By Craig Vetter
Bob Braverman was a brilliant maverick who followed his own special dreams and inspired a whole generation of motorcyclists.
Bob was always a racer. In fact, he actually paid his way through college by racing motorcycles. In the late 1950s, in Chicago, his first job was that of a toy designer, where his enthusiasm made him an early pioneer in slot-car racing.
Bob Braverman helped invent the slot car. And, he helped develop the hobby, showing thousands of excited kids how to make their slot cars faster, contributing to such magazines as Model Car Science, Car Model and Rod&Custom’s Model Car Magazine. He wrote a book on the subject called Here is Your Hobby Slot Car Racing.
In the late 1960s, Bob moved to California where he returned to his motorcycling roots, figuring out how to make motorcycles go faster. In 1967 he became the technical editor for the new magazine, Cycle Guide.
His “how-to” stories continued to inspire the Baby Boom generation as they, too, moved from slot cars to motorcycles. Braverman, like all good motorcycle mechanics, could -- and would -- do anything. He showed us how to turn the new lightweight Japanese motorcycles into fast drag bikes. He put two Yamaha 250cc road race engines into a frame he designed and built and went a quarter-mile at 131 mph in 10.52 seconds at the drags. He introduced us to Van Tech frames that made it easy to install these same wonderful new Japanese engines into bigger, “U.S.-rider-sized” frames. Braverman discovered pumper carbs and put them on motorcycles. He was always ready to make connections between the various racing disciplines, cross-pollinating, creating excitement among his readers. By 1969, Bob had become Cycle Guide’s Editor and publisher.
In 1973, Bob Braverman was ready to publish his own magazine, Cycle Rider, which he published until selling in 1975. He also started Street Rider and Custom Chopper magazines, and was the editor of Modern Cycle magazine for a while. He went on to pursue car racing and specialized engine building, attracting the rich and famous of Southern California.
Bob Braverman came to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame through National Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. He died young, in 1982, at age 52, of prostate cancer. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.