Ever since I saw Motorcycle Diaries, I’ve been enamored with the idea of riding a motorcycle through exotic places with nothing but a few belongings and the wind in my face.
I’ve always wanted to customize my motorcycle. There’s just something cool about a custom. The classic Norton in the movie, dubbed “Mighty One”, is an awesome classic bike. But I wanted to build something a little bit more modern but still have that classic look.
Here she is, looking all snazzy in red…Looks like a brand new bike! Shame I had to rip her apart. But I’m set on building an awesome Bobber!
I consider myself a tinkerer and mechanically inclined. I’ve owned and ridden Japanese made cruisers before and I like their craftsmanship. They are low maintenance and come with a fuel injected engine. I used a Japanese cruiser as a base for my Bobber build.
I shopped around on Craigslist and found a 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 with 4k miles selling for $3k . It was in great shape. The owner rarely rode a bike due to back problems. I snatched it and rode it home.
I don’t have a garage. So fabricating parts for the motorcycle is out of the question and would be an extreme challenge. After some research, I found a website that fabricated custom conversion Bobber kits for the Kawasaki Vulcan. Blue Collar Bobber‘s bolt on kits convert stock motorcycles to Bobbers. They offer conversion kits for several Japanese motorcycles from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, etc.
The only thing I had to outsource was the paint job. I don’t have the motivation to invest in all the tools and chemicals required to get the job done so I recruited the help of Ryan’s Motorcycle Paint, a local painter with a great portfolio. All I had to do was provide the idea and color schemes and allowed Ryan’s painting skills to do the rest.
Bobbers are the earliest simple and stripped down custom motorcycle that originated from WWII veterans returning home working on ex-military motorcycles who have been inspired by lighter European motorcycles they’ve ridden.
With the Blue Collar kit, you can bob just about anything, from Honda Shadow 600 to a Harley Sportster. The Blue Collar kit is fairly complete, the kit even comes with the drill bits. Also included are all the hardware necessary to bolt on the kit. You need to have tools to complete the installation. Fortunately, I already have most of the tools except the electronic handsaw for chopping off the tail struts.
The kit also came with instruction manuals in DVD. It is also available on YouTube for convenience. Watching these videos was the most time-consuming facet of the job.
Chopped and Bobbed
The rear fender Kit is made of heavy-gauge and hand-layered composite fiberglass. It comes already primed and ready to paint. The Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic has steel rear frame rails which you have to chop off to install the kit. It’s a PITA to chop off with a handsaw. I found out the hard way! 2 hours of hacking and I didn’t make a dent!
The rear fender wasn’t meant to support a passenger. Bobbers are solo bikes so giving that hottie a ride you just met at the cafe is out of the question. Take this into consideration when you chop the rear frame of your bike.
You can try to hacksaw the rails as I have. But you might as well be a toothless monkey trying to take a bite off an apple. It takes a long time.
I had to buy a battery-powered handsaw to finish the job. Even with the tool, it took another 4 hours to cut off the rails. The gas tank and fenders went to Ryan’s Paint for the custom paint job. I decided on a Sky-blue color with a racing number on the tank. I was going for a 50’s bomber look.
A Beautiful Ride
The classic pipes on the Kawasaki are just ugly. So I replaced it with an aftermarket performance pipes (drag pipes). Doing so throws the bike’s factory settings off whack. I also have replaced the air intake to bring the bike back in tune. To compensate and control the extra air feeding the engine, I also had to install a fuel management system. This also gave the bike extra power and performance so I didn’t mind.
I also opted to upgrade the lighting system and replace the handlebars with drag bars for a sportier look. I had to rewire the lighting system for a HID lamp and for the newly mounted tail lights.
But it was easy
The conversion wasn’t difficult. I worked on it on a residential street and concealed the bike with a cover during days I didn’t. It was annoying having to bring my tools up to the apartment and back down again when I worked on the bike.
A well worthy endeavor that is a laborious process with a reward that worthwhile. I now have a cool ass Bobber I can ride all day long to my heart’s desire. She screams like banshee and rips like Bomber.
WANT TO BUILD A BOBBER?