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About Bobbers and Choppers...

Lexicon of Bobbers and Choppers

Whatever you name her, she will always remain a Mean Green Machine...  ;o) Like in every form of art, in the world of motorcycle creators and modifiers there is quite often a bit of confusion about which is which...

In this Motorcycle Lexicon you will find our definitions of Bobbers, Short Chops, Choppers and other custom motorcycles.

Please note that these definitions represent our own interpretation. Other people may have different ideas, which we respect. It's just that on our various Bobber and Chopper pages we use this set of definitions, and we try to be as consistent as possible. Have fun!

The Bobber and Chopper Lexicon

Bare Bones Bobber

Click to check out Pedro's 1972 XLCH Bare Bones Bobber. A "Bare Bones Bobber", also called a "Hardcore Bobber", is a Bobber which has been stripped of everything that does not contribute to speed or performance and which is not required by law.

Bare Bones Bobbers don't have blinkers or turn signals, no gauges, no horn, no passenger footpegs, and some don't even have a front wheel brake.

A Bare Bones Bobber can be a Straight Bobber or a Custom Bobber, and she can be either a Vintage Bobber or a Neo Bobber.

While often used in relation to Bobbers, the term "Bare Bones" can also be applied to other Custom Bikes (Short Chops for example) that fulfil the above criteria.



Bobber

Click this photo to read about Bobber History in a bit more detail. Basically, a "Bobber" is a stock motor- cycle without major modifications, except that most or all of the parts which do not contribute to speed and/or performance have been removed or shortened (i.e. "bobbed").

The "bobbing" of bikes goes back to the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, to the days of classic Dirt Track Racing, Road Racing and Hill Climbing events.

During those days there was no big after sales market like we got right now, and the most effective way to increase performance was to shed as much weight as possible.

So it was, that during those days guys would ride their bike to work during the week, and during the weekend they would strip off all ballast from the bike and participate in a race!       ... Read More ...



Chopper

Basically, a "Chopper" is a motorcycle of which the rake of the front fork has been increased to a rake which is considerably larger than the rake of the original stock motorcycle.

Ask anybody who knows a little bit about motorcycles to tell you what a Chopper looks like, and they will very soon refer to that one particular motorcycle that Peter Fonda rode in the classic road movie "Easy Rider".

In the movie, Peter Fonda plays the cool character of "Captain America" Wyatt. As a result, the bike he rides in the movie is also named Captain America.

With its Star Spangled Banner tank, sissy bar, apes, forward controls, chrome frame, chromed out Panhead engine, and the really, really long front fork, Captain America is THE big example of the classic Chopper.   ... Read More ...



Chopper Flop

The "Chopper Flop" is the instable behaviour of the front fork at slow speed or standstill on a bike which has excessive trail in combination with a relatively large rake of the steering head.

By "rake" we mean the angle with the vertical, and by "trail" we mean the horizontal distance measured on the ground between (a) the point where the imaginary line through the center of the steering neck touches the ground and (b) the center of the footprint of the front wheel on the ground.

While the rake of the front fork is important from a styling point of view, the cornering and stability characteristics of a bike are governed by the rake of the centerline of the steering neck of the frame, in combination with the trail of the front wheel.

An increased rake with excessive trail will provide decreased stability when taking a sharp corner at low speed. The front wheel will tend to flop down into the bend, causing an unexpecting or inexperienced rider to fall.

When designing a chopper, the trick is to keep the trail within limits so as to guarantee stability at both high speed and low speed cornering. Unless, of course, your intent is to design and build an extreme machine, like Dave did:

Click this photo to discover more about Dave's extreme Lowrider Chopper design. Dave took no prisoners when he designed his extreme Lowrider. He warned us that if you don't know what the Chopper Flop is, this bike is not for you...



Custom Bobber

Click this photo to discover more about Custom Bobbers. A "Custom Bobber" is a stock motorcycle of which most or all parts that do not contribute to speed or performance have been removed, and which in addition has also undergone one or more major mechanical, structural or aesthetical modifications, such as a hardtail, a springer fork, ape hangers, a custom paint job, etc.   ... Read More ...

NOTE: Any Bobber is either a Custom Bobber or a Straight Bobber.



Hardcore Bobber

A "Hardcore Bobber" is the same as a "Bare Bones Bobber".



Lane Splitter (Lane Splitter Bobber)

Click this photo to go check out this awesome Lane Splitter Bobber. A "Lane Splitter" is a Custom Bobber with a very narrow width, which facilitates manoeuvring in between lanes in case of a traffic jam.

The Lane Splitter design usually incorporates a narrow set of handlebars or clip-ons, and short skinny pegs. A narrow fuel tank, saddle and rear fender will add to the overall effect.



