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What is a Bobber?

23 Jan 2019
by J. Jansen


A bobber is a custom motorcycle. Everything that is hindering the speed of the bike is to be removed. Bobbers are very personal motorcycles because the owner decides what stays on the motorcycle and what needs to be removed. Standard frames are common on bobbers. To make the engine go as fast as possible, numerous parts are replaced or adjusted. Namely, seat, handlebar, mufflers, lights, fenders and even colours These modifications are aimed at making a bobber lightweight.


The first bobber first made an appearance in the United States in 1920. Owners modified their motorcycles with smaller diameter wheels, cut-down frames and shortened rear sections. By doing this, the bikes became shorter and lighter which lead to better performances in races. In the 1930s the cut-down bikes were updated to a lower seat height with teardrop gas tanks. However, the bikes were still not light enough, so people started removing the front fenders and shortening (‘bobbing’) the rear fenders. This was the new standard for a bobber bike for the next 25 years to come. 

Bobbers grew more popular in the 1940s. Men that had come home from war were using their gained mechanical skills to make one of these motorcycles. In the 1950s bobbers became more detailed, think about chrome plating and/or other finishes. Bobbers were later used on hot rod circuits and in drag races. 

From the 1960s until the 1990s, the chopper was rapidly replacing the bobber. Choppers were instantly popular worldwide and were considered more stylish, which people favoured over the functionality of the bobber. The biggest difference between the chopper and the bobber is the length and the angle of the front fork. The chopper’s front fork is longer than the one from the bobber.

As the 21st century started, the classic bobbers were being brought back to life through TV shows such as "Biker build off" and "American Chopper". Motorcycle manufacturers released bobber-inspired models, but they only really made a comeback when Triumph released their own bobbers.


You are considering building a bobber but you don’t know where to start? Start with a bobber conversion kit from our Caferacerwebshop! This kit will lay the foundation to build your bobber and contains many useful products.


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