TEAM RG Trials
As the editor of Trial Magazine for just over the last decade, I have come into contact with many people with a vision of running their own trials team. In the tough economic climate, we are living in this dream is a very difficult one to bring to life, as the funding is always the stumbling block — as is the time and commitment. We are talking about quite a substantial investment for it to work, but there is one key factor in this recipe that needs to be added, and that is passion.
I first came into contact with Rudi Geiser at the Japanese World round in 2015. I had noticed him before with his good friend Walter Wermuth. We started to talk about the world trials scene and the need to offer opportunities to the young riders looking for a future in the motorcycle sport of trials. Great Britain’s Jack Sheppard was having a tough 2015 season, and when he arrived at the Rhode Island venue for the American World round. I was very surprised to see him there with his machine and ready to compete. He mentioned the name, Rudi Geiser, saying he had helped to make it happen, and my question was answered.
Since those early days, the team has moved forward and progressed at a very steady pace, as they develop the riders and enjoy the support of Montesa and a long list of many sponsors and companies who support the team. The man who made it all happen was Rudi Geiser, a man with a pure passion for trials.
Now in its third year of competing in the Trial World Championship, the RG Trials Team of Rudi Geiser has made a name for itself in the paddocks of the world of trials. The owner of a ski rental company named Tramelan, he has equipped himself with an infrastructure and organisation unique in the small world of trials. The team consists of nine staff with three riders, three minders, one mechanic, one press officer, and the team manager and owner Rudi. The three riders are Sweden’s Eddie Karlson in the TrialGP class and Noe Pretalli in the Trial2 class, who holds the distinction of being the first Swiss rider to enter this class, and French rider Pierre Sauvage. The minders Sam Decoux, Dominique Guillaume and Steven Coquelin, are very experienced and well known in the off-road world, bringing a wealth of knowledge they are happy to share.
The RG Trial Team travels around the world trying to juggle the world, European and national trials championships in a very busy calendar. The Scottish Six Days Trial is also an event they enjoy. While Pierre continues to learn the ropes, Eddie and Noe compete in their respective national championships, and both have the distinction of being the defending champions. Noe and Eddie are also part of the national teams representing Switzerland and Sweden in the famous Trial of Nations. We had a conversation with Rudi about the team, where he answered our questions very openly.
How is all this possible, factory machines and good competitive riders?
During these last three seasons competing in the Trial World Championship, first with Noe then with the arrival of Eddie and Pierre, the factories started to take notice of our commitment — especially Montesa who had witnessed first-hand the work that had been done. I became a sort of satellite team, with the key to the door of the factory supported machines. This is how we arrived at the support from Montesa with the Cota 300RR models. As a team using the Montesa it’s ideal as they give very little problems, such is the reliability of the four-stroke engine, and we also have access to the team technicians and staff if we have a problem. As a brand, they are very easy to deal with as we can easily address all aspects of the sport.
How did you reserve a place in the ‘A’ paddock?
I arrived in the ‘A’ designated paddock after the FIM looked closely at the infrastructure of the team and awarded us this prestigious position. They know exactly why we are in the sport and what we want to achieve. We also have financial stability, which was very important as it shows we are not just playing a game.
Financially, what does a season cost and how is it all financed?
The costs I am not 100% sure of — Rudi smiles… I set up a network of sponsors on a regional level playing the card of proximity, communication and participation. They all found these key elements very attractive, at the different levels of exposure they wanted. We contest the national championships for those sponsors for whom this is the most attractive. It’s the same with the European and World Championships, as at both levels of competition we can give the sponsors either European exposure or if they want a global window we can also provide this level. These partners and friends have been loyal for more than three seasons and are invited to come to the events, whether in Switzerland or the rest of the world, with support and easy access to watch the riders who ultimately they are funding. This is a very appreciative and rewarding formula that works for everyone involved from the different areas that the sponsorship packages come from.
In the motorcycle, trials world the support from Montesa in Spain, the Honda importers in Switzerland, and the relevant hard parts and clothing, helmet and boot sponsors are very much appreciated as they are supporting the sport in a team that needs it to compete at the level we do. It’s also a place where we can help them to develop their products.
Where does all the motivation come from?
As well as having a huge passion for motorcycle trials I also enjoy entrepreneurship. I have applied my skills — no different to the ones I apply in business — in organising the RG Trials team. I pride myself on being very efficient in everything I do in life. The whole trials ‘family’ is a good one to be around and I also love the travelling, as the trials locations around the world can take you places you would probably never visit in a normal life away from motorcycle trials.
How do you see the development of the team?
To give better value and exposure to our sponsors I may not compete in the TrialGP class, and change my main focus to the Trial2 class in 2018. I believe we can attract more support with better results in Trial2 than at the bottom end of the points in TrialGP. I am open to supporting riders from any countries as my sponsors can benefit with more exposure in different areas. With the right riders, I would like to have a support package where they can challenge to win the Trial2 World Championship; that would be the dream, an RG Trials Team world champion.
