For those that don't know, bike trials is a relatively small community. It has nothing on the likes of road cycling, nor mountain biking and certainly compared to other 'extreme' disciplines, the can be no size comparison. In the past couple of years, in the eyes of many, the sport has evolved beyond recognition. Its evolution from motorbike trials, as a winter training regime has most certainly disappeared, influences from other cycling disciplines has become prominent, and a constant topic of 'discussion'.
It is my belief that trials is a young persons game. While there are are a percentage of riders, both new to the sport and seasoned riders, who are in an older age bracket (i.e. late 20's +), I'd imagine the majority of trials riders are part of a much younger generation. This is not to say that many of those younger riders are new to the sport, obviously there are many who have been around for a long time. The point I am trying to reach is that, in my observations, there are many out there who perceive trials to be losing its individuality, and many of those seem to be in the younger age bracket.
If you are to visit the UK's biggest forum (www.trials-forum.co.uk) and spend a little time browsing, you will come to notice that there appears to be fraternities within the UK scene. People write about TGS riders, Comp Riders, Street Riders, and BMXer wannabes with many discussions ending in arguments about what type of riding is classified as trials.
Street Trials vs. TGS Trials
Many of the younger generation do not know how the sport they ride has changed to become what they know, nor do they seem to acknowledge that our it appears to be in a perpetual cycle. The past couple of years their has been a BIG switch to street riding with influences of BMX, shorter bikes, reduced regulation, no competition, and less emphasis on hopping on the back wheel. Prior to that, the scene revolved around going as big on individual manoeuvres as possible (now commonly referred to as TGS), which is where many of the younger riders who have joined our sport will have learnt trials from.
Going back in time that little bit further, was the Tricks and Stunts generation. This is where I learned what trials was about. This took the competition side out of trials, and made it about hopping on benches, and riding around in wigs being chased by ninjas...the wigs were protective. Bunnyhops, Manuals, and not a sidehop in sight. So this street riding side to trials is basically an evolution of how trials was before TGS.
Media is released on a daily basis in the trials world, and it is frightening to see the divide certain videos create. Obviously personal opinions are just that, personal, but the number that call into question whether or not the riding can be classified as trials is alarming. Street Trials seems to get a bad rep regarding its inclusion under the banner of bike trials, and the statement 'Get a BMX' often follows. On the other hand, TGS videos are regularly called 'boring' or 'without creativity', but seem to be accepted by many as how trials should be.
Using the forum as the consensus for how trials should or shouldn't be isn't really wise, and in many cases, should be taken with a pinch of salt, however it can be said that the younger generation should maybe realise that street trials is just a branch of the tree and remove their blinkers. This said, those who ride street trials (myself included), could take a step to remember where we came from.
I have been both a TGS'er and more recently a bandwagon jumper-on-er, riding mainly street trials. I rode TGS for a long time, but I felt that there was nothing left in the sport for me, boredom came easily and I certainly wasnt riding as much as I could have done. I wasnt enjoying how I was riding my bike, I needed something different. I can't get enough of riding my bike, and I certainly can't get enough of riding trials, so my progression towards the street trials side means a fresh perspective on things, while still getting to ride trials, but pushing myself to learn something new.
Maybe one day, everyone will realise that while their opinion of what trials should be is WRONG, their opinion of how they wish to ride trials is RIGHT. The extremities of our sport will, in time, become blurred. I just hope that those who continue to segregate our community slowly disappear, and we are left with those who appreciate it for what it is.