Help me plan the trials sections at Motorama

A few of us will be heading down the day before the event for setup. 9 Riders have indicated they will be going with half a dozen very interested on top of that. It would be very cool if more could attend. Imagine 15 or 20 riders at a bike-trials event!

We are moving in the direction of a single category: “unicycle.” Awards will be given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. We will have the opportunity on Friday to build some custom obstacles for Uni, and to use any of the bike sections we see fit.

I just looked for Kris’s U-system rules, but cannot find them. Can somebody point them out to me?

In any case, in building the sections, I quickly threw together the following general guidelines for obstacle construction. What do you think?

Difficult (30% of the course)
Jumps higher than 18" vertical (not pedal grabbable, e.g. logs)
Upward verticals only reachable by pedal grabs
Drops 5-7 feet onto concrete
Gaps, varying size and angle onto difficult targets (hard to describe, but you know what I mean)
log/rail rides, long, irregular, twisty, bumpy, thin.

Medium (60% of the course)
Jumps 16" to 18" vertical
Drops up to 3-4 feet onto flat concrete
Gaps 3-4 feet to a moderately difficult target
log/rail rides, medium length, a few bumps and challenges

Easy (10% of the course)
Jumps between 12" and 16" vertical
Drops up to 2-3 feet onto concrete
Gaps 3 feet to slightly challenging target
simple straightforward log/rail rides.

Depending on the feedback from the actual 9+ riders competing, it might make sense to skip what I’ve rated as “easy.” It appears to be a group of pretty experienced and dedicated riders.

I’m sure I missed something. I know that parts of this are pretty subjective, but hopefully we can come up with something useful.


Joe Merrill

Trials rules are in the IUF Rulebook:

Note: You have to use the 2002 version, not the easier-to-use web-based 1998 version.

Based on your plans for courses, I’m a medium Trials rider if I’m lucky… :slight_smile:

Good luck with the competition. I know it will be fun!

We now have 13 Uni-trials competitors!!! Scott Bridgeman (the Muniac) and two of his riding buddies will be joining us.

Ben Plotkin Swing and I have discussed the following ideas for Motorama Uni-trials setup and scoring: I thought you trials junkies might find it interesting. Kris, if you read this, we’d love to hear what you think.

Ben - all good stuff you mention here. Looks like you hit the nail on the head. Perhaps we can work out some kind of hybrid thing. For example, we could possibly use the U-system on stuff that we’ve custom built for ourselves (the bikers won’t be riding it, unless it’s so cool that they want to). This is good food for thought and will help when I talk to Charlie Clement.

I’ve been in two U-system trials comps, one at UNICON which had judges, and one at the California MUni weekend that was self judged. The system is really easy to judge whoever is doing it. Either you clean the obstacle and get however many points its worth, or you dab, and you have to start over. If there are other people waiting trying the same obstacle, you go to the back of the line… Unlimited tries within the time limit of the competition. Whoever has the most points at the end wins. The most complicated part is defining all the sections, and deciding how much they should be worth.

The great thing about it is it allows you to try to hardest things there, without any penalty for messing up. It tends to bring out the best riding possible from the competitors. The downside of it is that it looks really informal. Compared to the bike trials guys, it will look like we are just screwing around. That will probably be true if we use the bike trials rules anyway. A lot of the bike lines look ridable to me, but only after lots of tries.

I don’t think it will look like we are screwing around. Anything but. People will be impressed with the uni riding they will see. Under bike trials a UPD gets you an instant 5 and you are done. You walk off the section. Pretty merciless, but that’s the way I understand it. Perhaps we can build enough custom sections that we only have to pick and choose a few of the choice bike sections that are not too formidable, not too easy. We’ll see.

On one hand, it feels kind of silly showing up at their competition and using our own rules, possibly even judging ourselves, but on the other hand the U-system is a lot better and more fun to use.

Nice work!

Can someone please do me a huge favour and take some photos and particularly videos of this event? Those ‘difficult’ obstacles sound great to watch. I rekon you should make a line of sandwich boards increasing in height up to something stable that’s about 1.5m high and then gap to something else and so on. Like in the Unicon videos. That sounds great and once again, please take some photos and videos.


Don’t worry. We’ll have many video and digital cameras there. I’m told there will be three different television crews there. Last years event had 175 bike trials competitors.

Good idea.


OK. I spoke to the bike trials director today (Charlie Clement) and sent him a copy of the IUF trials rules. He is totally open and flexible with our suggestions. So, if we want to be self judging and use the U-system, this could easily happen.

