Bradley “Brad” Smith (born July 1, 1987) is an Australian entrepreneur, speaker, champion Superlite MX mini motocross rider and advocate for safe motocross riding practices. Smith is best known for establishing the motocross brand “Braaap” and the recipient of several achievement awards including 2010 Young Australian of the Year for Tasmania, Australian Young Entrepreneur of the year and International Young Entrepreneur of the year runner up.
In 2008 Smith launched the first Braaap store, a retail outlet intended to be “the motocross equivalent of a surf shop”. Braaap has since expanded to four retail outlets across Tasmania and Victoria, with a franchise model to enable further expansion throughout Australia, and the rest of the world. In 2010 Braaap signed a deal with NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose to launch into the United States in 2011.
Braaap is the 3 time Australian Specialised retail business of the year.
Smith was born in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia to parents from a middleclass background who grew up in a government housing commission residences.  Smith acknowledges he was neither the most popular or academically successful student at school and attributes much of his success to his parents who encouraged him to think big and believe in himself.
His parents purchased his first motorcycle when he was four years old, fuelling his passion for motocross. Smith has channelled this passion into the Braaap club and community group, initiatives which assist young people to discover their own interest in affordable adrenalin sports. He states his life mission is to “educate people on how to get their adrenaline rush from action sport or their passion rather than from drugs, violence and alcohol.
Smith is involved with the Tony Robbins Platinum partnership which has assisted to establish soccer programs throughout Israel. These programs unite families in communities through their enthusiasm for soccer in troubled regions like Hebron.
Smith now resides in Legana, Tasmania.
At age 16 Smith had a vision to establish mini motocross Superlite MX in Australia. In 2004 he identified the need to develop an affordable Superlite pit bike which could be ridden and jumped confidently by adults. To raise funds to import his first shipment of mini bikes from China, Smith worked numerous jobs and undertook various small entrepreneurial activities including manufacturing Hacky Sacks, selling movie posters on eBay, mowing laws for the elderly in his neighbourhood, and trading options on the US stock market. Despite investing considerable time in these undertakings, he deemed the quality of the bikes as unsatisfactory upon their arrival.
Founding of Braaap
Evermore determined Smith set about designing his own bikes and researched the market extensively. He frequently travelled to mainland Australia where he participated in motocross events to build his reputation and accumulate knowledge from the best motocross riders. At the time Smith was a provisional driver and could not hire rental cars, so to overcome this limitation he sponsored riders to participate in the events he was unable to attend.
Through these experiences Smith ascertained the requirements to build mini bikes capable of rivalling the American models. Lacking the means to produce them he saw no choice but to visit China and source a manufacturer capable of building mini bikes to his specification.
Despite having little international business experience and no distribution channels, upon turning 18 Smith embarked on a two week venture to liaise with Chinese motorcycle manufacturers. He was ridiculed by dozens by business managers but eventually found a manufacturing plant willing to support his vision.
Braaap motorcycles are now manufactured by engineers and companies across the world, the front suspension in Italy, exhausts in Europe, bike frames in France, engines in Japan and performance parts in the United States. The motorcycles are assembled locally by mechanics in Braaap stores to ensure quality and reliability.
Success as a Wholesaler
Initially Braaap Motorcycles acted as a wholesaler to bike dealers across Australia, but despite healthy sales the venture failed to produce the result Smith hoped for.
“The dealers just weren’t doing what we wanted them to do. They weren’t doing it how we wanted to do it […] To me they were in it for the money where we were in it because we were passionate about it. This was my pride and joy and I needed to make it something better and we wanted to build a sport…”
— Brad Smith, interview with Switzer, Peter. “Braaap Case Study”, June 2010.
Dissatisfied, Smith declared he would open his own retail stores and travelled around Australia to buy back all the previously sold Braaap bikes.
