What is a Brat Style Motorcycle? Our Definition

XLH 1200 Sportster by Brat Style Japan
XLH 1200 Sportster by Brat Style Japan

With all of the motorcycle classifications out there and all of the slang terms applied to bikes these days, we hear a lot of people asking ”what the heck does brat style mean, what’s a bratstyle motorcycle?”

Like a lot of custom styles, there is no hard and fast bratstyle definition. Often, you just sort of know one when you see one. Here at BikeBound, we realized that we needed some definition of various custom styles/genres in order to proper classify the bikes we feature. Plus, looking toward a definition of various styles can be a fun lesson in the history of bike-building.

History of Brat Style

Brat Style Yamaha SR400
Yamaha SR400 by Brat Style Japan (Notice Solo Seat)

As you may or may not know, the term brat or brat style has its origins in one specific shop in Tokyo, Japan, run by Go Takamine:  Brat Style.  Basically, Takamine’s shop developed a distinct design language with their builds, and as their customs were imitated across the world, the proper name “Brat Style” became the generic, oft-hashtagged term #bratstyle, sort of like Kleenex or Q-Tip or Xerox. This is probably one of the highest achievements you could hope for as a builder/designer–to have a style so well-known, it’s named after you. (This is known as an eponym, if you care.)

Many of Brat Style Japan’s builds are based on the Yamaha XS650, SR400, and other small displacement Japanese bikes (metrics) with mildly modified frames, as well as older Harley Sportsters. During the pre-recession chopper craze, when chunky-tired, chromium monstrosities were being poured out of US-based shops like Orange County Choppers, Brat Style Japan’s bikes stood out in stark aesthetic contrast:  they were dark, low, mean, and cheap. They had rear suspension, so you could ride them without breaking your back, and you could actually build one without breaking the bank. They had an old-school purity that harked back to the matte-painted hot rods of the post-WWII era.

The Nitty-Gritty:  a Brat Style Definition

We are going to attempt a working definition of brat style here. What brat style means to us. This is not the only definition, but it’s the BikeBound definition, the one we will use to classify featured customs on the blog:

A brat style bike is a non-rigid custom with either a flat, slab seat long enough to ride two-up, or a solo seat lowered via mild frame modification.  It has a lowered stance with most unnecessary equipment removed–fairings, chrome, etc. Handlebars can be mini-apes, superbike bars, or motocross bars–but no clip-ons.  Moto-styled bars often skew the bike toward the category of “brat tracker,” especially if slightly knobby tires are fitted.

To summarize, a brat typically has:

  • Sprung rear (no hardtail)
  • Flat, slab seat or lowered solo seat
  • Mini-apes or dirt-style bars (no clip-ons)
  • Fenders bobbed, fairings and chrome removed
Yamaha XS650 by Brat Style Japan

Bratstyle Today

KZ650 “Brat Tracker” by Alex Veaone

Today, there is a large movement toward bratstyle bikes around the world. The major push is coming in the Asian and Australian markets, but a lot of customs are coming out of the United States as well. Monster Craftsman and Visual Impact both offer brat kits for the Yamaha XS650, one of the most popular platforms for brat builds. These require only minor cutting and welding.

Unlike the streetfighter genre, the brat trend has not been adopted by any factory manufacturers. This is probably the best, in that part of the mystique of this style is the low-down, almost garage-built look.

Where to Look for Bratstyle Inspiration

We wish we could give a hard and fast definition of what a bratstyle motorcycle is, but like many other types of bikes, it is an individual concept of the bike that truly defines bratstyle and makes is stand out from a bobber or cafe racer.

Tell us:  what’s your definition of brat style?

