I recently had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Kemble and his daughter in person at the 2024 Indoor Winter Trials Jam. Previously I’d only chatted with Andrew via email after he had discovered my website. He told me that he doesn’t know any local trials riders near his residence in Pennsylvania, but he demonstrated some pretty serious trials skills at the Trials Jam – so I figured there had to be a good story there, and there is!

Tell us a little about yourself (name, brief background, your profession, etc.)

My name is Andrew Kemble, I’m 48 years old and have a five year old daughter, Zia. ZZ, as she likes to be called. We live near Harrisburg PA. I’m a masonry contractor and that keeps me very busy sometimes, and alternately gives me a bit of welcome down time to work on my own projects: home projects, building things for ZZ, and doing all the things we like to do together. One bonus of my line of work is the building materials I accumulate, and can use for trials playgrounds.

How long have you been riding bike trials?

I’m an intermediate trials rider and I’ve been riding trials off and on for about twenty years now. I grew up in the country and always had bicycles, mini bikes, and dirt bikes as a kid. When I was 16 I got my first mountain bike, and it was a game changer. A polished aluminum “Killer V” all XT components. I loved that bike and the freedom it gave me to explore and ride new places. I had a couple buddies who followed suit and got mountain bikes and we rode regularly together, and lots of others who would start getting into riding too. Haha, it’s really making me smile thinking back to those days in the 90’s, lots of memorable times on two wheels!

How did you discover bike trials and how did you get started? What age were you when you started? Why do you ride bike trials and what keeps you motivated to keep riding? What other styles of cycling do you do?

My friend Dan would sometimes say that I liked doing trials types of riding. I remember a concrete bridge, I would ride towards it slowly and wheelie my front wheel onto the side of it and balance there. I didn’t know what trials was or really what he meant by saying that. I also learned a lot from my friend Josh, front and back wheel pivots and riding up and over obstacles. In the 2000’s I started doing XC mountain bike races and got to be fairly competitive in the expert class. Around the same time, around 30 years old, I discovered more about trials and trials specific bikes. I forced a makeshift trials bike out of a Giant full suspension bike and learned how to pedal kick over a stick. It just came to me. I combined hopping on the back wheel which I had already been doing, and the quick pedal motion I used for starting a wheelie and it worked. I was shocked, very excited, and hooked. Then I found a Cescent Iliad and a Planet X Zebdi on craigslist and talked my buddy Derick into us getting them. He chose the Zebdi and I got the Crescent. We had been pushing each other’s riding on trials obstacles before that and I think we both thought that getting these bikes would instantly make trials so much easier. Nope! The new (used) bikes felt strange, and everything was harder! Of course we got used to them, and trials has been an addiction ever since. In all my years of riding nothing gives me the sense of pure freedom that riding trials does. And the feeling of accomplishment, from any progress or improvement in my riding is highly rewarding. It’s as though you get out more than you put in, but I always like doing things that are difficult and take a lot of work and effort to achieve. I don’t have to be the best or achieve greatness, just challenge myself, and that’s what trials does for me and why I love it.

How would you define/describe “bike trials” in your own words to someone who never heard of it?

I explain trials to people as being analogous to skateboarding. You’re not going to ride a trials bike for transportation, it’s a bike that you can find something challenging to ride and session on it. Or I’ll show them “Industrial Revolutions”. Such an awesome video. So many amazing riders and videos, but that one is my favorite. I also like Ali Clarkson and his channel. He seems such a good dude. I watch his stuff and find myself on the edge of my seat pulling for him to succeed. Watching riders at that level is like looking at a beautiful piece of art. Inspiring, moving, and formidable.

What type of bike trials riding do you prefer (style, obstacle types, moves, solo/group, etc.) and where do you like to ride?

I like riding all types of trials, natural and man made obstacles. My motivation to keep riding is my daughter. Hoping she will take up the sport too. She is a good little rider! Currently working on teaching her to ride her 12″ unicycle, might have it down this summer! I like riding wheelies as we cruise on our bikes at the park, and I get a big smile thinking of the day I can ride a wheelie along side of her on her unicycle.

How often do you ride trials? What’s the bike trials scene like near you? How many other riders are there?

I generally ride trials a few times a month when everything lines up to get a ride in. These days I don’t have anyone in my area to ride with. Riding with others is always the most fun, helps with pushing yourself to progress more and it’s good to have someone to laugh at you when you fall off a wall into the bushes while trying to impress the ladies. Riding in public is something I like, having eyes on you usually is enough to push me to try things I might not do otherwise. Sometimes it works (usually does) haha, but sometimes not.

What would you like to see happening in North America with respect to bike trials?

I really appreciate the work you and the “This Is Bike Trials” crew does to organize and promote trials. Would love to see more (any) trials competitions in the mid-Atlantic region!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start bike trials or has just started?

To anyone interested in riding trials I would say ride whatever bike you have. You can do trials on a flat parking lot or a trials park. As you progress you can up your equipment and find challenging places to ride, and the reward is the grin you wear as your skills progress. I always find there’s something from each ride that got better, even a tiny bit better, and that’s progress. Some people try trials as a way of improving in other disciplines of riding, definitely do that! But don’t be surprised when it grows on you!

How do people find you online? (i.e., YouTube, web, social media, etc.)

I’m not really a social media guy, maybe will work on that but as of now I don’t do much online.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *