Rat Bikes : An Illustrated Guide
Some people may have noticed that most bikes we have featured in the last few weeks are bicycles that have been used regularly either as workhorses or as commuters. That’s because we love to look at a bike and see the personality infused in it over time. It’s not just about the bike as an object. Not that we cannot appreciate a bicycle in showroom condition and dream about it’s details, in fact we do it much too often.
However, we love to see something that is at the same time cherished, and used to it’s maximum potential. What we love to see, is a bike being used. And it’s not really possible to keep a bike in NOS condition if you ride it every day, anyway.
A rat bike’s beauty is about the relationship between the bike and the owner. It’s about this love of being on the streets without caring too much about material aspect of the bike. Except the kind of damage that can ruin the fun, any signs of use that are purely aesthetic will, at length, become beautiful too. It’s that sort of magical feeling you get when you see a bike beaten as hell just in the right way.
So, I’ve been looking everywhere online to catch galleries of the nicest rat bikes to be used as inspiration. I do not own any credits on any of theses photos, but I wish I did (or own the bikes, too!). Most of these we’re found on the great forum : London Fixed Gear and Single Speed (LFGSS).
Sometimes, rat bikes will push color combinations and flashy components to the limit of acceptable, like with those blue Velocity rims. But color mismatching can play to your favour too. Different tires and non-symmetrical wheels are generally things you try to avoid, but if you feel you can pull it off; go for it. Or, well, if it’s the only wheel you have available then use it, because that’s the real spirit of rat bikes.
After seeing this gallery, don’t just hop on your track bike and go slam it onto some rails and stuff. Those chips and marks and scratches are the result of long-term use, and are made with love! This is mainly though of as a guide as to what to do with a beat up road or track frame. Restoration is not always the only option.
Once I’ve finished building my NJS Bridgestone track bike, expect a couple of pics highlighting details and a couple of sunny full shots, too. And we’ve got a couple of photo sessions with great pub/rat/beater bikes upcoming for early next year.