Hopping Along - The First Decade
障碍单车运动(Bicycle trials，西班牙称trialsin，英国称Cyclotrials)在美国起步较晚。1980年，曾获得美国德克萨斯洲1973年至1980年摩托障碍赛冠军及4届摩托赛事组织者艾迪·凯斯勒（Eddy Kessler）认识到可以让孩子用单车玩障碍，并开始着手举办首届地区性的美国障碍单车赛（U.S. Bicycle National In Amarillo），来自阿拉巴马的史蒂夫·麦克尼尔（Steve McNeal）获得冠军。1981年，他又在肯萨斯城举办了全美锦标赛（National Championship In Kansas City），并出版了一本12页的口袋书《障碍单车指南》（Bicycle Trials Guide），书中提到德国在1974年左右首先将单车应用在障碍运动中。
Eddy Kessler在1977年NTTA (North Texas Trials Association)赛事中
70年代末，西班牙的障碍摩托车制造公司Montesa（Monty的前身）主管兼摩托障碍车手皮尔·皮（Pere Pi）开始从事障碍单车运动，并开发了第一辆专为障碍运动设计的20英寸小轮障碍单车，后来发展成世界最大的障碍单车公司Monty Bicycles。其子奥特·皮（OT Pi）使用Monty障碍单车赢得多项世界障碍单车冠军，成为障碍单车大使级人物。此后，其他的障碍摩托车厂家如Fantic、GasGas（Megamo品牌单车生产商）等也都相继推出了自己的小轮障碍单车产品，1981年英国广播公司（British Broadcasting Company，简称BBC）还试图为《秒表》（Stopwatch）拍摄孩子们玩障碍单车的运动影片。
Monty T-19 serie 2
障碍单车界的明星和其他极限运动项目一样，几乎自成体系，首位当数来自加利福尼亚的原摩托障碍车手凯文·诺顿（Kevin Norton），他曾轻松获得1985年及1986年NORBA全美锦标赛(National Off-Road Bicycle Association National Championships）的冠军，并成为首位参加欧洲的世界系列锦标赛（World Championship Series in Europe）的美国车手。尽管凯文几乎在每条赛道上要被罚5分（Fived），这位美国冠军还是从欧洲顶尖高手那里学到很多新技术，并出现在越来越多的单车杂志上，障碍单车得到广泛推广，其设计的Kuwahara障碍单车、IRC冠军轮胎也一夜成名。瑞恩·杨（Ryan Young）在其首次参加的1986年NORBA全美锦标赛中获得亚军，这位名不见经传的19岁新手表现出相当的自信和平衡能力，观众跟随他的每一次跳跃在其身后汇集成一条移动的人流。瑞恩的赛车是由肯萨斯的摩托障碍先驱比尔·格瑞普温（Bill Grapevine）手工制作，这辆怪异的铝合金Maverick XT单车采用了26x24的轮子，摩托与单车技术的完美结合在赛场出尽了风头。瑞恩正式参与障碍单车的时间并不长，却留下不少影响，当时14岁的追随者马克·布鲁克斯（Marc Brooks）后来终于成为冠军。1987年，世界冠军奥特.皮在美国进行了为期数周的单车表演和教学活动，加利福尼亚的安迪·格雷森（Andy Grayson）、宾夕法尼亚的马克（Marc Brooks）以及阿拉巴马的汤姆·麦克尼尔（Tom McNeal）等车手均受益非浅，并在1987年的NORBA全美总决赛（NORBA National Finals）中取得好成绩。 出生在德国的世界级车手汉斯·瑞（Hans Rey）在1987年从瑞士移居至美国加利福尼亚，迅速提高了身边车手的水平，包括凯文（Kevin Norton）、安迪（Andy Grayson）、彼得（Peter Delaney）、戴维（Dave Arbogast）和迈克·克雷格（Mike Craig）等车手。
Ot Pí (1988)
障碍单车在80年代中期开始流行，一些厂家纷纷“试水”（Test The Waters）并推出新款设计，但产量很少。Raleigh 公司（Raleigh Bicycles）出品了Kuwahara（24x24）、Maverick（26x24）和Raleigh Edge(26x24)等品牌单车，英国的艾伦.卡彭特（Allen Carpenter）设计了Velocitechs（26x20）障碍单车，还有诸如Fat Chance、Mountain Goat、Moots和Cunningham等公司利用山地车型生产极少量的障碍单车。Raleigh Edge障碍单车带有5速变速器，采用26x24的轮子，由来自华盛顿的约翰·奥尔森（John Olsen）设计。这位公认的障碍单车迷热衷于改进车辆性能，象Monty单车仅能跳跃的功能不能满足他的狂热，又设计了优于Raleigh Edge的Montana Trials（26x24）障碍单车，并由R & E Cycles 公司生产。