Top 10 Bobbers of 2022

The Bobber is the latest home-built special to be appropriated by the factories but that doesn’t mean they can’t be authentic and great to ride

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The Bobber style was born after the second world war as a way of lightening heavy pre-war bikes to shed weight and help performance. Into the 2010s and the factories hit upon the Bobber as the next chapter in the style evolution of their ’modern classic’ or ’retro’ models, taking yet another style away from the home builder and into the mainstream. Fast forward to the present day, this breed is still quite a hit, and here’s a list of the top 10 Bobbers that you can buy in 2022.

Yamaha XV950R Bolt - $8,599

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
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Plowing a lonely furrow in Japan is the Yamaha XV950R Bolt, powered by a 942cc air-cooled V-twin. Introduced first in 2013, its sights were set firmly on the Harley Davidson Sportster, but, in line with many of the Japanese attempts at aping the typical large American cruiser, it fell short in terms of personality. It still does, even though typical Japanese engineering and build quality.

The engine is smooth, the chassis competent but it all comes off as a bit of a poor copy, which is a shame as, taken on its own, it’s not a bad bike by any means. At least it has ‘authentic’ bobber styling.

52 bhp won’t set the world alight, but the chassis is well up to the task of providing an entertaining ride, while the handling is impressive, offering, according to Yamaha, ‘the relaxed attitude of a bobber and injecting an element of sporting ability with upgraded suspension.’ Belt final drive is a bonus.

In reality, the only thing letting the XV950R down is the lack of the right name on the gas tank.

Yamaha XV950R Bolt
Engine V-twin
Displacement 942cc
Power 52.4 bhp
Torque 59.3 lb.ft
Weight 542 lbs (247 kg)
Price $8,599

Indian Scout Bobber Sixty - $8,999

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
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When Indian reappeared in 2011, the emphasis was firmly on the retro vibe, with fellow Polaris brand ’Victory’ looking after the modern look and feel.

Moving into the smaller bike field, the 2014 Scout continued this retro theme. Initially 1133cc, the 999cc-Scout Sixty came in 2016 before the 1133cc Scout Bobber appeared in 2017 and the scout Bobber Sixty in 2021.

The 999cc V-twin in the Scout Bobber Sixty is punchy and smooth, pushing out 78 bhp and this is easily handled by the lovely chassis that was, don’t forget, designed initially for the larger engine. Suspension travel is limited, however, so the ride can be a little harsh.

It looks authentically Bobber, even if the stock mufflers are simply too big; but everything else is spot-on: single-seat, fat tires, and retro engine touches. More exclusive than the Harley Forty-Eight but that also equates to a smaller dealer network and the accessories catalog will never rival Harley’s. But, if you want a link right back to the original home-built Bobbers, this will do nicely.

Indian Scout Bobber Sixty
Engine V-twin
Displacement 999cc
Power 78 bhp
Torque 65 lb.ft
Weight 548 lbs (249 kg)
Price $8,999

Honda CMX1100 Rebel - $9,399

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
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Another Japanese offering is the Honda CMX1100 Rebel, a latecomer to the Bobber party, first arriving in 2021. It’s powered by the parallel-twin from the Africa Twin, suitably re-tuned to offer 86bhp and 72 lb/ft of torque.

It’s a strange mix of old and new: old style (in that odd Japanese interpretation of ‘old-school’) and new tech, with LED lights, cruise control, and, if you really must, Honda’s DCT transmission for twist-and-go riding. So-so looks not as convincing as the Yamaha Bolt.

Honda CMX1100 Rebel
Engine Parallel-Twin
Displacement 1084cc
Power 85.8 bhp
Torque 72.2 lb.ft
Weight 491 lbs (223kg)
Price $9,399

Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber- $10,490

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
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The least convincing Bobber recreation is this one from Moto Guzzi. Simply putting fat tires on a roadster really isn’t enough to justify calling it a ‘Bobber’, although maybe some Bobber fans don’t want the impracticality of a single seat or pseudo hardtail styling.

