Ratbikes. Wait, what? What are those?
Ratbikes are anti-social motorcycles which are ridden on a low (or no!) budget. Money should better spend on beer and Jack Daniels instead of parts and chrome polish, don’t you think? The question is, what’s a ratbike? It’s not only a matter of a flat color or tied-up stuff... More it has to do with philosophy, creativity, a way of life and a god damn ‘fugg off’ attitude. Nowadays there’s a real underground ratbike movement going on. This leads to many different ratstyles and subgenres.
True classic rats are ‘evolution on wheels’. It doesn’t really matter how they look, they’ve to be ridden and rather for a small budget. Classic rats are absolutely extraordinary couse they do need a certain age to be classified as a true classic rat. you probably know those vintage, almost ancient ratbikes which have suffered from acid rain under a tree somewhere in the middle of nowhere for ages... Found by it’s new owner, digged out of the mud... just mechanically checked and ridden hard ever since... fixed with whatever is found at the roadside... and reanimated till eternity! Building a city rat is dead easy. Just buy the cheapest old Japanese bike you can get (or rather get it for free or trade for a box of beer) Paint it matt black, add a few luggage elastics and some plastic toy rats and you’re finished. they-ve not that impact of the other subgenres, but you’ve to start somewhere...
Some bikes are so weird that you’ve to look twice to believe your eyes! (that rimes! A fine piece of ratbike poetry of the Ratbike prediker!) You can think of a ratbike on base of a industrial Wacker plate diesel engine.... What about a Vespa rat scoot with more rake than every wild Harley chop you can think of? A little two stroke MZ with an enormous car tire? Or a wicked freestyle rat of which the builder probably used too many drugs to create it! The sky is the limit and we love it!
These genre of ratbikes is one of the extremest you can find. They’re mainly popular in Amerika and Germany. A rat dresser is junked up with all the crap and trash which the owner found on the roadside during al the trips. Everything is fixed with stuff what was laying around.... and if it isn’t broken.... fix it anyway! The process starts with a few stickers and some toys... then a rotted deer is found at the roadside... lovely! Too lazy to cut all the meat from the bones, coz mother nature will take care of that! After a while, the rotten meat stinks, and keeps thiefs on distance. However, only the bike owner self knows how to start his creature. These fully ‘used and abused’ dressers look mostly like they can hardly move because of all the crap and the gallons of oil under the engine... Although it doesn’t look like it, they really eat asphalt!
Inspired by Mad Max, the English’ once started to build so-called survivalbikes. The infamous early survivalbikes like ‘FutureMachine’ and ‘ Thunderdog’ are from English origin. This extreme ‘post apocalyptic’ way of customizing shows the way motorcycles look after the fatal nuclear explosion. These are strong and oversizes motorcyles with a typical military look... Parts are gathered, bolted together... or rather welded, coz that’s stronger. If parts doesn’t fit? Make them fit, eventually with extreme violence... Survivalbikers are mostly people who now about mechanics. That’s why survivalbikes are not really recognizable as the motorcycle what once left the shop (wel... if it ever did, coz some are build from the ground op from scratch!). Typical style icons are a double headlight, off-road style front guard, oversized pipes, parts from tractors, cars, trucks, airplanes, militairy vehicles etc. Most of the bikes hide a huge serie of cool gadgets, like diesel injection smoke machines, selfmade hand heaters, fieldradio’s, airplane-horizons, functional gasmask. Imagine the post apocalytic world and you’ll get there!
Nowadays, choppers are a mainstream trend because of all those bikebuilding series on the telly. Luckily, ratchoppers are a contra-reaction on these way-to-shiny mega dollar bikes. A ratchopper, mostly an old British twin or classic Harley with a hardtail frame and looooong forks, are far more rebellious than that... as it should! F*ck on all the chrome, f*ck laws.... and last but not least... sh*t on the environment! Hated by the police, and loved by their riders, ratchoppers are noisy and dangerous. They doesn’t have indicator-lights or rear view mirrors. They leak oil (mark their spot) and they spoil the air with toxic smoke. What do you need chromed accessoires and all those expensive paintjobs for? Paint it matt (or just don’t!) and never look after it again.
Just like ratchoppers, there are ratfighters... a contra-reaction on the shiny and expensive version of the streetfigher. These are stripped down sportbikes with a tiny solo seat, clip-on steering bar, a little racy rear and an ‘evil’ alien-like headlight. But instead of spending money on an expensive airbrush paintjob, these ratfighter owners rather spend their money in their local pub! Just paint a fighter matt and finish it diamond plate and ride the hell out of it! It’s that simple... but effective! Ratfighters look agressive and handle like that too! If you’ve a dead wish... build one!
These are the three wheeled versions of ratbikes and are represented in all subgenres. They look really impressive couse a trike is bigger, so there’s more room for stuff and gadgets... and some boxes of beer as well! There’s a huge variaty of trike’s bases. Some trikes are just bought in a shop and painted matt. Others are build up from the ground and driven with an mega-huge V8 engine, for example. Others are stripped down Reliant three-weeled cars... just remove the chassis and you’re almost there.
Trailers have always been connected with the ratbike scene. Ratbikers spend a lot of time on the road and they want to make themselves comfortable after a heavy ride and they usually drag a load of stuff along. Things like BBQ's, beer, dead animals and sleeping gear are taken everywhere. Some ratbikers just won't settle for a tent just and build a complete trailer!
After innumerable repairs ratbikes usually look ready for demolition. All repairs are done as cheap (and creative) as possible. Real ratbikers always carry a pocket full of tieraps and duct tape with them. When there are some new parts necessary, ratbikers first "just look around" instead of running to the shop. For this reason you also find the most creative things on ratbikes, such as a steering wheel made of chains, a dildo or handgrenade hand shifter, headlights fitted in soup cans and so on.