Old 01-26-13, 02:12 PM
jjvw's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Denver
Posts: 1,186

Bikes: 1973 Italvega Nouvo Record; 1965 Hercules; 1982-83 Schwinn Mystery MTB

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I think there is a semantic problem with what "rat rod" really means. I don't have an answer, but I usually picture a deliberate mish-mash of beat up, rusty parts that are cobbled together into something resembling a car (or bike). The look of this contraption is based on 1950's hot rod culture that has been left out in the desert for 30-40 years before being rediscovered by the overly nostalgic punk rock/ rock-a-billy/steam punk scenesters. If you can't find the actual post-war/atomic era source material, you end up making the Disneyland version by adding artifice and faux finishing and flames and more flames and more angry frames (i'm tired of flames on everything). Dont forget the flat black, red and white color scheme to compliment the rust.

This is very different from finding a car or bike from "the era" that has been used, maybe abused, repaired, maintained and upgraded over its life. Its the difference between authentic honest wear and artifice. Its the difference between a "rat rod" and an old bike that has been reused and repurposed.

That being said, very little of what I have seen on these forums described as a rat rod is really a rat rod. I suspect that a rat rod bike is difficult to achieve because the canvas is so small compared to the rusty body panels that can be hung off of an old car. This might be why the best rat rod bikes are cantilever frames with big gas tanks (a different artifice) and fat fenders. The greater the surface area, the greater the chances of success.

Don't get me wrong, there are parts of all of the above that I really enjoy. The problem is that by now, so much of rat rodding has become a fake tough-guy posturing cartoon of itself. I'm pointing at you, Guy Fieri, and your stupid sunglasses. Gene Vincent's bones are laughing at you.

Last edited by jjvw; 01-26-13 at 03:01 PM. Reason: added curmudgeon.
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