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Bike Trials Rules (NORBA/UBA)

Competition Organizations with other rules
    UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale)
    NATS (North American Trials Series)
    BIU (BikeTrial International Union)

What is Bike Trials?
What happens in the event of a tie?
How do I get penalty points?
How long do I have to complete a section?
What are the requirements for my bike?
What the heck do all these weird words mean (Glossary of Bike Trials Definitions)?

What is Bike Trials?
Events are conducted over an obstacle course including such natural or man-made hazards as mud, rocks, water, logs, walls, pallets, spools, etc. and can have any number of sections. The riders attempt to negotiate each section without putting down a foot or hand (dab). Each dab (foot or hand) adds a point to the rider's score. The rider with the lowest total score wins the event.

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What happens in the event of a tie?
In the event of a tie in the top positions, the following tie breaker will be used (in descending order):

  • The rider with the most cleans;
  • The rider with the most ones, twos, etc.;
  • The rider winning the run-off or winning an unused section rerun.
  • Bike Trials Scoring. The checker or observer, delegated by the Event Director, will be the maximum authority in the section. In the case of more checkers at the same section, they will perform as helpers to the delegated checker.

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How do I get penalty points?
Performing the section with no dabs (clean section) 0 points
Over the prescribed time limit 5 points
1st dab 1 point
2nd dab 2 points
3rd dab 3 points
4th dab 3 points
5 or more dabs 5 points
2 dabs at the same time
  • foot & foot
  • foot & hand
  • foot & shoulder
  • knee & hand
  • hand & hand
  • etc.
Note: touching will be allowed, leaning not.
5 points
Leaning handlebar on the ground, tree or wall, etc. 1 point
Touching the hand to any object
(other than oneself or bicycle)
5 points
Other Penalties  
Any help from end toes and heels 1 point
Outside the limits of section with either tire 5 points
Dabbing outside the section limits 1 point
Breaking the ribbon, knocking down marker 5 points
Two dabs on same side of bicycle 5 points
One foot crossing the longitudinal line of the bike while one foot is on the ground 5 points
Sliding one foot on the ground 3 points
Resting with pedal/skidplate (not toe clip)
okay for 3 seconds, after that
5 points
Rider modifies the section 10 points
Losing score card DQ
Gate foul 5 points
Pre-riding the course 100 points

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How long do I have to complete a section?
An event time limit should be established. All sections will close at the end of the time limit and all score cards will be turned in by the end of the time limit. Additionally, there will be a section time limit that is set by the Event Director. The section time limit will remain constant for each section. The recommended time limit is 180 seconds. (BikeTrials.com note: Generally Pro class has 2 minutes, Expert has 3 minutes, while Sport and Beginner are often not timed or 3 minutes) The time will start when the rider's front axle passes through the start gate and ends when the rider's front axle passes through the exit gate. Each checker or checker assistant should be equipped with a stop watch. The checker or checker assistant should advise the rider when there is one minute left, 30 seconds left and 15 seconds left.

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What are the requirements for my bike?
Any bicycle that is determined by the event director to be dangerous will not be admitted to the event.

Stock Bike Class. (BikeTrials.com note: NORBA/UBA now allows just about any kind of 26" wheeled bike to be used for Beginner through Expert, including singlespeed bikes. Both modified and stock classes usually ride on the same sections, now, as well.) This is for all riders on traditional unmodified mountain bikes with a minimum 40" wheelbase, functional rear derailleur with five or more gears, no skid plate, no more than 10 1/2" chainring clearance and chainrings on one side of bottom bracket only and a minimum of 26" front wheel and 24" rear wheel. A typical stock bike section might require the rider to negotiate tight turns on level ground, logs under 8", hills with questionable traction and drop-offs of less than two feet. Stock bike sections designed for riders with Beginner to Sport skill serve as an orientation to the flagging system and bike handling skills used in bike trials.

Any bicycle that is determined by the event director to be dangerous will not be admitted to the event.

Trials Bike Class. This is for competitors with modified bikes, minimum 20" wheels, brakes on each wheel, propelled by a pedal crank system. Trials bike sections can have turns that are tighter than the turning radius of most bikes, unlimited logs or rocks, with vertical faces, drop-offs, double logs plus all combinations of any type of surface traction.

During competition a rider may repair or replace the bicycle between sections. If a rider replaces the bicycle it must be of the same type and must be approved by the Event Director.

If a rider is competing in both stock and modified classes in the same competition, the rider must choose to complete one class or the other first. The rider must then do the entire competition for that class before starting the next class.

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What the heck do all these wierd words mean (Glossary of Bike Trials Definitions)?

Clean Section - No errors, or dabs.

Course - The bike trials area within, and including, the boundary markers, ribbons or flags. A rider is in the section when the front axle passes through the start gate and is finished with the section when the front axle passes through the finish gate.

Dab - Any contact which provides support for the rider (other than pedal or skid plate).

Outside the Section - Either tire or axle passing outside the ribbon and flags, dabbing outside is one point.

Gate Foul - Not riding the sections in the proper order, not following the proper course markings, or entering or exiting the wrong gate.

Section - A single segment of the bike trials competition. There can be any number of sections at any given bike trials competition, but the typical number is between five and ten. Sections should be of a natural and artificial mix, varying in length, difficulty and type of obstacles. Each section will test the skills of a rider in balance, strength, agility and endurance. The section should have a minimum width of 1 meter. Course boundary markers or ribbons should be between 4" and 18" from the ground. The ribbons marking section limits on the right should be red and on the left should be blue. Sections are marked according to class and category. A rider may begin at any section (unless specified otherwise) but once started must complete the course in order.

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