Just like with cafe racers, scramblers, or flat trackers, the rising popularity of custom, one-off bobber motorcycles — and sub-variants of the genre such as the “bob-fighter” — didn’t go unnoticed by today’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers, prompting a growing number of major marques to put bobber bikes of their own into production.
With more factory-produced options now to choose from than ever before, trying to determine which bobber to buy can quickly become a herculean task. So from where we’re sitting, now seemed something of the perfect time to scour the sector and round up this hand-picked list of the best bobber motorcycles you can buy right now. So have a look below to first discover just what exactly a bobber is before parsing through our in-depth guide.
Breaking Down The Genre
What Exactly Is A Bobber Motorcycle?
Boasting largely American roots, bobber motorcycles take ample inspiration from the often customized V-Twin cruisers of the mid-1900s. Spurred on by the popularity of today’s custom bobbers, modern production model bobbers still capture many of the traits of their mid-century ancestors. In addition to boasting either hardtail frames or chassis designed to mimic the lines of rigid-tailed framework, modern production bobbers typically feature floating seats or tractor-style saddles pressed up against the rear fender with an upright or slightly leaned back riding position, and more often than not, a single-seat setup.
Incredibly stripped back in nature, these machines tend to favor old school circular lighting front and aft, and shortened — or what are often called “bobbed” — fenders. While the exhaust systems on custom bobbers tend to be extremely minimalistic affairs — that sometimes see their mufflers jettisoned in their entirety in favor of a straight-cut set of headers — the exhaust setups on production bobber models often do their best to replicate this style with long, low, horizontally-mounted cans. In keeping with tradition, many of these models are kicked along by big-bore American-made V-Twin engines, though parallel-twins have also grown increasingly common in this segment.
Best Bobber Motorcycles To Buy Right Now
Cleveland CycleWerks Heist
A stylish turnkey production model that can easily pass for a one-off build, Cleveland Cyclewerks’ Heist is a ridiculously cool small-displacement motorcycle. Though designed and assembled in America, the Heist is able to be sold at an incredibly affordable price thanks to the use of a Chinese-made, air-cooled 229cc single that allows the little bobber to reach speeds of 70mph. This model is also a stellar candidate for further customization, plus CCW offers numerous optional bolt-on parts and accessories for the Heist. What’s more, with a low 26.8” seat height, and a nimble 60” wheelbase, along with a generous 80mpg fuel economy and a sub-300lb curb weight, the Heist is also a great choice for new riders, as well as a fantastic option for two-wheeled daily commuting duties.
Engine: Air-Cooled 229cc Single-Cylinder
Power: 15.4HP & 11.8FT-LBS
Taking inspiration from classic British motorcycles, the RM1 is a freshly unveiled, bobber-style electric motorcycle from UK-based startup Maeving. Backed by a two-year warranty, the RM1 boasts a top speed of 45mph and a removable battery pack — that can be charged via any outlet — affording a 40-mile range. Built entirely by hand in Coventry, the RM1 can also accommodate a second battery pack that doubles its range to 80 miles. At the heart of this lightweight e-bobber is a cutting-edge powertrain that was developed through a joint effort between Maeving and Bosch. And, in addition to being produced in seven color options, Maeving also makes a version of the RM1 with a top speed that’s limited to 28mph.
Engine: PMAC Motor
Honda Rebel 1100
Honda first introduced its line of Rebel models in the mid-‘80s, giving riders an accessible, cruiser-style platform that remains popular through today. In 2016, Big Red introduced the latest generation of the Honda Rebel, ushering in a new, modern urban bobber-style design in 300 and 500cc packages. Earlier this year, Honda has taken the new Rebel platform and bestowed it with the proven 1,084cc Unicam two-banger from the Japanese moto marque’s Africa Twin model. With a sub-60” wheelbase, the 1100-spec Rebel is actually a fairly nimble motorcycle, making it ideal for both long-distance cruising and short-range commuting alike. And, just like with the Africa Twin, Honda offers the Rebel 1100 with one of its automatic DCT transmissions for only $600 over the regular model.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 1,084cc Parallel-Twin
Power: 86HP & 72FT-LBS
Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
An entry-level cruiser favorite, Indian’s Scout Bobber Twenty combines modern technology and mechanics with an old-school American appearance that includes wire-spoke wheels, a cross-covered split dual exhaust, mini-ape bars fitted with drop-down mirrors, bobbed fenders fore and aft, and a single-passenger bobber-style seat — all nods to the original Indian Scout that was produced from 1920 through 1949. On top of a six-speed transmission, the 100hp 69ci V-Twin at the center of this model also sports electronic fuel injection and liquid-cooling, making it a much more cutting-edge option than cruiser bikes from Indian’s competitors. Despite its vintage appearance, this model — which is available with or without ABS —also features a hidden USB charging port.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 69ci (1,133 cc) V-Twin
Power: 100HP & 72FT-LBS
CCM Spitfire Bobber
