In the late 2000s, Braaap Motorcycles seemed unstoppable as it managed to carve out a niche in the competitive recreational motorcycle market. So much so that, for a moment, it had a number of Japanese giants on their toes. But when allegations of fraud made headlines in 2016, the reputation of ‘Australia’s Own Motorcycle Company’ quickly turned sour.

Braaap Motorcycles founder Brad Smith got his start at the age of 17, by sourcing factories in China to assemble small-capacity motorcycles to his design.

In 2008, Smith was named Australian Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and later, Tasmania’s Young Australian of the Year.

Braaap was ramping up production, primarily specialising in low-end ‘pit-bikes’ targeted towards a younger customer base, taking stylistic inspiration from BMX and FMX trends of the time.

Its store in Frankston, Victoria, was a social hub for young people, with a high rotation of scooter riders and BMXers frequenting the store’s in-house foam pit. In short, Braaap was nurturing brand loyalty.

Braaap’s inexpensive pit bike models appeal to a young audience.

The bikes were inexpensive, which many reviewers say was reflected in the build quality, but attractive payment plan options and a lifetime warranty was enough to garner a considerable customer base.

It soon expanded into international markets, with a range of road-going nameplates as well as electric and quad-bike models.

In 2015, Braaap saw sales growth of approximately 400 per cent.

Things took a turn the following year, when The Examiner reported that Brad Smith and his partner Toby Wilkin had been charged with four counts of fraud and one count of deal in proceeds of crime knowingly conceal.

New South Wales detectives alleged that the pair were part of a syndicate to scratch off and replace the serial numbers belonging to Braaap’s Cafe Racer model.

It was alleged that 85 ST-250 motorcycles were “rebirthed” and resold.

Braaap ST-250 Cafe Racer 2020.

Following a raid on Braaap Wholesale Pty Ltd’s stores, police reportedly seized a punch stamp set, compliance labels, computers and documentation.

The company was initially hit with a number of suspensions for “non-safety related conformance issues”.

Last year, The Examiner reported that the company pleaded guilty to six counts of approval for the placement of identification plates and three counts of importation of vehicles requiring modification.

Importantly, magistrate Ken Stanton said that Braaap’s failure to fit motorcycles with specified parts was not deliberate.

Braaap Wholesale was fined $25,000 after it was convicted on all nine counts.

The brand recently launched its 2020 ST250 Cafe Racer, which is priced from $1990 plus on-road costs.

Braaap appears to have survived its legal troubles, but it may take considerable efforts to regain trust from the motorcycling community.

Braaap Motorcycles founder Brad Smith.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Roger
Roger
6 months ago

Please update!!! People have been waiting 7 months for bikes this bloke is not nice nore is his mum the sales ladies… why and how??

Storm
Storm
Reply to  Roger
6 months ago

I was wondering if anyone got their bikes. I enquired, and was told pay now (sept 19) and maybe get the bike in Feb 20. Sounded dodgy af.

Harley
Harley
Reply to  Storm
4 months ago

I got my moto3 last night.
I actually contacted 5 local state and federal MPs asking what the hell is going on with their approval process to import the bikes and clear them for on-road registration.
The MPs who replied told me they had been advocating already on braaap’s behalf and didn’t understand why the dept. of infrastructure was stalling on the approvals.
Additionally they told me they had investigated the situation and Braaaap had been active and prompt in supplying everything that was required in that process – previous to that i had my doubts.
Super happy with the bike, hope there’s some nice weather this weekend, and i hope the st-250 situation gets sorted quickly.