TRIALS TRAINING: BACKYARD SETUPS & MAN MADE OBSTACLES
Building a backyard trials setup to practice on will come down to how much effort you want to put in, how much you want to spend, the kind of terrain you have, and the equipment you have to work with. First, don’t be an idiot and annoy your neighbors – check with them first to see if they mind. A lot of people will be very reasonable if you approach them first, test noise levels, and if needed set certain times of the day for practice and time limits.
Sometimes there can be issues with local by laws and regulations, so check that out too. But of course you’ll normally be reported by neighbors, so even more motivation to get on their good side. Don’t give trials riding a bad name in your community.
MIMIC THE TERRAIN YOU’LL BE COMPETING IN
If you are serious about trials competition, check out the terrain you’ll be riding in and try to imitate it with your man made obstacles. Even if you are on a budget or don’t have heavy machinery to work with, you can always work out short cuts to still get some training in! Stacks of pallets can simulate rock ledges, chopped up firewood can resemble riding through loose rocks – you get the drift.
USE THE NATURAL TERRAIN
Starting with the easy stuff, if you have steep terrain, use this for climbs, descents and off camber corners. Use any rocks, logs, sand pits or bog holes you have on the property already. If you have creeks or dams, consider running the track through or nearby to make a water section or bog hole easier to build.
MATERIALS THAT DON’T NEED HEAVY MACHINERY
Assuming you have a trailer or suitable pick up truck or van, you can scavenge for rocks, short logs, car and truck tires, heavy duty PVC pipe, old oil drums, railway sleepers and bricks.
Tires can be chained, bolted or tied together, or simply dig a hole and bury the bottom half. You can also lay them on the ground for an excellent obstacle course in your backyard trials setup.
Pallets can be made into all sorts of obstacles, but you do run the risk of breaking these easily and coming to grief. We’d only suggest using them if reinforced with other materials to prevent breaking and subsequent injury, or use the pallets as a foundation and screw solid boards on top that won’t break when you pound them with your trials bike.
If you have a chain saw and plenty of time on your hands, create a firewood pit, the poor man’s rock section for trials practice.
LIFE’S A BEACH
A lot of trials riders hate sand, which is all the more reason to practice riding in it. Even expert riders can get tripped up by sand sections as they rarely encounter sand riding. Consider a sand pit for practicing turns in – most of us will have enough trouble riding through sand in a straight line!
BIG STUFF FOR YOUR BACKYARD TRIALS SETUP
One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure! You may be able to access bigger items like tractor tires and larger logs by approaching farm machinery businesses and logging companies – sometimes they’ll give this stuff away, or at least just for the cost of delivery. Tractor tires are especially handy for practicing zaps and splats as there is a bit of give in the rubber if you slam into the tire with your skidplate.
If concrete slabs are being ripped up on a building site you may get free delivery to your property. Concrete pipes will be hard to get for free, but might be within your budget. Concrete pipes are slippery which is great for testing your traction abilities, but remember your skidplate will take more of a pounding on concrete than timber logs.
LOGS FOR TRIALS PRACTICE
Logs are brilliant for backyard trials setups – there is so much you can do with them. Practice riding along them for balance, or stack them on top of each other which provides good practice for undercut ledges. Space them at awkward intervals to test your balance and ability to hop the front and rear wheels as needed, or even jump certain logs. You won’t want them rolling around so ensure they are well secured with a dirt foundation or are bolted or tied together.
Set some up at 45 degree angles to the track. If you can’t access large logs, place them on a mound of dirt to get more height. Have a look at our vid and trials forums for the many ways logs can give a trials rider wood!
If you have heavy machinery to move rocks around, create rock sections. For more challenge put these on a slope, or space them at intervals that force you to jump between each rock. Small loose rocks that will move around are excellent for testing your balance and throttle control. Make sure you include some tight u-turns on loose rocks.
If you can redirect a stream or have a bore, make a water section and/or bog hole. Adding rocks and logs to this will create either an trials riding hell or paradise depending on your riding skills! Another option is to put the logs and rocks near the water section as repeated runs will get the logs and rocks wet and test out your traction-finding skills.
LEGAL ISSUES WITH A BACKYARD TRIALS PRACTICE COURSE
This really sucks, but consider the legal issues if friends use your trials practice area. It’s unlikely a friend would sue you, but picture the worst case scenario – a friend dies riding your track and a grief-stricken family decides to sue you. Even if it’s unlikely they’ll win the case, it can cost a fortune in lawyers to argue the case. It would truly suck if you lost your property and everything you owned because of a tragedy that wasn’t your fault. Have a serious think about this and check out the laws and legal mumbo jumbo in your state and country.
It might sound over the top, but consider printing off a disclaimer that friends have to sign before they ride your track. If you are in Australia, we’ve researched some of this on the following thread:
Please note this thread only looks at organizing a social ride on public land, it does not look at rides on your property which will complicate the issue in terms of any duty of care owed to visitors! Get legal advice!
On that thread we have this disclaimer that might be useful for adapting to suit as a disclaimer for anyone riding on your property.
Check out our Backyard trials setups video.