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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 Ihatove Trial News

Japanese Ihatove Countdown

25th August 2010

Iwate Prefecture is gearing up to welcome the 34th Idemitsu Ihatove Trial, which takes place on August 28-29.

Yasuo and his team"final preparation"
Yasuo and his team"final preparation"

The organizing team has finished the massive job of clearing vegetation from the course and is currently busy setting sections. To give an idea of just how long the course is, this involves a three-day trip for the team, which sets sections along the way and stays in a different location each night. Hard work, but the camaraderie and stunning scenery make up for the sweat! Once the sections are in place, there is another two days' work setting up the start/finish area and headquarters.

Everything is on schedule, and NonStop Adventure wishes the team all the best for another hugely successful event this year.

NZ Ihatove Trial Commemorative Tray

12th August 2010
 Inaugural NZ Ihatove Trial Commemorative Tray
Inaugural NZ Ihatove Trial Commemorative Tray

Last February Yasuo and our Japanese friends presented this Joboji-nuri lacquer tray (designed by Yasuo) to the Tasman District Council as an expression of Japan-NZ friendship to mark the holding of the inaugural NZ Ihatove trial.

Since they didn't have a stand for it, they looked for one that would fit over there.

The council has found a perfect stand, and now it is displayed in the showcase in the entrance hall.

Tasman District Council has ties with other Japanese cities and there are lots of fine gifts displayed there, so we are very pleased that Yasuo chose something that is very beautiful and different from the other gifts on display.

Good News

8th August 2010
Intro level machine "The Randoner"
Intro level machine "The Randoner"

Thanks to the foresight of Mr. Norihito Akiyama who is now Japanese importer of GasGas motorcycles from the beginning of this year, GasGas are producing an entry level machine to help get bums on seats.

Norihito was the Scorpa importer for many years previously.

Randoner with long-ride kit
Randoner with long-ride kit

He requested that there was need for GasGas to develop a new multi-purpose 4t bike for Japanese market, and GasGas agreed.

It has Yamaha's 125 4t engine adopted electric starter for beginners and ladies.

The new machine has been called "Randoner"

GasGas Japan website here

Mr.Akiyama has made arrangements that GasGas will ship a prototype Randoner to Japan, and he'll exhibit it only in the Japanese Idemitsu Ihatove event!

It is also worth noting the Takumi Narita and his brother Ryo are currently riding under the GasGas banner.

Takumi is keen to compete in the ISDE when preparations are complete.

Takumi and Ryo along with their father Shozo will be taking part in this year's Japanese Ihatove event at the end of this month.

All Revved up

7th August 2010
Takumi joins Yasuo & his team for a weekend of grass cutting
Takumi joins Yasuo & his team for a weekend of grass cutting

The 34th Idemitsu Ihatove Trial is scheduled for 28-29 August, and the organizing team is all revved up and ready to go. They have been out every weekend clearing sections - those of you who took part in the inaugural New Zealand Ihatove Adventure Trial back in February will recognize Takumi Narita (with chainsaw) and Yasuo Manzawa. Great as the brush-cutting gear is, fellow NZIAT rider Yoji Ishiyama tells us he is keen to have 1,000 sheep to keep the vegetation down, as they do here in NZ!

As well as all the usual trials grades, this year's Idemitsu Ihatove offers a 400km "touring" course for trail bikes and a special course for novices aiming to enter the main trial next year, complete with coaching by Takumi. The mainstay "classic" course has been reduced from 25 to 20 sections per day this year, in the interests of making sure everyone finishes in good time.

NonStop Adventure wishes our Japanese friends all the best for another highly successful event.

Successful Export

7th June 2010
Iwate University
Iwate University

Extract from Chapter 4, "The Ihatove Trial as an Example of Sustainable Regional Development," by Ihatove Trial Chairman Yasuo Manzawa

Part 6: Successful Export of Iwate Motorcycling Culture

February 20, 2010 was a memorable date in the history of the Ihatove Trial: this was the day of the inaugural New Zealand Ihatove Adventure Trial. It was organized by the NonStop Adventure trials team, based in the South Island city of Nelson. The Oliver Family, six members of which came to Iwate as special guest riders in the 30th Ihatove Trial, played the leading role in the event, which also attracted members of the local trials fraternity.

