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AMCA Judging Survey Results

AMCA Judging Board | Published on 2/11/2024


November 2023

The purpose of this survey is to request input from AMCA members who have been involved with the AMCA Judging Program to help determine the direction of the Judging Program in the future. Your input is important to help the AMCA Board of Directors better address the needs and expectations of AMCA members participating in the AMCA Judging Program. Thank you for who took the time to answer the following questions. 109 (15%) members participated in this survey of 744 sent the survey.

Section 1: Questions for AMCA Members who have entered motorcycles in the AMCA Judging Program

1. How many motorcycles (not counting multiple entries for the same motorcycle) have you entered into the AMCA Judging Program?

      a)   1
      b)    2-4
      c)    5-10
      d)   More than 10

The results indicate that over a quarter (29.45%) have had one bike Judged, and that nearly half (48.87%) of judging entrants have had between 2-4 motorcycles judged.  We find that 17.43% have had 5-10 machines judged and that 7.30% have had over 10 through the judging process.

2. Why did you decide to participate in the AMCA Judging Program (check all that apply)?

a) To earn recognition for the antique motorcycle(s) I own
b) To increase the resale value of my antique motorcycle(s)
c) To see how well my restored or unrestored machine(s) preserve motorcycle history
d) To continue improving my antique motorcycle(s) so I can earn additional awards
e) For the fun of participating in this AMCA Judging Program
f) Other: ______________________________________

Responses were as follows:

77 owners (24,52%) responded with a), To earn recognition for the antique motorcycle(s) I own

28 owners (25.68%) responded with b), To increase the resale value of my antique motorcycle(s)

87 owners (82.07%) responded with c), To see how well my restored or unrestored machine(s) preserve motorcycle history.
51 owners (46.78%) responded with d) To continue improving my antique motorcycle(s) so I can earn additional awards.

67 owners (61.46%) responded with e), For the fun of participating in AMCA National Judging.

4 owners (3.66%) responded with f), Other concerns and efforts including:

These responses can be perceived in a host of ways and from a host of perspectives, but observations lead us to conclude that authenticity to the AMCA standard, the way the motorcycle was presented for sale, leads the respondents concerns and efforts in restoration, preservation, and ongoing maintenance.  This is most apparent from the high scoring of response “c” followed closely by response “a”.  It is clear that owners are further interested in continual improvement of their motorcycles as evidenced by the same responses noted above. 

Personal fulfilment from the judging process is also evident in that responders are interested in learning from their peers as indicated from responses “c” and “d”.  It is also interesting that responders widely consider the process as “fun”.  

3. What is the highest award your motorcycle(s) have earned in AMCA Judging?

a) Junior Second
Only 3 respondents (2.75%) listed Junior 2nd as their machine’s current status, which can stem from a multiplicity of causes.  My informal observation suggests that this is likely used as the initial assessment for a bike enabling the owner to have an informed team list the issues of a newly acquired and or unfamiliar machine. An additional matter is that it is unknown if participants only considered a single motorcycle when responding to this survey. 

b) Junior First
12 responders (11%) identified their bike’s award status Jr. 1st.

c) Senior
17 Responders (15.59%) identified their bike’s award status as Senior

d) Winners Circle
65 responders (59.63%) identified their bike’s award status as Winners Circle

e) Marque Excellence
12 Responders (11%) identified their bikes award status as 
Marque Excellence.  This modest amount can be attributed to the short time that this award level has been available. 

4. Have you used the AMCA website to pre-register your motorcycle(s) for judging before a National Meet?

a) Yes: 78 (71.65%) responders indicate pre-registration
b) No: 31 ( 28.44% ) responders indicate registration on-site

It is clear that the online registration feature is the strongly preferred method of those participating in AMCA Judging.  The data shows a preference for an online vs. on-site ratio of 78:31 or 2.5 to 1.  

