Prepare to Win

What happens at a bike show and tips to enter your bike

Summer is finally here and Gold Wing rallies are happening. At each of the rallies you may find they are having a bike show and getting bragging rights in a motorcycle show can be a fun way to spend the day. Knowing all the details of how a motorcycle show works often helps your odds of winning a trophy or plaque.

If you are new to the bike show competition, you may want to start at your local Chapter mall shows and District rallies. Once you are comfortable in these shows, then you can progress on up to the Regional bike shows and lastly the big one – Wing Ding Bike Show. Winning your class at Wing Ding is the ultimate for bragging rights. However, you will find the competition gets a bit tougher as you progress to this level.


It is always a good idea to wash and polish everything on your bike, even those “so called” hidden spots, such as the fork tubes, the fork triple tree, the cables on your handle bars, brake calipers and under the trunk. For those hard to get to air vents, you can use cotton swabs to reach in between the air vanes. It doesn’t matter when you wash and polish the motorcycle thoroughly, as some wash the motorcycle when they arrive at the rally site and some wash the motorcycle prior to leaving the house. What is important … you should wash and polish the motorcycle thoroughly.

Everyone has his or her own preferred method and products to use for cleaning, but one product you shouldn’t use is dishwashing liquid, unless of course, you wish to remove all your polish or wax in the process of washing. I would suggest using a car washing soap and a light coat of a nonabrasive polish after the thorough washing. Soft sponges worked best for me and soft towels or good quality microfiber cloths for the drying process. Once cleaned and prior to entering the show, a quick dusting using a detail spray will work just fine.

Preparing your motorcycle is one aspect to entering a bike show, but it is also a good idea to know how they judge the motorcycle. Prior to leaving for the rally, download a copy of the Bike Show Judging Form and Bike Show Courtesy Inspection Form. Both forms should be available on the District’s website. If not, refer to the website. Once you obtain the forms and understand what they are looking for, you can better prepare your bike to win.

On the Bike Show Judging Form, you will notice there are four 25-point categories. Review them prior to leaving for the rally.


Continuity is the state or condition of being smoothly continuous, connected throughout, or fitting together. In other words, have you added items to your bike in a balanced fashion? Are there more chrome items in the back versus the front? Is there a mural on the saddlebags and not on the fairing?


All paint should be judged for quality, brilliance and care. Custom paint and/or pinstriping should be free of defects and should be of the same theme or style. All stock colors should be judged the same. All accessories that have been added should be of good quality, not rubbed out, scratched, and should fit properly. All accessories should flow together and enhance the overall appearance of the bike. Try to conceal the wires for add-on lights.


Cleanliness is self-explanatory. However, following are examples of things to look for when checking a bike for proper cleanliness. Look to see if both tires have been cleaned. At the same time, check both front and rear wheels for proper cleanliness. When looking at the tires and wheels, you can also observe the rear axle housing, drive-shaft tube, mufflers and bottom of the saddlebags. From the top side, look in all the nooks and crannies, look down through the handle bars to the front tire, look at the air vents, control buttons on the handle bar and instrument controls. Check the driver and passenger pegs or floorboards, frame and engine components. Check for bugs or dirt on the windshield and radiator area. Check for residual polish in cracks and crevices.


Pretend you are one of the judges. Take a step or two back and look at the bike for overall appearance. How does it look? It should glisten! It should pop! The paint and accessories should glisten as the bike sits there.


You are now on your way to the rally and prepared to enter the bike show competition. Upon arriving at the rally site, seek out the registration area to obtain your packet. Within the packet is a rally schedule. Find out when the Bike Show Classification and Bike Show Judging is planned, so you can organize your time accordingly. Some bike shows are free to enter. There are some that charge a nominal fee, but in return you generally will receive a bike show pin for your collection.

Remember, you are in this to win! Prior to getting your motorcycle classified to show, make sure you have all the optional safety equipment on your motorcycle. There are six items available and each item will reward you with one additional point. They are: fire extinguisher, first aid kit, CB radio, headlight modulator, brake light modulator and auxiliary driving lights. Review the other listed criteria on the Courtesy Inspection Form and conduct your own inspection to avoid any possible point deductions.

A courtesy inspection is usually conducted at the time of bike show classification. The following areas are checked for operation: lights (headlights, both high and low beam, taillights), turn signals, brake lights, emergency flashers, running lights and accessory lights. Note: Points will be deducted for nonoperating lights.

Also checked are brake pedal and lever operation, clutch lever operation, throttle operation, horn, mirrors and windshield (visibility). Tires will be checked for tread depth, cupping or if they are cracked. Tread depth should be at least 1.5 millimeter (front) or 2.0 millimeter (rear). Points will be deducted for any deficiencies. You should also confirm if they will allow you to fix any deficiencies and avoid deductions. If available, ask for a copy of the Bike Show Rules so that you are in complete compliance with their show.

You will want to either wash and polish your motorcycle or inspect its appearance to determine what needs to be freshened up prior to parking it in the bike show area. If you need to simply freshen it up, I would suggest using detail spray polish and a microfiber cloth. Usually when you park it in the bike show area, they won’t allow much time for cleaning. A little tip that worked for me was to ask the co-rider to inspect for cleanliness.

Finally, it’s clean, free of dirt and beaming – now you are ready to park your motorcycle in the designated class. It is recommended to place the motorcycle on the center stand whenever you have a solid surface. You now can walk away while the judges perform their difficult task. Go enjoy the rally or visit with the vendors.

Is participating in a bike show a lot of work? Yes, it is! But once you get into the routine of presenting your motorcycle at its best, it doesn’t feel like work and the end result is well worth the effort.

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