The Olivers chose to run an event that not only used the Ihatove name, but also carried on the spirit of the Ihatove Trial - including its unique scoring system - because they were deeply impressed by the way riders of all ages got out in the mud with big smiles on their faces at the Ihatove.

Key organizer and five-times New Zealand Champion Stephen Oliver had this to say:
"We get too serious, and it becomes no fun to keep on riding trials. But when I saw even novice riders laughing and enjoying themselves at the Ihatove, I realized that this is the kind of trial people can just keep on riding."
Having identified the true reason why the Ihatove Trial has continued for so long, Stephen did us the honour of asking if he could copy our event.

Trials originated in the UK, particularly Scotland, and in the early 1970s one top British rider after another signed contracts with Japanese manufacturers and directly passed on their skills to Japan, so trials was an "import" to Japan. Being well-acquainted with the circumstances of that "import era", I deeply appreciate the way Japan can now transfer a type of trial that originated in Iwate to the southern hemisphere as a kind of cultural export.

On the day of the adventure trial there was a cloudless blue sky, and together with potential future Ihatove Trial chairman Takumi Narita (eldest son of deputy chairman Shozo Narita and one of Japan's top riders), Yoji Ishiyama (member of the Ihatove organizing team and moving force behind the Neli and Budoli classes for novices and intermediates), and sole female among the visitors Rumi Takahashi (also a member of the organizing team), I was able to savor to my heart's content all the enjoyment and spectacular scenery of the event.

The NZ Ihatove Report

7th April 2010
Friendship building through the NZ Ihatove
Friendship building through the NZ Ihatove

The city of Nelson, at the top of New Zealand's South Island, is officially the sunniest place in the country, and just south of there, tucked into the foothills of the Richmond Ranges, is 88 Valley, home to the NonStop Adventure Trials Academy.

Trials has a passionate following in this beautiful part of the world, and recently the sport received a new boost thanks to the introduction of a winning concept borrowed from Japan: the Ihatove adventure trial.


Stephen Oliver is a previous multiple New Zealand Trials Champion, and his family's relationship with Japanese trials riders goes back many years. Their friendship with the chairman of the Idemitsu Ihatove Trial, Yasuo Manzawa, was enhanced in 2006 when three generations of the Oliver family rode in the 30th anniversary of that famous trial in Japan.

Ihatove can be translated as Dreamland, and reflects the event's social and fun aspect, as well as the scenery through which it passes. Unlike most trials held in compact areas, the Ihatove includes considerable touring between observed sections, and in Japan, where the bikes are street-legal, they are ridden on roads and tracks as the riders complete daily loops of many tens of kilometers. Idemitsu, an oil company, has sponsored the event for many years.

Stephen's sons Nicholas and Peter returned to Japan in 2008. They rode the Ihatove in company with Takumi Narita, a multiple Japanese Trials Champion whose father Shozo co-founded the Ihatove with Yasuo. Takumi first visited New Zealand in 2009 to compete in the Oceania Championship. When Stephen was invited to hold a New Zealand version of the Ihatove trial in Nelson in the summer of 2010, it was no surprise that Yasuo, Takumi, and two of their friends, Rumi Takahashi and Youji Ishiyama, jumped at the chance to attend.

With cooperation from the local Tasman District Council, which has a policy of supporting Sport Tourism, and long-time sponsor Goldpine, the course began to take shape. Currently trials bikes are not registered for use on public roads in New Zealand, but the Academy's neighbour generously offered his farm property for use, and the prominent Ihatove bridge was constructed to enable the boundary fence to be crossed. Crucially, the properties are large enough to cope without damage under the attack of low-pressure trials tyres, and being working sheep farms, have a number of tracks to access even the most distant boundary.


The concept of an Ihatove trial differs from the accepted trials format in four important ways. Firstly, rather than, say, three or more laps of ten sections, most sections are only ridden once, which places great importance on line selection, as there's no chance to have another attempt. Secondly, the traditional possible demerits per section are changed from 0, 1, 2, 3, 5 to 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 to emphasise the benefit of keeping your feet up. Thirdly, all sections are ridden non-stop, which is to say that the bike's wheels must continue to rotate, compared with the normal balancing at the halt, hopping a wheel into position, and then riding another short spurt.

