I have always admired the art of trials riding. The skill and finesse required to get the very best out of a trials bike is very impressive. The bikes themselves are aggressive and built for launching up rock faces and attacking some gnarly obstacles. I’ve spent very little time on one — maybe half an hour, max.
With this in mind, I was slightly nervous when Damien informed me of a day on board the Jota Gas and Gas Gas range with the guys who import these machines, the Hell Team.
Boothy and I headed to Pacific Park situated on the banks of the Hawkesbury River in Maroota. I’ve spent a bit of time there as the sand down the back is epic for photos and you often notice trials riders hip-hopping their way up the rocks in what are seemingly impossible climbs. This time, the motocross machines were left at home and we were headed on a trail ride around parts of the park I didn’t even know existed, simply because you’d have to be a Taddy Blazusiak to get there on a dirtbike.
HE’S GOTTA BE KIDDING
We headed off into the bush single file through the tight and twisty terrain. Trail riding one of these bikes is foreign to me: not just the action, but also the thought. When I think trials, I think guys launching rocks and portable setups. They have no seat — why the heck would you want to spend hours dodging trees on them?
After the first 10 minutes, my thoughts began to change and we arrived at a lookout with some impressive views of the Hawkesbury. With the camera gear out, I snapped Oily Buchan making it look easy as he jumped across a rock gap.
Straight away, Paul, importer of the Jota Gas and Gas Gas range, pointed Boothy at a rock face. First go, he launched up it. Happy days. With a few pointers from the boys, he had it perfected. I thought, «He’s kidding himself if I’m having a go at that.»
Luckily, we headed back onto the trail and continued our ride. We arrived at a small little rocky outcrop.
With some pointers from Oily and Paul, it took me from being nervous at hitting the small side to attempting the more difficult area. And with that, my confidence skyrocketed and my ride took a turn for the better. I was grinning from ear-to-ear.
Once I was explained what is basic Trials 101, the «double-blip» and the art of mastering one of these nimble rockets became easily understood. The idea is to treat an obstacle with a two-part mindset. Wheelie your front wheel into the face of the obstacle is part one; then blip the throttle a second time and hop your rear wheel up and onto the obstacle and up you go.
It blew me away at how easy it became to ride up obstacles. You need such a slight amount of throttle and smooth-as-butter clutch control to tame one of these. The tyres grip to rocks like glue and, when running around 5-6psi in the tyres, they mould around logs like Play-Don, offering absolute bucket loads of traction.
The riding got more and more difficult as we went along, yet I was constantly amazed by how easily these bikes get to places. With more comfort and control on my rig for the day — the Jota Gas 280 — I was beginning to have a heck of a good time.
The tight and tricky turns weaving in and out of a creek bed presented a true testament to the nimble nature of a trials bike. Forget the bursts of power and traction on offer; the way you can turn and weave your way through a rock-infested trail was very cool.
Having a feather-light clutch at your fingertips and such an impressive power plant made the end of our ride plenty of fun. We spent around three hours on the Jota Gas 280 and Gas Gas 280 bikes and, let me tell you, I was pretty spent. Not like I’d been motoing for hours, but a different kind of knackered.
Not having a seat wasn’t even an issue for me, nor for Boothy. The riding we were doing would have promoted — no, demanded — a standing approach on a dirtbike, so being forced into the situation wasn’t even an issue that popped onto our radar. The back wasn’t sore, but my brain was. This type of riding took some serious concentration for me. Just thinking ahead and looking at how not to face-plant on a rock was top priority tor me. The further ahead I looked and the more I analysed where I should be going to not get stuck on something took it out of me, but helped me become comfortable with the oncoming obstacles. I guess it would be the same as taking someone who’d never ridden on a motocross track and sending them on a foreign machine to punch some laps.
If you haven’t ridden a trials bike before, try and get on one. They are an absolute hoot and incredible for improving your skills and balance for hittingthe trails on your dirtbike.
GASGAS TRIAL TXT PRO 280
Engine: Single-cylinder 2-stroke, liquid cooled
Gearbox: 6-speed gearbox with GG4/6 technology
Clutch: GG 1:3 hydraulic diaphragm system
Carburetor: Dell’Orto PHBL 26BS, intake by reed valve
Frame: Chrome-molybdenum tubular frame
Swingarm: Aluminium, progressive linkage system
Front fork: Marzocchi 40mm aluminium right side up, 177mm travel
Adjustability: Adjustable rebound and spring preload
Rear shock: Sachs hydraulic mono shock absorber
Suspension travel: 164mm rear wheel travel
Rim type: Light aluminium spoke rim
Front wheel: 1.6×21 Michelin
Rear wheel: 2.15×18 Michelin
Trial 4.00×18 TL
Front brake: 185mm floating disc, 4-piston caliper
Rear brake: 150mm disc,
Dry weight: 67kg
Seat height: 650mm
JOTA GAS 280
Displacement 301cc + 280
Compression: 8.1 real
Max. power: 18
Max. par: 3kg/m
Clutch: Multidisk in oil bath, hydraulic activation Gears: Cinco velocidades Secondary transmission: Chain
Type: Double beam integrated fuel tank with side shock Swing arm: Forged aluminium Angle inclination: 26 degrees
Front: Conventional Marzocchi Leg diam: 40mm Travel: 175mm
Adjustments: Compression and extension preload Rear: Single-shock Olle Travel: 175mm Adjustments: Recharge and extension
Front: Disc 185mm Operation: Pump and 4 pistons. brake tech clip Rear: Disc 150mm Operation: Pump and 2 pistons, brake tech clip
Front wheel: Aluminio 2.75*21
Rear wheel: Aluminio 4.00*18