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    • Supposition... "Trials isn't that popular." Truth... The modern bicycle industry would not be what it is if it wasn't for trials. The actual big-name companies that fall under the umbrella of an international conglomerate use trials riders like vaudevillian performers or circus geeks. It's the only reason they ever make a trials bike. Brands like Marin and Santa Cruz who are at the verge of being a GT or Giant sized company outside of the multinational oversight pick up trials riders and use them to advertise their other products. There is nothing wrong with that. But where the hell are they when it's time to sponsor a local trials event? Not a trade show-sized event like Sea Otter or Interbike, but any local event. I just picked up a Planet X Zebdi Mk2 and got sent down the rabbit hole inside of the rabbit hole a bit. Planet X sells road and bike packing stuff mostly in 2024, but in 2004 they were helping innovate what we recognize as modern geometry. These days the trials kings are having a midlife crisis hoarding retro builds and the OG's from over here are giving bicycle coaching classes, which is cool, but it's kind of like a world-class golfer having to pick up work at the local country clubs pro shop to make ends meet. Those guys should be running their own bicycle companies or at the very least managing a division for one of the major companies focused on the sport of trials as an equal to the niches that would not exist if trials weren't a requirement in the early days of MTBing. Planet X made a Tibo... now Tibo makes TMS. I have a slightly different perspective on this than the average rider from Europe I'd wager, because even though trials as a concept was introduced to me by my dad who used to race motocross and used a trials bike to become a better rider (raced a Husqvarna in the 70's, played on a Bultaco when he wasn't doing that). He used to race moto locally in Colorado with the guy who invented the Air spring mountain bike shock in 1988, and before that, he was beating Evil Canival in a wheelie competition and being sponsored by Husqvarna. I didn't know that part of the story until very recently, I only have stories my dad and grandpa told me, and pictures he showed me of him beating that guy in a local competition. He never told me why he stopped racing. But as I have lived long enough to finally understand the world a bit better, it turns out it came down to affordability. The price point of competition sucked the joy out of motocross for him and snapping his Bultaco in half made that equally unsustainable for my working-class family. Thank god that didn't affect his friend or Rockshocks may not have existed as a staple of the sport of MTB. For me trials has always been a MTB sport. I didn't find out that the moto trials companies used to make mods and that Hans Rey didn't just manifest out of the aether until way later. I actually got to go to one of his demo's back in 1996, and that demo was held at a local bike shop that didn't even sell GTs. It was all about promoting mountain biking which became an Olympic sport the same year. In my very regular world, my friends already loved the sport, and my dad was the cool dad who would let us trials through the living room over the coffee table into the pallet section we set up in the backyard, and then bragged about the chain ring marks on the front and back of his car where he encouraged me to try and get up and ride over our land yacht. Because it was fun and funny, not because it was a competition. I have never entered a competition, and was pretty sure I would have done ok, but I would rather be shuttling up into the mountains with way too many people in the car stacked with bikes, so we could get to the 5-mile climb that lead us to the 20 miles of downhill which had all the trials sections you could handle with no cell phone cause only rich people had cell phones, or video cameras. We had something way better. There were other competition trials riders in Colorado, but I had no idea there was a local mobile repair guy who could get actual bicycle trials parts until well into the 2000's. The first trials bike I ever owned was a heavy tools which my local shop just happened to have been considering distributing, but chose not to because I was pretty much the only person near me who was that into it. Even in my own state, driving from the top to the bottom is 500 plus miles, and driving it east to west is even farther. I live in Texas not far from the border of Mexico now, so if you were to fly from the UK to Bentonville Arkansas where they recently had a UCI trials event, and I was to leave and drive when you took off, we'd probably arrive arrive the same time. So before cell phones and the internet were in everyone's home, the only way I ever would have been able to find a trials comp or other trials riders who were really into it would have been to accidently run into them somewhere. The local bike shop might be having a Hans Rey trials demo, but there were no flyers advertising the sport locally. And the super cool dude who used to work there and once held the Guinness book record for highest bunny hop in the 80's, had left, because the owner didn't see the upside to catering to the die-hards who were constantly buying parts. They just wanted to sell bikes. Being a trials rider always made you a weirdo at my local