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(Un)Intentional Rat - embracing your bike's aesthetic decline

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by Bravus, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. http://www.bravus.com/blog/?p=3596

    Blog post, but relevant here for discussion. The broad concept is that my bike and helmet are both rat biking themselves through a certain amount of neglect and (in the case of the helmet) dodginess, and I've decided to embrace it rather than fight it.

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  2. Nothing wrong with the wear and tear resulting from years and thousands of kilometers of use. I like scruffy bikes and always have.

    Something to bear in mind is that the true rat, as it originally existed, was indeed simply the product of use and the result of repair carried out with what was available when it was necessary. The deliberate rat has really been a product of maybe the last 20-25 years and has, in the main, been a product of the thinking that, when a bike is old enough to be of low financial value and scruffy enough to require substantial outlay to spruce it up as per original, you might as well take control of its deterioration and go the hacksaw and rattle-can route to some low cost custom work. The dividing line between the two can be somewhat blurry but it does exist. Both, IMHO, are perfectly valid approaches to biking.

    Another point about rats of either variety is that they must be functional and provide a practical means of transport. If they are not and do not they just become neglected old POSs. That function need not, however, be as the factory intended. For example, the factory starter button may fail and prove irrepairable. It is perfectly valid to replace it with a bare wire end which activates the starter when grounded to the handlebars. However it is vital that the bare wire approach works with 100% reliability and that it does not cause more than an acceptable minimum number of fires or overnight battery drainings over time. If it doesn't it is merely a lazy and dangerous bodge.

    Approached properly there is much satisfaction to be derived from ratdom. I still get a warm glow from the occasion when the near new BMW K-Series parked next to my scruffy old CZ250 suffered a jammed starter motor. Having ascertained there was nothing I could do for the owner I went to leave. The old Bouncing Czech fired on the second kick as it always did (this in approximately -5C) and rattled off into the distance in its usual cloud of unburned hydrocarbons and small components whilst the owner of a bike which had cost double my annual income at the time faced a long, cold wait for the AA.

    I also remain quite proud of the couple of "Best Rat" trophies I still have. They're the only custom bike trophies I've been able to aspire to and they still sit on my shelves twenty years on.
    • Agree Agree x 5
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  3. Rat bikes are awesome. It takes a certain character to appreciate them.

    Bravus, I tried to artificially create rust patina like you have there. I didn't like it very much so I painted her matt black and left it like that. Some parts are now wearing off naturally which looks a lot better.

    PatB, what about buying a brand new bike, kicking it over and then spraying it? Preferably in front of the shop that sold it to you :) I suppose that doesn't count as a rat bike.

    However, that is what I intend to do with my next purchase purely so I am immediately over the "oh i scratched my pretty bike" phase.

    Would love to see pics of your rat bikes, PatB..
  4. The approach you describe to a new bike is certainly a valid one. I'm perhaps not comfortable with it as fitting within my own conception of what constitutes a "true" rat. Perhaps a new term is needed :D. It remains one of my biking ambitions to buy a big, full dress tourer (a Wing would be perfect but I've sworn off Hondas for life) with all the aftermarket bling on it, tape up the legally required lights and instruments and then spray everything else in my favoured grey or red primer. You know, just to upset everyone.

    I'm a bit short of photos of my rat history but I might be able to dredge one up of Razorback, my rat/survival combo from Hell.
  5. I'da thought this thread was pretty much the opposite of 'Bling'... ;)
  6. I have to admit, I've accepted my bike looking a little dirtier these days than I have in the past, but there is a trigger point which drives me to drag out the bucket. Touch wood, I haven't had a prang bad enough to repair towards the rat bike end of the spectrum rather than returning it back to baseline.
  7. Definitely take PatB's point about form vs function - it can *look* dodgy but shouldn't *be* dodgy. I want the brakes, tyres, engines and controls all in top working order...
  8. A well maintained but well and truly used older bike still on the roads is great to see. There would seem to be a certain credibility as the rider of a rat that I see the opposite side to having a near new bandit that I get told is too clean (ex detailer ), so I must not actually ride it and I admit having to use a car for work I don't as often as I like.
  9. My scooter is slowly becoming rat because cagers keep knocking it over when parked.
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  10. VC, scooters don't every become 'rat', they just become shit.
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  11. I disagree, within certain parameters. I have met plenty of all-steel Vespas and Lambrettas which have conformed to any valid definition of 'rat'. I do, however, have my doubts about the modern generation of plastic swathed machines. Mind you, a few years ago I did find myself very tempted by a cosmetically crash damaged Burgmann to give the matt black treatment as a cheap, comfortable, stress free commuting hack.
  12. Thanks
  13. Hmm, I could be persuaded to thinking a classic Vespa or Lambretta could be a ratted.
  14. Thread resurrection time. Here's the promised pic of Razorback, my sole means of transport for the most poverty stricken two years of my life so far. A mate's shiny Z1100 shaftie and MrsB's Amazing Frictionless Commando are in the background.

    Razorback Magna Carta.
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    • Winner Winner x 1
  15. Wahahaha, that is awesome. . .
  16. What's the length of big arse chain for?
  17. Did you take the photo while Kurt Cobain stopped it from falling over?
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  18. #18 PatB, Sep 25, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013

    Big arse chain, in conjunction with a big arse padlock were required equipment in the UK on any bike, even deeply undesirable ones, for theft prevention. The crash bar and the remains of the fairing frame simply provided a convenient place to hang it.

    Nah, the barely visible chunk of ironmongery bolted to its left hand side stopped it from doing that. Stationary, that is. It allowed it to fall over very easily when, say, halfway round a fast left-hander :eek: .
  19. Sounds fair. I may use the excuse myself later!
  20. A stain on my (admittedly pretty grubby) character is a deep and abiding hatred of thieves. Could you not have just left it unsecured and let nature take its course around the next left hander?