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What is a Rat Rod Motorcycle?

Rat Rods are a specific design of motorcycle that is becoming more popular with eclectic riders. For some it has become a passion and for others, a weekend hobby. While they're not the preference of all riders, they provide a novel approach to a subculture within the riding community that is currently trending. The demand for rat rod motorcycles is becoming a thing and it's keeping bike shops busy with special orders and custom work. Here is everything you need to know about Rat Rod motorcycles.

What is a Rat Rod Motorcycle?

According to Hot Cars, Rat Rods are motorcycles that have an ugly visual appearance. They're comparable to the ripped and shredded jeans of the punk subculture in America. In some cases, the uglier the better but there are so many different versions of rat rods that you can't lump them into one category.

The difference between Rat Rod and Rat Bike motorcycles

It's easy to confuse the terms rat rod motorcycles with rat bikes because there are similarities, but it's important to know the difference. While rat bikes are motorcycles that are intentionally made to look disheveled, dirty, and uncared for, they maintain their original structural integrity. Rat rod motorcycles, on the other hand, are structurally altered. The two are related but not the same. Rat rod bikes are usually customized versions of the rat rod car culture that has migrated to the motorcycle industry.

Rat rod motorcycles are made per a set of specifications, but these can vary greatly from one custom job to another. There are two distinct styles of rat rod bikes including bespoke or highly customized one-of-a-kind bikes and a modified version. Each comes out with the same basic aesthetics, but the differences are in the design. When it comes to rat rods the rules can get a little sketchy and there is a tendency to shift them around for the sake of extreme customization.

Rat rods are culture-based

When you see someone riding a rat rod motorcycle they're likely connected with a group of fellow rat rod enthusiasts. The average motorcycle rider who sees these bikes may wonder why anyone would opt to ride or even prefer to be seen on a bike that has little beauty or redeeming aesthetics. It's a group mentality and a subculture that goes beyond the need to impress others with a shiny and attractive motorcycle.

Modified rat bikes are easy to identify because they usually look like a moral bike with a custom shop chop. The work done on these bikes is more about getting the finish and color contrast right. Further modifications move the bike from a rat bike to a rat rod. Frequently the speedometer, control lights, fenders find indicators are removed with new parts added to the bike. This generally includes a customized seat, new chain, cables, sprockets, and wiring. Some rat rods are made to look like conventional bikes with extensive altering, but others may bear little resemblance to a conventional motorcycle. One of the key factors that rat rodders go for is an extreme and even bizarre appearance to the otherwise functional motorcycle.

Outlandish fabrications

According to Road Kill Customs, some of the most desirable rat rod motorcycles are chopped, elongated, and taken down to a low clearance so they look more like a cart with a motor and two wheels. One thing to remember about a rat rod motorcycle is that the design can be as far out as the imagination and modern fabrication techniques can take you.

Rat Rod Community

Motorcycle Forum offers a community of rat rod motorcycle enthusiasts were those a passion for rat rodding motorcycles can meet and get to know one another. There is a forum for sharing ideas, photos and for planning a get-together.

Rat rodding is an addictive hobby

Once you start modifying a motorcycle and rat rodding it, the release of creativity can feel satisfying and it's even addictive. This is a hobby that many find inspiring because it allows them to take their novel ideas and either perform the modifications themselves or work with teams of experts to create one-of-a-kind motorcycles that often barely resemble traditional bikes. It's a hobby that allows you to explore your creativity and expand on the features that you've always wanted to see on a motorcycle. When groups of rat rod enthusiasts get together and compare their creations or share their ideas, it's a time of inspiration and total freedom to share. It's a community that creates a sense of belonging for those with eclectic tastes, without judgment.

Final thoughts

Rat Rod motorcycles evolved out of the forerunner in the automotive industry, the rat rodded cars. These are some of the most unique and novel motorcycle designs you can find. They go far beyond the ugly appearance of a rat bike and take it to the net level with a chopped and fabricated structure. You can choose to make your rat rod motorcycle look like something from the distant past, or a machine that is from the fr off future. It's one of those hobbies that lets you run wild with your imagination. Rat rodding is a subculture within the motorcycle community that allows for creative license and even creative genius. The only limitations are imposed by your creative prowess and the rules governing safe operation for motorcycles. In most cases, where there's a will, there's a way and there are plenty of fabrication shops who are happy to help you build a custom rat rod bike. You can find some cool examples with a few online searches, as well as some of the most bizarre designs, but the one thing about rat rodding we all must admit is that it is a freeing experience that simulates free thinking.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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