Fab Kevin on Bobbers and Choppers
A Talk with the Experts...
BobberRepublic.com has invited a number of motorcycle experts and Bobber artists to give their opinions and personal views on Bobbers, Choppers and other custom bikes. Not with the intent to find alignment (nothing lost if we do or if we don't) but rather to deepen the subject.
On this page we got Mr. Kevin Verkest, better known as "Fab Kevin" and owner/operator of Fabricator Kevin's from Clinton Township, Michigan, United States.
While Kevin builds beautiful Bobbers, his real specialism is in custom - made to order - steel parts for your bike build, such as seat kits, seat spring bungs, seat hinges, fender struts, point covers, tail lights and brackets, oiltanks, jockey shifters, forward control adapters, tank mounts, motor mounts, etc., etc., etc..
Fab Kevin's Computer Aided Design in combination with state-of-the-art CNC Plasma and Laser cutting techniques ensure very accurate parts and fabrications.
Kevin: "I stand behind everything I sell, and offer full replacement or refund on any item that doesn't live up to its claim, or to your expectations. I work hard to make sure the parts you get from me will do the job they are intended to do, without fail.".
Fab Kevin on Bobbers
What makes a Bobber a Bobber?
Fab Kevin: "To me, a Bobber is like a Chopper, without a raked or stretched frame. Traditionally, a Bobber is a stock bike, with parts "bobbed" off, or removed. Like many other phrases, over-use has diluted what a Bobber really is."
Kevin: "The original Bobber would have been built by guys like the Boozefighters, and would've been built in very short time, just by cutting away whatever wasn't necessary. The original Bobber preceded the Chopper."
"Straight Bobbers" versus "Custom Bobbers"?
Kevin: "I see a straight Bobber as a traditional Pan or Knuck, with stuff like no front fender, a handshift lever instead of a tank shift, maybe no front brake, sidecar loops chopped off, etc..
A custom Bobber could be any engine, from a Knuck to an Evo, even an XL. It might have a hand made fuel tank or oil tank, hand made pipes, etc. Lots more fabrication than would've been common on an early bobber. It would have better brakes, and offer better performance."
Kevin: "'Oldschool' is the only word in the custom motorcycle world that is overused more than the word 'Bobber'!
An 'Oldschool Bobber' would have a kickstart and a foot clutch, for sure. I guess that means there are a lot of 'Oldschool' Bobbers running around that aren't very 'oldschool'."
"Hot Rod Bobber"?
Kevin: "Chopper Dave builds Hot Rod Bobbers. So did Indian Larry. Tom Foster builds them, but he doesn't call them Bobbers, and they are a step above "Hot Rod" too."
"Vintage Bobbers" versus "Neo Bobbers"?
Kevin: "'Vintage bobbers look like they could have been built a long time ago. No e-starts, no modern tires, definitely no hand clutches or billet.
Neo Bobbers (I've never used that term?) could have modern brakes, modern power, 6 speeds, etc."
What does your favourite Bobber look like?
Kevin: "My favorite style Bobber doesn't have anything unnecessary on it. No added on trinkets that are just for looks. It could have a Sporty tank, a Mustang tank, or a set of Fat Bobs. It all depends on the bike, but to me - the Muskrat is about as close to a perfect Bobber as it gets."
Kevin and his wife Carla, and the Muskrat.
Fab Kevin on Choppers
What makes a Chopper a Chopper?
Fab Kevin: "Raked front ends have always spelled 'Chopper' to me. They are just raked out Bobbers. They are stripped down, and they are not built by Big Dog, American Ironhorse, or OCC."
Kevin: "'Captain America'. For sure it isn't the first, but it represents everything a chopper is."
Do you ever use the expression "Short Chop"?
Kevin: "No, but it makes more sense than using 'Bobber' to describe everything with no extra rake and 2 wheels. It is a good term."
Fabricator Kevin's "Industrial Disease".
What does your favourite Chopper look like?
Kevin: "It has a narrow rear tire (150 or less), about 40 degrees of rake, and about 6" of up stretch. It has a narrow springer front end, and a Frisco'd peanut tank."
Fab Kevin on Cafe Racers
What makes a Cafe Racer a Cafe Racer?
Fab Kevin: "Clip ons, rearsets, good brakes, and high pipes (or at least pipes that allow the bike to corner hard without scraping)."
When Did Cafe Racers Split Away From Bobbers?
Kevin: "Well, after bikes started getting better suspensions, thats for sure!"
Factory Cafe Racers versus Garage Built Cafe Racers?
Kevin: "A Cafe Racer can be built by a factory, whereas a Bobber couldn't. I like homemade Cafe Racers much better than factory bikes."
Check Out Fab Kevin:
Kevin: "I am too impatient to gather parts to build "period correct" bikes. I enjoy designing and fabrication stuff more than searching for it, and I am happy to trade off a little bit of "traditional" for better performance.
Like CJ Allan (the world renowned motorcycle engraver) once told me: "Why is everyone so stuck on re-creating the past? We already did all of that stuff - you guys have way better tools and materials, so USE THEM"!
I'm happy to mix old and new. It isn't easy, sometimes, to blend modern components with old ones. I enjoy it, just the same."
If you'd like to get to know Kevin Verkest a little better, please don't hesitate to visit his Fabricator Kevin's website:
The Experts' Views on Bobbers and Choppers
On these pages we give you the personal opinions and views of motorcycle experts and Bobber artists.
Discover what the other guys have to say: