Each bike builder has their own style and approach to creating a custom motorcycle. Carey Hart, for example, often gives his creations a motocross touch. Roland Sands also brings his racing background into his bikes. But while builders have unique design languages, only a handful of them have influenced motorcycle culture on a global scale. However, that’s exactly what Go Takamine did with his ‘Brat Style’ bikes—and he’s bringing that style to the 2022 Indian Chief.
From his Tokyo shop, Go Takamine created a style that’s spread across the world
Go Takamine has been into bikes from a very young age.
As a middle schooler in Okinawa, Japan, he spent hours watching people ride around on dirt bikes, and wishing he could, too, Bike Shed reports. He eventually got his first bike, a 50cc scooter, at the age of 16, and started working at a local shop, picking up wrenching skills along the way. And after graduating high school in 1993, he moved to Tokyo and worked in an automotive body shop and later a paint shop.
Eventually, Go Takamine decided to open his own custom motorcycle shop in 1998, RideApart reports. At first, it was just rented space in another garage. But even then, it had a name: Bratstyle. And it grew multiple times over the years, eventually going from one Tokyo shop to a second one in LA. Now, though, it’s not just the name of a shop, but a worldwide motorcycle phenomenon.
Defining ‘brat style’
In an email conversation we had with Go Takamine, he made it clear that ‘Bratstyle’ is the name of his two shops. But when it comes to ‘brat style’ bikes, he says “it’s good for garage builders to make and play brat style custom bikes.” And that he’s happy the style has spread so far.
What exactly makes a bike ‘brat style’? These motorcycles are similar to bobbers, Iron & Air explains, but maintain their daily rideability. So, while they have un-chopped frames and full suspension, they typically feature low bench or solo seats, and lack things like mirrors, reflectors, and other “unnecessary items,” Cruiser explains. And they usually come with mid- or rear-set foot controls and flat bars, like the ones used in motocross and flat-track racing.
Ultimately, though, ‘brat style’ isn’t about a specific look, Iron & Air muses. And Go Takamine didn’t start his business to become a style icon. We asked him about the similarities between motorcycle culture in the US and Japan. And he replied,
And that’s exactly what he’s all about. So much so, that he doesn’t own a single modern bike.
He’s been into vintage Indians for a long time
Flat-tracking is a major inspiration for Go Takamine. It’s been that way ever since he came to Daytona on a 2005 vacation and saw vintage motorcycles tear up the sand. Specifically, vintage Indian motorcycles.
Today, besides building brat style bikes, Go Takamine also races his own vintage motorcycles at events like The Race of Gentlemen, Motorcyclist reports. And invariably, he’s on one of his several Indians.
Arguably his best-known Indian build is the “Chout,” a 1927 Indian Scout with a 1940s Chief engine, RideApart reports. It won the ‘Best Indian Award’ at the 2015 Born Free bike show, Bike Shed reports, and Go is still tweaking and racing it. He’s also built several Chiefs over the years and raced them, too.
And now, he’s building a custom version of the 2022 Indian Chief.
The 2022 Indian Chief “is already cool,” Go Takamine says
Go Takamine is one of several custom builders taking part in Indian’s Custom Program. At the time of writing, he’s not finished with the build. But he did tell us he wants “to customize it while keeping the meter…and the goodness of the original design.” And he wants to “take advantage of this new chief and mix vintage bobber with Brat Style.”
That being said, Go Takamine loves the 2022 Indian Chief as it is. “[The] tank and frame design are wonderful,” he told us, and he likes the frame design. Plus, the air-cooled V-twin is a torque monster, he says. And he’s also “looking forward to seeing the bikes” the other builders make.
Regardless of what he builds, though, Go Takamine will no doubt do his “favorite motor brand” proud.
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