RUDI GEISER — THE MAN TO KNOW
Not quite an unknown in the world of motorcycle sport, his first involvement of management came about with road racer Yves Briguet before he became involved with the indoor trial at Tramelan in the nineties. In 2012 he applied his organisational skills to the Trial Des Nations at Moutier in Switzerland as the host nation. He is based in Switzerland at Tramelan, which has a history of watch making, which is maybe where his precision in running the trials team comes from! The local economy employs a huge manufacturing and support industry which is one of the areas he can look to for support and sponsorship for his trials venture. Away from the trials scene, his main activity during the winter months is a ski rental agency. It was no surprise that Montesa contacted him to propose Swedish rider Eddie Karlsson into his team, as the official Montesa team was already complete with Spanish riders Toni Bou, Jaime Busto and Japan’s Takahisa Fujinami.
Here we look into the mind a little more of this larger than life character that is Rudi Geiser to see how he ‘ticks’.
At the entrance to Tramelan in Switzerland where he lives, you will see a large blue house with an inscription ‘Geiser Sport — Ski rental’. After having a sports shop and travel agency in the centre of the village, Rudi is now concentrating on one of the region’s most famous winter sports ski rentals, an activity that allows him during the summer period to devote himself to another of his passions: the motorcycle. He is the 3rd of 5 boys that ended with the arrival of a sister, and the Geiser family represents a whole generation active in either wood or trade; Rudi is interested in both in addition to the motorcycle. His education was in Berne and then in St. Moritz in a sports shop before he then travelled back to Tramelan to take over the family sports shop. Like Rudi’s grandfather and father, who are all skiers and ski makers, Rudi plans to build a Swiss Ski Museum, a challenge that is already very advanced.
FROM SAWDUST TO OIL
The Moto Sports Tramelan, which has been active since 1972, has traditionally organised a round of the Swiss Trials Championship, first on the magnificent pastures of the Reussilles and now in the PC compound in Tramelan. This led Rudi to acquire his first motorcycle when he was 15 years old, a Bultaco Sherpa ... then followed many other models including a Suzuki ER 125, a Triumph Bonneville 750 and then others, including the latest: a Ducati 1098.
His participation in the Junior championship trials between 1988 and 1992 gave him an understanding of trials, and he rode quite well and enjoyed it, but he was more interested in the organisation, management and sponsorship in the field of motorcycle trials. To his credit, he coached the Monnin de Tavannes brothers who won many national trials from 1992 to 1995, including three Swiss Elite Championships for Cédric from 1994 to 1996, and internationally they represented their country in the Trial Des Nations. He was also interested in speed, becoming the manager from 1994 to 1996 of Yves Briguet who would shine both in the European and world championship becoming twice vice-world champion in the Thunderbike class. He was also active in the field of cycle-trial taking the Tramelot resident Dave Rollier to the title of vice-world champion in 1995 in Germany in the Junior category. Rudi is now the manager of the young Swiss trials rider Noé Pretalli from Vicques, with whom he started in the 2014 World Championship. It was the first time in the history of trials that a Swiss rider would participate in the entire world series.
ORGANISE A TRIAL IN THE VATICAN!
As we have already seen, Rudi is a man of ambition and is not one to shy away from anything he deems possible. Already he has shown the world of trials his organisational skills by setting up the memorable indoor trials of Tramelan from 1989 to 1992, which twice showed the world the skills of the French stunt rider Jean-Pierre Goy. But the highlight for Rudi will undoubtedly be his time in the presidency at the head of the organisation of the Trial Des Nations in 2012 in Moutier. At the end of this fantastic event, the International Motorcycling Federation awarded Rudi Geiser the prize for excellence. In the opinion of the jury, the event was the most formidable of the ones ever run since the creation of the Trial Des Nations in 1984! For the anecdote, the representative of Italy, who was in the midst of the resignation of Benedict XVI, closed the session by saying: “If Rudi presents himself as a pope, he is elected!”
The 2017 team consisted of nine staff with three riders, three minders, one mechanic, one press officer and owner Rudi. The three riders are Sweden’s Eddie Karlsson in the TrialGP class and Noe Pretalli and French rider Pierre Sauvage in the Trial2 class. The minders are Sam Decoux, Dominique Guillaume and Steven Coquelin.
TRIAL MAGAZINE Trial Magazine’s editor first noticed Rudi in the paddock of the 2015 Japanese World round.
2015 Japan: Noe Pretalli.
2015 USA: Noe Pretalli with the Jotagas in front of the all-important sponsorship banner at the back. Global exposure for the sponsors is very important.
TRIAL MAGAZINE 67 2015 USA: Noe Pretalli and Jack Sheppard.
2016 Spain: Noe Pretalli soon adapted to the four-stroke power of the Cota 4RT.
2016 Spain: Montesa contacted Rudi to propose that the Swedish rider Eddie Karlsson joined his team. The RG Trials team obtained support from Montesa in 2016.
70 TRIAL MAGAZINE 2017 France: Eddie Karlsson on the limit in qualifying.
The team are in the ‘A’ designated paddock after the FIM looked closely at the infrastructure of the team. They know exactly why they are in the sport and what they want to achieve. They also have financial stability, which is very important.
72 Using the Montesa is ideal for the team, as the machines give very few problems such is the reliability of the four-stroke engine. They also have access to the team technicians and staff. As a brand, Montesa have proved very easy to deal with as they can easily address all aspects of the sport.
Rudi is very happy with what he has achieved so far with the team, quite rightly.