There are some custom motorcycles that are almost too scary to ride—either from rarity value, or the number of hours a skilled builder has put into them. So there’s something to be said for rat bikes and ‘beaters’ that have a charm of their own. Like this 1989 Honda CD250U, which strangely appeals to me. It’s owned by photographer Richard Baybutt, and he simply says, “I chose it because it was cheap.” It took him from the UK to the Alps in 2008 with his snowboard on the side, but when he got home he wanted to make it more exciting.
“Kengo from Heiwa MC emailed some photos of his CD250U and I set to work chopping bits off. I spent a couple of years changing things, but it’s my only form of transport so it never went off the road for more than a few hours. It sounded loud and looked good from a distance but was a proper rat close up, so last September I took it to pieces and rebuilt it completely.” The frame was stripped, a hoop was welded onto the back, and little details were added like an engraved reservoir cover and gold stripes on the lacquered tank.
“The amount of weight I’ve saved is ridiculous,” says Baybutt. “It’s been a pretty frugal build: the grips are a few layers of sticky-backed foam covered with an offcut from the material shop in Brixton market. They cost about £1.50 in total. The battery and solenoid are housed in an army surplus ammo bag and the rest of the electrics are hidden under the seat.” The bike probably can’t carry a snowboard any more, but it would cut a dash outside the swankiest après-ski bar.
[Follow Baybutt's two-wheeled adventures on Corpses From Hell.]
Canon PowerShot G12 | 1/400 sec | f/4 | ISO 100