加利福尼亚Ibis Cycles公司的斯科特·尼科尔（Scot Nicol）进行了26x26、26x24 和26x20等轮型的多项实验后，推出了多速26x24轮子的Ibis Mountain Trial障碍单车，不过欧洲发明的20x20轮子的障碍单车具有更好的跳跃性能并更敏捷。于是斯科特在1987年开始将轮子减小到24x20并在日本生产，来自波士顿的的障碍单车热衷者迈克（Mike Augsperger）专为Ibis公司制作原形车（Prototype），他采用镁合金材料（Magnesium）为单车加装了护盘片（Skidplate）。1988年，Ibis在台湾生产了少量20x20轮子的障碍单车，1992年开始减少障碍单车的生产。1988年，两大BMX厂家Haro和GT开始涉及障碍单车领域， BMX车手鲍勃·哈洛（Bob Haro）在前美国冠军凯文的帮助下，推出了48辐条的轮子、中心刹车（Center-Pull Brakes）和BMX前叉（BMX Style Fork）的障碍单车；竞争对手GT公司则在障碍单车运动支持者及山地车手汗斯的协助下设计了GT Ricochet 和Ricochet Pro车型，这位名字已乎成为商标的选手指定使用Monty的前叉（Full- Length Forks）及GT的侧拉刹车（Side-Pull Brakes）。
1988年NORBA的全美锦标赛仅限美国车手参加，汉斯等国外运动员丧失了参赛资格，安迪在该年比赛中夺魁，并在第二年的比赛中获得头名，马克（Marc Brooks）紧随其后。1990年马克在加利福尼亚的全美锦标赛上终于无人可敌获得冠军，阿拉巴马选手汤姆（Tom McNeal）和加利福尼亚选手亚伦·浮士德（Aaron Faust）分获二、三名。同年马克的师傅1986年全美锦标赛亚军瑞恩·杨（Ryan Young）赢得摩托障碍冠军头衔，两位来自宾夕法尼亚的选手首次同时占领了障碍单车宝座。安迪（Andy Grayson）未能参加1990年的赛事，不过在1991年因参加戴维和约翰的障碍单车表演（David Letterman And Johnny Carson Shows）而频频暴光，并获得参加1992年的Chevy Trucks障碍单车表演的机会。1991年NORBA Finals首次在东海岸（Mt. Snow, Vermont）举行，天然赛道和小雨天气使赛事极具挑战性，最低罚分增加至35分，马克（Marc Brooks）获得冠军，汤姆（Tom McNeal）和阿朗（Aaron Faust）再次分获二、三名。一些不知名的东海岸选手首次亮相并进入前十名，包括尼尔·威利（Neil Willey）、伊恩·库克（Ian Cooke）和克里斯.史兰士（Chris Slentz）等一批车手。全美冠军车手都曾参加世界锦标赛并得以提升技术，1988年迈克·克雷格（Mike Craig）获得高级组（Senior Class）第5名，安迪（Andy Grayson）获得初级组（Junior Class）第12名；马克（Marc Brooks）在1989年获得世锦赛第14名，旋即于次年获得初级组第8名以及世界杯室内障碍单车赛的第六名，1991年获得高级组第11名，并在德国排名第八；汤姆（Tom McNeal）在1990年用了一个月时间转战于欧洲的世界锦标系列赛（World Championship Series）并获得高级组16名的成绩。美国障碍单车运动的发展除了靠车手的努力以外，也离不开热情支持障碍单车运动的幕后英雄们，西班牙Monty公司的皮尔·皮、Ibis公司的斯科特·尼科尔（Scot Nicol ）及Specialized Bicycles公司的汤姆·黑勒德（Tom Hillard）都曾大力支持障碍单车运动，这些障碍单车厂商、赛事推广者和无数的障碍单车爱好者一起给选手提供了一个表演才能的大赛场。（原文）
By Jim Ellis and Rich Brooks （极浪翻译）
Hopping Along - The First Decade
Bicycle trials, or trialsin in Spain, or Cyclotrials in England, started slowly in America. Eddy Kessler, the Texas State Trials Champion between 1973 and 1980, and the organizer of four motorcycle nationals, recognized the possibility of getting youngsters into trials through bicycling. So, he started organizing local bicycle trials and in 1980 held the first U.S. Bicycle National in Amarillo, won by Steve McNeal of Alabama. The '81 National Championship took place in Kansas City.
