Blue Collar Motorcycle Bobber Build – Part 1

Bobber In A Box

By Steve Lita
Show some respect for the bobber! Long before the chopper came along and thought it was cool, the bobber ruled. It’s not just me. Everyone seems to be on the bobber bandwagon these days.

Blue Collar Bobbers shipped everything we'd need for Tyler's build.

And I say, the more the merrier. The long-fork chopper are gone (again). And the minimalistic, do-it-yourself, low-budget attitude is just right for the times. I hope I never get sick of ’em. Our sister publication American Iron has run numerous bobber special editions. And now it’s our turn.

I was surfing the net, looking for cool, custom cues, and I stumbled onto a great web site. I don’t know how I linked to it, but I’m glad I did. Blue Collar Bobbers is the name and helping you build a fun, affordable, bolt-together bobber is the game. I had to learn more, so I fired an e-mail to the Utah-based shop and struck up a conversation. Owner Lance Wise got right back to me, and we immediately starting bouncing ideas around for a RoadBike project bike.

Lance started his machine shop back in 1975 with a concentration on developing pharmaceutical products. Luckily, that carried the business through the good and bad economies. He’s 61 years old now and his son runs the machine shop these days. “I started tinkering with the bobber thing and thought it would be fun to sell a few kits here and there,” Lance says. “Kind of a semiretirement thing. As it turned out, I’m working 10-12 hour days and loving every minute of it. My passion has always been in designing and creating new stuff. When I go to the shop, I’m like a kid going to Disneyland. I’ve always been an old-school dude, and I’m up to my ears in old-school stuff now,” he adds.

Stock Honda VLX

Tyler's stock Honda VLX looks pretty lame. Blue Collar Bobbers will take care of that.

Once I had Lance onboard for the project, I needed a suitable donor that wouldn’t mind us stripping equipment off his bike, instead of the usual RoadBike modus operandi of bolting on parts. Now some might say that there’s something inherently wrong with buying a bobber as a kit. After all, the core of a bobber is to be individual, unique, and not mass-produced. Bobbers are traditionally homegrown and crude and revel in looking the part. However, after reviewing Blue Collar’s offerings and now having actually done the installs, I can say that there’s plenty of room for deviation and drawing out the rebel mechanic when installing Blue Collar parts. Lance’s measurements and machine work are meticulous, and he’s done all the hard work already. Why should I have to measure twice and cut once when Lance already has? The kits are modular, and you can install one component or do the entire Blue Collar treatment. His catalog of goodies is vast, with many varying options. You can bob a Honda Shadow 600, like we’re about to, or a Star V Star 650, a Kawasaki Vulcan 800, a Honda Rebel (finally, a way to make those things cool), Suzuki S40, or even a Harley Sportster.

Like I said, I needed a sharp saw blade and a victim. Just so happens a young colleague in my motorcycle safety class side job was about to get his motorcycle license. When Tyler Gyenizs started looking around for a bike, he went straight for a cruiser. It was just his riding style. “I shopped around for awhile. I looked at an assortment of bikes, Shadows, Sportsters,

V Stars, etc. I found a mint 1999 Honda Shadow VLX 600 at a local dealer. The condition of the bike and the price were too hard to resist. I knew it was a perfect fit for me. I was a beginning rider and didn’t want too much power, but I wanted a bike that would turn heads. Once I got the bike home I knew that my habit of customizing cars would soon influence my motorcycle. My original plan was to paint it black and change the bars. After the paint job, if I could save up some money, I planned to focus on the pipes, fenders, etc., take it step by step.” As soon as Tyler said “paint it black and change the bars,” I knew I had set the hook.

Tyler’s dad rides, too, and hot rods run in the family. “I would have to credit my dad for his influence on my taste in cars and motorcycles,” he told me. “As a kid I was always taken to car and motorcycle shows, and my dad’s enthusiasm for motor vehicles quickly became an obsession of mine. I found myself never being able to leave any vehicle in my possession stock; it was only of matter of time before my Shadow would be modified.”

Okay, so he’s not afraid of what I’m about to do to his bike. Now don’t think I took advantage of Tyler; I gave him an out. But he had bobber fever. “I had no idea I would be given such an amazing opportunity to create a dream bike in just a few weeks. I couldn’t be more excited and grateful for this opportunity,” he added. He’s in.

Time to get to work. The Blue Collar Honda Shadow 600 rear fender kit is a heavy-gauge, hand-layered composite fiberglass fender that comes ready to paint. This rear fender will not support a passenger, but Tyler was okay with that. It includes steel reinforcements straps at the mounting points and all the brackets are powdercoated gloss black. Some drilling is required, like the two 5/16″ holes just above rear axle. The Blue Collar kit is so comprehensive the drill bit is included. All hardware is, too, and the instruction sheets are actually entertaining DVDs. The hardest part of this job was having the patience to watch the DVD all the way through before I picked up a saw.

