Democ­racy at work

Old Bike Australasia - - BLOW YOUR OWN -

And the win­ner is? Yes, it was the Nor­ton Com­mando, not the Honda 750 or the Kawasaki 900 or the Suzuki GT750. These days many vintage mo­tor­cy­cle ral­lies favour us­ing a pop­u­lar vote of the rally par­tic­i­pants to judge the best bike in each age cat­e­gory. In­vari­ably, the count­ing method is good old “first past the post”, as there is only one box for you to choose one bike. Ral­lies are get­ting big­ger and the cat­e­gories 1965-1975 and 1976-1985 es­pe­cially so.

Hy­po­thet­i­cal sce­nario: rally of 120 bikes, 100 peo­ple vote. The 1965-1975 cat­e­gory com­prises 45 bikes. There are four ab­so­lute stand­outs, as re­flected in the fol­low­ing vot­ing re­sults: Nor­ton Com­mando MkII (28), Honda CB750 (19), Kawasaki Z900 (20), Suzuki GT750 (25), Oth­ers (8). Yes, the Nor­ton wins but less than one per­son in three has voted for it. I be­lieve in these large and hotly con­tested cat­e­gories a sec­ond box for a sec­ond pref­er­ence should be present on the vot­ing pa­per. The fol­low­ing dis­tri­bu­tion of pref­er­ences is highly likely: Dis­trib­ute the sec­ond pref­er­ence of Oth­ers (8) and you get Nor­ton 28+3=31, Honda 19+1=20, Kawasaki 20+1=21, Suzuki 25+3=28. Dis­trib­ute the sec­ond pref­er­ences of the Honda votes (19) and you get: Nor­ton 31+4=35, Kawasaki 21+6=27, Suzuki 28+9=37. Fi­nally, dis­trib­ute the sec­ond pref­er­ences of the Kawasaki votes (20) and you get: Nor­ton 35+7=42, Suzuki 37+13=50. The Suzuki wins. Why? Be­cause we changed the method of vot­ing to one which I be­lieve more ac­cu­rately re­flects the wishes of the rally par­tic­i­pants. These 1970s and 1980s cat­e­gories are go­ing to be dom­i­nated by Ja­panese bikes, but first past the post vot­ing will in­vari­ably split the Ja­panese vote. A beau­ti­ful Du­cati, Tri­umph, Har­ley etc can come through the field. In our heart of hearts, we all have in­built bi­ases and loy­al­ties. I started on Ja­panese (1968 Honda CB175 and CB350) but have spent the rest of my life rid­ing BMWs. I’m sure many other vot­ers are sim­i­larly af­fected. I like it when another make wins against the Ja­panese, but the demo­crat in me asks; is it right and fair?

It is in­cum­bent on all clubs and rally com­mit­tees us­ing first past the post vot­ing to dis­cuss my con­cern. If you’re read­ing my let­ter and agree with me please raise it at your next club meet­ing. To con­tinue fol­low­ing a prac­tice be­cause it’s what we have al­ways done is plainly un­ac­cept­able. In the mean­time, change is al­ways slow. But here’s hop­ing that an im­mac­u­late BMW R90/S can still come through (de­mo­car­i­cally of course). Martin Charles Sin­gle­ton Clas­sic Mo­tor­cy­cle Club Bon­nells Bay, NSW 2264

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