Bike of the Month
1970 Hodaka Super Rat
By Steve Brizendine
This Hodaka Super Rat was built in May of 1970. I bought it from Lowell Boyer at Nevada Cycle Sales in late July of 1970. I walked into the shop which was an old-time motorcycle shop with cookie sheets under all the English bikes. The Rat was on the showroom floor next to a Greeves Challenger. Lowell walked out of the office and asked if he could help me. I said yes, I’ll take that one pointing to the Hodaka. He said how would you like to finance that? I replied ‘like this” taking a wad of hundreds out of my front pocket. I got out of the shop $425 lighter.
My Dad picked up the bike the next day with his pickup. He called me at work later that day and told me he had some bad news about my bike. He fell out of the pickup unloading it at home. He tried to minimize the damage by letting it fall on him. It had a small dent about the size of a quarter in the top of the tank. My youngest son asked me at the See See show in 2018 when I was going to get that dent fixed. I told him he could do it after he inherited it because I wouldn’t.
The only things I changed were the hand grips. I cut them off before I even rode it for the first time. I replaced them with flat track grips. I also installed a Webco front wheel spacer because it looked racier than the stock one. I removed the stock knobby tires (which I still have) and replaced them with a Pirelli MT53 on the front and a Dunlop K70 on the rear. That was the set up that worked well for most flat tracks. I did the gold leaf on the air cleaner cover over the stock decal because I was learning how to do it and it seemed like a good place to try it.
People have asked me if I ever rode it because it is in such good shape. It was ridden hard almost every day for 2 summers. It was my practice bike. I had a Hodaka flat tracker that I rode at the indoor short track at the fairgrounds. I fell off the Super Rat almost every time I would ride it. Mostly low sides. “You never know how fast you can go until you fall off. “I have also been over the handle bars a couple of times. Once when I rode it into a drainage ditch next to a dirt road in 5th gear and once when I hit the strongest sagebrush in Nevada also in 5th gear.
The forks have been bent and straightened. The original number boards turned yellow from the sun and the front one broke from vibration and were replaced. I bent and replaced the front fender with a stock replacement. The shifter springs were also replaced (a common Hodaka ailment). That 19-year-old 145lb rider wasn’t always easy on the equipment. It was raced a couple of times when I was waiting for replacement parts for the flat tracker. Through all the abuse it still has a standard bore cylinder and the piston it came with. I replaced the main bearings and seals in 2000. Parts that needed to be changed through wear and tear were replaced with stock parts.
My son-in-law and 8-year-old granddaughter came over last year to help me load it for the See See Side Hustle show. My son-in-law came in through the open garage door. My granddaughter veered off and went in through the front door. I heard her say she wasn’t going in the garage because there were big rats in there. I do get an occasional mouse in the garage but no rats. When we got to the show it dawned on me what she meant. I told her to read the air cleaner cover and then she might feel better about going in the garage again.
My girl friend (now my wife of 45 years) learned to ride on it as did my sister. Both of my sons have ridden it. My granddaughters have both sat on it and had their pictures taken on it. I have a lot of good memories with that bike.
It doesn’t get ridden much anymore. Just started once in a while and polished. I have a Hodaka Ace 90 that I trail ride and have raced vintage motocross with. I like to show it and a lot of people stop and talk about their experiences on Hodakas when they see it.