While custom bikes aren’t exactly my thing, to put it mildly, I can relate more to the "bobber" styles than the highly-customized trailer queens that are usually held up as fine examples of "custom bikes." Since said queens are certainly not built to be ridden, I have a problem with the point of it all.
Bobbers, on the other hand, are intended to be ridden but are stripped down as far as possible, using a minimalist approach — losing signals, mirrors, brackets, lugs, passenger seats — you get the idea. I’m thinking the ones that lose suspension and brakes have gone a little too far, but certainly not all the bobbers in this book take that route.
What they do all have is a Harley motor of some vintage, a minimal tube frame, and as little else as needs to be stuck on to make the thing work. A couple with a vaguely flat track look I found seriously appealing.
The author lives and works in Puerto Rico, and makes a big deal out of the fact that when he started, he had to make a lot of stuff, so catalog bling is definitely not part of the mixture. The idea of the book really is to show you how to build your own bike, starting from ideas on where to look for one, what tools you’ll need (starting with "open-end wrenches" and moving right up to exotica like CNC plasma cutters and English wheels).
Miguel is practical in his recommendations … a tape measure, several levels, and things like lots of Sharpie markers are right up there.
One chapter is a primer on sheet metal working, another covers some basic engine and transmission information, there’s stuff on welding, modifying frames, and such-like. Instructions are more guidelines, really, and the photographs that accompany each section are excellent.
I’ve just skimmed through the book so far, but I’m actually going to spend a fair bit of time with it. If nothing else, even if you don’t like the style of bikes there’s lots of good how-to information about fabricating and general fixing stuff … there are sure to be some things I can use in the race bike garage!
How to Build a Bobber on a Budget, by Jose de Miguel, softbound, 159 pages, lavishly illustrated, $28.95 Cdn. Published by Motorbooks.com , ISBN 978-0-7603-2785-2.