNZ.

Fun times ahead
Fun times ahead

But back in the "good old days" when the rules were such that the front wheel stop incurred a penalty, Trials were rather better attended. You see,what we all learned was that Trials had a direct relevance to pretty much every other discipline in the two wheeled world. What you learned in the relative low speed safety of a Trials competition could be directly translated to improving rider performance in other forms of competition where speed was the added factor. Choosing a line, scanning the oncoming terrain, wheel grip, balance, body position and a raft of skills learned in trials benefited one as a rider in general.

In fact many famous riders cut their teeth in Trials before moving to speed events during their respective careers. Way back in the early sixties Jeff Smith was both a skilled Trials rider as well as becoming the World Motocross champion in 1966.

The greatest Trials rider of all time Sammy Miller who won over 1000 Trials during his career was a works Grand Prix road racer, nine times gold medal winner at the ISDE and competed on works bikes at the Isle of Man TT races for several years. Even here in NZ Stefan Merriman who began as Trials rider showed himself to be pretty handy at Moto Cross, Road Racing and of course ultimately Enduro.

There are many examples of riders all over the world who were accomplished Trials riders and who first became proficient in that discipline before moving to other codes and that kind of stopped when the "pogo stick" phenomenon developed in Trials and they changed the rules to validate the stop and hop era. Then the riders who used to ride the odd trial found no use for Trials as means of improving, lets say Enduro skills. There was no point in learning how to balance and hop about for five minutes to help learn how to win an event where speed is of the essence.

The sport then became the domain of the Spanish where all the major factories are located and they pretty much ruled the roost for years with the exception of one Englishman, Dougie Lampkin who came from a Trials and Moto Cross family so it was in the blood anyway.

But it is fair to say the cross pollination of Trials riding to other codes certainly slowed down for two decades and the sport became introverted attracting only the rider who specifically wished to specialise in this facet.

Now the FIM have listened to the pleas of riders, public and even the factories and gone back to the non stop rules, something the English have been doing for the past two seasons.

New opportunities now exist. Based on what is happening in England, the sport is witnessing a resurgence of interest. Dealers (who pretty much fund the sport) are selling more bikes. Some factories even have waiting lists. There is upward movement of second hand sales and reports are that riders from these other codes are "having a go" because there are plenty of people around from the non stop days who are passing on the news that this is the place to learn.

The good part is that they don't have to risk training at speed, they can keep their muscle strength and flexibility without the pressure of having to practice at racing speeds and throw the bike away. How many times has that happened? In fact they are finding out that a day out on a Trials bike can be a bloody sight more tiring and a 40 minute moto!

Of course there will still be the diehards who want no change. However there are plenty of voices from the past who know that more bums on seats is the only way progress can be made. For the younger riders who know no other way seem to responding to non stop's another thing to learn and that it's"cool".

Now the sport of Trials is back where it belongs, a worthwhile sport in itself and a feeder to the speed codes. Everybody is a winner. Long may it stay that way.

Mixing it up

21st January 2013
Jotagas for company
Jotagas for company

Stage one completed:

Most of the hardware is sorted, 500 plus pegs later. I only had the Jotagas to keep me company today until Peter turned up early afternoon, which was a surprise visit. You can't blame me for thinking that he was here to give the old man a hand.

As it turned out, he had his lady friend with him and he was here to load his bike up and was heading out for a ride to show Sapphire how good he is. I made a quick decision to join him as I thought it would be a good opportunity to impress Saph and do a little showing off of my own. We had a great ride, despite the heat. We returned home where Peter and Sapphire were kind enough to unload while I continued with the making of the pegs. It was a welcomed interlude. This stage of the preparations is now complete. Nick has volunteered to give me a hand this coming weekend, when we will start laying out the route markers.

2013 NZ Ihatove preparations continue:

20th January 2013
Making of the Pegs
Making of the Pegs

The preparation is in full swing for this years NZ Ihatove / NonStop Trial.

The last couple of weekends Deborah and I have been manufacturing a new set of pegs. We are aiming at having most of this completed this weekend so we can focus on checking and marking out of the Trails for the Ihatove.

Then the following weekend continue to set the sections in the trials park area.

Time is running out fast.

Bikes are brilliant

7th January 2013
pretty graphics
pretty graphics

2013 "The year of Jotagas" I have been riding the 2012 Jotagas. I have also been having the odd sneak ride on Nicks 2013 JT 300.

Both bikes are brilliant, however I have settled for the 2012 model as it has a little less power on tap and besides there is no chance of Nick swapping.

I have updated the graphics a little so it looks a little more exciting, but not too over done.

Looking forward to receiving the new 2013 250 as Steve Saunders has informed me that it is magic and that we will be very impressed.

2013 NZ Ihatove Adventure Trial

30th December 2012
Hard day at the office
Hard day at the office

The preparations for the up and coming 2013 NZ Ihatove Adventure Trial are well under way. The weather has been kind and we have made some good progress. With the Westport trail ride on the 2nd and 3rd followed by this event on the 15th, 16th, and 17th, February is shaping up to be a great fun filled month, one not to be missed.

We would encourage all who are keen to be part of these events to notify the organisers of your intention so we can make all the necessary arrangements such as arrange programmes and bookings etc.

Look forward to seeing you all and all the best for another fun filled year.

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

9th December 2012
Best wishes from The Family at NonStop
Best wishes from The Family at NonStop

The Team (family) at NonStop Adventure New Zealand would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy and Safe Christmas.

We are looking forward to the New Year and what it will bring. The first major event will be our own NZ Ihatove event on the third weekend in February so we are all looking forward to catching up with some of you then. 2013 calendar is already full so it going to be another busy year.

FIM World Governing Body Go NonStop

20th November 2012
Nick getting in some NonStop practice.
Nick getting in some NonStop practice.

WOW interesting times:

We all should have an opinion based on our experience however some have more experience and have been around longer which helps to grow a person's wisdom when having to make decisions for a bigger picture rather than oneself.

Remember: It is very important that when someone does not agree with you that you don't feel threatened.
I respect everyone's carefully thought out choice; I am not so respectful of those that just sit on the fence.

Peter getting the jump on Nick
Peter getting the jump on Nick

Further to the debate regarding nonstop rules:

The Team at NonStop NZ Ltd have this to say:

This is in consideration of the weekend, recreational competitor; the minority paid professional is another story.

(The current World Trials Championship is a fantastic form of entertainment, now that they have to ride against the clock; however it has in my opinion become a bit of a travelling circus act. (Someone had to say it)

We at NonStop enjoy riding both styles but in the interest of the bigger picture, including spectators who maybe considering joining the sport, we are happy to see nonstop rules reinstated.

Nonstop rules allow a larger number of riders to take part in events with fewer delays during the competition without having to ride against the clock. A minder should not be required. (both to keep track of time and for placement of the bike in preparation for an obstacle etc).

We have had feedback both for and against. Comment has been made that Malcolm Rathmell is old school and past it, but in defense of Malcolm - with age goes experience and wisdom and often older riders have seen different styles come and go and speak from both sides.

A good rider should be able to adapt to both set of rules, and see it as a further challenge rather than a threat to their tried and true experience.

Personal opinion which may not be justified:
"Funny how the rules changed away from nonstop when Dougie had won 7 straight world titles and looked set to continue his winning streak and take the title of 8 wins from the 7 times world Spanish rider Jordi Tarres. The rest is history."

comment from spectator: (This was at a stop/ start trial when the time limit did not apply.)

" Having watched trials for a number of years now and given it a go as a rider -from a spectator point of view, whilst trying to video events etc... There is nothing more frustrating than watching someone take 5 minutes deciding what to do next on a section. Should you turn off the video camera and miss their next move or do you give up and move on to the next section to actually see some action. This was highlighted at the Oceania event with Takumi Narita's free flowing smooth style which was a joy to watch and even though he was on a 125 while his opposition rode 300 machines, his technical skill was tremendous and a great crowd pleaser. "

What I do know is that everyone is right for all their own reasoning and this will never change.

Sadly the only times the rules of competition become a problem are when they are not observed correctly.

I have seen Top riders ride Non Stop in the past and the riding becomes very skilful and trick. It is just that many younger riders know nothing else other than Stop rules and perceive NonStop as "Boring" This will very quickly become a modern style of Non stop. The younger riders will make sure of this. Rest assured it will become very trick and dynamic. Personally I believe it will really show up the difference in riding control and skill. Time will tell.

A good trial is always dependent on the property used and how well the sections have been set out.
This will always vary as most organisers are volunteers and have limited time to commit to such things.

The majority of the riders are never going to be more than average as they do not have the time/money and or the natural ability to realistically move beyond this level. This level of rider is only kidding themselves if they think they have or will master this highly skilled form of Trials. You only have to watch a Club or Championship trial to see that many of the riders using the current Stop technique actually five a section, sometimes multiple times, but still manage to get away with three or even less points on the score card.

Summary: For the sake of our top riders who wish to compete over seas then I would have to agree with Karl and follow the FIM. If the event is to be run under MNZ then MNZ and the affiliated club should run with the FIM ruling.