Braaap Retail Stores
Despite being told “street clothes and motorbikes won’t sell under the one roof”, Smith collaborated widely to develop a business model for a motocross lifestyle store aimed towards families and recreational riding. As a result Braaap stores not only sell mini bikes but offer a variety of street apparel, DVDs, equipment and motocross paraphernalia. Each store also has a club and provides access to coaching and in-store bike mechanics.
Braaap’s exponential growth created challenges when procuring funding. Smith overcame this obstacle after winning awards for 2008 Australian Small Business Retailer of the Year and Australian Young Entrepreneur of the Years, both sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank. After the award ceremony Smith informally propositioned Commonwealth Bank officials who in turn agreed to provide Braaap funding.
The first the Braaap store opened in Launceston in 2008, with additional Tasmanian stores in Hobart and Devonport, and another in Frankston, Victoria.
“We are in the business of affordable adrenaline sports, my passion is the Superlite industry but as a retailer our concept store is designed to be the affordable adrenaline sport super store, we are using what we have learned from the Superlite industry to engage other affordable adrenaline sport that line up with our mission and values, E.g. BMX, Extreme POGO, Extreme Scooter, etc.”
— Brad Smith.
Working meticulously with the legal and consultancy firm DC Strategy, Smith spent three years developing a franchise model to enable the replication of Braaap’s retail store format throughout Australia and eventually the rest of the world. Smith’s short term goal is to establish 50 Australian Braaap stores within five years.
Marcos Ambrose and Expansion into the USA NASCAR race driver and dual Australian V8 Supercar Champion Marcos Ambrose made his first visit to a Braaap retail store in early 2010. Impressed with both the store and product, Ambrose bought three Braaap bikes for cross-training and began negotiating with Smith to acquire the master franchise rights to introduce the brand and retail outlets into the United States in 2011.
Braaap in the Community
Braaap has established two permanent club facilities with plans to establish more. The aim is to provide a safe and fun riding environment for the entire family. Flat tracks are available for beginner riders while intermediate motocross tracks are provided for riders who wish to build skill and confidence. A Las Vegas replica supercross track is also available for advanced riders.
Combating Illegal Riding
Prompted by an increase in illegal bike riding, Smith assisted various stakeholders in organising a venue for Superlite riders to practice and compete. As early as 2005 he approached the Launceston City Council to arrange allocation of land at Rocherlea for trail bike use.
Condemning the practice of dangerous riding Smith hopes to work with police to determine a suitable disciplinary measure for those caught riding illegally:
“We want to do something like if your bike’s impounded you come out to the local braaap club and do a course with us […] These kids have got so much passion – imagine if we could harness that passion and use it to develop their life skills.” — Brad Smith, “New space for trail bike riders”, The Examiner Newspaper.
Smith aims to provide young people with an outlet to receive an adrenaline rush through stimulating activities like trail bike riding rather than drugs, alcohol or crime.
The Industry – Superlite
Superlite is an emerging niche in the motorsport industry which Smith plans to develop into a professional sport and industry in its own right. He also aims to expand Superlite into affordable adrenaline sport which the whole family can enjoy through the Braaap club and community group facilities.
The term “Superlite” originated from Braaap’s desire to rebrand the industry and create uniformity. Superlite bikes have been referred by many names, including “bikes”, “pitbikes”, “thumpsters”, “minibikes” and “50s”, none of which Smith considered empowering or a true reflection of the sport which they represent.
Smith’s primary concern with terms such as “mini bike” or “pit bike” is the misassumption the bikes are small or a refer to a secondary level sport.
“Superlite riding is a full on action sport in the USA they have the Mini Moto SX, the largest Superlite race on the planet with up to 800 riders, and 10,000 fans. It’s a big deal. People ride Superlite bikes exclusively because they are high adrenaline, they are affordable and they are accessible. Superlite is a rebrand of our industry to bring not only an empowering brand to lead the sport but a professional look and feel that this great sport deserves.” — Brad Smith.