Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The death of a word.

I'm turning over a new leaf. Hanging up my asshole gloves(only on this subject.) With hopes on shedding light, and information on a very misunderstood and misused word. Wait for it… keeeeeeep waiting. Bobber, whew, there I said it.

Now you probably have a strong mental image in your head. Some sweet looking bike all stripped down. Most likely hard tailed and to throw another buzz phrase "bare bones". Perhaps the first time you ever saw one it was outside of a bar or at a bike/car event and you overheard someone else call it a bobber.

Now here's the kicker. They and you are wrong. What you're looking at in your head my friends or on Instagram is a chopper. Now I know at this point another image sprouts into your head and you're about to yell, "No it's a bobber! Choppers are all long and tall and chrome." Calm down easy rider.

What you call a bobber is in fact just a short chopper. Even by a technicality. I mean, the instance that stock bike was "chopped" in half and put back together it became it's chopper self. Not all are the super stylized and grand period pieces built to reflect the 70s when good ol boys ruled the land. The best way I can explain it is to not, why is that? Because these are terms we are using from yesteryear and we are severely butchering them. So here's an excerpt from an article that perfectly sums up this point and should bring a little clarity. After all, what better than to hear it from the mouths of those who lived and created what we mimic today.

"A short bike with a Sportster tank and a flat fender is not a Bobber. It’s just a short chop. About 99% of the bikes that are called Bobbers…well, you get the picture. I’ve been involved in conversations with youngsters (born after 1960_ who claim that what they build are Bobbers. I’m not even sure most of them have ever seen one. In the 50’s, in my area, we were riding chops, bobbers and garbage wagons (full dressers or baggers as they are known now) and each had a distinct style! Chops had cut-down tanks (this is before Sportster tanks were made), cut-down fenders, no floorboards, cut-up bars or apes, usually upsweeps with fishtails (normally no mufflers), side mount taillight, etc. Bobbers had small fatbobs, floorboards, bobbed rear stock fender (usually cut at the rear fender hinge), the stock exhaust 2 into 1), stock bars, basically a cut-down (bobbed) stock bike. Of course we know what a garbage wagon (eh, bagger) looked like. Anyway, you guys are building short chops, not bobbers. This is a cycle that repeats itself time after time. People start building chops, long chops because that’s always what a chop should look like. Then after a while they begin to realize that the long chops they built are hard to candle and you need gorilla arms to keep it straight and to turn. Of course these people flunked geometry and physics because they unknowingly set up wrong their bikes. So, to be able to get back to riding they shortened up the bikes but didn’t want them to be called chops because that might seem to infer they don’t handle, so they called the bobbers, custom bikes, etc…I have seen this cycle so many times in my riding history that it’s ridiculous." - Sugar Bear

Leaving aside the fact that an actual bobber physically can't be anything post 50s-60s era max. Most of what you see these days are either short choppers, long choppers, full customs or the more popular modified stock bikes. So chances are what you're throwing together is either a short chop or just a stock bike. There's nothing wrong with that at all. Bikes are fun. All of, well most of them. With anything else it come down to attitude. If you're running around hashtagging your sick bobber all over the place as such when it isn't. That cool factor will hit a wall when that dude you think is a washed up grandpa laughs at you.

Where do we go from here? What do we do now? Well, go out and enjoy your bike that's what it's made for. But rethink your execution when posting and try and spread the gospel about the correct terminology. Call your bike a #shortchop or even #modifiedstockbike with pride. And always keep the rubber side down.