Democracy at work
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