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Honda FT500 Custom Tracker Ascot Reborn: Honda FT500 by AMP Motorcycles - Father/son workshop AMP Motorcycles rebuilds an 80s thumper…  In 1982, Honda introduced the FT500 Ascot, a single-cylinder four-stroke named after the storied Ascot flat track (RIP) just outside Los Angeles: “Located between the posh Hollywood […]
Yamaha XS400 Bobber Lightweight Bob: Yamaha XS400 Bobber by DOTi - By the mid 1970s, the Big Four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers had already seen the end looming for the two-stroke street bike. Emissions laws, noise regulations, and a new emphasis on fuel economy were ringing the […]
BMW R80RT Custom Bavarian Blackout: BMW R80 by Burn Up Company - BUC It: Burn Up Company’s burly BMW, built for sidecar adventures… In the mid-1980s, BMW replaced the twin-shock rear suspension on their airhead models with a monolever (single-shock) system, whose asymmetric design was meant to […]
Suzuki GS850 Custom Full Metal Brat: Suzuki GS850 by Basan Metalworks - The Suzuki GS850, introduced in 1979, sported a bored-out two-valve GS750 engine mated to a shaft drive, offering 77 horsepower and a top speed of 119 mph — a heavyweight brute designed for the touring […]
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Kawasaki KZ400 Custom Kawasaki KZ400 “MoneyPenny” by WKND Customs - Built for a female air force officer… The original Kawasaki KZ400 twin, introduced during the oil crisis in 1974, was billed as a middleweight commuter, featured in magazine advertisements alongside a VW Beetle with the […]
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Honda Valkyrie Brat Flat-Six Brat: Honda Valkyrie by Basan Metalworks - The Honda Valkyrie, first introduced in 1996, was intended to be the world’s ultimate cruiser, a six-cylinder brute that was bigger, badder, and more powerful than traditional V-twins. Said one Honda VP: “The [flat-six] motor […]
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Verve Moto Tracker 125 Verve Moto Tracker 125i - Rarely do we come across a chain-production machine that fools us into thinking it’s a one-off custom. Such was the case with the Tracker 125i by Verve Moto, an Italian manufacturer that evolved from the […]
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Suzuki VanVan 125 Tracker Suzuki VanVan 125 Tracker by TOMA Customs - The Suzuki VanVan 125 is a something of an enigma — a balloon-tired, retro-styled 125cc machine that punches well above its weight in the fun department. The air-cooled, 12-hp SOHC engine is capable of pushing […]
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Honda CB350 Brat Honda CB350 Restomod by Offset Motorcycles - Craquelure, (/ˈkrakˌlo͝or/):  a network of fine cracks in the paint or varnish of a painting. That’s the name of this 1970 Honda CB350 “resto brat,” built by Jason Lisica of San Francisco’s Offset Motorcycles. Jason […]
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Suzuki GN125 Custom Brat Suzuki GN125 Brat by Istmo Customs - The Suzuki GN125 has been a hard-to-kill, real-world workhorse since the 1980s.  However, it takes a special eye to see the beauty hiding behind the bike’s slightly funky factory looks.  Canadian journalist Jeff Campagna is […]
Honda CB750 Nighthawk Brat Bike CB750 Nighthawk Brat Bike by Smith Cycles - Today, we’re proud to present this 1985 Honda CB750 RC04 (Nighthawk) brat bike by Sven Schmidt of Germany’s Smith Cycles.  The RC04 was the German version of the Nighthawk.  Though  customs are a dime a […]
Honda CBX400 Custom Honda CBX400 Custom by Cafe Racer SSpirit - Cafe Racer SSpirit of San Sebastian, Spain, consistently turns out some of our favorite builds.  We’ve shared their R51 scrambler and, more recently, we featured their Honda CBX custom, whose six-into-one custom exhaust sounds like […]
BMW R80 Bratstyle BMW R80RT Brat by Marc Frankhauser - The BMW R80RT, as you may know, was the street-only version of the R80GS adventure/dual-sport.  It was popular among police forces across the globe, and it’s become a sought-after platform for customizers like Marc Frankhauser […]
BMW R100 Brat Style Brat Style BMW R100 by The Bike Maker - The Watchmaker’s Wheels… Swiss watches are world-renown for their precision and craftsmanship, and Swiss watchmakers are legendary for their exactitude, their attention to detail.  Today, we have a 1979 BMW R100RS built by Alexandre Ciaramella […]
XS650 Custom Tracker Garage-Built XS650 Brat Tracker: “TruNorth” - It’s hard to beat the Yamaha XS650 for character, durability, and ease of customization.  The lines lend themselves readily to all kinds of builds, from choppers to trackers, and what the parallel twin lacks in […]
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Bratstyle CB750 Bratstyle CB750 by Fuel Well Moto - Some custom builds start out as basket-cases, some as rusty barn finds, some as battered runners.  Not very many start out as lime green, chromed-out cruisers.  Doug Snell of Fuel Well Moto in Los Angeles […]
Bratstyle CB750 Honda CB750 Bratstyle by Mark Alderfer - We love featuring bikes from big, well-known shops, but there’s something truly special about customs crafted by individual builders in their personal garages or sheds.  This the essence of the #builtnotbought mentality, and if you […]
DT250 Brat Custom Faves: Yamaha DT250 Brat Custom - If you ever rode a two-stroke dirt bike as a kid (or adult), you know there’s nothing quite like wringing the throttle on a manic little “two-smoker.”  We’ve been seeing some incredible two-stroke customs of […]
Suzuki GSX750 Brat Tracker 1980 Suzuki GSX750 Brat Tracker, “La Suzu” - We are pleased to present this 1980 Suzuki GSX750 16V, “La Suzu,” built by Mauro Lorusso of Triple Ocho 888 Garage, a custom bike builder in Argentina.  The bike immediately jumped out at us with […]
XLH 1200 Sportster by Brat Style Japan What is a Brat Style Motorcycle? Our Definition - With all of the motorcycle classifications out there and all of the slang terms applied to bikes these days, we hear a lot of people asking ”what the heck does brat style mean, what’s a […]
Honda GL Pro Brat Tracker 1992 Honda GL Pro Brat Tracker, “Si Mehonk” - We’ve been seeing a lot of small-displacement street trackers and brats show up of late, often from builders in Southeast Asia. These bad little rippers look fun as hell on both paved roads and dirt, […]
KZ650-Brat-Tracker Faves: 1979 KZ650 Brat Tracker - Sometimes it takes just a single detail to tie together a design. The classic throwback Kawasaki enduro tank on Alex Veaone’s 1979 Kawasaki KZ650, riding high atop the frame, does just that. It emphasizes the […]