Follow along these next few months as we bob, hack, and shape Tyler’s Honda Shadow into a ride that’s way too cool for him. I almost didn’t want to give it back when it was done.

1. We won’t need most of this stuff anymore. Removing the stock parts takes about an hour. We’ll reuse the exhaust and chain guard. The tank, sidecovers, and front fender will be sent out for paint.

 

2. The rolling chassis of the Shadow is readied for modification. The handlebar will be changed later, but we leave the stock bar on for pushing the bike around the shop.

 

3. The Blue Collar Bobber rear fender kit comes with everything you need to do the job, including drill bits of the proper size, thread lock, and instructional video.

 

4. The aluminum strap included with the kit is an ingenious way to measure the frame for cutting. The gas tank bolt acts as a pivot. Mark the frame with masking tape.

 

5. BCB’s video shows the job can be done with a hacksaw, but I never need much of an excuse to break out the power tools. This Sawzall makes quick work of chopping the rear frame rails. Protect the rear tire with a folded blanket.

6. This chunk of rear frame rail is removed and discarded. There’s no going back now.

 

7. I use a file to deburr the frame rails and dress the inside of the frame tubes.

 

8. The rear plate on the swingarm needs two holes, one on each side, for the rear fender struts. The Blue Collar video shows exactly where to drill: 3/8" down from the top, just above the rearmost adjuster mark.

 

9. After marking the swingarm with a center punch, I drill a pilot hole, then the final hole with the drill bit provided in the kit.

 

10. The rear shock bolt needs to be removed in order to attach the fender mounting bracket. Use a car jack to lift the frame slightly and take pressure off the rear suspension.

 

11. The tidy black bracket fits perfectly and comes with a new shock bolt, nut, and bushings.

 

12. The front bracket and the fender need to be mocked up so that two mounting holes can be drilled. Here I mark the fender with a pencil just prior to drilling the holes.

 

13. The underside of the fiberglass fender gets two steel reinforcements glued on after the fender is painted.

 

14. I attach the front bracket to the fender with the provided hardware.

 

15. The two fender struts are loosely affixed to the rear of the swingarm.

 

16. Slip the fender in place and secure it to the rear fender struts.

 

17. Next, the fender is bolted to the rear shock bracket I installed in step 11.

 

18. The Shadow is starting to look like a proper bobber already.

 

19. Now that the cutting, drilling, and mockup are done, the fender can go out for paint along with the factory body parts. Time to take it apart.

 

 

Hard Data:

Blue Collar Bobbers

Rear Fender Kit, $225

801/676-7889

www.BlueCollarBobbers.com

 

Originally printed in RoadBike motorcycle magazine, November 2010

 

Comments

  1. Just checked out the rear area to install fender.,NICE!!
    I’m going to do my 2003 750,shadow classic Honda. .
    I’m hopeing that i can put what i saw on the Green Kawasaki 800 ,The white side wall tires that your pictures showed. To be clear can you put white sidewall tires same size (front and Back) that are the same size shown on green Vulcan 800cc?please email me back with your answer,Thankyou.
    I’ll be also doing,small saddle(tan)—Green white orange IrishGraphics withFourleaf clover on tank,side panels also painted.Front forks (bottomOnly)black to match frame.Drag bars Black,small led turn signals
    crome,Not wrapping exhaust and adding a spike air cleaner and crome parts as much as possible,horn covers radator cover,etc etc
    I can’t wait,got a few more bucks to put aside and I’ll be ready,I love your site You gave me hope that i can make this happen.!!.

  2. Mike Harvey says:

    What did you do with the exposed open tubing after cutting the subframe (stock fender support whatever you wanna call it) more pics would be appreciated I’m in the middle of a build myself, Thanks!

  3. william Harty says:

    I AM GOING TO USE LIQUID STEEL ,SAND ROUND OFF ALL SHARP EDGES.cOUPLE OF COATS TO MOLD NICELY.TAPE A HARD LINE TO NEXT JOINT.PRIME WITH 2 CTS BLACK TO MATCH FRAME,HOPFULLY WILL MATCH .iT’S THESE DETAILS THAT WILL MAKE IT NICE.i’M ALSO CURIOUS AS TO HOW THE PROS WOULD DO IT..

  4. Is this fender strong enough for a passenger?

  5. Anyone who has done this willing to sell me the back piece that was cut off and maybe the seats?

  6. Would your company sell me the mono shock fender mount? That is the part I need,after buying the same rear fender kit from someone,but the mount (black) was not…

  7. le_pa@hotmail.com says:

    is it possible to install the harley rocker C seat on this bike ?

  8. is it possible to install the harley rocker C seat on this bike ?

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