What is a Bobber Motorcycle?

Are you a novice to the world of motorcycles? You have heard the phrase ‘Bobber Motorcycle’ but you are not sure what it means? So, precisely what is a Bobber Motorcycle?

If you own a motorcycle, it’s obvious you want to know more about the world of riders and their rides. You do not want to feel like an outsider when your friends talk about a Bobber. You would want to participate in the conversation and add some value to it as well.

Or you might have different intentions. You just want to know for future references. Or you might be looking forward to a Bobber modification for your own bike?


Detailed Definition

A Bobber was actually called ‘bob-job’ from 1930’s to 90’s. It is a type of custom-made motorcycle. The typical modification includes removing all the excess bodywork in order to reduce the overall weight of the motorcycle.

The front fender is removed and the rear fender is shortened or “bobbed”. The rear fender looks like a bob-tail, hence the name Bobber.

In such a motorcycle, all unnecessary parts and components are removed. In addition to reducing weight, this gives a minimalistic appearance to the bike. Normally, such parts are removed without affecting the functioning of the motorcycle in any way.

​Where did all this start?

The Bobber developed from an American custom bike from an earlier time. This bike appeared in the 1920’s, it was called the ‘Cut-Down’. This motorcycle itself was inspired by the v-twin ‘J’ series of Harley Davidson.

The reason behind the creation of Cut Down was to create a modernized version of the aging Harley. Now the bike had an improved performance and new appearance. It was done by removing the excess accessories and the fender at the front. The rear fender saw significant shortening and all this reduced the motorcycle weight by a huge margin.

Other characteristics of the Cut Down included a customized frame. This was done by shortening the wheelbase and lowering the seat tube. This results in a shorter, lower machine, showing a diagonal sweeping line amid the rear axle and steering head.

In 1930’s, various significantly lighter, bob-job inspired motorcycles were introduced. These initial versions were a reflection of zero completion. They had no extra decoration or chrome and the paint jobs were plain and simple.

However, after World War II, bobbers along with hot rods witnessed progressively more decorative modifications. The modifications included colored upholstery, pin striping, metal flake paint works, and addition chrome plating.

In the early 1940’s, Von Dutch began customizing their Indian Scout Bobber with smaller gas tanks and wild paint works. Also, they included exhaust pipes that were turned upward and raised handlebars. These modifications became increasingly popular and common for bob-jobs irrespective of the fact that they were ordinary road motorcycles or show bikes.

Further Design Evolution

The evolution of bob-job through 1950’s and 60’s went in several different directions. While some bikes were meant for the hot rod and popular motorcycle circuit shows, others had a particular ‘club motorcycle’ style. Some bikes had a distinctive drag racing preparation and some were a simple descendent of the Class C originals.

Until the late 1990’s, no road-going bob-job was produced commercially. In that era, a Bobber was home-built and it reflected the owner’s aesthetic taste. This style did influence various motorcycle manufacturers such as Honda and Harley Davidson.

During this era only, the term bob-job was converted by popular parlance to a shorter name ‘bobber’. Also, during these years only this style saw huge popularity resurgence.

Many new hybrid modifications have appeared over time, like the “retro-bobber”, and “bobber chopper”. So, the answers to the question: ‘What is a Bobber Motorcycle?’ have also changed over time.

But, the original bobber is still the most loved style. Although the new styles are an example of the continuously evolving designs and enduring popularity.

Bobbers and Choppers

‘Chopper’, this term appeared by mid-1960’s, almost after 30 years of the invention of bob-job. Both these styles are actually different from each other and should not be confused as same. Even though, if considered technically and statistically, a chopper is an extreme evolution of the bobber only.

A bobber is built around frames that are not modified, but chopper use custom-made or highly modified frames. The frames of a Chopper need to be cut and welded often to attain a particular shape. So, bobbers are comparatively easy to construct as they are generally built by hand from store motorcycles.

Whereas, customizing a motorcycle could be expensive, building a bobber is a very economical. This approach is cheaper as more recycled, second-hand, and old parts are used. The items used are hand-machined and remind you of the time before mass production industry of the motorcycle accessories ever developed.

How is a Bobber Motorcycle Built?

You can also make a Bobber yourself with minimum investment and some dedicated effort and time. Making a bobber does not have particularly predefined rules. You always have total freedom and control throughout the entire process. Actually, removing any unnecessary component for regular riding completely depends on the weight you want to reduce. You can remove or leave components as per your demands and requirements.

Yes, there are certain motorcycles that can rock the bobber look better than others. Although there are a number of such bike models, the best ones are the retro models. The parts on such bikes are easily removable.

You can try to look for those specific models that are meant for customization. Also, find the style that you actually desire for this process.

You can try to look for those specific models that are meant for customization. Also, find the style that you actually desire for this process.


Hopefully, after reading this entire article you would have found the answer to the question: What is a Bobber Motorcycle?

If you also want a bobber for yourself, there are many options out there. It is advised to choose a well-experienced mechanic to help in this process. This would not be as expensive like regular motorcycle modifications.

You can further reduce the expenditure if you do it yourself. But, that is an entirely different topic. If you have queries about this article, please let us know. You can leave your valuable comments and remarks in the section below.

Bradley Miller

There is nothing that compares to the feeling of controlling a thundering beast beneath you. In addition to the joy of the ride a motorcycle has many advantages over any other vehicle. You learn how to drive the smarter way with traffic rules on the road; also you are always in the state of complete-awareness when on the ride.

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