Motorcycle Trials or Observed Trials is a motorcycle sport that gives emphasis not on speed, but on balance, skill, precision control on clutch, brakes and throttle. An observer (hence the name, Observed Trials) gives 1 point each time a rider puts a foot down or “dabs”. A maximum 5 points is given if the rider stalls his bike, falls, goes out of bounds or goes backwards. The rider with the fewest points wins. Sounds simple? It is not. The competitors will have to go through pre-designated routes with logs, streams, boulders, dump trucks, walls and basically every imaginable obstacle one could come up with whether indoor or outdoor.
The pinnacle of this sport is the Trial World Championship. While this sport has been typically run with petrol-powered trials motorcycles, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM, International Motorcycling Federation) has introduced an electric category, just like many of its other motorsports, e.g. Moto E to MotoGP.
Yamaha has just finalized its entry in the 2019 FIM Trial-E Cup with the TY-E electric trials bike for the second successive year. Kenichi Kuroyama will once again ride for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team as he aims to clinch the title win that he narrowly missed last year, finishing 2nd overall by just three points. The Trial-E Cup began in 2017 with just a single round, but that number was increased to two last season. This third season of the competition will again consist of two rounds, held alongside Round 3 of the FIM Trial World Championship in Zelhem in the Netherlands (June 22–23) and Round 4 in Comblain-au-Pont in Belgium (June 29–30).
Kuroyama is a top-class trials rider with a record of 11 All-Japan Trial Championship titles and has finished a career-best third in the FIM Trial World Championship. He is riding for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team in the All Japan Trial Championship’s premier IA Superclass and currently sits atop the point standings with second place at Round 1 in Wakayama and a win at Round 2 in Miyazaki. “Last year I won the first round but narrowly missed the win in the second, and that ended up costing me the title. It was a really frustrating and disappointing result for me.” said Kenichi Kuroyama.
The TY-E made its debut in the Trial-E Cup with Kuroyama last year. The Japanese rider was in close contention for victory at the opening round in France and eventually triumphed by riding to 2 marks and 28 cleans for the win. The scene was similar at the next round in Belgium, but this time Kuroyama fell short of a second win, finishing 2nd. This tied him with his rival on total points with a 1st and 2nd place finish each, but the series rules place priority on the final round’s results, thus Kuroyama and the TY-E ended their first Trial E-Cup campaign as the runner-up. “I feel like there was so much more I could have done, so I’m really happy to have another chance this year...there are a lot of differences between gas and electric bikes and it was also a big challenge mentally,” Kuroyama added.