Motorcycles

The FIM proposes Trial-E as an Olympic discipline

The FIM proposes Trial-E as an...
Loris Gubian, won the 2018 Trial-E Cup on his Gas Gas eContact
Loris Gubian, won the 2018 Trial-E Cup on his Gas Gas eContact
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Yamaha introduced the 2018 TY-E electric trials bike as a concept model, but also raced it at the FIM Trial-E Cup
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Yamaha introduced the 2018 TY-E electric trials bike as a concept model, but also raced it at the FIM Trial-E Cup
Trial can make for quite a spectacle without requiring expensive infrastructure - as demonstrated here by Christophe Bruand who rode his Electric Motion Sport to third place in the 2018 Trial-E Cup
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Trial can make for quite a spectacle without requiring expensive infrastructure - as demonstrated here by Christophe Bruand who rode his Electric Motion Sport to third place in the 2018 Trial-E Cup
Kenichi Kuroyama rode for Yamaha at the 2018 Trial-E Cup and managed to snatch second place with his TY-E bike
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Kenichi Kuroyama rode for Yamaha at the 2018 Trial-E Cup and managed to snatch second place with his TY-E bike
Loris Gubian, won the 2018 Trial-E Cup on his Gas Gas eContact
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Loris Gubian, won the 2018 Trial-E Cup on his Gas Gas eContact
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Trial riding, the fine art of hopping impossible obstacles on a motorcycle without ever touching a boot down, welcomed an electric class in 2017. After a timid start under world championship banners, the Trial-E Cup has been proposed for the additional sports shortlist of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

TheInternational Motorcycling Federation (FIM) has been trying to introduce electric racing classes for quite sometime and it hasn't always been easy. After two failed attempts in2008 and 2013 with the e-Power and eRoadRacing world cups respectively, 2019 will see a new bid for a viable and enjoyable series within the illustrious confines of MotoGP racing.

This time the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup is a seemingly well founded prospect, yet it's not solid enough to support anything other than a single-brand class. Most electric motorcycle manufacturers are too small to afford world-class racing, while the big factories still run on fossil fuel.

As the European Union launches a legislative offensive against the internal combustion engine, the FIM seems keen on taking advantage of this momentum and, in this sense, the Energica-powered MotoE series arrives at the right time. Nevertheless, all other popular world-class motorcycle series – motocross, enduro, superbikes – have no electric class in their ranks.

Even the initially successful experiment of the Isle of Man TT Zero now seems to be dwindling since Polaris pulled the plug on Victory and sold off Brammo to Cummins Inc., leaving Mugen to dominate a grid filled with university prototypes and privateers.

Trial can make for quite a spectacle without requiring expensive infrastructure - as demonstrated here by Christophe Bruand who rode his Electric Motion Sport to third place in the 2018 Trial-E Cup
Trial can make for quite a spectacle without requiring expensive infrastructure - as demonstrated here by Christophe Bruand who rode his Electric Motion Sport to third place in the 2018 Trial-E Cup

One notable exception is Trial, debuting the Trial-E Cup in 2017 with one race in France, following up with the 2018 cup that included two races in France and Belgium. Running the electric series during world championship events offered access to ample publicity, attracting Gas Gas – eventual cup winner – and Yamaha to the mix, along with smaller manufacturers like Electric Motion from France and some prototype machines.

Trial seems like a very convenient sport for electric bikes, as it doesn't rely on horsepower and range is not an issue. Torque is much more important and electric bikes produce it in spades; from then on, it's more about rider skill.

For2019, Trial-E will return with the same two-race format, this time visiting Belgium and the Netherlands in June. But the FIM has bolder plans in mind.

In late January a FIM delegation met with the Organizing Committee of the 2024 Olympic Games to be held in Paris, France, suggesting that Trial-E be included as an additional sport.

Japan had already proposed five new sports for the upcoming 2020 TokyoGames – baseball/softball, sports climbing, karate, surfing and skateboard – and now it was Paris' turn to make its recommendations for the 2024 event it will host.

There's no guarantee that any of these will become permanent Olympic disciplines, the only certainty is that they'll be included in the specific Games. Understandably there must have been a long list of sports federations lined up to meet with theFrench Olympic Committee and the FIM was among them.

Paris finally turned in its suggestions on February 21 and these included three returning sports – sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing – as well as a new one, breaking, as in breakdancing. These are yet to be approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but the news we're focusing on here is the absence of Trial-E.

It shouldn't be any surprise to anyone and indeed it wasn't for theFIM either, as its press release acknowledges how hard this endeavor was in the first place, especially since it represented a motorized sport, quite the novelty for Olympic standards. In fact, Trial-E would constitute the first ever motorized Olympic sport if it were not for three motorboat races in the 1908 Games in England.

Kenichi Kuroyama rode for Yamaha at the 2018 Trial-E Cup and managed to snatch second place with his TY-E bike
Kenichi Kuroyama rode for Yamaha at the 2018 Trial-E Cup and managed to snatch second place with his TY-E bike

The FIM indeed considers Trial-E to be a viable candidate for the future, suggesting that it satisfies the IOC's criteria. Once again, motorcycling has momentum on its side, as the IOC is working on expanding the Games according to the guidelines of its Agenda 2020, i.e. making the Olympic program "gender-balanced, more youth-focused and more urban."

In this sense Trial-E could fit in the frame, as the politics of advancing sustainability and environmental awareness can play conveniently to the tune of promoting electric mobility through major events. Trial races can be setup anywhere, even in city centers, require little space, no permanent infrastructure and make for an exciting spectacle.

After shooting for the stars, and well before Paris' recommendations went public, the FIM also targeted more feasible feats, such as the 2021World Games and the 2023 EuropeanGames. Its chances are considerably better for these events and can both be considered as closely related to theOlympic Games.

They're both regulated by the IOC and, most importantly, the World Games have served as a stepping stone for the Olympic Games to several sports, such as badminton, beach volleyball, trampolining, taekwondo and triathlon among them.

Source: FIM

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5 comments
guzmanchinky
If there was ever a sport best suited for electric it's Trial. No clutch, instant torque, perfect. Seems out of place at the Olympics but hey, it's all about fun and competition so why not?
minivini
I love trials. The riders who are good are nothing short of athletes. However, motorized competition has no place in the Olympics. Hey
Stephen Colbourne
I think indoor trials motor cycling is one of the best spectator sports going. The only problem is that if the ventilation is not up to standard the air can get rather polluted. Therefore electric bikes make a lot of sense in small venues. I would really like this sport to be added to the Olympics as it is one that takes so much skill and is probably the most affordable of motor sports, and a bike probably costs no more than the clothing and equipment used in most other elite sports at Olympic level. All riders could use the same model bike provided by the organisers to maintain fairness.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEU4f4DZZJ8
Catweazle
Interesting...
I rode an electric trials bike over 50 years ago, at the motorcycle show in Blackpool, around 1964 or so.
Joseph Lucas (AKA the Prince of Darkness due to the quality and reliability of their lighting systems - you've never lived until you've approached a bend at high speed and your dipswitch has shorted) had a stand with a small trials section laid out on it, and two bikes fitted with batteries and electric motors, with no speed control, just an on/off switch linked to the throttle.
One was a BSA C15T, the other was a Greeves Scottish, I had a go on the C15, nothing much else to say other than I got round without falling off, with no progressive throttle control it was a bit of a hang-on-and-hope effort.
Seems it's taken a long while to catch on!
ljaques
Add it. Those guys are supreme athletes. Replace the "sport" of running around swinging a baton with a ribbon on it, or synchronized swimming, please.