Fourthly, and very importantly, is the touring aspect. It has been shown that to persuade newcomers to try the sport, an element of fun will encourage their participation, so the sections in Nelson are widely spaced, sometimes kilometres apart, and there is easy trail riding on farm tracks between them. The views from high ridges over the nearby hills are
spectacular and the chance to enjoy this aspect of the competition was one all riders appreciated.


The trial was set up in three loops of varying length. The first took one to two hours to ride and concluded with a set of six sections laid out at the home base, at which the spectators were entertained all day, as those six were to be ridden at the end of each loop. The second loop was a whopper, with some riders spending more than three hours on the course. Two crossings of the famous bridge were made, and extensive use of the neighbouring property allowed riders to have a touch of the Japanese long-distance style of such an event. Riders dodged occasional grazing sheep and mountain goats to reach elevated ridges offering 360 degree views taking in the rugged Richmond Ranges and extending over Tasman Bay toward Abel Tasman National Park.

The third loop was much shorter, and coming at the end of a long and hot day it was the perfect way to finish. The sting in the tail for the Pro riders was a massively long and steep climb on long dry grass, followed by the descent from hell - a scree slope so terrifying that it had to be ridden in a giant zigzag, for fear of plummeting to an untimely demise.


Most sections had three distinct lines, one for each of the classes. Pro riders were at expert level and, naturally, their lines were of the greatest difficulty. On one hillside through tree roots interspersed with loose leaf litter I heard Takumi mutter "Championship section" so Stephen must have got the difficulty rating just right.

Sport riders made up the bulk of the entrants, and their sections were of medium difficulty. That's easy to say, of course, but it was a tiring day, so after a total of about 40 sections and seven hours riding, some were pleased just to complete the course.

The Recreation grade was the least difficult and was designed to be ridden in a flowing manner. This was suitable for riders gaining their confidence before attempting obstacles that are more serious. Modified trail bikes, such as the altered Honda CRF230 that Stephen rode (higher bars, rear-set foot pegs, much lower gearing) and sporting a compulsory trials rear tyre, could be ridden in this grade, as could the older twin shock or classic bikes.


All the sections laid out on the loops were of natural terrain, and included spectacular scenery, waterfalls, native bush glades, hillsides and gullies, rocky streams and banks, blasts up grassy climbs, and nadgery through trees with their exposed and not so slippery roots. The six repeated sections were all very well designed and thought out and included artificial hazards such as giant concrete pipes and tree trunks,

An optional special section, called Risk, was introduced as an experiment, and was as popular with the crowd as it was with the top-level competitors. Of a type never previously tried, on this section the goal was a high score. With the boundary taped, a sequence of flagged gates gave riders the choice of gaining 5 points per gate, or passing by for no penalty. Naturally, the more difficult the obstacle (some natural terrain, some artificial) the more gates that could be attempted, but the risk was that a failure part way through the section ended your ride. The final score in this section was the number of gates times five, minus the total number of dabs taken. Nick Oliver put in some skilled and bold moves here, and was the winner.

What finer way to spend a summer's day than plonking along through an observed section, then riding to the top of a ridge with stunning views over the countryside, before descending into a gully for another competitive section. With 40 sections attempted over seven hours of riding, there wasn't a rider who hadn't finished weary and happy, yet glad to have been part of a new concept in trials riding in New Zealand.

Second Day:

Those wanting even more headed east to Havelock on the Sunday for some low-key coaching and a scenic trail tour. Since everyone was pleasantly tired from the previous day's exertions, the pace was relaxed with plenty of time for socializing over a barbeque lunch. In the morning Takumi provided some pointers on tackling banks and creeks, with all riders having a chance to put their skills to the test and get some one-on-one advice. After lunch it was time to blow away any remaining cobwebs with a brisk trail tour taking in lush paddocks, soaring and plunging tracks, cool green bush trails, and stunning views over the Marlborough Sounds, another of New Zealand's scenic highlights. Even when the action was over, no one was in a hurry to leave, lingering to chat in the late-afternoon sunshine.

