A Few Words with Neil Blaber

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  • Neil Blaber of AMD Magazine was brought in to judge Motonation’s custom bike and Modenas’ SUPER MOD contests.

  • Motonation will sponsor the winning bike and builder to the World Championship at Intermot.

  • Neil was impressed with the quality and creativity of Malaysian builders.

We had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Neil Blaber of AMD Magazine at the recent Motonation carnival in PICC. Neil had been called in by the organizers of Motonation to judge the custom motorcycles competition.

It was a high-stakes game as Motonation will support the winner’s entry to the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building 2018, in the Intermot Show in Cologne Germany. (Click here to read more of our coverage of Motonation and here for the report of the competition).

Bikes Republic: How does AMD run its bikes shows?
Neil Blaber: We did bike shows and competitions a little bit differently than those in the past. We’ve had people enter their bikes in more than one class, and found out not to ever, ever do it. It’s a nightmare, because how we do the judging is all the competitors vote on their peers’ bikes.

We’ll have a few VIP judges also, but they’re usually builders who didn’t enter their own bikes. There’ve also been trusted journalists who don’t just won’t for their mates (friends), besides other experts in the industry who know what they’re looking at.

It’s done almost like a survey among experts. When you think about it, who are the best qualified to determine which is the best bike than these guys. You’ve got all these experts there and if judging is handed over to just four guys, it’s all wasted.

So, in the end, if people aren’t happy with the results, at least they know it’s fair because it was peer reviewed.

In the end, you could end up with a hundred votes papers returned. Counting the ballot papers was hard work, I’d usually be up until 4 in the morning, tabulating the results. I’d take the feedback from the ballot sheets and key them into the spreadsheet for the results to be tabulated.

They’ll vote for their favourite 12 bikes, the top build will receive 15 points, second place gets 12, third gets 9, then 7, 6, 5, 3, 2, 1 points respectively. What that means is that getting voted as the top isn’t necessarily a huge advantage. In the end, the winning bike is usually the one which was rated reasonably high by all the guys. (What Neil means here is the entries must be good overall.)

You may get a controversial bike which was voted first by three guys but no one else, on the other hand, you get a bike that’s voted for third or fifth by everyone and it will win.

Bikes Republic: Is peer judging carried out in many bike shows?
Neil Blaber: It is carried out in many bike shows now but not many are done properly.

For example, you got have enough bikes for representation, because if you just ask for which is your favourite bike, you’d probably end up with the same result. However, if there are enough bikes, and if a certain or a few judges don’t like a certain type of bike and put it as last, the bike still earns a point.

Some shows look for the Top Three and the spread is just not enough in order to get a true representation of what people sincerely feel.

Some people don’t like not winning and the World Championship is the worst feeling. They may have spent two years or more working on their bike then ending up 50th is, well, you know how it’s like.

We award down to 10th place for the Freestyle class, and the Top Three of the other classes, as the latter classes attract smaller entries.

Bikes Republic: What’s your thought on what you’ve seen this weekend?
Neil Blaber: Honestly, I had no idea to see what Malaysia had to offered and I surprised and impressed at what I saw this weekend. Those eight finalists had some truly wonderful material.