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Discussion Starter #1
You've seen them, with their shorty fenders, solo saddles, and fat tires. More of them are being produced every week, converted from 2nd hand cruisers and standards, and now increasingly being offered straight from the factory, as manufacturers jump on board this trend.

One story has it, that this was something that started after WWII, as vets returned to the US, and wanted to make their surplus Harley war wagons perform more like the lighter British and Italian machines they had ridden over in Europe. Another tradition says that "bobbing", probably named after the popular short women's hair style of the day, was a standard flat track racing bike preparation process, removing all excess items for the lightest weight. The american bikes of those days had rigid rear frames, and so the customs that emulate them today, also have this feature, actual hardtails on customs, and rigid appearing "softtails" on factory bikes. Pictures of bobbed bikes can be found dating back practically to the beginning of motorcycles. Regardless of when, or how this bobber motorcycle practice started, it is IMMENSELY popular today.

Some elements of a bobbed bike are:
  • Front and rear fenders shortened
  • Seat replaced or modified
  • Rigid rear frame, "hardtail"
  • Mufflers replaced or removed
  • Handlebars replaced
  • Custom lights fitted
  • Smaller diameter but wider tires fitted
Here's a brief article with pictures, covering the history of bobbed motorcycles: History Of Bobber Motorcycles | Bert's Mega Mall | Covina California

And here's an article discussing some of the current factory made bobbers: Top 7 Bobbers Of 2018 @ Top Speed

I'd like to add a couple more to the list, two machines that although they are much smaller and less expensive than the bikes on the list above, capture the Bobber look and feel
The Jawa Perak: New Jawa Perak Bobber Review (First Look): The Factory Custom Jawa, Everyone Wants

The Cleveland Motorwerks Heist is the only machine that I know of which has a factory hardtail: https://clevelandcyclewerks.com/heist-details

Why are these Bobbers so popular?
I think it's about fun. With their shortened wheelbase, lighter weight, and often shorter gearing, they are quick, responsive rides. With their "bad boy" retro image, bobbers are a big dollar, very popular trend.
 

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Useless fad for the hard of thinking. Will not last, and or I do not care. Waste of $$, but that never stopped silliness.

UK
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Useless fad for the hard of thinking. Will not last, and or I do not care. Waste of $$, but that never stopped silliness.
Yes a wasteful fad that has lasted 85 years. I'm sure that your wise opinion is shared by others, but for whatever reason seems to be entirely ignored by the youngsters and manufacturers who are building these machines.
 

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Lots of people like chocolate or vanilla ice cream, then there are the ones that want strawberry. There's no explanation for taste.

I think some bobbers look good, others are,...okay. I've never wanted one, but I like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, so maybe I shouldn't say "never". :rolleyes:
 

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One strawberry bobber for the old fart coming up. hahaha It isn’t my style either but have seen a rare one now and then that isn’t too bad. Good thing I’m not in charge of making decisions on new models because I would be responsible for losing new rider revenue I guess.
 

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Yes a wasteful fad that has lasted 85 years. I'm sure that your wise opinion is shared by others, but for whatever reason seems to be entirely ignored by the youngsters and manufacturers who are building these machines.
Can you give me an example of an 85 year old bike that meets the description you provided.
That would be 1935. The age of full fendered bikes, and hardly any of the " options " available.
The handling of a rigid rear end is probably a bit worse than awful, bordering on dangerous. But I guess in a straight line, on a smooth road, with a sprung seat and little air in the tar, it would still be awful.
It remains to be seen how long any manufacturer will pursue it.

Often the younger crowd are lost in time and space. The current group in particular. So they need to find something to identify with. Bon chance.

UK
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Can you give me an example of an 85 year old bike that meets the description you provided.
It's hard to give just one. This history is well documented in books. There's lots of pictures of them on the internet. google 193x harley bobber with any number for x, and feast your eyes.

The article that I provided a link to, had a picture of a bobber from the 1920s and discusses how the trend was increasing on the east coast in the 1930s.
This Wikipedia article discusses how the phenomenon evolved through the 1930s. Bobber (motorcycle) - Wikipedia
Here's some pictures of 1935s

There's a whole big internet of information out there.

I don't see any point in arguing the merits of the design. No modern manufacturer aside from tiny Cleveland Motorwerks has elected to produce a true rigid. My post was simply to prompt discussion of the phenomenon, which is clearly more popular than ever. I could probably easily find 30 to 40 forums and groups dedicated to building and discussing bobbers and posting pictures of them. MANY of these builders elect to build their customs with rigid rear ends.

I would argue that the bobber design is far better as thing to ride than the chopper, which evolved from it. Would it be fair to say that if I started a thread about choppers, you would immediately share your opinion on how AWFUL choppers are? I suspect so.
 

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It's hard to give just one. This history is well documented in books. There's lots of pictures of them on the internet. google 193x harley bobber with any number for x, and feast your eyes.

The article that I provided a link to, had a picture of a bobber from the 1920s and discusses how the trend was increasing on the east coast in the 1930s.
This Wikipedia article discusses how the phenomenon evolved through the 1930s. Bobber (motorcycle) - Wikipedia
Here's some pictures of 1935s
[URL
unfurl="true"]https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23804/lot/306/[/URL]

There's a whole big internet of information out there.

