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Bobbing Your Bike for a Whole New Level of Customization

Posted On: 01/15/2021

Tired of all the excess ornamentation that comes on today’s bikes? Maybe it’s time for you to try bobbing your bike.

Bobbing is a style of motorcycle customization (the finished product is called a “bobber”) that’s been in existence for nearly 100 years. The process involves getting rid of excess bodywork from the motorcycle, and will usually feature modifications such as removing the front fender, shortening the rear fender, modifying or replacing the seat and mufflers, replacing the handlebars, adding custom lights and/or changing the bike’s color scheme.

There are a couple reasons why people bob their bikes. One is to reduce weight by eliminating some of those excess components, which can make for a better ride.

As for the other reason… well, let’s just say it can look pretty sick when it’s done correctly.

If you’re interested in a more bare-bones, masculine appearance to your bike and a lighter, more easily maneuverable ride, read on for some more information about the most common types of customization performed when making a bobber.

Fenders

Fenders

Shortened or removed fenders are probably the most notable feature on bobbers. Bobbers usually have shortened fenders, or may have their front fenders entirely removed.

Modifying a fender is usually a simple process. You’ll need to decide where you’ll make the cut—this is generally a matter of personal preference. You should leave a little extra metal to have the edges professionally rolled for greater safety and a more finished appearance. Mark the cut line and saw off the fenders. You can do this with a hacksaw or jigsaw, so long as you use a blade designed to cut through metal. You’ll need to finish the bare metal that results from the cut so you can protect the bike from rust, or you can fully re-chrome, paint or powder coat it.

Exhaust

Exhaust

Back in the day, motorcycle enthusiasts would remove mufflers as part of a bobber modification. However, some laws and ordinances in various states and local municipalities have outlawed this, depending on the level of noise it creates. In some cases, removing the muffler can make the engine run lean, which can result in overheating and damage.

If removing the muffler is allowed in your area and you wish to do so, you should make sure you have a pro test the carburetor settings so you can be certain muffler removal won’t have any adverse effects.

Seat

Seat

The seat on a bobber is your opportunity to go a little crazy with the customization and do something that reflects your personal style. One common choice is to cut down from a dual to a single seat.

This process can be a bit complicated. Most modern motorcycle seats have a pressed steal base, with components designed to make the steel stronger. If you cut a seat from a dual seat down to a single seat, you may lose some strength. In addition, double seats often have locating brackets in the front and rear, so if you take off the rear section you’ll need to add some new mounting brackets, which will need to be specially fabricated for that purpose.

But if you’re willing to put the energy and money into customizing the seat, it could look pretty awesome, giving your bike a unique, old-school look.

Handlebars

Handlebars

There are many different styles of handlebars for you to choose from, if you wish to replace the stock handlebars. But before falling in love with a set just based on looks, it’s important to do your research. After all, looks aren’t everything!

There are some bikes that have switch wiring that runs through the handlebars. If you have this kind of bike, you’ll need to check and see if the switches are able to be used with external wiring. You shouldn’t drill aftermarket handlebars to add internal wiring, as this could weaken the bars significantly.

You should also consider the cables and their lengths, including the clutch, front brake and throttle. Before you change your handlebars, you’ll need to make sure you’re able to get cables from aftermarket suppliers for your bike.

Color

Color

Changing the color scheme is a relatively simple job. There aren’t any big rules you need to follow here—go with what you like! Just make sure it looks good and is still safe to ride.

The color scheme is perhaps the most obvious way you can customize your bobber and create a bike that fits your personality.

Lights

Lights

Finally, you can customize the lights on your bike. You’ll be able to find lights online or from any auto or motorcycle shop. Just make sure you don’t select lights that have amperage requirements that are prohibitively high—this could drain your battery in a hurry. LED lights are ideal because they look great and have low power requirements.