Actually, Guzzi has a long history of making bikes specifically for the American market, the California model, in particular, being popular, especially with police forces, most notably the California Highway Patrol. Subsequent models more than nodded to the American market and the V9 Bobber is the latest in that line.

It is powered by an 853cc version of the traditional Guzzi transverse V-twin. Pushing out a mild 64bhp and 53 lb/ft of torque and weighing in at 463 lbs, this is no road burner, although the presence of traction control and ABS keep things as safe as possible.

As something a bit different, however, the V9 Bobber has a healthy dose of Italian flair, as well as being well-priced. Also available is the Bobber Sport, which ups the ante with Öhlins suspension, sports exhaust, and two-tone paint.

Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber
Engine Transverse V-twin
Displacement 853cc
Power 64 bhp
Torque 53 lb.ft
Weight 463 lbs (210 kg)
Price $10,490

Indian Scout Bobber - $10,999

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
- image 1083553

The Scout Bobber arrived a few years before the Scout Sixty Bobber and remains one of the best Bobbers on the market. Lower slung than the Scout, with slightly different styling, it also has the 1133cc version of the V-twin engine, producing a healthy 94bhp.

Great build quality, great looks, great performance, great handling, and it’s American: a thoroughly modern American, at that, and more exclusive than a Harley Davidson. What more could you possibly want?

Indian Scout Bobber
Engine V-twin
Displacement 1133cc
Power 94 bhp
Torque 72.2 lb.ft
Weight 554 lbs (251kg)
Price $10,999

Harley Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight - $11,299

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
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In reality, any of the ‘old’ Sportster range would qualify for this list, having been around almost as long as the Bobber concept itself. The Forty-Eight is probably the closest to a traditional Bobber of the range, the name being a nod to the year in which the bobber craze really took hold in America post WW2.

The engine is the faithful air-cooled, 66bhp V-twin, which isn’t available in some territories due to not meeting emissions regulations anymore. If you’re in the market for a brand new Forty-Eight, you’d better be quick as it can’t remain for much longer, especially in the face of the new Revolution Max engined Sportster S.

Of course, having been in production since 2010, there will be plenty on the used market although, once they go out of production, second-hand values will rise.

Endlessly customizable either from the Harley catalog or from after-market suppliers, this might be the closest to an ‘authentic’ American Bobber, with its fat tires, single seat, straight ‘bars, compact dimensions, good reliability, and the right name on the tank.

Harley Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight
Engine V-twin
Displacement 1202cc
Power 66 bhp
Torque 70.8 lb.ft
Weight 556 lbs (252kg)
Price $11,299

Indian Scout Bobber Twenty - $12,499

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
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If individualistic style is your criteria for a Bobber but you can’t build your own, then perhaps the limited edition Scout Bobber Twenty is the Bobber for you.

The ‘Twenty’ name is in celebration of 100 years of the Indian Scout, which first appeared in 1920. The Scout Bobber might be one of the best Bobbers on the market today, but the Twenty takes it up a notch or two with more features.

There’s a new ‘floating’ seat, black-rimmed spoked wheels in place of the cast alloy wheels on the base model, ape hanger handlebars, and a special paint job.

You could argue that the ‘Twenty’ is just a Scout Bobber underneath it all and, yes, that’s true. But it’s also got its own individuality and style which, at the end of the day, is the whole point of bobbing your ride.

Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
Engine V-twin
Displacement 1133cc
Power 94 bhp
Torque 72.2 lb.ft
Weight 554 lbs (251kg)
Price $12,499

Triumph Bonneville Bobber - $13,150

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
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When the Bonneville was re-launched in 2000, few realized what an important model this would be for Triumph, nor how many variants it would eventually spawn: roadsters, scramblers, and cafe racers have all set the bar high and been copied by almost every manufacturer.

