Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bobber Not A Bobber #4, Birth of the Chopper?

My Google stats consistently reveal that some of the most viewed pages on this blog are the Bobber Not A Bobber posts. That, and seeing how Jeff over on the Knuckle Buster 1939 blog just did a post on the use of the term "choppers" and "chopped cycles" from the March 1954 Cycle Magazine, it prompted me to post some photos I've been meaning to for sometime.

Two years ago Dr. Sprocket sent me a package and included the two photo copies in which he said were from a 1950 and 1951 Cycle Magazine letters to the editor section. The only problem is, they were both marked 1954 on the back! Hey Doc, what's up with that?


Below are photos and caption from a 1967 article entitled "Let's Build A Chopper"

The Missing Link? The caption calls it a chopper. This machine is prettier and has more custom touches than your average post war Bob Job.

Even if the Oklahoma and Alaska bikes are from 1954, the writer of the '67 article includes the above bike (built in '51), as an example of an early Chopper. This strongly implies that the term was in use back then.

As mentioned in the first post, the terms "chop" and "bob" are both used (and not just for cycles), to mean, cut. So, my guess is that the term "chop" came to be fashionably interchangeable with "bob" in the early 50's. Then later, as the styles evolved, the two terms also evolved to mean something quite different.

It's fun to discuss, argue, and investigate the correct or first use of such terms.
From today's viewpoint, and for effective communication, I still feel the bikes above (especially the first two), are best described as Bob Jobs, or Bobbers.

2 comments:

Heavypsychmanblog said...

Agree..

Heres my personal view:

Chopper - bent ,cut, lengthened frame and/or raked neck, lengthed frontend, custom bars, sissy.
(mild to wild)

Bobber - slightly modified stock bike. (often fender mod)

Limey front wheel or 22" thin tire rim, custom bars (high apes) n high sissy, custom exhaust - wild Bobber/(mild) chopper style

Interesting topic for sure.

Kustoms and Choppers Magazine said...

It is interesting to see how long the terms chop and bob, and chopper and bobber have been around. I think it will be just like in Hot Rods, no one can really say what a hot rod is and no one can real say what a chopper is.