Ryan Bratton with some big moves riding his mountain bike on the expert course during the 2022 North American Trials Championship

Recently I’ve heard people asking about getting started in trials, particularly when they have a mountain bike, but don’t (yet) have a trials bike. In this video, I provide some tips on using a mountain bike to learn trials and then demonstrate some simple trials lines using a hardtail MTB.

While I’d seen people ride trials on a mountain bike in the past, I hadn’t really tried it before. After my first time trying it, here are some of my impressions. First, it’s totally doable: you can absolutely ride trials on a MTB. When you’re first learning trials, you should be focusing on the basics like trackstands, basic balance, rolling on/off obstacles, pivots, things like that, which mountain bikes can easily handle. Second, there are some basic bike setup tips such as dropping your seat and locking the front shock that make it easier for riding trials. One tip that wasn’t mentioned in the video, is that you’ll want to have decent brakes if possible. Third, mountain bikes will feel different than trials bikes due to several factors such as geometry, weight, gears, number of hub engagement points, wheel size, etc. Balance points will be different, the bike will be harder to move, and it will react more sluggishly. To an extent, you can counteract some of these factors by using exaggerated movements.

The upshot is that if you want to start learning trials but don’t have a trials bike, just start with the bike you have. Begin learning the basics. As you start to progress, then you can decide whether you want a trials bike.

If you have tips for riding trials on a mountain bike, please let us know in the comments.


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