However if it was my own personal view then I would have thought that the only solution to make sense would have been to separate the class as pro and nonpro.
In my opinion, only nonpro class should have the nonstop rule.
On the other hand, pro class can be free rule and should be called "extreme riding" as good show and entertainment, I share this opinion with my good friend Yasuo and Mick Andrews.

The participants of modern day Trials have naturally reduced because they are struggling and it is becoming more difficult to have fun. The Pioneer Club Champs this weekend would probably be another good example of this not to mention many of the North Island events this year. This has come from feed back from riders that have attended these events and not from my own personal observation.

The rider with the most control will always win, no matter what the rules.

NZ 3-day National

17th November 2012
Travel break to soak up the scenery.
Travel break to soak up the scenery.

Since our last posting, the NZ 3-day National Moto Trials Championship was held in the deep south township of Alexandra at Labour Weekend.

I decided to give you a bit of a run down as it was a pretty special weekend.
The terrain on offer in this region is very unique and outstanding and many of the competitors are prepared to travel great distances to experience this first hand.
The rock is very "grippy" and one would be wise to spend a couple of days adjusting riding style to the terrain, as technique and gear selection is quite different to anywhere else in the country. The riders who have been to this location before, can't quite get it out of their system and are usually keen to return.

Unique terrain
Unique terrain

There was a great turn out of riders from all over New Zealand which exceeded the expectations of the organisers, the Southern Trials Group, who must be congratulated on their efforts to organise a three day trial in Alexandra, while based in Invercargill. All grades were well represented with riders and spectators alike treated to a mixed bag of weather. The predicted snow gave the surrounding mountains a great backdrop for the riders, but held off from the venues for the three days, just catching the tops on the final day giving the riders a hurry-up for the last round on the high rocky outcrops.

The sections were well laid out and set to a standard that all riders could achieve. The rocks are very unforgiving for any major mistakes, so safety was a high priority. This meant there was some stiff competition in many grades with low scores; everyone needing to be on their game for all three days.

Surrounded by Mountains " beautiful"
Surrounded by Mountains " beautiful"

Grades for the weekend included Expert (Championship), A-grade, Presidents (Championship), Intermediate, Junior (Championship), Women's, Clubman & Twin Shock.

Several records were set over the weekend with an unprecedented draw between the North vs South Island event on Day Two. Riders from each grade are selected from both the North & South Islands with scores being totalled at the end of the day.

Both Expert and Presidents riders Jake Whittaker and Stephen Oliver also set records with perfect rides over all three days, to go clean for the weekend and gain top Champion points.
Although Jake had concerns before the event as to how challenging it was going to be, the need to stay focussed to avoid any unnecessary mistakes over the three days of close riding gave him added incentive.

Stephen Oliver challenged Jake to his goal of going clean all weekend and Jake took up the challenge and rode flawlessly, so that both riders entertained the spectators and fellow riders with great skill and smooth execution.

Liam Draper in his first year at A-grade took the win on all three days demonstrating his increasing skill and drive. This also gave him the NZ Junior title for 2012.

Stef Downes rode well all weekend to take the Women's title, and also finished in the top ten of the fiercely fought Intermediate grade with only two or three points between six of the top ten riders.

For all the results for the weekend refer to the MNZ website -Moto Trials Results.

Sheronda with an "attitude"

14th October 2012
Pete gives it a workout
Pete gives it a workout

As most of you are aware, Stephen enjoys dabbling with different project bikes whilst persuing many other off-road initiatives.

It would be fair to say that he has an addiction to his passion of off-road motorcycling.

"Its that light it floats on air"
"Its that light it floats on air"

Instead of channelling his funds to more domestic oriented projects he chooses to build another bike or continue to develop an existing one.

The most recent development has been the ongoing refinement of the "Sheronda".
Peter Oliver has been the test pilot of late, giving him a good excuse to readapt to the two-stroke trials bike while waiting for the arrival of his new JT 300 Jotagas.

Stephen has added an Ohlin rear shock, 300 kit and many more mods which make this bike a top performer even in this day and age.

One of the intriguing facets of this machine is the highly modified Montesa 315 chassis, which gives it a very modern look. We have included some creative photography which has led to some interesting feedback on facebook (see our link).

We ran a tongue in cheek competition to see if anyone could identify the major components used in this hybrid, and we are pleased to say a very astute Andrew Meisner identified all of them.

For those of you not on facebook the Sheronda is a hybrid of Sherco engine, Montesa 315 chassis, Showa front forks, Ohlin rear shock, 4RT plastics......

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P O Box 752, Nelson, New Zealand
Tel: 64-3-545 1053
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