Born out of the company’s SkunkwerX division, Clews Competition Motorcycles’ Spitfire models are a line of boutique, handmade, small-batch motorcycles with artisan hand-TIG-welded tubular frames that house 600cc fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engines — BMW-developed thumpers that were originally made for Husqvarna’s TE630. The Spitfire is produced in a number of model variants, including the bobber (seen here). Limited to only 500 units in total, CCM’s Spitfire Bobber is equipped with a laundry list of noteworthy features and components including spoked wheels shod in white-walled Avon Cobra tires, top-shelf Brembo brakes, a tractor-style seat set atop a floating sub-frame, a low-slung dual-can exhaust system, mid-positioned foot controls for a more relaxed stance, and a USD Marzocchi fork paired with a hand-welded swing-arm that’s linked to a black YSS mono-shock.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 600cc Single-Cylinder
Power: 55HP & 42.7FT-LBS
Weight: 297LBS (Dry)
Triumph Bonnie Bobber
The archetypal production bobber motorcycle, Triumph’s Bonneville Bobber absolutely nails the look of a one-off bike built in this style, with a pair of horizontal, slash-cut exhausts, wire-spoke wheels, an old school lighting array, and a single-passenger seat perched atop a one-piece metal subframe that floats above the rear fender. This model’s frame was also made to look like a rigid unit, with a triangular swing-arm that’s paired with a hidden mono-shock. Powering the British-built bobber is a 1,200cc parallel-twin that puts down 77hp and 78ft-lbs of torque. Produced in a myriad of special and limited-edition versions including one from Triumph’s spare-no-expense TFC line, the Bonnie Bobber actually managed to set and then beat its own all-time best sales record on numerous occasions. Because of its immense success and popularity, there is now a wide range of upgrades and accessories for the Bonnie Bobber from Triumph, aftermarket companies, and customs shops like the UK’s Thornton Hundred.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 1,200cc Parallel-Twin
Power: 76.9HP & 78.2FT-LBS
Harley-Davidson Street Bob 114
With bobbers possessing uniquely American roots, it wouldn’t be right to generate this list without including at least one model from the Black and Orange. The MoCo’s Street Bob 114 is a modern production machine that’s clearly modeled after vintage sleds. Noteworthy elements on the Street Bob include numerous custom-inspired livery options, black spoked wheels, a rear fender-mounted passenger pillion, and mid-mounted foot controls and mini-ape bars together make for a relaxed, stretched-out riding position. Kicking along the 660lb cruiser bike is Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine — the most potent powertrain option currently offered on a Softail. And, like the Cleveland Cyclewerks model at the top of this list, the Street Bob is a stellar candidate for customization.
Engine: Air & Oil-Cooled 114ci (1,868cc) V-Twin
Power: 85HP & 119FT-LBS
Ducati XDiavel Dark
While the XDiavel admittedly isn’t what normally springs to mind when discussing bobbers, the fact that this blacked-out, Italian-made cruiser motorcycle features a big-bore twin-cylinder engine, mid-mounted foot controls, and a floating seat arrangement collectively earn it a place on this list. Elements such as its unique and aggressive-looking headlight arrangement, single-sided swing-arm, under-tail-mounted rear lighting, and wrap-around license plate hanger all put an unmistakably modern spin on the classic bobber and cruiser formulas. Ducati also makes a more high-end S-spec version of the XDiavel for $4,700 over the base model (ie the Dark-spec).
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 1,262cc Desmo L-Twin
Power: 160HP & 93.7FT-LBS
Weight: 487LBS (Dry)
Designed by a team with extensive experience producing components for Formula 1 race cars, the Veitis eV-Twin is another hand-built electric motorcycle hailing from the UK. Sporting a chassis that’s modeled after the framework on the original BSA Bantam, the eV-Twin is built around a frame and swing-arm that are crafted from Reynolds high-tensile 631 tubing and paired with Ceriani forks with modern internals. Comparable to a 125cc petrol-powered motorcycle, this 11kW British bobber boasts a 70mph top speed, a 100-mile range, and a sub-four-hour recharge time. Touted as the world’s first fully-electric production bobber, the EV-Twin’s most interesting aspect is undoubtedly its in-house-developed EV Twin powertrain which features a pair of batteries with a housing that mimics the shape of a classic V-Twin engine.
Engine: PMAC Motor
Power: 11kW (14.75HP)
The Curtiss One is far more than just a motorcycle and is better classified as something between a rolling work of art, a technological masterpiece, and a feat of engineering. Constructed around an idiosyncratic aircraft-inspired TLP monocoque chassis that’s precision-machined from aluminum billet, the One features a state-of-the-art powertrain that draws from a cantilevered bullet-style battery housing. Riding on Kineo-style tubeless spoked wheels, the One also sports a super-unique horizontally-mounted rear shock linkage, a fang-inspired front fork, and a generous slew of carbon fiber elements. Limited to just 300 units total, the One will be produced on a made-to-order basis, with buyers being given an enormous amount of options for customization and personalization, as well as custom fitting and ergonomics.
Engine: Axial Flux YASA P400
Power: 110HP & 147.5FT-LBS
The Best Motorcycles You Can Buy For Customization
Fancy taking the “built not bought” approach and crafting your own custom bobber motorcycle? Well, our guide to the best motorcycles you can buy for customization is packed with a wide array of modern and vintage bikes that are incredibly conducive to being turned into one-off two-wheeled works.