A crowning achievement for any brand or business is when their name becomes so commonly used that it becomes a verb or a noun. We “hoover” our carpets with many different makes of vacuum cleaner. People make a “xerox” of a document. We “google” information using a variety of search engines. The brand or business names which achieve this dictionary status are part of a very small and exclusive group. Similarly noteworthy is when an international style or movement is named after the person or business which originally created the style. This brings us to our featured “brat style” bobber.


Brat Style are a small Japanese custom motorcycle business. They began building custom motorcycles in a very definite style. Whether they created the style or merely formalised it is hard to establish if you are not fluent in Japanese or have a Japanese translator package which actually understands Japanese. Nevertheless, they were definitely the guys who introduced the world to the “brat style” bobber. Labelling is limiting but seeing as the style is currently so popular, I will attempt to define what a brat style bobber is. It is essentially a bobber created from a Japanese motorcycle, usually but not always with a single or twin cylinder engine. Engine capacity may be anything from 125cc up to a usual maximum of 650cc. What sets these bobbers apart from their original American and British cousins is that the rear suspension is retained, although very much lowered. Similarly the front suspension is also lowered although the rake is not changed. I have heard that the rear suspension is retained because Japanese legislation does not allow modifying motorcycles to be rigid – this is unverified but does sound like Japanese sensibility. Old school balloon tyres are fitted front and rear to complete the look. Other modifications are similar to all bobbers with bobbed or removed fenders, small lights and the general elimination of all unnecessary items. This is a very low and compact bobber with a short wheelbase. Just to prove that definitions are dangerous and are never without exception, Brat Style have photos of some really nice Harley Sportster brat style bobbers on their website. Oh well I tried!
This Honda CX500 brat style bobber was built by brothers Braam and Louis. Braam is also the owner of the beautiful Brazilian Lambretta which we featured. Louis is an accountant and Braam is a product engineer. Louis lives in Nelspruit and Braam was living in Brazil at the time of the build. Between them they had only ever owned three stock standard motorcycles. Their decision to build this bobber sounds like a recipe for disaster. Looking at this motorcycle, it was a recipe for success. The super photos of the brat were taken by Dylan in Durban who also provided the Lambretta’s photos.
For the six months that this bobber took to build, thousands of emails flowed between Louis the amateur custom motorcycle builder/professional accountant and Braam the professional designer. Louis did most of the modifications in his garage at home, only bringing in professional help when essential. Braam in Brazil would photoshop the modifications required and Louis would execute the work.
The donor bike for this bobber was A 1982 Honda CX500 Custom which was in good shape and had only covered 25000 km in its life. The following are some of the modifications to look out for: chopped rear frame; powdercoated frame; 2K painted rims with very expensive Firestone Deluxe tyres fitted; Custom exhaust headers with reverse cone megaphone silencers; battery and electrics relocated to the underside of the motorcycle; K&N air filters fitted; Renthal low riser handlebars; grips, flickers and taillight are Posh units; 3mm flat steel sheet fabricated to form the seat pan. The lamb’s hide for the seat cover was sourced by Braam on a trip to Argentina.
We hope that by featuring fine home built motorcycles like this CX500, we will motivate those of you who are currently busy with your own projects and prompt those who were considering a project into action. Please keep on building. We need new features all the time!