There may be several reasons why responders choose to register on-site (e.g., forestalling inclement weather or potential time conflicts).  We can but speculate what other factors drive the reluctance of those avoiding online registrations as we did not poll the “No” responders further.

5. If you answered yes above, how would you rate the process of online Judging pre-registration through the AMCA website?

a) Very easy 38 (49.35%) of “yes” members from #4 above selected this response.

b) Relatively easy 37 (48.5%) of “yes” members selected this response.

c) Somewhat difficult 1 response

d) Very difficult 1 response

Clearly, those members using online judging registration encounter almost no problems in achieving success; this is essentially performing as a nearly foolproof process for the users with an insignificant (less than 2%) failure rate.

6. Would you be more likely to enter motorcycles in AMCA Judging Program if you could register them on-site at a National Meet, even if that meant you would have to pay a higher fee?

a) Yes 40 members (36.7%)

b) No 37 members (33.9%)

c) Not sure 32 members (29.35%)


7. How likely are you to keep entering a motorcycle in AMCA Judging until it earns a Winners Circle Award?

a) Very likely 38 (34.53%)

b) Somewhat likely 18 (16.51%)

c) Somewhat unlikely 5 (4.58%)

d) Very unlikely 6 (5.5%)

e) I have already earned a Winners Circle Award with at least one motorcycle 42 (38.53%)

The majority of respondents, 80 in all, are enthusiastic regarding the attainment of the Winners Circle award once they have a machine in the judging system.  This highly consistent with the Club’s mission.  On the flip side we see not much better than 10% of the respondents casting negative intentions of continuing further (to attain WC) with the program.

8. The AMCA Judging Program now includes a new award category, Marque Excellence, which requires a motorcycle to achieve a score of at least 98 points after achieving the Winners Circle category. The rules for this category require the owner to pay a higher registration fee and submit six photos of the motorcycle to be reviewed by a designated AMCA member marque specialist or non-AMCA member knowledgeable about the year, make and model motorcycle to be judged. How likely are you to attempt to earn a Marque Excellence Award for your motorcycle(s) under those rules?

a) Very likely 33 (30.27%)

b) Somewhat likely 31 (28.44%)

c) Somewhat unlikely 11 (10%)

d) Very unlikely 25  (22.94%)

e) I have already earned a Marque Excellence Award with at least one motorcycle 9 (8.2%)

Responses here strongly indicates that members are interested in ascending to a higher level beyond Winners Circle, wishing to reach the pinnacle. 

9. Some organizations that organize motorcycle Concours events require owners to submit an application with photos to determine if a motorcycle will be accepted or rejected for display or judging. Do you believe the AMCA Judging Program should consider a similar standard before any member can have their motorcycle judged at National Meets?

a) Yes 17 (15.59%)

b) No 72 (66.05%)

c) No opinion   29  (18.34%)

It can be speculated that the respondents to this question may have perceived this as akin to a subjective judging program as opposed to our current objective one.  Regardless, the responses seem to be the opposite of question #8.   

10 .  How would you rate your overall experience with the Judging Program?

d) Very satisfied 54/49.54%

e) Somewhat satisfied 42/(38.53%)

f) Somewhat dissatisfied 8/7.33%

g) Very dissatisfied 4/3.66%

The strong majority of respondents are either satisfied or partially satisfied (96+%) with the overall AMCA judging experience. The minority expressing less than satisfactory results comes in at 11%.  Not much ambiguity here.

The AMCA judging program is objectively quantifiable.  Few, if any, other such programs are similarly structured. In this the AMCA offers a unique mechanism to guide the participating members to achieve accuracy in restoring and preserving their machines. This factor, the lack of a similarly structured judging alternative, however, is not part of this measure. 

