Vintage Motorcycle TERMS & Styles
New Old Stock. These are old parts that are original OEM parts that have never been used or fitted.
Restored is where a motorcycle is completely stripped and rebuilt (using all new or NOS parts) to make it exactly as it was when it was new. If it has been modified in any significant way it is not restored, but rebuilt or customized.
Rebuilt is where a motorcycle is rebuilt to good working mechanical condition and not necessarily cosmetically restored or completely original.
Vintage motorcycle styles
Stock is where a motorcycle is completely as it left the factory.
Modified is where a motorcycle is changed in varying degrees from how the manufacturer intended it to be.
Custom is where a motorcycle radically modified to suit the riders wants and needs. Custom also covers all the sub categories below:
Bobbers were originally mostly old WWII Harley 45’s that were left over from the war. They were slow, clunky and heavy, so ex GI’s started to strip these bikes down to bare minimum and tune the engine to as fast as their mechanical ability let them. The modern hard-tail version of these bikes is any bike that has had a large amount of weight removal and thought towards extra performance. It seems that nowadays the term is synonymous with any hard tail, but this covers only half of them. Most hard tails are simply choppers.
Brat style is very much a Japanese thing. They were, by law, not allowed to modify any frame to be a rigid frame if it was not originally like that. So, the fiendish Japanese found a way round this seemingly unreasonable law by creating the Brat style, which is basically following the original Bobber blueprint (light, low, simple and quick) but retaining the stock (albeit shorter) suspension set up on the rear.
This category is very much American and covers most of the over-the-top Harleys knocking around with ape-hanger handlebars, super fat rear tires, ridiculous front ends and anything else that has no regard for stability, braking or performance. It covers any ‘chopped’ up motorcycle that is either hand crafted or highly modified from stock to give a completely individual appearance and riding position.
This is very much a British style. Many young kids from the 1950’s onwards hung around various tea shops (cafés) in England with their version of the American bobber (a lightened, tuned British single or twin cylinder with performance upgrades) and raced against the clock, each other or in some cases the juke box to win whatever kudos they can. The modern definition seems to cover anything with pair pair of Clubman bars. This is by no means the case. A Café racer should feel at home on a track and have the best performance that that particular bike can have, which includes brake, chassis and engine upgrades to make the bike perform when pushed to the limit. Anything else is just ‘café style’. There are lots of these and most are horrid.
This is my personal favorite as it’s a very easy style of bike to ride on the street. Again, this is a very old American style born of the old hot rods and bobbers of the past racing on dusty tracks they spent the afternoon digging up in some field. Dirt trackers are stripped down, fast, simple and have no front brake as only the rear brake is needed to kick the rear end out for a long drift at every corner. It’s a little like the old British speedway, except they have no brakes and are super skinny and light.
Street trackers are road versions of these dirt track bikes (known also as flat track), with wide bars, knobby tires, performance upgrades and the addition of a much needed front brake.