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Bobber Motorcycles

Updated on July 10, 2013

Bobber Motorcycles

The basics of bobber motorcycles (choppers). Discover a taste of the bobber chopper culture and those that build them. Bobbers are a passion and a culture in the motorcycle realm.

Bobbers were the result of the first attempts at customizing motorcycles (Harley's mostly) in the 40's, and will always be a staple in the chopper and custom motorcycle industry...

A Brief History of Bobber Choppers

Bobbers are increasingly becoming more popular. Here's why...

What are bobber motorcycles and choppers? It may sound like a crossbreed between a bike and fishing gear, but that is far from what a bobber really is. If it does sound like that to you, you've probably seen many of this type of motorcycle but may not have heard the term "bobber" before.

Side Note: The first picture above is of an old school xs650 bobber built by one of our custom choppers guide subscribers. The second picture here is of a Kawasaki Bobber built by another subscriber.

Bobber motorcycles are, to put is concisely, motorcycles which have been stripped

of any and all extraneous or non-essential parts. This causes the bike to have a better power-to-weight ratio and, by lowering the un-sprung weight over the axle's, increases handling performance. "If it ain't necessary, it ain't on a bobber," might be the motto of a bobber builder.

bobber build
bobber build

Bobber Motorcycles and The End Of The War...

After the end of World War II, when the servicemen were returning from the European theater, a lot of the military's motorcycles, mainly Harley-Davidsons, returned to America as well. Some arrived in pieces packed in foot lockers; others were shipped back to the States and sold as surplus. The motorcycles had proven handy for traveling over the less than smooth roads in the war zone. These bikes had full fenders to prevent mud and debris from flying up into the soldier's faces.

Well, those young men coming back from war had seen a lot of excitement and lived to tell about it. They wanted some excitement back at home. To achieve this goal, many of these motorcycles were purchased and stripped down to essentials. Fenders were chopped off to half-fenders, and in the case of front fenders, frequently removed all together.

The result of chopping the fenders gave the bobber motorcycles a look that was lean and longer than the stock motorcycles of the day. Motorcycle enthusiasts and early bikers found this look to be something they really liked. Some of the early choppers were bobbers with extended front forks to add more to this long, lean look.

Bobbers and Women's Hair?

The name bobber is said to have come from the lady's hairstyle of the time frame when these motorcycles were first created. Women were wearing short "bob" haircuts that did not require all the care and primping that long, curly hairdos required. These were often the same ladies found with the guys riding their bobbers. Another school of thought believes that the term bobber came from the bobbed fenders, but it is much more likely that the term was transferred from the beauty salon to the motorcycle garage.

Even today, bobbers remain popular. Chopper enthusiasts tend to stick with the concepts behind the custom bobber chopper in that if it doesn't have a critical function; it shouldn't be on the sled. After all, how many times do you see choppers with engine guards, full fenders, and lots of accessories like a pair of saddle bags? Purists simply don't mess up their choppers with lots of stuff.

In fact, bobbers have recently found a major resurgence in popularity and the term is becoming more and more in the lime light. American Motorcycles 1902, a new producer of old school bobbers, began production of a very limited line of elite bobbers. Their first bobber was called the "Ol School" and was introduced at the 2005 Sturgis Bike Rally.

Building A Bobber

Building a bobber from the ground up is something for experience builders. I've seen plenty of first timers do it, but it's recommended you start with a kit bike or bob a motorcycle. You can turn just about any bike into a bobber motorcycle. But one of the most popular choices is the XS650. The XS650 is one of the more popular bikes to chop or bob because it has a classic design, is easy to work with, and the engine is excellent. In addition you can find parts and used XS 650's on the cheap.

Read more about the XS650 here.

Bobber Chopper Video - Killer bobber chopper built by real people not big companies.

The bobber motorcycles on this video were created by subscribers to and there killer bike building courses (FREE), and paid (DVD's and chopper plans)...

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