I’ve always been fascinated by Rat Bikes. What to some observers may look like a random collection of junk hanging off an old, falling-apart motorcycle, I see as artistic expression.
A true Rat isn’t born overnight. It’s an ever-evolving process that takes years, and is constantly evolving. Every piece on a Rat Bike has a meaning; a purpose.
“It kind of evolves,” said Andy Anderson of DeLeon Springs, Florida, owner of a Harley ’62 Panhead Rat. “So many people give me such neat things and neat ideas. That’s the basis of ridin’ a Rat. It’s not buyin’ a bike and ruinin’ the paint and throwing all the stuff on it that you can. This stuff comes in stages.” For that reason, there are only a handful of real, authentic Rat Bikes in existence.
As you might imagine, the owners of Rat Bikes are as individual as their machines. I first met Andy Anderson at Daytona Bike Week several years ago, interviewed him for my blog, and shot a video about his unique machine. To read more and see more photos of Andy, click HERE.
Another legendary Rat Bike is owned by Smitty, whose actual name is Conrad Smith, of Flat Lick, KY.
Smitty is quite the character, too. I also met him at Daytona Bike Week a few years ago, and subsequently traveled to his home in Flat Lick to interview and photograph him for HOG magazine. You can read more about Smitty and see photos HERE.
Both Andy and Smitty are unique; one of a kind individuals with one of a kind bikes. And readers apparently agree. My post about Smitty is the #1 most-viewed story on www.travelingringo.com since it began in early 2010. And my story about Andy Anderson ranks at #5.
I’d never previously published my video of Andy on this website. It’s been on YouTube and Vimeo, where it’s racked up nearly 12,000 views, so I figured it was a good time to post it here in case you’ve missed it.
As Smitty told me when I visited him in Flat Lick, “You look at it — and a lot of people have commented — it’s art,” he says. “You know, I can look at it too and say, yes, this is my work canvas, my painting canvas, this is my art. You turn rat — the word rat, R-A-T — inside out and what have you got? A-R-T!”