The world of motorcycle modification is vast and varied. If you're not interested in the motorcycles sold by larger manufacturers, you can always invest in a bobber motorcycle. What, though, is a bobber, and how is it different from the other motorcycles you can keep in your garage?
Bobber motorcycles are motorcycles that have been stripped of their unnecessary features for the sake of speed and aesthetics. These motorcycles will ride close to the ground and are shorter than those made by big-name manufacturers. In this guide, we'll touch on the history of the bobber as well as:
- How much bobber motorcycles typically cost
- The original and modern purposes of bobber motorcycles
- Whether or not bobbers can have two seats
- The differences between a bobber and a chopper
- Whether or not a bobber qualifies as a cruiser
If you're interested in the strip-down process that defines the bobber, read on!
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What Is A Bobber Motorcycle?
Bobber motorcycles are not actually a type of motorcycle. Rather, they're a style of bike customization.
The bobber motorcycle rose to its current popularity alongside the term "bob". "Bobbing" a motorcycle meant that the rider would take away the bodywork they deemed unnecessary to make the core bike faster and lighter. This includes:
This kind of strip-down customization allowed riders with a need for speed to push their bikes to their fullest potential.
The History Of The Bobber
The roots of motorcycle bobbing go back to the early 1920s. Riders at the time preferred a style of bike that was low to the ground and shorter in build. As such, riders took the larger bikes available on the market and modified them until they fit the aesthetic of the time.
This practice of "bobbing" - shortening the fenders until they mirrored the bobbed haircuts of girls at the time - not only changed the way the motorcycles look but made them faster and more maneuverable, lending to their appeal.
This method of bobbing would remain popular until the 1970s, when stripping a bike would fall away in favor of motorbike functionality. The 1970s, too, saw Japanese, American, and European bikes take advantage of faster and lighter engines. These updates effectively eclipsed the bobber's unique edge while also providing riders with the comfort of a bike's accessories.
Bobbing would not regain its roadway popularity until the late 2000s when the rise of DIY would bring motorcycle modifications back into the public eye. Nowadays, you can readily find a community of bobbers ready to strip down your bike to its bare essentials, all for the sake of a faster ride.
How Much Do Bobber Motorcycles Typically Cost?
Bobbing a motorcycle is a highly individualized process, meaning that the cost of your bobber is going to vary based on your personal preferences. That said, some manufacturers, like Indian have cottoned on to the bobber's returning popularity. As a result, you can purchase motorcycles in the style of a bobber for between $10,000 and $13,549.
If you really want to embrace the DIY nature of a bobber, you can alternatively invest in a bobber kit. These kits tend to overlap with the world of chopper modification - a point we'll touch on later - but they let riders new to the world of bobbing experiment with bike stripping and its benefits.
What Is The Point Of A Bobber Motorcycle?
Bobber motorcycles were originally prized for one of two reasons. One, they were able to take to the roads faster and with more ease than their kitted-out counterparts. Two, riders were able to modify them at their leisure, lending a unique edge to the bikes when they took to the road.
Nowadays, the appeal is much the same as it was when the bobber first emerged. However, the sense of pride that comes with a successful modification is reason enough for some to start experimenting with bike bobbing.
Bobber kits range in price from $2,795 to $5,000, with costs again varying based on the modifications you're willing to invest in. While these kits are notably less expensive than a bobber made by a larger manufacturer, don't forget to factor make-time into your potential expenses. If you're a first-time bobber, what's most important is up to you: the ride or the making.
Can A Bobber Motorcycle Have Two Seats?
Traditionally, bobber motorcycles do not have a passenger seat. These seats were removed to lend to the lighter ride. That said, if you're bobbing a motorcycle in this day and age, you can include and whatever features your heart desires.
Note, though, that if you choose to shorten your fender as the original bobbers did, you're going to have a difficult time finding the best place to set your passenger's seat. The seat, too, will likely not be a permanent feature on your bike.
What's The Difference Between A Bobber And A Chopper?
If you're familiar with the motorcycle modification scene, you're going to notice some overlap between a bobber motorcycle and a chopper. Despite their similarities, these two bike types are different breeds.
As mentioned, bobber motorcycles are motorcycles that have been reduced in size and weight for the sake of speed. During this modification process, the bike's features will have been modified, but the frame will remain the same.
Comparatively, chopper motorcycles are almost entirely custom-made. Riders interested in investing in a chopper motorcycle will often make their own frames or modify the frames of existing motorcycles within an inch of their life until they're no longer recognizable. Choppers prioritize speed and ride, just like bobbers, but they're less likely to shed features and more likely to play with a rider's traditional understanding of a motorcycle.
The line between a bobber and a chopper often depends on the person doing the modifying. However, if you find yourself adding more to your bike than you're taking away, you're probably working with a chopper instead of a bobber.
Is A Bobber A Cruiser?
Bobbers and choppers may have some crossover, but bobbers and cruisers are two different species entirely. Why? Let's break the two types of motorcycles down:
- Bobbers, again, are meant to be used for speed. They're made with minimalism in mind and typically have a seat that's barely wide enough for a single person. Even in the modern era, where high-speed engines are common, bobbers are meant to out-perform top-market motorcycles.
- Cruisers, comparatively, are ideal for motorcyclists who like to take long, winding trips around the country. These motorcycles come equipped with some high-end toys, including light-weight baggage and comfortable, large seats. Where you'll be hard-pressed to find a legitimate bobber with two seats, cruisers commonly have more than one seat, making them perfect for long rides. Cruisers, too, will not be stripped of their detail parts and instead are designed with comfort and technological ease in mind.
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If you're looking to take a bike around the country, you're going to want to leave a bobber behind. However, if you're more interested in speed or the look of bobbers of old, the minimalist style is the way to go.
Whether you want to pay homage to the history of the bobber or explore just how fast some of today's modern, stripped-down bikes can go, bobbers make for an exciting addition to any garage. Be sure to use them appropriately and with the right protective gear, and you'll understand just why these bikes have held onto their popularity for as long as they have.