2011 Event:

There will be another New Zealand Ihatove Trial on the 19th & 20th February 2011, so feel free to contact the team at Nonstop Adventure NZ Ltd if you would like more information. Details can be found on their webiste:

International riders are guaranteed a warm welcome, and February is an ideal month for combining the event with a New Zealand holiday. A limited number of rental bikes is available, so get in early if you'd like to book one. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed.

Check out the NZ Ihatove photo gallery

VIP Japanese visitor

6th February 2010
Masayuki and Nick
Masayuki and Nick

Written by Masayuki Yoshikawa

I met Nick and Peter Oliver at the 2008 Idemitsu Ihatove Trial and promised them I would go to New Zealand. After deciding on a trip to Auckland at the end of last year, I quickly looked up the Olivers' contact details on their website and got in touch with them by e-mail and phone to get their go-ahead. Since I was almost a total stranger to them, I really appreciated the warm welcome they gave me, with Nick and his father Stephen coming to meet me at the airport. After taking me back to their place for a spell, we set off with the bikes in the trailer.

Have you ever looked at a beautiful landscape and thought, "it would be fun to ride there"? I'll bet you have. New Zealand is that kind of ideal spot for riding motorbikes. Paddocks spread out in front of you with beautiful streams flowing through them, big trees provide shade here and there, and sheep munch the grass. High hills stretch out beyond, and the valleys offer a huge variety of terrain, from big rocks to mud. It really is a riders' paradise, and a moderate climate means it can be enjoyed all year round. Don't miss the chance to go to New Zealand!

Too Much Snow? Time to Go!

15th January 2010
"To much snow" Winter riding conditions in Japan
"To much snow" Winter riding conditions in Japan

The NZ Ihatove Adventure Trial is all set to welcome five entrants from Japan, and with just over a month left Ihatove chairman Yasuo Manzawa tells us they can't wait to ride the green hills of the Tasman district. No wonder, considering the current winter riding conditions in Iwate (see photo). Our good friend Ishi jokes that he is getting fit for the event by shovelling snow!

The clock is ticking and the count down has started, we at NonStop have a busy calendar for 2010 and with two of the five remaining weekends booked for other activities there is not a lot of time left so the pressure is on.

Ihatove trail blazing

13th January 2010
Trail blazing markers are easy to navagate.
Trail blazing markers are easy to navagate.

After 12 straight days of trail blazing, Stephen has been grooming and marking sections on the three Ihatove trail loops. Liz and Johnny Clark joined Stephen for the day along with Chris Ward, on holiday from Auckland, giving a hand to put finishing touches to loop 1 at the front of the Parkes property.
After some extensive gully clearing we now have an interesting and flowing course which is easily navigated thanks to the brightly coloured course markers (as seen in the accompanying photos). The white markers with red, yellow and blue clearly show the three classes of Pro, Sport & Recreational with white arrows on coloured backgrounds easily directing the flow of the section. Some extra tracks have been cut for easy entry and exit points for the many recreational riders this event has attracted.

NZ Ihatove Adventure Trial

11th January 2010
Christening the new Bridge
Christening the new Bridge

: Sneak Preview by David Atwool
The other day I headed to 88 Valley for a sneak preview of the course for Day One of the NZ Ihatove Adventure Trial to be held on February 20-21. Although the sections themselves had not been put in at that stage, I got to ride the three big loops that will make up the overall course. The thing that struck me most was the huge scale - the distance covered will make the NZ Ihatove quite different from other events on the trials calendar.

Well-formed trails whisk riders from the base area to the hilltops in no time and the sweeping views give a bird's eye perspective on the surrounding countryside, which stretches right out to the mountains and sea.

Checking out the spectacular scenery
Checking out the spectacular scenery

The massive area available offers almost endless scope for challenging and enjoyable trials sections to suit entrants in the "Pro" and "Sport" categories as well as those opting for a more leisurely ride in the "Recreational" class.

The course spans two properties, which have been linked by an impressive bridge. The construction team of Bruce Corkill from Wellington, Stephen and Nick Oliver completed this bridge over a couple of days - a major mission given the need to haul all the materials up into the clouds.
Offering spectacular scenery, long-distance trails and flowing terrain ideally suited to non-stop rules, the NZ Ihatove Adventure Trial is shaping up to be an event like no other. Don't miss it!

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