Trials started in approximately 1908 and were a test of a machines reliability, hence they were known as "Reliability Trials".
Trials then were normally a single lap of between 40 and 60 miles taking in both off road and using normal roads between the groups of sections. Sections are pieces of land with markers that the riders have to negotiate keeping their feet on the footrests. These sections can include riding through streams, rivers, rocky paths, steep hills, etc. There is a marking system to determine the winner (least amount of footing wins).
Since the 1970's machines became so reliable that Trials became "Observation Trials" with the skills of the rider being more important to win than the bikes reliability.
This sport is a good introduction to any of the other off road disciplines because it demands throttle and balancing skills at walking pace with flat out attacks on steep climbs.
Two of the most famous Trials which started in pre WW1 days are still running today. They are "The Scottish Six Day Trial" (SSDT) and "The Scot Time and Observation Trial" run in North Yorkshire.
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