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Harley Blockhead Bobbers

Before Choppers, there was Bobbers...

This site is devoted to the Big Twin Harley Davidson Evolution Engine, and all Bobbers, Short Chops, Choppers, Ratbikes, Hot Rods, Lowriders and other Custom Bikes powered by the Big Twin Harley Evo or "Blockhead".

Click Photo to check out this 1989 Harley Softail Custom Bobber with HD Evo engine.

Please note that this site is about Harley Big Twin Blockheads / Evos. For "Blockhead" Evolution powered Sportster Bobbers, Choppers, Hot Rods and Custom Motorbikes you may want to check out the Sporty Bobbers website.

Harley Blockhead?

There is a tradition that every type of Harley Davidson V Twin engine has a nickname which relates to the shape of the cylinder heads: Flathead, Knucklehead, Panhead, Ironhead, Shovelhead...

With the engine that Harley introduced as the "Evolution" or "Evo" this tradition was broken. Whereas the engine is "officially" nicknamed the Blockhead, the engine is more commonly referred to as the Evo or Evolution, and we have nothing against that. It's just that for this website we needed a name, preferably in line with our other Bobber websites, so we went for "Blockhead Bobbers". That's all.

Big Twin Harley Blockhead Bobbers

Harley Chopper Bobber or Harley Bobber Chopper?

Click Photo to check out this 1989 Harley Softail Custom Bobber. Neither. A Bobber is not a Chopper and a Chopper is not a Bobber.

But don't blame yourself if you feel confused. Except maybe for the term "Old School" there is probably no term that is abused as often as the word "Bobber". These days just any custom bike is called a Bobber, whether it's a Bobber or not.

From a technical point of view, a Bobber can de defined as a motorcycle of which all components which do not contribute to speed, accelleration or performance have been removed.

This "bobbing" goes back to the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, to the days of classic Dirt Track Racing, Road Racing and Hill Climbing events. At the time there was no big after sales market like we got right now and the most effective way to increase performance was to shed as much weight as possible.

So it was that during those days guys would ride their bike to work during the week, and during the weekend they would ride it to a motorsports event, open the tool box, strip off all ballast from the bike, and participate in the race! After the race they would put all parts back on again to make the bike street legal. That is, if the bike had not been crashed during the race...

Read more on what makes a Bobber a Bobber on the Bobber World website.


Later on, somewhere in the 1950's, some guys started to chop the frame and to modify the rake of the front fork and there you go, the Chopper was born.

Choppers and Bobbers are basically quite different. If a bike has both fenders, a buddy seat, saddle bags and turn signals, she wouldn't classify as a Bobber, but she can still very well be a Chopper.

Read more on the differences between Bobbers, Choppers and Short Chops on the Bobber World website.

Oldschool Bobbers?

Click this photo to check out this 1947 Harley Davidson FL Knucklehead Bobber motorcycle by Kevin Teach Baas Metal Craft. The expression "Old School" "Oldschool" or "Oldskool" refers to something that is as it was in the old days.

So, if you take any modern motorcycle and you take off all the ballast that does not contribute to speed and performance, technically speaking you have created a Bobber.

If on top of that you have modified the bike in such a way that she now looks like she's ready to participate in a 1950's dirt track race or hill climb, you have definitely created an Oldschool Bobber.

Read more about the meaning of Old School on the Bobber World Lexicon.


The above is the way we see things. However, we are not taking ourselves too serious here. We also know that there's lots of people with a different view, and we respect that. If at the West Coast a modified bike is called a Chopper, and at the East Coast that same bike is called a Bobber, we are OK with that!