BOBBERS

THE MOTO NEWS website nicely sums up the chopper/bobber story.

"The principal difference between bobbers and choppers is that bobbers are typically built around unmodified frames while chopper frames are often cut and welded into shape. They also often lack most of the chopper’s aesthetic characteristics such as chromed parts and elongated forks. Thus, bobbers are fairly easy to create from stock motorcycles and are generally hand built.

It wasn’t until the 1960’s and 1970’s that the term chopper arrived on the scene. Motorcycle enthusiasts were looking for a way to change their motorcycle again and they did. After the movie “Easy Rider” they had found what they where looking for. Builders started removing parts they deemed unnecessary like the windshield, fenders, crash bars, and even the headlights. If it was for show and it didn’t make the motorcycle run or if it wasn’t holding the bike together, it was discarded. It was after this that the original bobber made its way to be known as a bobber chopper.

After this, people started changing the angle at which the front wheel was sticking out. The size of the gas tanks started getting smaller and the handlebars got taller when they added ape hangers. Since there wasn’t any type of fender, the size of the tire started to get played with as well. The most sought-after look for a bobber chopper is a thin front wheel with a very large rear tire. In biker lingo a bike with a very chunky or wide rear tire is called a Fat Bastard.

It has been said that the difference between bobbers and choppers doesn’t come down to what’s on the bike and what isn’t. It comes down to whether it has a short front end or a long front end. If the bike has been customized and changed with nothing done to the front end, it is a bobber. If the front end has been stretched out then it is a chopper."

YAMAHA BOBBER MOTORCYCLES

Suspected Yamaha V-Star bobber

This white-walled metric custom must have the longest cowhorns around! Leather saddle, hard-tail frame (?) and totally bobbed fender showcase the V-twin bobber V-Star. Not sure taping the pipes is good for the motor but it sure looks right.

Is that a hand gear-shift I see on the left side of the bike?

A nice example of a classis-style Japanese bobber motorcyle.

HONDA BOBBER MOTORCYCLES

Okay, let me say first off, it's a beautiful bobber and it has all the classic indications of a prototypical bobber. It's got the sprung seat, the flat(ish) handlebars, old school rubber, horribly inadequate brakes, pipe wrap, teeny weenie brake light, no front fender...Shall I go on?

You see for yourself. Sometimes bobbers are just not going to be great rides on our wonderfully crumbling roads. Which leads me to my tiresome complaint about bobbers and choppers. Bear with me.

I simply can't stand a rigid frame for any functional, rideable motorcycle. Most people in the whole wide world have to put up with shitty pavement, crumbling, pot-holed roads crossed by rail lines, maintenance cuts etc.

Why can't the geniuses who create these works of art also make them FUNCTIONAL? It drives me crazy!

That said, I think you'll agree this bike is a beauty. Enough said.

KAWASAKI BOBBER MOTORCYCLES

This rare and unusual KAWASAKI GTR250 BOBBER is like nothing around. Big ballon tires bookend a modern swingarm, black and chrome pipe, nicely bobbed rear fender and sharp paint among other more subtle touches. I've not seen anything like it! Very nicely original.

SUZUKI BOBBER MOTORCYCLES

GSXR750 bobber

What a monster! This techno tour-de-force just shouts exotic. Most obvious are the TWO single sided swingarms. The back one is impressive enough but a hub-steering front end? Holy cow! And just imagine the weird steering and handling that bad-ass fat front might impart.

The frame must have been extensively reworked to handle that system. But one thing kinda sticks out as retro, that being the solo steel tractor saddle. Someone's got too much time on their hands, in a very good way.

Let's have a closer look at some hard to find Suzuki bobbers and others, as the bobber genre has grown in leaps and bounds the last few years, and may be along with streetfighters, the most popular form of custom motorcycle going!

Modern Japanese Bobbers

If you own a modern cruiser and want to turn it into something more interesting and hard-core, there are kits, frames and lots of parts available to accomplish your goal.

And if you aren't mechanically inclined, or you're looking for a quick and easy transformation so you can just get out and ride, then have a look at the Blue Collar Bobbers website by clicking on the Suzuki Savage pic below.

They certainely can help you transform a ho-hum cruiser and make it stand out amongst all the same-old same-old stuff out there.

This courtesy of Wikipedia. It's a good take on the "Bobber".

A bobber is a custom motorcycle that usually has had the front fender removed, the rear fender "bobbed" or made smaller, and all superfluous parts removed to make it lighter.

History

The bobber was the earliest simple and stripped down custom motorcycle hand-built by individuals with mechanical skills, and was often part of the early biker clubs scene before there were any such things as choppers.

This style of custom motorcycle, which took shape in the 1940s and 50s, is generally thought to have been started by returning WW II American servicemen working on ex-military motorcycles, and inspired by lighter European motorcycles they had seen and ridden.

The bikes reflected their owners and were often homemade. Today there are many companies that create such vehicles. The style has also influenced motorcycle manufacturers, such as Harley-Davidson.

The bobber continues to be favoured by some to this day. Hybrid styles have emerged, such as the "bobber chopper," and "retro-bobber."

Bobbers are related to choppers in that they represent a minimalistic approach where the motorcycle is stripped of parts or accessories not needed but bobbers generally retain the characteristics of the stock frame.

The principal difference between a bobber and chopper is that bobbers are typically built around unmodified frames. Chopper frames are often cut and welded into shape. Bobbers also often lack most of the chopper's aesthetic characteristics such as chromed parts and elongated forks. Thus, bobbers are fairly easy to create from stock motorcycles and are generally hand built.

The term chopper started to be used from the late 1960s onwards, for motorcycles whose frames had been customized to have a greater angle at which the front suspension protruded with smaller fuel tanks and tall handlebars called ape hangers.

For many owners, the difference between bobbers and choppers doesn't come down to what's on the motorcycle but what isn't on it and whether it has a short front end or a long front end, stretched suspension defining it as a chopper. Whereas customized motorcycles can be extremely expensive, bobber builders tend to adopt an economical approach involving old, second hand, recycled parts and hand machined items redolent of the period before the mass-market motorcycle accessory industry had developed.

Bobbers are considered to be the first streetfighter style motorcycle!

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