11. Overall, how would you rate the background and knowledge of the judging team(s) you have encountered in scoring your motorcycle(s)?

a. Excellent 24 (22.01%)

b. Very Good 43 (39.39%)

c. Good 35 (32.11%)

d. Not Very Good 4 (3.66%)

e. Poor 3 (2.75%)

12. How would you rate the value of participation in the Judging Program for the fees charged?

a. It’s a very good deal 61 (53.96%)

b. It’s a pretty good deal 44 (40.36%)

c. It’s not such a good deal 1 (.09%)

d. It’s a bad deal 3 (2.75%)

13. How likely would you be to continue participating in the AMCA Judging Program if the fees were increased to help cover the cost of registration, administration and the awards presented?

a) Very likely 48 (44.03%)

b) Somewhat likely 49 (44.95%)

c) Somewhat unlikely 7 (6.46%)

d) Very unlikely 5 (4.58%)

14. What would you rate as the best part of the AMCA Judging Program?

a. The registration process 6 (5.5%)

b. The knowledge of the team(s) that judged your motorcycle(s)

12 (11.0%)

c. The final score and the award you received  9 (8.2%)

d. The ability to use the judging process to keep improving your motorcycle to earn a higher score 62 (56.88%)

e. The way you were treated by the volunteers involved in running the Judging Program at National Meets 18 (16.51%)

15. What would you rate as the worst part of the AMCA Judging Program?

a.  The registration process  1 (.9%)

b. The knowledge of the team(s) that judged your motorcycle(s) 21 (20%)

c. The final score and the award you received 0 (0%)

d. The ability to use the judging process to keep improving your motorcycle to earn a higher score 0 (%)

e. The way you were treated by the volunteers involved in running the Judging Program at National Meets  5 (4.5%)

f. “There is no worst part”  41   (38%)

16. Have you ever filed a written judging appeal within the 30-day appeal period after your motorcycle was judged? 

a. Yes 13 (11.92%)

b. No 96 (88.07%)

 This is consistent with other measures concerning customer satisfaction .

17. If you answered yes above, how satisfied were you with this process?

a. Very satisfied 8 (50%)

b. Somewhat satisfied 4 (25%)

c. Somewhat dissatisfied 1 (6.25%)

d. Very Dissatisfied 3 (18.75%)

A very good indicator of positive results results

18. As an AMCA member who has had a motorcycle judged, do you have specific suggestions for how the AMCA Judging Program can be improved?

Yes 4 & 43 (43.11%) 4 responders made comments, all others responded “Yes”

No 6 (56.8%)

19. Would you consider becoming a judge?

a. Yes 37 (33.94%)

b. No 24 (22.01%)

c. Maybe   37 (33.94%)


Section 2: Questions for AMCA Members who have entered motorcycles in the AMCA Judging Program

The purpose of this survey was to request input from AMCA members who have been involved with the AMCA Judging Program as a Judge to help determine the direction of the Judging Program in the future. This input is important to assist the AMCA Board of Directors to better address the needs and expectations of AMCA members participating in the AMCA Judging Program. An additional goal was to identify ways & means to improve the entire Judging experience for both the Judges and those having bikes judged. A battery of questions designed to provide data were sent to 400 known Judges to which there were 49 responders. This reflects a 12.25% response rate

The survey asked respondents to identify themselves and comment on their experiences on the judging field as Judges and also as having there own bikes judge.  The questions proceeded as follows:

1)   How would you describe yourself?

      a) AMCA judge
      b) Motorcycle owner who has entered motorcycle(s) for judging and is an AMCA judge
There were 15 who responded as an AMCA Judge, the remaining 44 identified as also having motorcycles judged at Meets. Interestingly, several names were recognized who identified strictly as an AMCA judge but actually have had many of their bikes judged. This may reflect some duplicity but I suggest that it resulted from mis-interpreting the question.

2)   What is your AMCA judging title?

      a) Apprentice
      b) Field
      c) Senior
      d) Marque Specialist
      e) Don’t know

The response here were curiously non-linear. The highest group, 15 in number, did not know their Judging rank, some of whom are recognized to be experts.  We are certain that this due to there being no formal mechanism in place beyond word of mouth which being addressed. 

The next largest group,18, I identified as Apprentice Judges.

