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CMD Judging Philosophy from one of our best judges:

Classic Motorcycle Day is encouraged to be a ride in affair. The overall field of bikes to judge is huge. The variety of type and finish is also a problem. This event is not a “show” event or a 100-point concours event. A “show” event is perhaps easier to judge (for instance, in a “show” event, all the pieces are chrome, polished, or meticulously painted. Those finishes should transfer to the underside of fenders, tanks and the like). With that said, here is what I look for at CMD event.

First, I take a walk down the entire length of the class I’m judging. I write down all the names and numbers of each entrant. This gives me some time to look over the piece.

Second, I look for License Plates. This is not an absolute fool proof way of indicating that it was ridden, but at least it “could” be ridden. Remember, this is supposed to be a ride in and fun event. Kind of like a Hot Rod gathering in Burtonsville.

Third, I look for “stock” exhaust pipes. The classes I’ve been judging are not Customs, or Modified. Look for carbon in the pipes. That will tell if it at least runs. Again, this is a fun event. Things should work. Trailer Queens should not be the big winners here. Stock exhaust is getting hard to find for some models. This shows true pride in ownership, when the bike has the correct pipes. The owner may not run those during the year but at least he has them, and shows it correctly.

Fourth, I look for “stock” paint. This is in a stock class, not custom. Believe it or not by now I’ve eliminated 80% of the potential bikes.

Fifth, I look for the bike that has not been restored and meets all the above including mirrors. This bike, if not a complete rust bucket places above a restoration job. The restoration bikes are becoming more prevalent now and so the unrestored ones are few and far between.

Restoration bikes give the judge a challenge. We love a challenge. Are the tank colors correct? Are the side covers correct for the year indicated? Front forks correct? Are the transfers correct and in the right places? Gauges, switch gear? The person should be knowledgeable on the class he or she is judging. A cheat sheet or pictures is very helpful. It’s either right or wrong. It’s come down to the spark plug caps at one show. Remember that one can “over” restore a bike. For example, chrome where polished aluminum should be. Chromed brackets where painted ones should be. Some of these things could be argued that it was what the fellows did when the bike was new. Don’t buy it. That sort of thing belongs in a Modified class.

The judge should have a memory. Meaning, as a Fun event the winner last year should not win this year. That does not mean the same person with a different bike could not win this year. In some cases I’ve asked a participant to pass this year as a contestant and just show the bike. Next year is a new year for him. There has been more than once where a contestant has won every other year. Some would say that if a bike is good enough to win every year it should. By winning every year it causes folks to try harder. I’ve found that not to be true in this instance. Since this is a Fun event most people just give up for a different hobby. The community as a whole looses. Less folks bother to come out, knowing that they don’t stand a chance to even ribbon. Therefore there are less bikes to look at, which equals less paying customers. Getting more folks to come out with bikes is important to the growth of our sport/passion. Being able to see how far we have come as motorcyclists is great fun as well. Looking at a fine example of a 1969 Triumph and then going to the Modern bikes and looking at a new Triumph gives the person a true sense of improvement over time. Having these events is good for everyone. Being able to judge them correctly is good for everyone.