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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since I was not alive in the 40s and 50s, I have no first hand experience with vintage bobbers, what I know is mainly from the Internet. From what I can piece together, bobbers have the fenders bobbed, extraneous parts stripped, solo seat, and no major modifications to the frame. Choppers have the frame modified (or chopped) perhaps to change the rake, as well as add things (sissy bar), remove things (fenders), or modify things (springer front, ape hangers, tank). And then there are cafe racers which look to be stripped down, low handlebars or clipons, custom tank. So my question is, the custom bikes I see now do not follow those rules (ape hangers on a bobber or a springer front end or even converting a softail into a hardtail) but people still call them bobbers. Help me out, ape hangers do not improve performance, in fact the opposite, and wouldn't be used in a race. Are there pictures of old bobbers with these mods?
 

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Since I was not alive in the 40s and 50s, I have no first hand experience with vintage bobbers, what I know is mainly from the Internet. From what I can piece together, bobbers have the fenders bobbed, extraneous parts stripped, solo seat, and no major modifications to the frame. Choppers have the frame modified (or chopped) perhaps to change the rake, as well as add things (sissy bar), remove things (fenders), or modify things (springer front, ape hangers, tank). And then there are cafe racers which look to be stripped down, low handlebars or clipons, custom tank. So my question is, the custom bikes I see now do not follow those rules (ape hangers on a bobber or a springer front end or even converting a softail into a hardtail) but people still call them bobbers. Help me out, ape hangers do not improve performance, in fact the opposite, and wouldn't be used in a race. Are there pictures of old bobbers with these mods?
Definition of a "bobber" : A bare bones rat bike assembled from the parts reminents of 4 different bikes that have been sitting in the corner of a basement for the past 15 years.

Definition of a "Chopper" Another rat bike assembled from the reminants of 4 different bikes that have been sitting in the basement for the past 15 years, with the addition of a decent paint job. :)
 

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Moto Mez
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Bobbers were just the earliest forms of choppers. Guys were stripping anything they could off their bikes to make them a little bit faster. It was during the 50s and earlier and everyone wanted some more speed. Motor work was going to be too much for most people so they went the opposite way. Strip the bike to get a better power to weight ratio. Bobbers are more known for a beefier look and choppers are slimline custom machines. Choppers really started coming along in the 60s and 70s. Same idea as a bobber: get rid of all the useless junk. Guys just began doing more to them. The majority of bikes still used stock parts because there was no aftermarket resources until AEE. Once AEE was established, the industry blew up. That is when all the customization began and hasn't stopped since.

Chopper


Bobber
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I guess my real question is is a bobber still a bobber if you chop it or put ape hangers on it. I would think that falles into the latter category of choppers but many still see them as bobbers.
 

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2000 Vulcan 800A
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Hey Rat, is that History of the Chopper the one where Jesse James builds up that old chopper frame? I didn't think you would be a fan of ol' Jesse..... I guess you don't have to be a fan to appreciate that show, though.
Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Jesse building bikes on TV again. Don't care much for the guy himself, but he does some awesome work.
 

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itching to ride
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The term "bobber" came from "bobbing"(cutting or removing) the fenders..."Choppers" are "raked" and have modified frames...:wink:
Yeah, it was always my impression that a chopper had a raked front end and extended forks to give it that barnyard truck handling. You know, slow deliberate steering for gradual graceful curves. Not something I would want to ride more that a few miles at a time.
 
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