The IMBBA was founded in 2005 by well-known custom bike builder, Jeff Starke, who had also worked as chief technical advisor and lead judge for the World Famous Rat’s Hole Chopper Show until the show’s owner, “Big Daddy Rat” Karl Smith died during Daytona Bike Week 2002.
With more than four decades of experience as a bike builder and 13 years as a bike show judge, Jeff Starke was determined to establish the IMBBA as an organization that would identify a point system that could be used worldwide to recognize the craftsmanship and skills, knowledge and talent employed in quality bike restoration, rebuilding, and radical from-the-ground-up customization.
Lessons learned from years of judging the Rat’s Hole bike shows paid dividends in identifying the unique pattern between a quality bike built by a knowledgeable, skilled and talented bike builder.
Many of the top bike builders in the USA and Canada almost immediately embraced the point system developed by the IMBBA, which was then used to create and implement a certification process for builders and skilled technicians.
This became the IMBBA trademark, recognized by builders, who appreciated that finally an organization had put the whole picture together taking into account that the experience builders utilize in building/resorting/creating is the sum of knowledge earned in their career or lifetime. And as such, points could be awarded towards a professional certification equal to and reflective of the points applied in judging their motorcycles in bike shows.
All IMBBA judges strictly adhere to a straight-forward set of published guidelines used to award points, and all IMBBA judges go through a training apprenticeship, judging bikes alongside founding president and chief judge, Jeff Starke. The judges use trade standards to award points that define the bike’s “Fit, Form, Function & Safety.” An apprentice judge does not become certified to judge IMBBA bike shows until his point scores match the other judges within one point in every category. To further reduce the margin, every bike is independently scored by three judges and the final points are a summation of their point evaluations. Using the point system published in the judge’s training manual, builders can go over their bikes with the judges to clearly see what points were awarded for physical attributes, as well as the sum of skills needed to assemble, fabricate and engineer each motorcycle.
The following year, the organization began Phase II, networking with top builders around the world to share information about the standardized point system and certification program. As a result, the IMBBA began forming relationships with builders in a growing number of other countries.
As an international community of bike builders and industry professionals, the organization’s members vowed to leave the industry better than the way they found it through education and training. This mission is being accomplished by the IMBBA through authoring and endorsing educational books, designed to share the membership’s knowledge, skills and wisdom with a younger, aspiring generation of bike builders and other industry craftsmen. An IMBBA training curriculum is currently being utilized in two counties and in five motorcycle mechanic technical schools.
The IMBBA is now working to extend its basic training curriculum to provide much-needed after market product instruction and training certification courses. This will ensure, for instance that a technician fully understands how to install a product that replaces a Harley fuel injection system because he is S&S-BDT Certified; or may help an aspiring bike builder land a job out of high school because he or she is Baker Transmission certified.
The IMBBA continues to raise the bar of excellence in the motorcycle industry by challenging builders to compete in IMBBA Bike Shows and be fairly judged; and by challenging young professionals in the industry to gain additional knowledge and training in order to become certified at numerous levels of competency: Associate I & II; Technician I & II; Bike Builder I & II; and Master Bike Builder I & II
Beyond Master Bike Builder, the IMBBA awards additional points to iconic bike builders, who have extended their legacy by giving back to the industry via guest appearances, charities, sponsorships, and mechanic training. When a Master Bike Builder’s additional points become equal to their certification points, they are nominated for induction into the Hall of Fame. The IMBBA Board of Directors then weighs the nominee’s contributions and votes on whether the builder has earned Hall of Fame status.
The IMBBA currently has certified members in 10 countries and a growing number of IMBBA judges capable of judging bike shows around the world, using the standardized point system. Member-representatives have been helping to spread the IMBBA story since 2005, and continue to help other tradesmen become certified. The IMBBA point system is aimed at globally strengthening the industry by rewarding performance and accomplishment, and ultimately by rewarding charitable giving within the industry. That’s the IMBBA Way!
The IMBBA badge tells the story of pride in workmanship and displays the tools of the trade. The Triangle: represents the geometry, mathematics and symmetry of the motorcycle frame. The Light bulb: atop the triangle, is symbolic on ingenuity and creative thinking. The Torch: represents necessary fabrication and engineering skills. The Wrench in the center represents all of the tools of the trade. The Motorcycle: The sum of all the attributes of education and training that go into the finished product. The two stars: on each side, represent the two competency levels of certification development.
Global Points Judging System
The IMBBA points system is unique and simplistic, and does not require the use of classifications. IMBBA judges score motorcycles individually based on “Fit, Form, Function and Safety.”
It has long been felt that classifications are used more as a monetary awards process in most bike shows. It doesn’t matter who built the bike or how much money was spent building it. What matters is the sum of all the points earned in recognition of how it was built. The points are awarded according to IMBBA published guidelines based on industry and safety standards that are strictly adhered to by IMBBA certified judges. Each bike is judged by three judges, the scores are added up, and then divide by three for an average score. No one judge can influence the system, and one or more Master Judges oversees every bike show.
IMBBA Judges discussing classifacations
Shawn Brittan, IMBBA Judge, Canada
Each bike show participant is given “experience points” that can be applied towards reaching a professional certification level. Hence, IMBBA builder-members are eager to participate in IMBBA sanctioned bike shows because they value the points given to them for those public experiences. However, each individual builder cannot earn more than 70 points on any one bike, preventing them from building a career based on just one bike build.
All IMBBA members, worldwide have agreed to these rules, used to judge bike shows and award points towards various levels of bike-builder certification. This has leveled the playing field and earned a place for the IMBBA as a trusted authority in the world of motorcycling. IMBBA judges reinforce that trust and have earned the respect of bike builders because they stay around after the bike show awards to discuss the bikes with the builders. The judges each worked hard to become certified and are pleased to share their knowledge and educated perspective with bike builders.
IMBBA members earn “experience points” by participating in IMBBA sanctioned, as well as non-IMBBA sanctioned bike shows. The credit points are added to the builder/member’s portfolio and applied towards the next level of certification.
Bob McKay, IMBBA MAster Judge, Master Bike Builder and Hall of Fame
No other agency to date in motorcycle history has harnessed the diversity between builders, standardized the skills and knowledge, and rolled it into a judging system like The IMBBA Way
Global Points Builder Certification System
The IMBBA certification process takes into account life-experiences and years of experience in the industry. The levels of certification are Associate I, Associate II, Technician I, Technician II, Bike Builder I, Bike Builder II, Master Bike Builder I, and Master Bike Builder II.
Strict documentation is required via employee records, educational transcripts, published articles and other means of proof. All IMBBA members go through the same initial process that helps determine their level of certification. This includes an interview and conversations with IMBBA Board members, along with letters from employers, bike show records, bike photographs and other examples of the builder/technician’s work that would directly reflect and support the builder’s level of life experiences. Points are then added for the number of active years in the industry to reach a point total that indicates the initial level of certification.
IMBBA Hall of Fame Recipients, L to R, Ron Finch, Bob McKay, Mondo Porras
Once the top level of Master Bike Builder II has been achieved, the IMBBA member then continues to acquire points earned for giving back to the industry via guest appearances, sponsorship, and volunteer work with young bike builders, etc.
These points apply towards “Hall of Fame” recognition; and the IMBBA member becomes eligible for nomination into the Hall of Fame when they have doubled their points needed for Master Bike Builder II certification (reached at 1,200 points.) A nomination is then made and voted on by the IMBBA Board of Directors.
IMBBA Education and Training
Working with various educational partners, the IMBBA has come together as a community of industry experts to author, edit and endorse textbooks and technical course material that can be used in high school and technical school classrooms, and by individuals who wish to begin the IMBBA certification process. Some titles are currently available worldwide via Amazon.com, while others will be released by the end of 2010: Motorcycle Fundamentals 101, Chopper Fundamentals 101, Bike Judging Course, Motorcycle Appraisers Course, and CNC operator course.
Working with various aftermarket companies, the IMBBA has partnered to share its members’ talents and skills in developing aftermarket technical information and training courses. Certification certificates will be awarded to participants who successfully complete the aftermarket courses, and points will be awarded to IMBBA members that can be used to reach higher IMBBA certification levels.
IMBBA Provides High School's and Post Secondary School's with educational books of the trade and equipment
This opens up many opportunities for students and individuals interested in acquiring additional knowledge about the proper use and installation of aftermarket products. And it opens up a lot of opportunities for aftermarket companies that see the need for well written, published information about their many aftermarket products that can be presented in a training environment.
The IMBBA has been supportive in getting fundamental training textbooks into the hands of students in chopper building classes and post secondary technical institutions. This effort is seen as a primary goal by the IMBBA, its partners and affiliates, and dedicated IMBBA Hall of Fame members.
Through better training and education made available in all parts of the world, the IMBBA hopes to improve and strengthen the motorcycle industry. The IMBBA and its members strive to share knowledge and teach skills, beyond the tricks of the trade.
Bernice MacNaughton Bike Klub- Moncton, NB, Canada
Mitcheel Technical Institute, Mitchell, SD
Eden High School Chopper Class - Eden, NY
Kennedy High School Chopper Class - St Paul, MN
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