With the FIM International Six Days of Enduro (ISDE) about to celebrate its 95th edition in Italy later this month, it is a good moment to look back at the history of what remains the oldest off road motorcycle event on the FIM Calendar.
Originally known as the International Six Days Trial (ISDT) the event was first held in 1913 in Carlisle, England. It has taken place annually, apart from interruptions due to World War I and World War II and more recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at various locations throughout the World.
The early events were the first true test of machine, rider skill, and reliability. Held on the roads of that era, today most of the routes are truly off road. In 1981 the FIM decided to update the name from ISDT to International Six Days Enduro, the name Enduro having been devised by the Americans and popularised by many motorcycle manufacturers also greater reflected the change in the event from a trial to more akin to a rally, featuring skills more associated with cross country motocross.
Up until 1973 the contest was always held in Europe. In 1973 it travelled for its first overseas jaunt, the United States. Since then it has been outside Europe more frequently: twice in Australia 1992 and 1998, once more in the USA 1994, Brazil 2003, New Zealand in 2006, Mexico in 2010, Argentina in 2014 and Chile in 2007 and 2018. The last ISDE was held in November 2019 in Portimao, Portugal.
Over its long history the rules and conditions have changed to keep in step with the developments in the sport, although it remains a supreme test of rider and machine.
Over the six days and upwards of one thousand two hundred and fifty miles a rider must contend with strict rules about time allowances and restrictions on mechanical replacements, carrying out his or her own motorcycle repairs. The ISDE can attract entries of more than five hundred riders, together with thousands of support crew and spectators. This has a major impact on tourist income for the venue in which it is based each year. For 2013, the centenary anniversary of the holding of the first ISDT, the FIM announced that there were a record number of pre-entry requests of over eight hundred covering thirty-five nations from across the globe with six hundred entries being allowed to compete.
Still referred to as the ultimate test of rider and machine the main trophies are awarded to the best four-rider national, four-rider junior national, three-rider women’s national, three-rider club national and three-rider manufacturing teams. With the gold, silver and bronze medals then being awarded on an individual level.
The medals are typically awarded based on percentage of finishers, or relative to the best individual performance in the event within their specific class. Individual gold medals go to participants who finish within ten percent of their class’ top competitor’s total elapsed time, silver medals are awarded for those who finish within twenty-five percent, and bronze medals are awarded to any rider who finishes all six days within their time allowance.
The 95th edition of the ISDE will take place in Lombardy / Piedmont, Italy from 30th August to 4th September 2021.
View more historic images here.