I don't see any point in arguing the merits of the design. No modern manufacturer aside from tiny Cleveland Motorwerks has elected to produce a true rigid. My post was simply to prompt discussion of the phenomenon, which is clearly more popular than ever. I could probably easily find 30 to 40 forums and groups dedicated to building and discussing bobbers and posting pictures of them. MANY of these builders elect to build their customs with rigid rear ends.

I would argue that the bobber design is far better as thing to ride than the chopper, which evolved from it. Would it be fair to say that if I started a thread about choppers, you would immediately share your opinion on how AWFUL choppers are? I suspect so.
Sweet. Thank you. And I generally agree with you. They are just not practical for the type of riding I do. A short hop for me would be 10 miles up Island, often for groceries, and in the rain, along a winding bumpy road.

UK
 

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Doesn't look to me like they have changed any at all. Yet people claim it's their individualism on display, I don't think so. That bike looks so much like a bobber today it isn't funny. (n) (n) (n)
 

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A bobber may be fun for to try for a ride or two but you'd have to be somewhere that the roads are smooth. Up here in Canada we have only 2 seasons, winter, and summer road construction season. Just looking at some of the pictures of these bobbers makes my back hurt!
 

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A bobber may be fun for to try for a ride or two but you'd have to be somewhere that the roads are smooth. Up here in Canada we have only 2 seasons, winter, and summer road construction season. Just looking at some of the pictures of these bobbers makes my back hurt!
Yeah, me too.
It makes me sick when I see that some dumbass kid has taken a nice old classic bike in decent condition and cut it up into one of these pieces of junk.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It makes me sick when I see that some dumbass kid has taken a nice old classic bike in decent condition and cut it up into one of these pieces of junk.
It's true, that any custom work or modification on any bike lowers the collector value. But I think you are grossly overestimating the percentage of "classics" that "kids" are chopping up.
It's true that you may occasionally find something like this:

That Ariel Square Four in the picture would certainly be worth more as a low mileage, stock creampuff than it would as the bobber you see in the picture. The guy that did it, back in the mid-70s, is an old man today, and might well share your opinion. But, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Probably he got the bike cheap, maybe the original fenders and tank were already trashed in an accident.

A lot of customs start that way, as cosmetic basket cases.

For every one of those Ariels, I think you'll find several thousand bobbers that look more like this:

A Honda Shadow 600 like that in the picture can be found around here for as little as $500 and will be lucky to command $3000 in excellent condition. The guy who buys one that is cosmetically challenged can spend months searching for and buying new fenders, a new tank, get the seat recovered, buy a NOS exhaust if he can find it, and after tripling or quadrupling his investment, he'll have a restored, but NOT FACTORY bike that might be worth $2k. If he keeps it cherry for another ten years, it will be worth $3k. After another 30 years, perhaps $6k, but by then, he won't be able to afford gasoline to ride it. Or he can chop the fenders, pick up an aftermarket seat, paint the whole thing matte black and have a lot of fun with it for a whole lot less, a whole lot sooner.

All vehicles follow a basic curve of depreciation and value recovery.

Some, the true collector vehicles, will recover a whole lot more value. Others, will never even reach their original MSRP. In my opinion, the vast majority of the machines getting this bobber treatment, are in the latter category.
 

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$28,000.00, Ariel Square four as advertised on Robins Classic Motorcycles. Vancouver Island BC. Where I found my Triumph.

UK
 

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Some of us buy a motorcycle for its riding ability, some only for what it looks like. And some are more focused on what other people will think, or how well they will be impressed by our ride rather than how good the ride actually is. Maybe when the "state of the art" had not yet progressed to the point of being able to produce a relatively comfortable and safe to operate motorcycle, a bobber might have made more sense than not riding at all. Nowadays it is just a fashion statement. I've never understand the fascination with bobbers or show bikes or choppers or anything like these. I can admire the skill it took to create one of these bikes but personally have zero interest in ever owning or even sitting on one.
 

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Most bobbers I see, were once wrecks or streetfighters. The good thing is, its back on the road with a rider on it, and not just junk in a salvage yard.
 

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Most bobbers I see, were once wrecks or streetfighters. The good thing is, its back on the road with a rider on it, and not just junk in a salvage yard.
Hadn't thought about that. Good point.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
If any of you read the very first article I linked to, about the history of the Bobber, you would have come across the sentence, "The purpose of a bobber motorcycle was to keep them on the road at the lowest cost." Most kids don't have a lot of money. Youngsters are VERY conscious of how people perceive them. Psychologists say that this is because their sense of self is still developing.

Hopefully without being too much of a pain in the butt, I'd like to point out that this Bobber thing is BOTH a youth trend, and (because it means $$), a manufacturer trend. Some of us here may have spent considerable time complaining about how "The Forum is Dying". Isn't it better to spend our time educating ourselves on what young riders are interested in, learning about the trends, rather than griping about what we don't understand?

For those who may not understand all the different types of customs, here's a simple graphic showing some of the current types that folks are building and talking about:
And here's a very brief article, discussing some of the salient characteristics of each type, with another nice graphic.
 

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Or:
The XS400 I paid $250. With a new engine, tyres and all the other stuff, it cost about $1000. It is now reliable transport used mostly in the winter months. Can go two up and carry a lot of gear.

The A7 BSA I took on part trade for a car. It turned out to be a nice riding bike with A10 barrels, fancy pistons and cam and stuff. Frame is Tartan Red. Aven tyres, some new chrome, and some aluminium polishing.

UK
 

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