You see them in rallies and competing for trophies in bike shows. I love rat bikes and count several owners among my friends. On this picture you can see Smitty posing on his 1944 Harley Knucklehead participating to its 29th Daytona Bike Week! Smitty and I know each other since 10 years, traveled the European tour together, and as you can see we went in very different directions to express our love for motorcycles. So, what is the definition of a rat bike? A motorcycle that over time has fallen apart but been kept on the road and maintained for next to nothing. They appeared in the 70’s and the name rat bike was invented by motorcycle magazines. You don’t build a rat bike (there is a trend to customize bikes into rat bikes, but in this case they are classified as “survival bikes”). Smitty states that a pure rat bike is a motorcycle that you let evolve. What you see decorating them is most often souvenirs from the road (yes, they run and are used for long trips) and little gifts of friendship given to the owner. Rat bike owners are always very interesting characters and talking to them about the road is a very enriching experience. I asked Smitty how cops react when they see one down the street. He told me that he never gets a ticket because they don’t know how to handle such bikes. And if you wonder how these rat bikes are judged in bike shows, I can tell you that extra points are given per junk part and oil stain under them while standing still for the public to admire. They are part of our motorcycle history and as such deserve our respect..