Neo Bobber

A "Neo Bobber" is a Straight Bobber or a Custom Bobber created on the basis of a motorcycle registered after the 1950's.

NOTE: Any Bobber is either a Neo Bobber or a Vintage Bobber.



Nonharley, Nonarley, Noharley

A "Nonharley", "Nonarley" or "Noharley" is a V twin motorcycle that was made to look like a Harley Davidson, but is not.

Examples of Nonarleys are Japanse V twins, and bikes powered by S&S engines, Delkron engines or Accurate Engineering engines.

For clarity, V twin motorcycles from classic brands such as Indian, Ducati or the BSA (Y-13) are not Nonharleys since they were not made with the objective to look like a Harley Davidson. They are classics in their own right.

More clarity: we do not disapprove of Nonharleys. Ride whatever you like, respect!



Oldschool Bobber

The term "Oldschool" (also "Old School" or "Oldskool") refers to anything that actually is of an earlier era or which is modelled to represent a trend, mode or fashion of an earlier era. The term can apply to just about anything, from music and clothing to industrial design.

An "Oldschool Bobber" is either an Original Bobber, a Vintage Bobber or a Retro Bobber.



Original Bobber

Click this photo to check out this 1941 Indian 741 Bobber that was actually raced in dirt track racing. An "Original Bobber" is a Bobber created during or prior to the 1960's to either actually participate in dirt track races or hill climbing or to represent a bike that would and could in theory participate in such dirt track races or hill climbing.

The red Indian beauty in the picture is an example of such Original Bobber that was actually raced during the 1950's.

Her owner Jack "475" actually had to add stuff like brakes and lights in order to make her street legal and safe.   ... Read More ...

Do You Have Old Photographs?

If you have an old photograph of your dad or granddad on a Bobber or other racing bike, whether on the track or in front of the house, please show him to the world!

Email: "info at bobberrepublic dot com"



Restomod Bobber

Click this photo to check out this 1946 Indian Chief Restomod Bobber. The term "Restomod" refers to restoration of a classic car or motorcycle using modern technology to enhance performance, comfort, beauty or safety.

A "Restomod Bobber" is a Custom Bobber on which technology is used that is more than about ten years younger than the original registration date of the motorcycle.

A typical example of Restomod is the appliance of disc brakes on a Flathead Bobber like the 1946 Indian Chief in the picture.



Retro Bobber

The Latin prefix "retro" means "backwards". In the world of design, the term "retro" is used to describe or classify something which is modelled to represent a trend, mode or fashion of an earlier era.

A "Retro Bobber" is a Custom Bobber which has undergone major modifications that are typical or symbolic of an earlier era, such as:

      • Hardtailed frame;

      • Springer fork;

      • Drum brakes;

      • White wall tires.



Short Chop

By "Short Chop" we mean a short Chopper. Like this:

Click this photo to discover more about Short Chops.

Not all Choppers have those extremely long front forks. A Short Chop does have an increased rake and/or a longer front fork, but all within limits. It is like a Chopper that looks a bit like a Bobber.   ... Read More ...



Straight Bobber

Click this photo to discover more about Straight Bobbers. A "Straight Bobber" is a stock motorcycle of which most or all parts that do not contribute to speed or performance have been removed and which otherwise has not undergone any major mechanical, structural or aesthetic modifications other than simple modifications which would improve the bike's performance during dirt track racing or hill climbing.

A Straight Bobber does not have the front fork replaced by a springer, and she has no such extras like ape hangers, a hardtailed frame, a speed kit, white wall tires, a flashy custom paint job, or elaborate pinstriping.   ... Read More ...

NOTE: Any Bobber is either a Straight Bobber or a Custom Bobber.



Vintage Bobber

A "Vintage Bobber" is either an Original Bobber, or it is a Straight Bobber or Custom Bobber created on the basis of a motorcycle registered during or prior to the 1950's.

John Landstrom's 1956 Harley KH Street Tracker can be considered a Vintage Bobber. John Landstrom's 1956 Harley KH "Street Tracker" can be considered a Vintage Bobber. This Straight Bobber is John's tribute to the mighty Harley KR, the bike that dominated American flat track racing in the 1950's and 60's.

NOTE: Any Bobber is either a Vintage Bobber or a Neo Bobber.

Do You Have Old Photographs?

If you have an old photograph of your dad or granddad on a Bobber or other racing bike, whether on the track or in front of the house, please show him to the world!

Email: "info at bobberrepublic dot com"



The Experts' Views on Bobbers and Choppers

BobberRepublic.com has invited a number of motorcycle experts and Bobber artists to give their opinions and personal views on Bobbers, Choppers and other custom bikes. Not with the intent to find alignment (nothing lost if we do or if we don't) but rather to deepen the subject.

Discover what these guys have to say: