Rat bikes are motorcycles that have fallen apart over time but been kept on the road and maintained for little or no cost by employing kludge (ad hoc) fixes. The concept of keeping a motorcycle in at least minimally operational condition without consideration for appearance has probably characterized motorcycle ownership since its earliest days. The essence of a rat bike is keeping a motorbike on the road for the maximum amount of time while spending as little as possible on it. This calls for adaptation of parts that were not designed to fit the model of bike in question. Most Rat bikes are painted matte black but this is not a requirement.
‘Survival bikes’ are bikes that may appear to be rat bikes, but are not. They are influenced by the ‘Mad Max’ films. The term survival bike itself originated in the British motorcycle press particularly ‘Back Street Heroes,’ and the now-defunct AWoL in the late 1980s and early 1990s.