A shortened rear fender is a key feature of a bobber motorcycle, but it’s all about a stripped-down style—even for those that are factory-produced.

In the prewar period, the “bob-job” evolved as a performance motorcycle. Stripped of everything but the essentials, it was a frame, engine, tank, controls, and rudimentary lighting. That’s it. Fast-forward decades, and the current bobber craze still honors the early renegade bikes’ bobbed or shortened rear fenders. Think of a bobcat compared to a house cat: feral, wily, unpredictable, dangerous—and little to no tail!

As happens with everything good created by beatniks, hipsters, surfers, fabricators, and other social nonconformists, the motorcycle industry eventually noticed bobbers. And predictably, factory-produced bobbers are the result. Thoroughly sanitized, and DOT and EPA compliant, they nevertheless retain the spirit of the stripped-down originals. Here are some top models for 2023.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114

It would be hard to find a factory bobber with more brutish swagger than the 2023 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114, priced at $18,899. The black-out finishes on the Milwaukee-Eight 114ci engine, laser-etched wheels, frame, and suspension, plus burly 16-inch tires, abbreviated lighting, and naturally, a bobbed rear fender all contribute to a muscular, mass-centralized look.

The Fat Bob is bristling with trick bits. Count among them a 43mm inverted cartridge fork with triple-rate springs that provide a smooth ride over modest road irregularities, along with stability when encountering bigger hits; in back, the hidden coilover monoshock features a toolless hydraulic preload mechanism for quick changes on the road. Triple disc brakes with drilled rotors and four-piston front, two-piston rear calipers get the stopping done in a hurry—especially with the big footprint provided by the Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series tires.

Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse

2023 Jack Daniels Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse is a limited-edition model of the Chief Bobber Dark Horse.

When the model name includes “Bobber,” you can be pretty sure what you’re getting. Priced at $19,499, the Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse visually delivers the bobber essentials, including a bobtail rear fender, a solo saddle, and bucketloads of attitude. And insofar as finishes go, it seems black is the new chrome. Excepting a few plated and polished components, literally all the running gear on the Dark Horse is black.

And you thought touchscreens are only for Teslas? Not true! This ubiquitous tech has made the leap to hyperspace in the bobber segment. The Indian’s 4-inch touchscreen lets you receive calls, get turn-by-turn navigation commands (including traffic and weather alerts), and access music from Bluetooth devices. Back in a more familiar world for gearheads, an air-cooled Thunderstroke 116 V-twin kicks out bodacious power, with peak torque arriving at just 2,900 rpm. Compact 16-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli Night Dragon tires help keep the seat height to a friendly 26 inches.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

2023 Triumph Bonneville Bobber

Let’s face it—the bobber phenomenon certainly emerged in prewar America, but it could have viable roots in prewar England too. Because what could be more natural for budding London Rockers in that period than to strip down their bikes for speed and style? One look at Triumph’s 2023 Bonneville Bobber and you’ll understand how that might work today. Finished in Jet Black, the Bonnie Bobber is direct, frank, and in your face. It’s also priced at an agreeable $13,795, ready to ride. (Add $800 for a Chrome Edition with a fair bit more bling.)

The 1,200cc Bonneville engine is a sweetheart—it makes a great baritone sound, develops useful torque over a broad, natural rev range, has a wonderful vibration signature, and offers, per Triumph specs, an impressive 10,000-mile service interval. Despite its solo seat and rigid-look rear suspension, the Bonneville Bobber is quite rider-centric and adaptable, thanks to an adjustable seat, adjustable traction control, dual riding modes (choose either Road and Rain), and electronic cruise control. And while the Bonneville Bobber already looks custom, Triumph takes the concept further with a reported 75 accessories designed for the model.

Triumph Rocket 3 R Chrome Edition

2023 Triumph Rocket 3 R Chrome Edition

If builders of the first bobbers could see the 2023 Triumph Rocket 3 R Chrome Edition, they probably would not believe it. The centerpiece of the Rocket 3 is a completely over-the-top 2.5-liter three-cylinder liquid-cooled engine mounted longitudinally in the frame. On the right are three exhaust pipes the size of a dragster’s zoomie headers, and on the left are triple intake stacks. They aren’t just for show. The Rocket 3 R Chrome Edition mill develops a claimed 165 hp and a staggering 163 lb.-ft. of torque, and powers through a six-speed gearbox and shaft drive to the massive 240/50R-16 rear tire. Basically, the Rocket 3 “out motorcycles” all other motorcycles—and so does its $24,795 MSRP!

With its crisp, modern styling and audacious engineering, clearly the Triumph Rocket 3 R Chrome Edition—incidentally a one-year only offering—qualifies as a power cruiser par excellence. However, in this case, thanks to its pugnacious, sawed-off rear end, we’ll give it honorary status as a bobber. For a bike with the maximum possible engine, its minimalism is impressive. And so are the dual LED headlights, TFT instruments, configurable ride modes, cornering ABS, and traction control.

Harley-Davidson Street Bob 114

Harley-Davidson Street Bob 114

Another 2023 factory bobber alternative from Harley-Davidson is the Street Bob 114, priced at $16,599—a bargain $2,300 under the Fat Bob 114 shown above. For the money, it nicely features the big 114ci (1,868cc) Milwaukee-Eight engine, replete with electronic fuel injection and framed by Harley’s famous offset shotgun exhausts. Peak torque comes at just 3,000 rpm, making the Street Bob 114 an effortless ride.

Rather than the Fat Bob’s forward foot controls, the Street Bob 114 has mid-mount controls for a more traditional riding position. Likewise, the seat is substantially lower at just 25.8 inches off the deck, making this one welcoming for newer or smaller riders. As well, thanks to its more traditional 19-inch front, 16-inch rear wheels and single front disc brake, the Street Bob 114 embodies the traditional Harley cruiser look more than does the rakish Fat Bob. But don’t worry—the Street Bob 114 offers a choice of Vivid Black and various color options ($525 extra), as well as optional ABS and myriad factory-designed accessories.

Source: cycleworld.com