  1. Pingback: 日本発!!世界に広がる “Brat” スタイルカスタム!? | garagestaff

  2. Pingback: 世界に広がる “Brat (ブラット)” カスタムとは!?| page3 | UrbanGetto

  3. Dương Tôn Vinh

    Tôi xin lỗi trước, vì tôi chỉ biết tiếng Việt, tôi cũng rất quan tâm đến Bratstyle vì đây là style mà tôi rất yêu thích. Và dưới đây là vài thông điệp suy nghĩ của tôi muốn gửi đến #bikebound
    Riêng về Bratstyle tại sao lại không có trong sơ đồ dáng xe Classic. Là bởi vì nó là một dáng mới, một style mới, nó là một chiếc Classic pha trộn giữa 2 đến 3 dáng cùng một lúc. Tuy nhiên là mới nhưng nó xuất hiện cũng từ rất lâu, ở đây khi hoàn thành sản phẩm bạn sẽ không khỏi thắc mắc vì dễ nhầm nó ở nhiều dáng xe như Brat, Brat-Bob, scrambler, flattracker…. *”Cụ thể hơn thì nó pha trộn nguyên phần đầu của Flattracker (ghi đông, phuộc trước, vỏ xe), phần chân bên dưới được pha trộn từ Brat Bob ( bánh trước cao to, có thể là bánh 18 hay 19 in, bánh sau có thể là 16 in hoặc là 17 in) và phần thân xe được pha trộn từ yên ghế ngồi của Brat/Brat-Bob/Scrambler (cũng chính là 3 phần chính của Bratstyle)”*. Kế đến là bình xăng lớn của một số dáng xe motor khác như là: flat tracker, bobber, scrambler và custom riêng của Bratstyle theo ý của mình.
    Vì sao khi mình nói nó là một style mới mẻ, thì chính xác hơn khi bạn custom mà có *”3 phần chính của Bratstyle”* kết hợp thêm một số chi tiết của các dòng xe cổ điển, đều có thể cho ra một dáng riêng của bạn đó gọi là Bratstyle.
    Nó thật sự mới mẻ, và không tạo cảm giác nhàm chán.
    #vietstyle_custom #bratstyle #vietnam_motorcycle_classic
    Cảm ơn đã chịu khó đọc bài viết.

    Translation via Google Translate:

    I apologize in advance, because I only know Vietnamese, I am very interested in Bratstyle because this is my favorite style. And here are some thoughts I want to send to #bikebound
    Regarding Bratstyle why not in the Classic design. Because it is a new look, a new style, it is a Classic mix of two to three designs at the same time. It’s new, but it’s been around for a long time. Here it is, when you finish your product, you will not be surprised at how easy it is to find it in cars like Brat, Brat-Bob, scrambler, flattracker. * “More specifically, it blends the first part of the Flattracker, the bottom part is mixed with Brat Bob (high front wheel, can be 18 or 19 in. The rear wheel can be 16 in. Or 17 in.) And the chassis is blended from the Brat / Brat-Bob / Scrambler seat (which is also the three main parts of Bratstyle). Next is the large gas tank of some other motor designs such as: flat tracker, bobber, scrambler and custom custom Bratstyle at his will.
    Why when I say it is a new style, more precisely when you custom that * “3 main parts of Bratstyle” * combines some details of the classic car, can give a Your own design is called Bratstyle.
    It’s really new, and does not make sense of boredom.
    #vietstyle_custom #bratstyle #vietnam_motorcycle_classic
    Thanks for reading the article.

  4. Chas Coop

    Nice looking bikes, but I would class them as Bobbers with the only difference in seating, which is definitely uncomfortable looking. I would not want to ride a plank seat very far, soft tail or not.
    There are many European and Asian Bobbers that look the same, some hard and some soft tail.
    If I saw one on the street I would consider it one of many Bobber mods.

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