Overcoming obstacles on GasGas trials motorbikes
Most of us miss zipping across the border on our motorcycles to Malaysia and Thailand.
Covid-19 movement restrictions have also put travel on hold for competitions on overseas circuits and dirt tracks.
The recent GasGas Moto Trial Clinic, held at the Sarimbun Scout Camp in Jalan Bahtera near Lim Chu Kang, hopes to provide more options for bikers here. For some 100 participants who rode on the weekend of July 10, it was an opportunity to release some pent-up energy safely and legally.
One of them, Mr Tham Yong Tian, 38, said: "Trying to wheelie (lifting the front wheel while moving) was my biggest challenge because of the fear of falling."
Riding the narrow trial motorcycles would have seemed daunting at first, especially in muddy conditions, but the riders were all placed in small groups with an instructor to coach them.
Ms Melissa Zheng was glad the GasGas motorcycles were lighter than most off-road bikes.
Ms Zheng, who is self-employed and in her 30s, said: "Trial riding does not take much space to organise and I'm not worried if I fall as I know I can lift the motorcycle."
In trial competition, riders must clear obstacles - man-made or natural - in the quickest time without putting their feet on the ground. Doing so results in a time penalty.
But there was no pressure at the clinic in Sarimbun as it was simply a session to acquaint riders with the trial motorcycles.
Unlike commuter motorcycles, the two-stroke GasGas trial bikes are seatless, have no signal lights or gauges. They are also not road legal.
The kickstart-only GasGas, which come in 125cc, 250cc and 300cc engines, have promotional price tags ranging from $9,200 to $10,500.
The slightly under-inflated tyres give more traction over obstacles.
Participants had to negotiate wooden ramps, concrete steps and tight figure-eights. Some scaled steep slopes while others rode skilfully over thick logs.
While technical in nature, trial riding does not involve high-speed manoeuvres where a fall could result in severe injuries.
Said clinic organiser, Mr Luca Dovesi, head of after sales for KTM Sportmotorcycle SEA: "In trials, you need to learn how to regulate and control (inputs to the motorbike).
"This is what gives you confidence because if you know how to control the clutch... you control everything."
In Europe, fathers start their children early on trial motorcycles or dirtbikes, said Mr Dovesi.
Reflecting on the big turnout over the weekend, he told The New Paper there are plans for riding classes.
Participants can soon rent trial motorcycles and fine-tune riding skills safely under qualified instructors.
Mr Dovesi hopes the authorities can support the small-scale event as a healthy activity during the pandemic.
He said that within three years, an environmentally friendly, electric vehicle version of the trial motorbike will be launched by GasGas.
He added: "The moment we can feel a bit of community around the sport, then it's very easy to rent a location, organise a race... If in one hour, riders can do crazy stuff, imagine if you train every weekend."