Category Archives: Gloves Off – With Bernie Schreiber

GLOVES OFF – The risk of resting on your laurels

Trials Guru spent time with 1979 World Trials Champion Bernie Schreiber this month to discuss his views about sports, athletes, clubs, organizers, manufacturers, retailers and . . . the risk of resting on your laurels!

Bernie Schreiber celebrates 40 years since his SSDT win in 1982, the only American/Non-European winner in the events history.

The phrase ‘Resting on your laurels’ dates back to ancient Greek and Roman traditions, where victorious Olympians or generals wore crowns made of laurel wreaths as symbols of victory, success, and status.

In this second ‘Gloves Off’ interview, Bernie talks with Trials Guru about how past successes and challenges are something to celebrate and learn from. However, they can prevent progress if not constantly and carefully developed. The only way to make progress and growth is to analyze – see what went wrong, make corrections, and improve the situation.

There is no giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps, but if you rest… you rust!

Photo: Eric Kitchen

Trials Guru – What must be overcome to avoid basking in the memories of former glories?

Bernie Schreiber – Good is often the enemy of great! People easily fall into the trap of thinking: ‘we are quite good at what we do,’ or ‘this company is good’ or ‘this event is good.’ Good is the enemy of great because somewhere out there, a competitor has fire in their stomach and is not content with being good, they want great, excellence and first position. They push harder, innovate more, create more, execute effectively, and have clear plans over the horizon. They are ready to give up everything to reach the goal. They are investing efficiently into Research and Development or people skills, or just setting the bar much higher than the status quo. You know where this story is going . . . and to feel comfortable because you have been successful at any level in the past is a place that must be avoided for growth and meeting potential goals.

SSDT 1980 – Bernie Schreiber – Bultaco – Pipeline – Photo: Jim Young

TG – Do you think that this mindset of ‘great’ is important for success?

BS – Absolutely the main hurdle for athletes, clubs, organizers, and retailers.

Most arrive in a state of complacency, pleased with what they have achieved in the past, and that could be last weekend, month, or year.

They reduce the “great” efforts because they’re already satisfied with what they’ve done.

Once you make little to no effort to further advance or improve comes the unexpected knockout moment.

You’ve been there and done that and that’s good enough is a lack of real greatness, a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged. How you change and progress is how you succeed.

TG – As a past World Champion you must have had moments of reflection and adapted to change?

BS – Every day reflects how to avoid mistakes, grow, and learn from experience of others, but this process of change can beat you to the ground if you let it.

In sports we are judged not by the number of times we fail, but by the number of successes and achievements. I always keep an eye on the ratio of results. Even the best performance can be improved!

Self-confidence is what separates Champion athletes from the rest of the competitors.

Being satisfied with no change is the beginning of the end.

TG – How has sports changed for top athletes?

BS – That would depend on the sport and the level that athlete is performing. The sports industry has been hit hard over the last two years and this has changed the risk perception for long term partnerships to invest into top athletes and events.

Everyone feels the impact in the world of international sports. Agencies and promoters are facing particularly challenging times. This new environment of digital and Covid has brought manufactures and brands much closer to market realities, sales, and budgets.

The tools that worked then do not provide the same returns today. Therefore, athletes have been affected as well and many forced to reduce their budgets, change, or end careers.

Top athletes must work harder to build and keep partnerships, find budgets, and build their own brand on social media platforms.

The social media landscape has changed, and the athletes’ brand awareness process takes time to build correctly.

Athletes today must perform much more off the field than time competing. No company wants to associate their products with nobody, so brands who really don’t know who you are or how to use your brand name to promote their products are unlikely to invest in a partnership.

There are potential partners who may have interest, but this depends on the approach and deliverable assets from both sides.

Winning is not everything in the new social media entertainment world of communication.

Photo: Guilio Mauri/Fontsere

TG – What’s your ‘Gloves Off’ advice to trials clubs and event organizers?

BS – Organizing events is not easy and building events is even more difficult. Clubs and event organizers are like riders. They all have different skill sets and personal objectives. Some ride for fun, others wish to be great or just rest on laurels.

Being good at what you do does not mean success for a club or an organizer. The approach of the “JOB” Just Over Broke club or organizer is not very promising over time and eventually reduces in size and quality.

The social club is fine, but events should offer interesting experiences with exclusive or unique attractions. How you attract consumers, riders and partners should be with unique offerings others can’t provide. Your trials events are important, but how you build the club, events and partners is the most important. Clubs and events are products, and all products need innovation, communication, and marketing to create and present the added values. My advice is a clear strategic plan whether local, national, or international and focus on quality over quantity. Less is More.

TG – So quality growth and promotion is your advice?

BS – To maintain credibility you must promote and operate in a quality way that inspires riders to return and members to join.

Building on the ongoing success of your club, business, brand, event, or product involves a cycle of activities to operate successfully. Understanding the key things that can create success, fine-tuning and building in the experience of how things worked to improve what you do next or just being conscious of how you do things as you do them and why. Monitoring the results arising from what you do, planning and acting in accordance with that is the difference between good and great.

The Highland Classic played host to Bernie Schreiber in 2019 on Alvie Estate, Scotland

TG – Should all events maintain a professionalism level of operation? 

BS- The answer is yes. Of course there are different levels of events, competition, classes and budgets, but professionalism and uniqueness is always a must in my view. Trials club organisers can professionally focus on friendliness, brand themes and fun like the annual  Highland Classic Trial in Alvie Estates and others may wish to host a World Championship.

Both build community solidarity and awareness for the sport when professionally operated. For others it may be a business opportunity or family weekend, but the pursuit of excellence and professionalism should never be forgotten. If you host events, they should be memorable experiences, provide value and benefits for everyone and there are no limits for innovation.

This year in June, I’ve been invited to Montana as a special guest for the annual Whiskey Gulch Two-Day Trial to celebrate my 40th anniversary of wins in Montana and the SSDT. The organizers have been extremely innovative in approaching their 2022 event and the gloves are off!

“It’s what you do before the season starts that makes you a Champion. So, never rest on your laurels – even the best performance really can be improved.”

COMING NEXT on ‘Gloves Off’:

In the next Gloves Off, Bernie will talk about Heroes he was able to meet and why he admired them so much:

Malcolm Smith – Gene Cernan – Greg Norman – Valentino Rossi

Article worldwide copyright: Bernard Schreiber/Trials Guru 2022

Photos: Copyright of individual photographers.

When it’s time to take the gloves off!

It has arrived, the first article featuring Bernie Schreiber, by way of an introduction, Trials Guru interviewed Bernie Schreiber recently…

Trials Guru – What does this mean? It is said to mean that people have decided to compete aggressively with each other. For others it might mean to start competing harder in order to achieve something and when this happens, you can then say ‘the gloves are off’.

What does it mean to World Trials Champion, Bernie Schreiber?

Bernie Schreiber – “When the gloves are off, people start to fight in a more serious way. This term comes from boxing, where fighters normally wear gloves so that they don’t do too much damage to each other.

The phrase the gloves are off could also mean to engage in a verbal fight in which the intent is to harm the other person, rather than have restraint. This is not my intention, but with all due respect, a disclaimer is needed.”

Disclaimer:Everyone has a right to his/her/my opinion

“Personally, I never liked gloves and my grandfather Bernard Schreiber was a boxer in New York back in the 1930’s.

Bernie Schreiber’s Grandfather, Bernard Schreiber – Photo: Schreiber Archive.

“Somehow, gloves never felt right from the first time I twisted a throttle back in the 1960’s.”

Bernie Schreiber on his first motorcycle, a ‘mini-bike’ back in the 1960s – Photo copyright: Schreiber Archive.

“As the motorcycles got bigger and heavier for me, I didn’t have the muscle or power to do wheelies anymore, but the throttle sure did and that’s when the show really began.”

Bernie’s first sponsor was Steve;’s Bultaco on a 250cc Bultaco Sherpa – Photo: Len Weed, USA.

“When my first 250 Sherpa-T was delivered by Steve’s Bultaco in 1972, I tried gloves once in a while for muddy trials, but always found them large and not sensitive enough for the job at hand. By 1975 the lights came on and it was time to take the gloves off for most of my competitive career.”

On the ‘Steve’s Bultaco’ sponsored Sherpa in 1972 with gloves on – Photo copyright Schreiber Archive.

“Later in my career, Hatch Accessories approached me with a glove sponsorship and I accepted to promote their gloves, but not in competition. It was my choice, but we agreed I’d wear them for bike tests and photo days with American media.”

Trials Guru – In 1977, Bernie went to Europe to compete aggressively with other riders, but his main competitor was the current World Trial Champion Yrjo Vesterinen. The fight was not a one round knock-out or 10 rounds, but it took Schreiber 34 world championship rounds and three seasons to take down the 3 time world champion. The gloves were off all the way and history was made in 1979.

The FIM Gold Medal – 1979 World Trials Champion – Bernie Schreiber – Photo copyright: Schreiber Archive.

Who is Bernie Schreiber?

Here is a short introduction of the one and only American that was on the podium of the FIM World Trials Championships.

  • Born in Los Angeles California, began riding trials at age 10.
  • By age 15, considered the best rider in Southern California.
Bernie aged 15 was considered the best trials rider in Southern California. (Photo copyright, Schreiber Archive)

Influenced new riding style by adding floating pivot turns and bunny hops.

The master of the ‘Floater’ and your ‘basic dabless 180’ – Photo: Len Weed, USA
  • In 1977, ranked seventh in the world at age 18, riding for Bultaco.
Bernie Schreiber (USA) seen here on the factory Bultaco 325 in the 1977 SSDT, the first year he competed in the famous event. The section is ‘Edramucky’ and an appreciative crowd watches the young American closely. In two years time he would be crowned FIM World Trials Champion – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, Scotland
  • In 1978, ranked third in the world, winning four of the 12 events.
  • In 1979, World Champion, winning four of the 12 events. Youngest champion ever.
  • In 1980, ranked second in the world, winning six events, including a record four straight.
  • Three-time runner-up in World Championship competition: 1980, 1982, 1983.
  • 1982: first and only American to win the historic Scottish Six Days Trial.
Bernie Schreiber on his factory SWM on his way to win the 1982 SSDT – Photo: John Honeyman.
  • Four-time American Champion: 1978, 1982, 1983 and 1987.
The 40th Anniversary 1982-2022 logo. (Design: Javier Benito Aguado)
  • 1982 winner of the Montana U.S. Nationals the most difficult in U.S. history
Montana Nationals USA – 1982
  • El Trial de Espana: the only eight-time winner.
  • BBC Kickstart TV Trial: three-time winner.
  • Solo Moto Indoor Trial: two-time winner.
  • Retired in 1987 with a record of 20 world wins and 48 podium appearances.
  • In 2000, inducted in the American Motorcycling Hall of Fame.
  • In 2004, inducted in the NATC Hall of Fame.
  • Co-wrote a popular book: Observed Trials with Len Weed.
‘Observed Trials’ produced in collaboration with journalist Len Weed is still a sought after publication. (Photo copyright: Len Weed, USA)
  • 2021 FIM Trial Legend
2021 – FIM Trials Legend – Bernie Schreiber – Photo courtesy of Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, Mies, Switzerland

Trials Guru – The first episode of gloves off will be ‘Never Live on your Laurels’ Bernie will talk about his experiences; sports athletes; events; organizations; clubs and much more.

Never miss an eposode, click on this link to view all ‘Gloves Off’ articles:

Gloves Off – Bernie Schreiber on Trials Guru

Photos: Len Weed, USA; Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, Scotland; FIM, Switzerland; Schreiber Archive, Switzerland.

Worldwide Copyright – All rights Reserved: Bernard Schreiber, Switzerland & Trials Guru – 2022.