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Rat Bikes

Updated on October 21, 2017

What Is a Rat Bike?

What is a Rat Bike?

A Rat Bike is a motorcycle that's showing its age and is being maintained in the most economical way possible.

Rat Bikes have had a recent surge in popularity but the concept is as old a motorcycles themselves.

Image Rat Bike by, on Flickr.

The life of a car is pretty set by the time it leaves the factory:

  1. The original purchaser drives the car more-or-less every day until they no longer want to own it.
  2. He then sells the car and it goes through a series of owners until it's finally deteriorated enough to be scrapped.

The life of a motorcycle is less determinate:

  • The original purchaser may not ride the motorcycle every day; in fact, the motorcycle may be ridden only a couple of times a year. During this time of little use, the motorcycle may be polished and maintained to an excessive degree and may still look brand new for many years. The motorcycle may even be upgraded to better than new condition. Some may enjoy having a nice, shiny, scratch free motorcycle sitting in their garage but to a "rider," this is just unthinkable.
  • Or, the original owner may actually ride his motorcycle. With riding comes faded paint, pitted chrome, scratched fairings, dirt, grime etcetera. As the motorcycle begins to show its age, some will trade it for a bike that's bigger, better, faster, newer - reasoning that maintenance isn't fun; riding is.

Some owners truly come to love their bike and wouldn't trade it for any other. When their bike breaks down, they fix it. When the cost of repairs gets too high, they get creative:

  • Need to reupholster your seat? Use an old Indian blanket or maybe a piece of leather cut from an old jacket.
  • Need a new exhaust pipe? Wrap the old one in exhaust wrap.
  • Need a new headlight? Find one at the junk yard; any make will due - Harley, Honda, Ford, maybe even John Deere.
  • Need wires, tubing, fittings? They're cheaper at the hardware store than at the Harley Davidson dealership.
  • Need a new paint job? Rattle-can black never needs polishing.

Of course, there's always room for an 8-ball or some brass knuckles.

Sounds like the start of a great Rat Bike!

This is NOT a Rat Bike!

Exile Cycle's Black Bull
Exile Cycle's Black Bull

Don't let the flat black paint fool you - this is a $50,000 Exile Cycles custom made by Russell Mitchell. Way cool... but definitely not a Rat.

Homemade Bike with a Tractor Engine - now that's Rat!

Now These are Some Rat Bike Motorcycles

These Aren't Rat Bikes... They're Just Ratty

What Do You Think About RatBikes?

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    • profile image

      Sketch Ford 

      13 months ago from San Antonio Texas

      Cool topic! You dont see much of anything concerning rat bikes these days. Keep up the good work! I'll keep following.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have a 1975 Harley Davidson IronHead XLH SPORTSTER that Im looking to turn into a rat-bike. Since yesterday I've been sanding down the paint to the tank n front fender, its looking really crazy looking but nice

    • Pixelhound profile image


      8 years ago from west vancouver BC Canada

      Cool lens!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      simply great, Thanks for sharing!

    • Loveyourshoes profile image


      8 years ago

      Had a few rat bikes and a few streetfighters too, recently from ended my Honda CB600 Hornet too so that will be getting put back together into something different, thanks for the read

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      8 years ago from Colorado

      I would love a Rat Bike. It shows that life is being lived and that creativity has no limits. Nothing like a little ingenuity. I think we tend to get rid of things way before they show their true nature and worth.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Now I know what a rat bike is. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 

      8 years ago

      the rat bike has been there and done that, cool page, Blessed

    • jadehorseshoe profile image


      8 years ago

      I never have to worry about laying 'em down rough.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Cool rat bike

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      8 years ago

      Neat! This page about rat bikes is an interesting ride ..

    • fireblazzer profile image


      8 years ago

      interesting lens.. worth a read for sure.

    • RhondaSueDavis profile image


      8 years ago

      Brimm, my Tomos is still down, but we got the part and should be riding it soon. We had to replace both sets of tires on our pair of bikes and finding more joys of owning older bikes. My husband really enjoys riding the moped a lot more than driving his car. And he keeps checking out the Royal Enfields at the local "oldie" shop.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      "maintenance isn't fun, riding is", a very clever and true statement. I love that you differentiate between a real rat and a faux rat, nicely done and fun!


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