The remaining respondents were Field Judges, 4; Senior Judges, 6; and Marque Specialist, 6.   

3)   What make motorcycle(s) have you entered into the AMCA Judging Program? Check all that apply.

       a) American
       b) British
       c) European
       d) Japanese
       e) Other
       f) I’ve never entered a motorcycle into the AMCA Judging Program

This question resulted a who’s who of responses, with 10 indicating they have never entered a bike for judging.  Of these, 1 also identified as   Marque Specialist and 8 were Apprentice’s.  The MS is a bit puzzling but the likelihood of the Apprentices eventually participating with bikes being judges is highly likely.  Judging exclusivity was also shown to British 5; Europe, 1; and Japan, 5.  The largest group in this category, 12,  listed multiple brands (two or more).  

4)   What makes of motorcycles have you helped to judge? Check all that apply.

      a) American
      b) British
      c) European
      d) Japanese
      e) Other

Multiple bikes drew the highest score here with 25 having helped in these groups. 18 responded to American machines exclusively so here again the American machines ranked as the most common machine encountered.  In the individual categories British bikes drew 3 with Europe & Japanese drawing 2 each.

5) How many motorcycles (approximately) do you think you have judged in the past 5 years?

      a) 5 or less
      b) 6-10
      c) 11-20
      d)  More than 20

There were 13 judges that claimed 20+ motorcycles judged.  This equates to 26.5% of the judges who participated.  The remaining results were quite linear in nature with 9-20 at 12, 6-10 at13, less than 5 at 11.

6) Have you ever participated on a Judging Team of just two judges, including yourself?

       a) Yes
       b) No

34 responded Yes to this question.

7)  Have you ever judged a motorcycle more than once as it advanced through the different judging categories?

       a) Yes
       b) No

25 responded yes to this question.

8)   Have you ever judged a motorcycle you felt you were not qualified to judge?

       a) Yes
       b) No
32 responded yes to this question.

9)   What specific year, make and model motorcycle(s) do you normally judge? List all that apply?

Responses here run the gamut. We have input by marque, model, engine, production year, etc.  There is not adequate data available to reach conclusions on this very broad topic. 

10)   Emails are sent to members asking for volunteers to judge motorcycles at National Meets. Have you ever responded to these emails asking for judges?

     a) Yes
     b) No

The yeses have it at 32 affirmative, a percentage of 65.3%.

11) If you answered Yes to question 10 

     a) Because I know I will attend a specific National Meet and will judge

     b) Because I might attend a specific meet and will judge if present
Responses were 25 for “Knowing” they will attend and 8 for “Might” attend.

12) If you answered No to question 10
      a) I don’t know if I will attend a specific National Meet

      b) I might attend a National Meet but leave before judging begins

      c) I might plan on attending a National Meet but change my plans

No responses to this question.

13)   If you have judged at a National Meet, when did you decide to judge?

a) When I received an email asking me to judge 9 responses

b) I always judge if I attend a National Meet 15 responses

c) I don’t decide until I arrive at the National Meet - 7 responses

d) I will judge unless I leave the meet before judging begins - 9 responses 

f) I will judge if there are motorcycles that I’m comfortable judging. - 18 responses

14)   Would you be interested in participating in an AMCA Judges Training Program? Please check all that apply.

     a) Yes, if the training was on-site at a National Meet
     b) Yes, if the training was online
     c) Yes, if the training was by printed materials sent by regular mail
     d) No

5 responded as not interested in training.
25 responded to on-site at the Meet only
5 responded to on-site only
4 responded to online only
2 responded to printed only
24 responded to 2 or 3 options, all included the on-site option

The overwhelming response here is that training is being sought and when offered would be positively embraced. As a priority AMCA is preparing programs to be presented at National Meets were copies of the Judging Handbook can be distributed.

15)   As an AMCA judge, what would you like to see changed, modified, eliminated or improved in the AMCA Judging Program? Please explain.

