Rat bike

Rat bikes at the UK Rat and Survival Bike rally, 2005

Rat bikes are motorcycles that have fallen apart over time but been kept on the road and maintained for little or no cost by employing kludge fixes.[1][2] Survival bikes look similar to but are different in purpose from rat bikes; they are modified for stylistic reasons.

Rat bikes

Rat bike engineering: sound joint between sections of exhaust pipe without the use of welding equipment.

The concept of keeping a motorcycle in at least minimally operational condition without consideration for appearance has probably characterized motorcycle ownership since its earliest days.[2] The essence of a rat bike is keeping a motorbike on the road for the maximum amount of time while spending as little as possible on it.[3] This calls for adaptation of parts that were not designed to fit the model of bike in question. While the origin of the term rat bike is unclear, it may be attributable to custom motorbike magazines,[4][5] and retrospectively applied. Most rat bikes are painted matte black but this is not a requirement.[6]

Survival bikes

A survival bike, with artistic exhaust system.

Survival bikes are bikes that may appear to be rat bikes, but are not. They are influenced by the Mad Max films.

The term "survival bike" itself originated in the British motorcycle press, particularly Back Street Heroes[7] and the now-defunct AWoL in the late 1980s and early 1990s.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rat bike.
  1. Walneck's Classic Cycle Trader, May 2005, Dominion Enterprises
  2. 1 2 Seate, Mike; Green, Simon; Terry, Steve (2005), Techno-Chop: The New Breed of Chopper Builders, MBI Publishing Company, pp. 60–61, ISBN 0-7603-2116-7, retrieved 2010-12-29
  3. American Motorcyclist (June 2004), "The Joys of Street Core", American Motorcyclist Assoc.
  4. Easyriders September 1980, "86 Inch Rat Bike", Paisano Publications LLC
  5. Easyriders October 1987, "Rat Bike Returns", Paisano Publications LLC
  6. American Motorcyclist (June 2004), "The Joys of Street Core", American Motorcyclist Assoc.
  7. Back Street Heroes "Rat Issue", Myatt Mcfarlane Publishing, June 1989
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