Bobbers have become must-have motorcycles for many fashion-conscious bikers.
Here the team at Bikesure explain what to look out for in a bobber, the differences between a bobber and a cafe racer, and roll call some of the best bobbers you can buy in 2022.
The origins of today’s bobbers
The bobber’s origins go back decades to an era when bikers trimmed their machines of adornments to reduce their weight and improve performance.
Typically, excess bodywork – including the front fender – would be removed, the rear fender would be shortened, and a small single seat would be fitted. The bobber look was completed with a plain or matt black finish, small wheels and fat tyres.
Nowadays you don’t have to do the customisation yourself as manufacturers are producing factory bobbers. Harley-Davidson led the way with the Street Bob in 2006 and since then most major players have developed their own bobbers.
The difference between a bobber and a cafe racer
The bobber and the cafe racer share many common attributes, such as the pairing back of unnecessary adornments. The key difference is that the cafe racer is paired back to improve the machine’s speed and overall performance and you lean forward over the tank when riding.
The bobber is based on a cruiser; you sit more upright and they tend to be more comfortable to ride.
6 of the best bobbers
Here are some of Bikesure’s favourite bobbers, each of which will cost you around £10,000.
Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber
Moto Guzzi has a long association with American-influenced bikes dating back to the daddy of them all, the California of the early ‘70s.
Today, the V9 Bobber is powered by the classic ‘small block’ Guzzi transverse, shaft-drive V-twin engine. The bike boasts a new saddle with a minimalist look in line with the bobber philosophy. The aluminium side panels and the short front mudguard are also new.
The bike has a new digital instrument cluster and a full LED lighting system, which includes a brand new front headlight with daytime running lamp in the shape of the Mandello Eagle. There’s no glossy paintwork or chrome and the bike is finished in traditional matt black.
The V9 Bobber will set you back around £9,000 on the road.
The XV950 combines smooth and easy Japanese handling and reliability, authentic West Coast styling and decent performance.
It’s a clean-looking motorcycle and it was the first in Yamaha’s new ‘Sports Heritage’ line-up, the manufacturer’s back to basics range promising vintage looks with modern components and safe riding assistance systems.
The original XV950 was introduced in 2013 as a Harley Sportster rival but it has been updated regularly
It’s a performance bobber but the engine is under 1,000cc to keep the weight and size down. All the sparkling chrome has been removed and the wiring loom has been hidden away, making it a great machine for DIY customisation.
Yamaha’s generally present good value for money and the XV950 costs a little over £9,000.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight
Harley-Davidson led the way for manufacturers with the launch in 2006 of the Street Bob, but the range has broadened today to include the Sportster Forty-Eight which was named in honour of the original bemerging at the end of World War II.
Powered by the lively, 66bhp version of the small-block Harley pushrod air cooled V-twin, it was introduced in 2010 and is an authentic bobber style machine.
It’s pretty small, is a single seater, and is unashamedly modest. However, it has style in spades, reliability is a given, and it comes at a bargain price of £9,995.
If the Sportster doesn’t float your boat, Harley-Davidson also offers the big V-twin Street Bob with a little extra muscle. You’ll pay a little extra for the added umph as it costs £12,295.
Triumph Bonneville Bobber
The Triumph Bonneville Bobber is a very bonny bobber indeed. It’s at the more expensive end of the food chain. You won’t get much change out of eleven grand, but it’s graced by the three Cs: it’s got class, it’s cool and it has bags of character.
At £10,650, the Triumph Bobber has a bespoke, low-slung, monoshock frame, single bucket seat and straight bars. It also delivers great performance from its 76bhp 1200cc twin. It also has three switchable electronic driving modes.
Just when you thought Triumph had come up with a bobber masterpiece, they went and topped it with the Bobber Black which, if possible, delivers even more. It comes at a premium though, as the on the road price is £11,650.
CCM Spitfire Stealth Bobber
The Spitfire Bobber was launched in 2018. It has fat 16 inch wire wheels, a bobber-style single seat, and dropped suspension. There was a limited run of 150 bikes but it was so successful that CCM launched a blacked-out ‘Stealth’ Bobber in 2020.
Coming in at £11,195, the Stealth was built with a custom hand-built chassis setup, a bespoke tank and a stylish dark paint job. Chassis components also see an upgrade for the Stealth.
It’s quite a mean looking piece of metal that comes with bronze frames, forks, and detail stripes to accent the gloss midnight black paint and titanium grey anodizing. It’s peppered with tiny detail, like the machined Union Jack that occupies one of the empty brake callipers. It’ll certainly turn heads.
Indian Scout Bobber Sixty
The Scout Bobber Sixty maintains the stripped-down styling of the Scout Bobber, including chopped fenders and a confident riding position, while adding several cues that give the model a look of its own.
The Sixty features a blacked-out engine, a modern tank badge, perch mount mirrors, stripped-down headlight, an all-black seat, and all-new five-spoke all-black wheels.
We went for the Bobber Sixty at £10,250 but to be honest there is a whole tribe of Indians that could have made our list of best bobbers. Indian’s bobber range is complemented by the Scout Bobber at £11,999 and the top-of-the-range Scout Bobber Twenty from £12,899.