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ISDE, the motorcycle olympics

The English team won in the 1936 edition held in Germany, it should be noted that at that time the competition was also played in sidecar

The 1983 ISDEs (UK)

The ISDE (“International Six Days Enduro”), initially designated as ISDT (“International Six Days Trial”), are the oldest sporting event under the umbrella of the FIM. They were disputed for the first time in 1913 (Carlisle, England) and, since then, they have taken place every year without interruption, except for the periods of World conflicts: 1914-1919 and 1939-1946.

From top to bottom, ISDE 1999 (Coimbra/Portugal) team manager pass, Herbert Schek at the controls of a BMW, cover of the 61st ISDE (Italy) and Kvetoslav Masita of the Czech team winning "Trophy" in the ISDT 1973

This test has the following distinguishing features:

  • it is an off-road race played over 6 consecutive days and each day works as an independent race, the withdrawal of a rider on one day implies the impossibility of participating in the following days, the final classification is calculated by the sum of the daily classifications ;

  • during the first five days there is an Enduro course with connections and timed zones, on the sixth and last day there are Motocross races, in which competitors are separated by classes, which constitute an end to the party that it has little weight in the final classification;

  • the competition is disputed by national teams or teams of clubs, hence it is known as the Motorcycling Olympics. The individual victory over the overall (or “scratch” as it is usually called) is considered less important;

  • the individual classification is distinguished with medals: Gold, Silver or Bronze depending on the punctual difference that separates the pilots from the first classified, that is: the Gold medal is won by all the finalists who do not exceed 10% of time increase over the class winner, the Silver medal for those who have a time increase over the class winner by more than 10% to 25% and the Bronze medal for all those who finish the six days within the regular time limits;

  • the “International Trophy” was the maximum distinction for teams between 1913 and 1980, from 1981 it was called “World Trophy”;

  • the “Silver Vase” was a distinction created in 1924 and lasted until 1980, it was replaced in 1981 by the “Junior Trophy”;

  • in 2007 the “Women's Trophy” was also created;

  • in 1981 the original ISDTs were renamed ISDE as a result of the race's characteristics being consistent with Enduro;

  • usually, each edition takes place in a different country from the previous one and named in advance. In the long history of the event, there have nevertheless been some exceptions to this rule: 1921 and 1922 in Switzerland, 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1928 in the United Kingdom, 1931 and 1932 in Italy, 1934, 1935 and 1936 in Germany, 1937 and 1938 in Wales and 1949 and 1950 again in Wales. Since the first edition, until today, it has been held in quite different locations, taking place in Portugal in 1999 (Coimbra), 2009 (Figueira da Foz) and 2019 (Portimão);

Giovanni Sala at ISDE 1999, curiously, putting up stickers in support of the Timorese cause!

ISDE 1999 (Coimbra/Portugal), from left to right, António Oliveira (HONDA), Hélder Rodrigues (YAMAHA) of the Portugal junior team and Mika Ahola (TM)


ISDE 1999 (Coimbra/Portugal), from left to right the senior Portugal team: Paulo Marques, Bianchi Prata, Miguel Farrajota, Victor Azevedo, João Marques, António Oliveira, Ruben Faria and coach Luís Fernandes


The event is a real motorcycling party, normally, each edition has more than 600 participants and the paddock includes the pros of Enduro alongside some amateurs who, being regular Enduro practitioners, see participation as the highlight of their career. To date, pilots from more than 30 nationalities have embodied the ISDT/ISDE. It is interesting to remember here a group of “civilians” coming from the Isle of Man who accompany the event every year and who are already an integral part of the party, they stand out with a very original equipment, curiously the organizations have allowed them to compete, among them , an informal Motocross race on the last day!

Many notable riders have participated in the event since its inception, sports performance aside, in 1964, Steve McQueen was one of them and the participation of the iconic American actor, due to his great popularity, also helped to enhance the event and the sport.

Steve McQueen (TRIUMPH) in the 1964 (Germany) edition of ISDT


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