In 1981 Eddy published a 12-page, pocket-sized, Bicycle Trials Guide which mentions that the Germans were one of the first to adapt trials to bicycles around 1974. I have no information on organized events in the U.S. during the 1970's or between 1982 and 1984, but presume that some bicycle trials activity was happening. If you know of such activity, I'd enjoy hearing from you. Jim Ellis 919-496-4663 evenings.
In Spain around 1980, Pedro Pi, a Montesa executive and rider, started trialsin. Pedro also designed the 20x20 Montesa trials bicycle, which evolved into the Monty. His son, Ot, earned several World Championships and has become the world's leading Bicycle Trials Ambassador. Fantic also produced a 20x20 trialer in the early 1980's. And, in '81 the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) was planning to film bicycle trials for Stopwatch, their children's sports show.
Our first star of the sport was Kevin Norton, a motorcycle trialer from California. Kevin easily dominated the first two NORBA (National Off-Road Bicycle Association) National Championships, held in Durango, Colo., in 1985 and '86; and was the first American to compete in the four-round World Championship Series in Europe. The Europeans were phenomenal riders and their events were so difficult that Norton usually fived every section. Kevin returned with new techniques, and his influence as U.S. Champion included trials coverage in numerous bicycling magazines as well as design work on the Kuwahara Trials bicycle and IRC Trial Winner tires.
Ryan Young earned National No. 2 in Durango in '86 while competing in his first ever bicycle event! Here was a 19-year-old competitor that the bicycle world had never heard of, dressed head to toe in a full-length white riding suit with tall white boots and a USA helmet, riding a strange beast of a bike no one had ever seen before with such poise, balance, moves and confidence that the crowd followed him like a Pied Piper ... His long and tall, polished aluminum, double cradle frame bike with triple tree aluminum forks, sporting 26x24 wheels with drum brakes ... was the Maverick XT, the unique handmade creation of Bill Grapevine, a motorcycle trials pioneer from Leon, Kansas, who accompanied Ryan to the event. At that event Young and Grapevine demonstrated the classic marriage of motorcycle/bicycle technology and bicycle/motorcycle trials techniques. Though Ryan's formal involvement with bicycle trials was brief, his influence persists, as his protege at the time was 14-year-old future National Champion Marc Brooks.
In 1987 Ot Pi, the World Champion from Spain, spent several weeks in the U.S. giving demonstrations and schools that inspired riders for years. Ot's proteges included Andy Grayson in California, Marc Brooks in Pennsylvania, and Tom McNeal in Alabama, who would share the victory circle at the 1987 NORBA National Finals.
World class rider Hansjorg Rey, a competitor of trialsin champion Jordi Tarres, moved from Switzerland to California in 1987 and immediately raised the level of all who rode with him. Rey won the National Championship with a narrow victory over Jim Trigonis in Durango. Kevin Norton was seventh, a testimony to Rey's influence on riders like Andy Grayson, Peter Delaney, Dave Arbogast, and Mike Craig.
The growing popularity of bicycle trials in the mid 1980's encouraged several manufacturers to test the waters with new designs, many of which saw very limited production. Besides the 24x24 Kuwahara and the 26x24 Maverick, Raleigh Bicycles build the Raleigh Edge. Designed by John Olsen, another escapee from motorcycle trials, the Edge sported 26x24 wheels and a five-speed derailleur. Olsen, an admitted trials addict and organizer in Washington state, has always favored trials bike that can be ridden rather than merely hopped, like the Monty. Prior to the Edge, John designed the 26x24 Montana Trials, built by R & E Cycles in Seattle. Several other manufacturers including Fat Chance, Mountain Goat, Moots, and Cunningham made a few trialers, usually tailored along mountain bike lines.