After he has looked the U-system rules over and absorbed the implications, I will speak to him again and let y’all know, but it looks promising.

Charlie is also completely open to having any and all of us show up the day before to advise on obstacles, and to build custom stuff. It sounds like there will be plenty of logs and crap to move around and position as we see fit.

What will most likely happen is we will have a “unicycle only” section and we will use the rideable bike sections as well. As far as building the Uni section(s), the sky is the limit as far as Charlie is concerned. He will provide some carpenters, plywood, two by fours etc, but we are welcome to bring our tools and any pre-fabricated stuff such as sandwich boards to add to the mix.

I’m planning to get there early Friday (9am) and get started, with the hope that we might have time for a ride in the afternoon.

Charlie said it’s fine to bring our Unis and mess around on stuff, we just can’t ride the sections on which we will be competing (obviously). Another option I had my eye on for the afternoon looks to be about ten miles outside of Harrisburg (time permitting):’sGap.html


I would rather not use the self judging system. Since most of us have never done this before there is a large possibility for error In scoring.

I also have a question with the U system, if you dab a route (say on a pedal grab) do you simply restart? or can you keep riding?

I think the U system is probably the better option than bike trials scoring.

As far as building obsicals I will be there as early as I am needed to help out.


I think we might have a better chance of success judging ourselves than we would with the Motorama judges. Let’s see what Charlie thinks of the IUF Trials rules. I’ve never been part of a bike trials event, but, as Kris mentioned, I don’t see how they would be inclined to learn the U-system for 13+ unicyclists when they are faced with judging 175 bikers.
I don’t think there is a large possibility for error as long as we know the rules thoroughly (which I don’t, yet), and as long as we are prepared to work together. Ben has some experience with the U-system.

I think sections 11 and 12 of the rulebook might answer this.

Self judging is not hard. The rules take about five minutes to explain at most. Unlike the bike trials rules, there is no complicated scoring. Either you clean the obstacle or you don’t. If you dab at all, you have to start over. We had a self judged U-system trials comp at the CA MUni weekend.

The U-system rules allow for the foot to touch down briefly during pedals grabs, as long as you don’t continue to weight it after the grab is established.

At UNICON this summer, the trials judges were parents who where standing around before the competition and got drafted in to service minutes before the event started. The event still ran very smoothly. If the bike trials judges wanted to learn our rules, we could teach them quickly.

Another option that just occurred to me would be to have the riders judge each other. It wouldn’t be that different from self judging, but we could do that if we feel self judging wont seem “official” enough or something.


Let’s say it’s simple as you say. Even if we work it out and get the green light on the U-system, how will this appear to the audience? Possibly like we are screwing around, as you mentioned? I’m thinking it will look like we are practicing. Not very entertaining.

I think we should consider how we will appear to the crowd and to the other competitors. There’s suspense involved in having limited attempts on a section. (The NATS way) We will have the luxury of designing and choosing the sections for the right level of rideability and challenge so that it’s interesting enough. BTW, wouldn’t it be hard to rate a 20 meter section with a variety of compound challenges?

Also, how could we verbally explain the rules in 5 minutes to the judges? I understand what you were saying about grabbing some parents at Unicon as judges, but I’m concerned that this might seem a bit simplistic at Motorama. (I also might be making a mountain out of a mole-hill). What if there is a dispute? We can’t be pulling out the rulebook at the competition and sitting around and interpreting it. I already sent the IUF rules to the bike director. I have to say, now that I’m reading them, I’m pretty confused, so Charlie Clement’s head must be swimming!

Perhaps we could re-write the rules in plainer English, still I don’t see how this is possible, because when you get right down to it, the nitty gritty details in the rules must be there.

It’s seeming to me right now that using the IUF rules at a unicycle convention or gathering would work very well, and many have indicated this. But using them at Motorama, I still have concerns as to how this will play out.

I think one thing we can all agree might be this: Whatever we do, simple is good, and the impression we create at Motorama is important because we are the guests - we want to have fun, have the event go smoothly, and if it goes well, possibly repeat this year after year, with more involvement each year. With that in mind, I think we should try to reach a consensus on which system to use soon. I will be speaking to Charlie Clement in a few days and it would be great if we could put this question to bed. This conversation is getting almost too cumbersome as an online topic. If any of you guys attending are interested, send me your ohone number privately and I will call you to discuss.