• You sound like a know-it-all. Where do you get your info?

I wish that I could say my information comes from years of experience working on a motorcycle design team for Victory Motorcycles or Harley-Davidson or whatever. But, I can’t say that…at least not with a straight face. No sir, I’ve never been employed by a motorcycle manufacturer, dealer or repair shop.

My information comes from two sources. The first source is my collective years of riding, tinkering and learning from others. The second resource is my know-it-all resource, the internet, and the huge number of ‘expert’ opinions that can be found on just about any subject.

Given those two professional resources, you’d be wise to take what you see here with a grain of salt or more. My build is my build. Your build is your build. That’s what this site is all about. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do or how to do it…just Build Your Own Bobber and Be Your Own Boss.

  • Aren’t you a little old to be building a bobber?


  • What’s a bobber?  And, how is it different than a chopper or a cafe racer?

It’s been suggested that this question is too elementary to be answered here.  Actually, nothing is too elementary for this blog. And in case you missed my professional qualifications (or lack thereof) for building a bike, elementary is, in fact, our intended target. Of course, if acquiring the target is anything like me on the firing range then I’m sure we’ll miss the mark on occasion…but that’s the subject of an entirely different post.

To understand the style differences between bobber, chopper and cafe, please check Wikipedia. It is your friend and does a good job. I’ll say that the term ‘bobber’ has aroused feelings/thoughts of scorn for reasons unknown to me.  Maybe, it’s because the term(s) have been abused, overused, misused or misunderstood by too many people for too many years. My advice is to read the history of the terms…and you’ll know their meaning…and you’ll be fine.

  • How do you figure out the parts and part numbers that fit this bike, and where are you getting your parts?

For vintage bikes like my ’84 Kawi, I look on three sites: Partzilla, Z1, and Bike Bandit. There may be others, but I use these. Partzilla has the parts microfiche schematic that’s easiest to read.

So, let’s start there using my bike as an example. Go to Partzilla and, in the red banner, click OEM Parts – Motorcycles – Kawasaki1984 ZN1100-B1 LTD Shaft. You’re now on a page with a list of component parts specific to my bike. Click on a component like ‘Air Cleaner.’ You’ll see the air cleaner component broken down into individual pieces. Each piece has a number next to it which is the Part Number. For example, look for Part Number 92081 on the schematic. They look like four thin rings. Scroll down the page and find a list of parts organized by Part Number. Find 92081 which is Spring, Coil, Black (the last item on the list). To replace them all, I need four at the cost of $5.12.  That’s all there is to it.

Ever wondered if a similar part from a different model will fit your bike? Let’s check a 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000-J2. Click OEM Parts – Motorcycles – Kawasaki – 1982. Find the KZ1000-J2. Then click on ‘Air Cleaner.’ Look for PN 92081 (last item on the list again) and, yes, those parts are interchangeable between the two bike models. Easy.

  • How are you gonna learn to weld so you can do this project?

Like every other bit of motorcycle knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the last 59 years, welding will be self-taught. It’s not the good or right choice for everyone, but it’s my choice. If I could find an affordable course in the area that fits my schedule, I’d take the course, but I looked and there’s nothing for me. Community colleges or Vo-Tech schools are good resources. The American Welding Society has a Welding School Locator that may be helpful. In any case, welding can be a complex process.  If you’re interested in welding, take some time to understand the different types of welding and how they apply to what you may need or want.

I’ve been a potential (hobbyist) welder since grade school. When the local Harley dealer closed, a welding school moved in and renovated what was basically a barn. I nearly attended the school back in the day but opted to study welding from a distance. For this project (and for many beginners at home), I’ll be using a MIG welding machine with flux core wire. MIG works here because I’m welding mild steel. My guide along this journey is How To Weld by Todd Bridigum who’s a longtime welding instructor. More on welding and my rig in a future blog post.

  • What’s up with your build? It looks like crap.

Thanks for noticing. This being my first build, I’m glad it looks like something besides a pile of parts sitting in a corner with the excuse that “I don’t have the time.” Like a fine wine, the best is yet to come.

  • If I build my own bobber and it falls apart, can I sue you?

Don’t take this as legal advice, but your Complaint would not survive a Motion to Dismiss. Seriously, if you build your own bobber and it falls apart, then you have nobody to blame but yourself. It’s obvious that I’m not an expert and that I’m not giving you instructions about how to build your own bobber. If I were all that—an expert giving you advice—my fees would be ridiculous…almost as ridiculous as you suing me for the mistakes that you made on your build.

Alright … having said all that, we here at BYOB wish you the best of luck with your build. Let me know how it goes and send in some pictures and tech specs for the Reader Gallery.