shops. Everyone likes what they like but trials riders seem to be the only group who love all the things. Those who don't see the value in that tend to run bike shops. Being a trials rider felt like being a kid who was into magic tricks. People looked down on it like you were hiding something because they didn't understand the process of learning the trick wasn't actually magic. Just persistence and a feeling of accomplishment when you get it right, even if nobody is watching. I understand this is a long comment, but I'm coming to a point, I promise. I became a professional musician in the early 2000's (yes I was still a teenager) using the same persistence and mind set I absorbed by getting good at riding a bike. But it requires the exact opposite of the introverted determination of trials. I had to learn to not feel bad about self promotion, had to learn how to make a trip pay for itself even if you didn't have a guaranteed payout for a gig. Ended up getting in magazines and zines for doing something totally not related to cycling. But if you happened to be in a venue way before the show started you would probably catch me using it as an excuse to ride my bike on those super springy loading ramps and jump off the stage (perks of the gig). I learned what it takes to become a performer. Even got to play a gig with Motorhead once (which was exactly as awesome as that sounds). If only those audience members knew that the reason I was so good at it was because I learned it from Hans Rey. Bit of an epiphany there... but I digress. When I was working a regular job while writing a new albums worth of material, I would take advantage of my job as a pizza delivery guy to slip flyers for my next show into apartment complexes common area's and anywhere else there were lots of people. I made just enough money to afford a rental room, and a practice space, and mostly lived out of a trash bag. Everything else went to paying for promotion, buying guitar strings, etc... and I would use my flyering as an excuse to ride all over Denver. All of that was still difficult to manage financially because until you're signed to a record label, it's all on you. So we found ways to get sponsored, and I learned that there are tiers to sponsorship. So I could say I was sponsored by Mesa Boogie at the same time as huge arena acts, but they got their entire backline for free, where as I got an artist discount on essential consumable things. My band was sponsored by Jägermeister before I was old enough to legally consume alcohol, which provided us with free stuff to pass out if people couldn't afford to buy merch from us, cause crowd work is important. In order to do all these things I had to move to an actual city... and then I found out later while playing in another band that wasn't my project, all of the musicians I looked up to, were doing the same thing, except they lived in Los Angles. I made a decision. If a famous guitar player still has to work at the music store, work the sound board at a local venue, and sell weed to the door guy, when they are not playing in front of 500,000 people stadium festivals all over the world, then I should be able to do that just as easily with my own project from where I grew up. I loved getting to meet all of those musicians I looked up to, but surely you don't half to move to a city that costs twice as much to live in so that you can do what you want to do. I was wrong, not because I was wrong, but because it's hard to get others who haven't had that experience to understand what you understand from experience, and as it turns out, proximity is more important than talent. So that didn't pay off, and I decided to join the Army rather than subject myself to such nonsense. The military restructured my hierarchy of needs considerably, and not only did I stop playing music, but frequent tours to the middle east and the constant training related to it make it difficult to practice trials, I could actually get reprimanded for showing up to work injured, and parkour is just not the same. Eventually I had a family of my own. And then I got injured in the line of duty. Not Martin Ashton injured but not far from it. That started a years long process of injections, and different kinds of therapy which didn't really help. Walking on some days was a stretch, riding a bike was out of the question for some time. Turns out your spine controls all the things attached to it, who knew. I'm gonna speed this up a bit because I'm not trying to write a made for TV drama over here. But I had a couple more kids, went to trade school for a bit, got divorced a few times, went homeless a few times, and a few years back I had enough of the BS. The harder I tried to make things work like they are supposed to the more things went to shit. So what is, isn't always what it has to be. I got a job working in a Commercial truck repair shop, did that for a year which taught me some important lessons in my new level of mobility, then used my commercial drivers license to drive trucks all over the country for the next three years, while I saved up enough money to not be a homeless person if anything happened to come up. Turns out sitting for 11 hours a day or more for three years straight is terrible for your core, worse if you have permanent injuries in it. But I learned to ignore it and where the limit is before I have to go to the emergency room to get a needle in the back. Along