Serious trials efforts were initiated by Scot Nicol at Ibis Cycles in Sebastopol, California. Nicol experimented with 26x26, 26x24 and 26x20 designs before producing the Ibis Mountain Trial, a multi- speed 26x24 model. It soon became apparent, though, that the European inspired 20x20 size was far superior for hopping and other agile moves. So Scot downsized, bringing out the 24x20 Ibis Trials Comp in 1987. The turquoise blue machines were built in Japan but lacked a skidplate. That was readily solved by Mike Augsperger in Boston, a pattern maker and bicycle/motorcycle trials enthusiast/organizer who sculpted the prototype for the Ibis cast magnesium skidplate. In 1988 Ibis had a shipment of violet and orange Trials Comps built in Taiwan including some with 20x20 wheels. For 1992 Ibis has limited its trials models to specials in the megabuck neighborhood.
In the mid '80s Allen Carpenter, an Englishman in Boulder, Colorado, built some 26x20 trialers called Velocitechs. Carpenter also designed and built two Rokon powered sidehacks that he entered in the 1979 A.O.T.S.C.A. (American Observed Trials Sidecar Association) National Championship in Kansas City.
Two major BMX and Freestyle companies tackled trials in '88. Haro, with help from former U.S. Champion Kevin Norton, tore a page out of the Monty book and released the Haro Response. It featured 48-spoke wheels, center-pull brakes, and a BMX style fork. Their competitor, GT, hooked onto trials supporter Hansjorg Rey for help designing and promoting the GT Ricochet and Ricochet Pro. Rey, who had made his mark in Europe on Monty, specified Monty style full- length forks and side-pull brakes for the GT. The Pro featured a high quality three-piece crank and spindle assembly.
1988 saw NORBA restrict National Championship eligibility to Americans, effectively slamming the door on Hansjorg and other foreigners. Andy Grayson took the title that year in Sun Valley, Idaho. Andy repeated in 1989 in California followed by Marc Brooks and an Alabama rebel who's had his sights locked on Brooks for a couple of years.
Marc, who was unbeaten by Americans in 1990, won the National Championship in Mammoth, California. Concurrently, Marc's former mentor, Ryan Young, won the motorcycle championship, enabling the two Pennsylvanians to bring both trials titles to the east coast for the first time. Tom McNeal of Alabama followed with Aaron Faust of California taking third. Grayson skipped the '90 Nationals, but earned nationwide exposure performing trials demonstrations on the David Letterman and Johnny Carson shows in 1991. This led to an opportunity to perform trials demos for Chevy Trucks in '92.
Mt. Snow, Vermont, hosted the 1991 NORBA Finals. This first ever east coast National Final featured some of the most challenging sections ever seen in the U.S. Mike Augsperger and his wife Leni Fried, believe wholeheartedly in long, wide, completely natural sections. Quite the opposite of the one obstacle, stadium trial philosophy. The fatigue factor combined with a bit of rain elevated the low score into the 35 point neighborhood, much to Hans Rey's delight. Hans, who has had low score for the fourth straight year, was pushed by Marc Brooks. Brooks, as top American, took the '91 National Title as well as the Stock Mountain Bike Title. Several young and promising east coast riders made their first appearance in the nation's top ten, including Neil Willey and Ian Cooke from Maine and Chris Slentz of Pennsylvania. Tom McNeal and Aaron Faust repeated as National No. 2 and No. 3.
Each of our National Champions has ridden in the World Championship Series and our competence at that level steadily improves. In 1988 Mike Craig finished fifth in the Senior Class while Andy Grayson earned 12th in the extremely competitive Junior Class. Marc Brooks struggled to 14th in Europe in '89, but returned to finish a strong eighth place Junior in 1990 as well as sixth in the World Cup Indoor. Marc returned in '91 to finish 11th in the Senior Class on the strength of an eighth place in Germany. Tom McNeal spent a month in Europe in 1990 contesting the World Championship Series, earning a 16th in the Junior Class.
Finally, there are numerous behind the scenes heroes whose enthusiastic efforts have helped advance the sport. Among others, they include Scot Nicol of Ibis, Tom Hillard of Specialized Bicycles, Mike Augsperger, Bill Grapevine, John Olsen, Bob Lawson, Greg Morin, Brent Mullin, Nelson Crouch, Dale Young, Yeti Bicycles, Maurice Tierney of Dirt Rag, the Patrick family of Trials competition and Pedro Pi, a strong supporter of U.S. trialsin. Other heroes include the promoters, supporters, checkers, families and competitors who give the sport many great events and great times. Their efforts give America's present and future trialsin stars an opportunity and a venue for their appreciating talents.
by Jim Ellis and Rich Brooks