A bobber motorcycle is a motorcycle that has been stripped of all its non-essential parts, literally leaving it as just a composition of all the vital parts.
It lacks parts such as a front fender, or other accessories that are more just aesthetics. It has a shortened rear fender, a muted and very basic paint scheme and a lowered stance.
Bobber’s first appeared when owners customized their own motorcycles, initially for performance purposes. It changes lightly over time, however, a bobby is most usually built using stock bikes that get modified, it has no front fender, a shortened rear fender, removal of all excess, a modified frame, with a shorter wheelbase and lowered seat tube.
The bobbers the closest cousin is the chopper. A chopper has a completely custom frame or a heavily modified stock frame. It is the extreme version of the original bobber.
Why is it called a bobber?
Bobbers where originally called ‘bob-jobs; from their start-up in the 1930s to the 1990s. It is a style of customizing a motorcycle.
The typical construction will include stripping away excess bodywork from the motorcycle, removing the front fender and shortening the rear fender which is then ‘bobbed’, as in ‘bob tailed’, and then all superfluous parts are removed further to reduce the weight.
The name ‘bobber’ literally comes from the idea that they would ‘bob’ the rear fender of the bike, to give it a small bobtail. For many years it was referred to as a ‘bob-job’ rather than ‘bobber’ as it is more commonly known now.
The bob-job is actually an evolution itself from an even earlier custom motorcycle, which was known as the ‘cut down’ which appeared i the late 1920s, and was often based on the Harley-Davidson ‘J’ series V-twin. It was created to modernize the appearance and improve the performance of the old and aging Harley J-Series.
Who makes bobber motorcycle?
There is no one seller of bobbers. Bobbers are a style, not a brand, and you can easily purchase any bobber, or you could even take a bike to the shop, and see if they give it a bob job for you.
That being said, there are a few well renowned makers of bobbers out there. In fact Triumph has a couple; their Bonneville Bobber and their Bobber Black, both of which were cut from the came Bonneville T120, but they are more different than you may think. Equipped with tire hugging fender, spoke wheels and even shorty pipes. If you want a bobber. We say… go Triumph!
Another name that makes bobbers is ‘Indian’, their bobbers are a bit cheaper, and a little more sporty than Triumphs, but they’re still fantastic. But, the one we cannot forget, is the sinister Street Bob, by Harley-Davidson. While there are plenty of makers of bobbers, these will always be the best on the market.
What’s the point of a bobber?
The bobber motorcycle was made then cut down and modernize the appearance and improve the overall performance of the aging J series Harley-Davidson.
By removing the front fender entirely, and shortening the rear fender, as well as removing all the excess accessories, the motorcycle became significantly lightened.
The cut down also became characterized by a modified frame in which the seat tube was lowered and the wheelbase became shortened. This resulted in a lower and shorter machine which a sweeping diagonal line between the steering head and rear axle.
The bobber was made to simply improve an old classic motorcycle, by customizing it and modernizing it. In present times, it’s done because it looks fantastic, and it makes the bike much more light weight, as you take off a lot of the unnecessary components.
It is a style of motorcycle now that is very popular. But it should be known that after WWII, bob-jobs, parallel with hot rods, became subject to even more decorative modifications, including chrome plating, and even colored upholstery. With evolution through the 50s and 60s, ever since its invention to save an aging bike, it has been becoming more and more popular.
How do you make a motorcycle bobber?
To make a motorcycle bobber, you must understand the characteristics of what makes a bobber. Of course, you could go down the route of the vintage motorcycles that started the whole style altogether. But remember that these days the bobber aesthetic can be applied to any sort of motorcycle that you can dream up.
If you are making a bobber yourself, the best models to use to do this yourself are the vintage Triumph, a Harley-Davidson Sportster bobber, or a Yamaha XS650. Any of these are great starting points if you intend to make your own bobber. Remember that when you are building a bobber, you are actually taking things off, rather than putting more things on.
Use custom parts, and pay attention to forums for recommendations and help with your unique bobber construction. If you find it a bit tricky, there’s no reason your local mechanic would say not to doing a bob-job.
How much does it cost to build a bobber?
Figuring out how much it would cost to build a bobber, it really depends on what bike you are using to make your bobber. As an example, if you wanted to convert a Yamaha V-Star 950 with some additional purchased Bobber parts the overall job would cost you around $1350.
However, if you wanted to do the same, again with all the parts ready for a Honda Shadow 750 then you would be looking at costs of around $1680. For a Harley-Davidson Speedster, it would cost about $1649.
We anticipate these prices based on quality American made Bobber parts, where things such as the seat, fenders, lights and so on are design as bolt on replacements for the original parts. Do note there are options that are either cheaper or ore expensive that you can get for a bobber as well.
It is all dependent on the bike itself, and how much you are willing to pay to bob-job your bike. You make to be able to bob-job your bike for under three figures if you try. It depends on you. Don’t forgett insurance and other costs.
What bike makes the best bobber?
There is no exact bike that is the best, it all depends on personal preference, as well as if you are seeking just to buy a bobber, or to do the modifications yourself.
In general cruiser motorcycles make the best bobbers. It depends heavily on your price range and skill set if you intend to modify the bike yourself.
However, Some of the most favored brands of motorcycle for bob-jobs are Triumph, Indian, Harley-Davidson, and Yamaha. Many of these are favorites, and they have some very specific models that are already bobbers, and they also have models that are perfect for someone who wants to modify their own bobber.
For beginners, with a big enough budget, many recommend the Yamaha V Star 650, as a good bobber base bike. Obviously if you have some experience in bobber work or mechanical modifications, why not try it on a Harley, or a Triumph, which though a little more ambitious, are just made for this.