the way before trucking I worked in a couple bike shops and learned that other people's primary reason for not getting into cycling of any kind, is mobility issues beyond their control. So after giving a legally blind lady a class on how to do some basic trail bike maintenance since she was already doing the hard part and riding with the support of her partner, helping a stroke victim equip a bike so she only needed one side of the handle bars and could start doing recovery, helping a really big guy get the right bike that was reliable and comfortable enough for him to enjoy riding and then getting the supreme privilege of helping him pick his upgrade 150lbs lost later, implementing changes in that shop that doubled the revenue inside of a year, and losing that job because the owner found that less valuable than selling triathlon bikes to doctors once a year, I decided that if I was going to do all that and constantly just get shit on by the people who have the resources but don't actually give a shit about what they were doing, I should probably just focus on doing things I like for myself. Right back where I started. The first rule of capitalism is that competition is a sin, but nobody seems to actually understand what that means until they go out of buisness. Any industry that doesn't double down on the investments that made them an industry in the first place is doomed to fail. The point... Trials as a sport is a discipline that has done some serious heavy lifting for all other cycling disciplines whether they like it or not, and the sense of accomplishment a participant gets is the entire point. Nobody who's watching a UCI championship who has never seen trials before thinks to themselves, "gee, I bet I could do that". Let alone "gee I could do that with a permanent injury or disability." I was nearly in tears binge watching all the Martin Ashton bucket bike and hand bike videos, and followed that up with a documentary about US soldiers with amputations or paralysis riding all the way across the country, because I realized that whether they knew it or not, they were all demonstrating skills and using a mind set that to me, is teachable through trials. Not only is it teachable, it's essential. Life is nothing but obstacles. I am just as happy on days that all I can manage is an easy ride on the ebike as I am on days that I feel good enough to actually go session a rock garden. The former usually following the later. Then watching the interview RPM did with Ali I got choked up again, because I have autistic nephews, and knowing how hard that is for them it gives me hope that they'll find something that gives them joy that they'll be as brilliant at as RPM and Ali are at trials. Any and all riders and companies that figure out that people are what keep you in buisness, and the meek shall inherit the earth, will be able to elevate the discipline to it's rightful place within the cycling world. The trials riding community would do well to apply those supremely overdeveloped line choice skills to finding ways to make it an adaptive sport, which should be the most obvious thing in the world, because nobody stays 100% forever. What are we all gonna do when we hit 70 and the arthritis has left us with permanently hooked index fingers. Hopefully not point with our thumbs and add an extra finger to the pointing back. Matthew 20:16-28. King James Version. 16 "So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."  
    • ... And two years ago there were still a few more vendors. I just tried ordering parts from Bikecici last night only to find out that for some reason... they'll sell parts to anyone but Americans. Maybe I could mobilize some "fast and furious" type weapons pipeline for smuggling trials parts into the country. For now, I have to hope I can work something out through Tarty Bikes to get hold of a stem that's not completely ridiculous or made for a comfort bike. 😖🤬😢
    • Without going full Dangerholm, this is a modified Velo bmx saddle. I sanded it down and trimmed some of the support structure and added a 27.2 carbon post. No cheese graders!! 😉
    • I’ve been frustrated by some of the responses from the left turning this about them and playing the victims. feel how you want about Trump but I dunno…not everything needs to be about you. It’s quite alright to just say this was a nasty thing to happen and not lean your agendas into it.    
    • Agreed with above. The entry echos of ten years ago came with tires, brakes, and brake pads that were pretty much useless, I'd buy a brand new bike and drop $400-$500 immediately. And they wouldn't last very long; the wheels were trash, and other parts scary to ride hard.  The new entry bikes are actually solid and good out of the box.   The biggest problem now is supply, it's really hard to get just about anything these days. Just did an inflation calculator, $1000 USD in 2014 is $1343 now, so 34.3% inflation. That combined with the newer entry bikes being a lot more solid, things seem spot on price wise  As nostalgic as I am of the older bikes, I don't miss how flimsy and poorly made they seemed compares to the newer stuff. I used to buy a bike every year, now my bikes last until I get bored. However, the extensive supply is sorely missed. I built a bike from scratch two years ago and had to make six orders from 3 countries to get all the parts.  
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