Sportster Bobbers Guide

Sportster bobbers give a great old-school look to allow you to own a custom motorcycle but without all the unnecessary flash and cash associated with so many custom motorcycle builds.

The entire idea behind a bobber is to get rid of the extraneous "stuff" that is added to most modern motorcycles because all that extra stuff reduces performance.

Reminiscent of the post-World War II motorcycles, Sportster bobbers do not carry a lot of flashy chrome and usually are painted in simplistic styles. Sure, the fuel tank may have some simple artwork, but when you see a real bobber, you seldom see paint jobs costing in the thousands. The KISS principle (keep is simple, silly) really applies to bobber made from Sportsters.

sportster bobberBecause Harley Davidson Sportsters are popular motorcycles, most bobbers begin with a used stock Sportster. However, you can start with a brand new bike if you prefer. Strip off all the extraneous parts, chrome that doesn't perform a true function, accessories that are not required to be legal, and change out the saddle to a solo spring saddle, adding red-wall or white-wall tires mounted on stock wheels and you have a basic bobber chopper.

Sportster bobbers are often, however, built as custom motorcycles using the Sportster drive train which is placed into a custom frame.

Perhaps you have a Sportster in the garage just waiting for this project; perhaps you picked up a basket case at a recent swap meet. The only criteria for a Sportster bobber are that it must have a Sportster drive train and as little extra stuff as possible. All those fancy embellished bolt heads and other shiny baubles are for other types of motorcycles, not the bobbers.

If you want to follow the traditional old-school definition of a Sportster bobber, you'll want to place your drive train into a rigid frame, preferably one that is low to the ground and stretched a bit to give your finished build a low, long, lean look. Most frequently, the frame of a Sportster bobber is painted a nice basic black. You will sometimes see sportster bobbers in other colors such as bright primary blue, red, white, or even military olive, but black is by far the most common paint for these simplistic bikes. The fuel tank, when not left a single color, incorporates simple artwork such as basic, one-color flames. True old-school bobbers don't go for the fancy airbrush jobs with naked ladies, eagles, 3-D flags, and other expensive embellishment.

The rigid frame of a purist Sportster bobber chopper makes the popular bicycle-style solo saddles with springs make good sense. The springs used in the Springer-style front forks complete the look and feel of the bobber. Billet wheels with fancy designs are left for the flashy customs with spoke wheels being traditional bobber rolling stock.

A Sportster bobber isn't for everyone. It isn't for the biker that carries a passenger. It is for those who love a simple Sportster that doesn't cost an arm and two legs to build and which functions well without the extra flashy seen on show-style custom motorcycles. If this describes you, then the Sportster bobber might be the perfect next-bike for you to build.

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