The answers are a long and mixed reactions, but here they are. Judges comments are in Blue and Staff return comments in Red:

• We need a written set of guidelines. I know that a handbook exists but for some reason it has not always been available for use by judges. Otherwise, I am very comfortable with the judging program. – A new Judging Handbook & Guidelines, spiral bound book was created and available to all judges starting in 2023 at all events.

• A list of marque (and model), specialists who are willing and available to be contacted by other judges to discuss queries both before and after judging. - This is a work in progress and available to ECJ’s and CDJ’s upon request.

• Walk-in registration allowed. 

• Return to Sunday judging but only after vendors are restricted from entering and setting up until LATE on Thursday  (4 or 5 PM), which is the current written AMCA rule.

• Start training programs for new AND experienced judges. - A new training program is in the works for later in 2024.

• Come up with a Judges Recognition Program; strive to make AMCA members wanting to be an AMCA judge. – This is also in the works in hopes of announcing by mid-season 2024.

• Is the 'days of old' required '5-mile ride' for each motorcycle to be judged still a possibility?  We were doing that in the 1990s. Had a hell of a time keeping up on my Tiger Cub!

• As a part of Judges Recognition - publish annually a list of all judges and the National Meets they've judged at; perhaps different colored 'stars' based on the number of motorcycles judge.  Anything so judges are recognized!

• Modify how we judge older restorations or how we judge unrestored but repainted
Personally, I think the Marquee Excellence level is gratuitous. The old system worked fine before this was added. Judging can be unpleasant and take much longer when the owner is aggressive and contests each deduction. At the meets, a supervisor is needed to set expectations of the judging teams, and then walk around and police the teams to ensure all bikes are judged, in a timely fashion. The system fails when there is no active supervision, judges cherry pick the bikes they want to judge, and then disappear, leaving 6 shovelheads to be judged. Awards need to started no later than 1pm so people have time to load up and start driving back.

• Judges should be knowledgeable. I entered a 1934 VL in 2021. I was told of things wrong so I fixed them. In 2022 I entered the same motorcycle and more was found wrong. I fixed them. I entered the same motorcycle in 2023 and was told the things I fixed were correct in 2022. I got deductions for that. I feel because I was told by a judge to fix something and I did, the next year I should not be deducted points because I was told the wrong information. Also, the first year being judged should have found all mistakes. I am not happy. I do not plan on ever entering another motorcycle.

• Remove ambiguities for the Judging Guidelines

• I would like more space on the judging sheet for making notes in the rows about each section. (I have writing that I have trouble reading myself when it is too small)

• Electronic judging forms and virtual judging.

• I think a pre-event judging meeting via Zoom would be useful. If the senior judges took on mentees in their particular areas of expertise, a foundation could be laid for the development of future judges. The masters need to pass on their knowledge in a formal way.

• Tell the owners of the bike being judged to bring all the literature they can get their hands on to bring the literature with them to judging.  Especially the odd duck bikes.

• If there are a large number of bikes registered to be judged, it might make things easier to do judging of some of the available bikes the day before.

• I believe we have a good program as is.

• Nothing at this time.

• If it ain't broke don't fix it.

• I am not a fan of the ME award as this seems too much like a Concourse event.

• The new rule change regarding numbers matching and a 6-point discount is disappointing. A non-number matching bike can faithfully represent how a bike came from the factory. Preventing a non-numbers matching bike from Senior First encourages people to restore their original bikes as they are the only bikes eligible to obtain > 95 points .  This is a shame as so much is lost to history when an original bike is restored. – The matching numbers issue is being re-evaluated by the Judging Board.

• "Last time I judged at Fort Sutter Dixon Ca. about 4? years ago too many bikes for our group and no break for 2-3 hours. I did like the people and experience at the meet. I have since attended as a vendor selling parts."

• Being an apprentice and having received the booklet at the Wauseon meet, I see the judging process becoming more unified in the point deduction process. Huge help and step in the right direction. Idecided to help judge to learn more about the criteria of judging bikes and to learn more about the early bikes.

• More rigorous & routine judging training.  Better definition on judging achievement levels and what it takes to get to each level and maintain an individual’s judging certification.

• It seems extremely difficult to get all volunteer judges on the same page. Too many independent thinkers that just don't seem to want to follow and respect the rules/guidelines that are in place. Not sure what the solution is when you’re dealing with volunteers.

• I believe the fee to judge a motorcycle is too low. $30.00 per motorcycle preregistered would be more appropriate. Important to allow onsite registration for those 1st timers with a fee of $40.

• The program is only new in Australia and working well.  Not aware of any changes necessary to a program that appears to have worked well for many years in the USA.

• "AMCA judging is not easy and I appreciate the work that goes into it.
At some point, we should progress to verifying if the various systems on the motorcycles actually work, such as lights, horn, charging systems etc.
Thank you."

• More consistency in how the sometimes ambiguous rules are applied to different models. On-site, same-day settling of any disputes and understanding that the chief judge's decision THAT DAY are final. Still allow for the dispute period by the owner ONLY. - The new Judging Board system will allow members to file an appeal directly to the Judging Board following an event.

• Find a way to get Robin Markey back involved. Most qualified Indian man alive. 
I would go back to judging Indians if that happened. 
Ok with HD in meantime when available."

• Each judge should receive at least a week before the event some clear and detailed photos of the motorcycle to be judged so that he can study it based on the documentation in his possession. Naturally, for each meet the registration for judging should therefore close early to give the judges time to study the bike.

• I just wish there were more judges so it didn't take so long.

• If there is a motorcycle to be judged with no judge knowledgeable on that motorcycle; Allow the owner to assist in judging but not to be involved in point deductions. - This is an acceptable practice, just not a written rule.

• A little more notice of what Bikes are being judged. - Starting in 2024, The AMCA Executive Director has started sending a full list of pre-registered motorcycles to all event known judges, 21 days prior to the event. 

• More on-going training for judges. Marque experts hosting training sessions for specific bikes, and online spectating for apprentice judges during actual meet judging (not to participate, but just to learn).

• Would like to see more consistency by all judges. Not sure I agree with the Marque class concept. like the idea of 90 plus = junior 1st, 95 plus = senior and 97  or 98 = Winners circle. Like the notion that bikes should be judged based on factory original. Also think unrestored bikes should be just that, with the exception of wear items like tires, etc. Restored bikes should also be judged against the basis of factory original.

• It's a great program but still seems to be a bit of an 'insider's game' in that some judging decisions are overridden depending on whose bike it is, how close it is to the next level, etc.

• Maybe a system that the National Club could provide a list of experts that would be available by phone/facetime to verify or help judge a motorcycle that we don't have an expert to judge.

• I think everything is o.k.

• The few times I have judged I was teamed with a Very Experienced judge and I was helpful in pointing out subtle details of a bike I am familiar. Pre-registration is key, allowing for the assignment of a bike to a judge who can then research prior to the day or sharing with a marque specialist. If the owner wishes, allow them to point out any key elements of the correct restoration or preservation. I think the transition to Saturday judging is wise, yes the process needs to be more visible to the meet attendees. However it won't help retention on Sunday.

• Nothing at this time stands out to me in need of changing.

• We need to create additional judging standards to address 'plastic' encases motorcycles.

• Don't see any problems yet.

• "Too much attention to finish. What better represents a bike? An original Lucus head with a pit or an EMGO Indian reproduction. Bikes were sometimes rusty in the crate. I tell my teams to use the three-foot rule in most cases."

• Indication of the amount of restorations/modifications allowed on an unrestored motorcycle.

There are many useful comments and ideas contained with the comments (and mercifully few slings & arrows)  It is gratifying to see a high level of commitment among the responders.  The key is to expand that and build excellence within the program.

P.O. Box 663, HUNTSVILLE, AL 35804