The Bonneville Bobber arrived in 2017, using a bespoke frame with a cantilevered rear subframe/swingarm with a monoshock hidden under the seat. It looked the part and was brilliant to ride, Triumph obviously having spent a lot of time making sure the Bobber deserved its place in the Modern Classic line-up and adhered to the established Triumph riding qualities.

The 1200cc parallel twin is familiar, and, if its 76 bhp seems tame, it is more than torquey enough and has a great soundtrack. Single-seat, exposed rear fender, straight bars provide the style, and even though the name on the tank is respected, it might just be too British for die-hard Bobber fans. That hasn’t stopped it from becoming the fastest-selling new Triumph model, however.

Looked at logically, however, the Triumph Bobber is a very good bike. The only problem for Triumph is that it has built its own competition in the form of the Bobber Black!

Triumph Bonneville Bobber
Engine Parallel-twin
Displacement 1198cc
Power 76.9 bhp
Torque 78.2 lb.ft
Weight 553 lbs (251kg)
Price $13,150

Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black - $13,495

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
- image 1083546

Almost identical to the Bonneville Bobber, the Bobber Black adds even more Bobber style with a 16-inch front wheel, replacing the 19-inch wheel on the Bobber. The Black also gets twin front discs clamped by Brembo calipers in place of the Nissin item, beefier front forks, and cruise control as standard. Oh, and, of course, a blacked-out finish for the engine, frame, and bodywork.

Mechanically, the Bobber Black is the same as the Bobber, with a 1200cc parallel-twin engine producing 76bhp. If possible, the Bobber Black handles even better than the stock Bonneville Bobber and the braking is much improved.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black
Engine Parallel-twin 
Displacement 1198cc
Power 76.9 bhp
Torque 78.2lb.ft
Weight 555 lbs (251kg)
Price $13,495

Harley Davidson Street Bob - $15,799

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
- image 1083549

The irony of the modern Bobber is that they are all based on middleweight donor bikes that hardly need to be pared down, weight-wise. Original Bobbers were hefty pre-war American v-twins from Harley or Indian, stripped of excess weight to improve performance and handling (if a springer forked/hard tailed bike could ever be made to handle well!).

If size is your main criteria, then the best of the current crop of Bobbers comes from Harley Davidson in the form of the Street Bob.

The Street Bob is not only the only big-bore Bobber out there, it also was the first of the new generation of Bobbers, being released back in 2006, using the town-shock Dyna platform.

Even better, it was simple, just as a Bobber should be: big engine, wheels, and a frame and that was it: perfect! The 2022 Street Bob gets the 114 cubic-inch Milwaukee-8 engine which gives the stripped-down bike punchy performance and the chassis copes with it well, if lacking some of the sharpness of the rivals listed here.

Harley Davidson Street Bob
Engine V-Twin 
Displacement (1868cc)
Power N/A
Torque 119 lb.ft
Weight 659 lbs (299kg)
Price $15,799

Brief History About The Bobbers

Top 10 Bobbers of 2022
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After the appropriation of the cafe racer by manufacturers, the next ‘home-built’ concept to be taken out of the hands of the amateur builder has been the Bobber.

The Bobber came about after the second world war, as returning GIs, many with a newfound mechanical interest, looked to lighten the heavy American motorcycle by removing everything that was deemed unnecessary in order to gain performance.

Fenders were ‘bobbed’, or cut short, to offer little more than stiffness to front forks and support for the seat pad at the rear. Even kick-start mechanisms were removed for race or drag bikes, giving rise to the sissy bar for push-starting purposes. This later grew to grotesque proportions as a styling cue in later custom bikes but the origin was practical.

The Bobber faded from popularity through the 1970s and ‘80s in the mainstream, if it had ever been there at all. It was only with the appearance of the ‘modern classic’ movement, spearheaded by Triumph, in the early 2000s, that provided the springboard whereby the Bobber could make a reappearance, this time as a factory model.

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
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