Friday, October 16, 2009
Choppers, Bobbers and other nonsense
I read a lot of stuff online and peruse the bike magazines at the newsstand pretty often. I rarely buy them because I'm a cheapskate and they offer very little in the way of real down home DIY stuff. Iron Horse is an exception and I sometimes actually buy a copy. Several thing bug me in all the mags and online boards. It has to do with terminology and it's misuse. The younger guys are the torchbearers for the old guys and they're blowing it. I'm sorry, but many of them don't know their asses from their elbows as far as tradition, or as many like to call it, "old school". I've already ranted earlier about the non existent "suicide shift", so I don't need to belabor that point. Let's move on to the "bobber". First of all, the term "bobber" was invented just a few years ago, so the term "old school bobber" is a bit of an oxymoron. Sorta like an old school 2010 KIA. BTW, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the term, "old school" or even worse "skool" gives me the runs. Find a new term, you've worn that one out. Anyhoo, way back when, the early bikers bought old HDs and Indians and began stripping them down, not much though was given to looks. Front fenders were removed, rears were cut off at the hinge, windshields, bags and other unnecessary stuff was chucked into the dumpster. The result was a "Bob Job" or, before HD trademarked the term a "Fat Bob". All went well for a while until one of them decided that maybe an 18" wheel on the front might look lighter and might just handle a bit better like the Limey bikes. Then, again after looking at the foreign machines he thought that it might look a little better without that big ol' gas tank. So he got himself a Mustang tank or maybe he cut down the stock 3 1/3 gallon tanks. That big, fat rear fender is beginning to look out of place on this sleek machine, so he finds a '36 Ford spare tire ring and makes hisself a skinny rear fender. The pogo stick and it's 3 foot wide seat got the heave-ho and a Bates spoon was installed. What you have now is a chopper. It didn't have a raked frame, it didn't have a 5 foot long front end, a rear tire that was 10 inches wide, an Easter egg paint job or a "more money than brains" douche sitting on the seat. They were fundamental machines. No nonsense, no superfluous bling. Shortly after this they began to chrome them up, add a nice, basic, paint job and in my humble, yet always accurate, opinion (remember, I am a Boy Genius™), created the quintessential chopper. The choppers of the mid 60's were the high point. Nothing that came after made them better looking, better handling or better bikes overall. I'll take Dick Hirschberg's (He was the original Galloping Goose) Knucklehead over any Bourget, OCC crap wagon, ugly assed HD Rocker or any of the rest. They don't get it. None of these bikes are choppers or bobbers, if that's the term you insist upon. They are bikes built to resemble choppers or bob jobs. Some may be nice, but they ain't the real deal and they ain't for me. Plus, I don't want to ride anything that I have to lean to one side to see past the gas tank. What are these clowns thinking of??
The second picture is Hirschbergs 69 Electraglide. He built it from a brand new bike 2 years before Willie G. Davidson "designed" the 71 FX Superglide. You don't suppose this picture from Hot Rod magazine influenced his creative juices? Nahhh, had to be a cowinkydink.