THE Bobber was originally created in the 1920s American custom motorcycle scene.
Harley-Davidsons of the day were cut down to minimise weight and improve performance. This involved removing the front fender, bobbing the rear, and lowering the seat tube while the wheelbase was shortened.
Fast forward to today, and we have here two factory built Bobbers that attest to the popularity of the genre.
The best part is the style has traversed the Atlantic to Europe. One is Italian, while the other is quintessentially British.
First off, let’s start with the Italian.
MOTO GUZZI V9 BOBBER
The Moto Guzzi Bobber was introduced in 2016 and is part of Moto Guzzi’s bold new line-up leading the resurgence of the traditional Italian manufacturer.
While the Guzzi Bobber carriers the Bobber namesake, it doesn’t do away with Moto Guzzi’s long heritage.
At the heart of the Bobber is a 850cc transverse V-Twin engine. Citing power and torque figures isn’t really necessary for a ride such as this, but for the record, it has 55hp and 62Nm of torque.
This engine was originally conceived in the mid 1970s.
With its transverse layout, it has that signature side to side sway every time you start it.
What’s wonderful about the Guzzi is how much character the V-Twin engine has. When you start it, it rasps and on the run, it has oodles of torque, which means you won’t have trouble leaving traffic behind.
The engine is connected to a revised six-speed gearbox. While the clutch is light, it clunks heavily and shifts drive via a new double jointed driveshaft to the rear wheel, adding to the sheer mechanical pleasure of riding the bike.
The fuel supply uses a one-piece Marelli electronic injection system. The electronic engine control unit is new.
The suspension system is also new but uses traditional long-travel 130mm inverted forks with a new pair of spring preload adjustable shock absorbers.
Brakes consist of a Brembo opposed four-piston calipers biting on a 320mm steel disc. On the rear a pump with integrated tank engages a 260mm disc and a two-piston floating caliper.
Ergonomically, the V9 Bobber is not really a Bobber at all.
It has a tall seat, with good ergonomics, comfortable arm positioning and a good neutral seating posture.
In fact, the V9 Bobber can be ridden the entire day without making you feel tired. We rode it up Cameron Highlands via Sungai Koyan in relative comfort.
When it comes to style, the V9 Bobber is more understated than the Triumph. It has a charming old school look that is endearing.
The V9 Bobber comes with 16-inch alloys, shod with Continental Milestone fat tyres. The balloon tyres give the Bobber its unique look.
It is priced at RM75,000, approximately the same as the Triumph Bobber.
TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER
The Triumph Bobber is a unique cafe racer design which focuses on minimal styling.
Powered by a 1200cc, liquid cooled, parallel twin 8 valve engine, the Triumph Bobber has 76HP and max torque of 106NM.
Riding the Triumph proves how much punch it has as the throttle releases an immediate burst of acceleration .
The handling of the Triumph Bobber is amazing. At 237.5kg, the writer doesn’t feel the motorcycle’s weight at all! Manoeuvring the bike is also easy.
This is because of the low seat height of 690mm, which is the lowest in the Triumph range.
As for the motorcycle’s suspension, it is pretty stiff, which is typical of most cafe racer-like motorcycles.
The Triumph has a new Showa 47mm fork with 90mm travel and the rear suspension consists of a KYB monoshock with 77mm of travel.
The bike also has the trademark classic twin throttle bodies that look exactly like carburettors.
The engine sounds fantastic. The slash-cut exhaust emits the best exhaust note that could be heard on a new bike.
The seating position is comfortable for short distance travel but not suitable for long rides. The crouch position can give you a sore back before you even realise it.
The Triumph Bobber looks mean and is fast. On the East Coast Highway its sheer power made cruising at high speed easy.
When the power comes on it simply feels like a freight train.
MOTO GUZZI V9 ROAMER
There is a wild card in this Battle of the Bobbers and it is the Moto Guzzi Roamer.
While it is not a Bobber at all, it is powered by the same 850cc small block as the V9 Bobber, but is equipped with 19” front and 16” rear tyres. It is light just like the V9 Bobber, coming in about 200kg.
The Roamer’s ergonomics is excellent. With the big front wheel absorbing potholes and ruts, and the vintage style pullback bars, this bike can take you far in comfort.
The big, chrome rear view mirrors offer excellent visibility of the road behind and makes riding it so much more easier.
Fit and finish on the Roamer is excellent, just like on the Bobber. Almost everything is metal or rubber, and it is hard to find even a bit of plastic on either one.
The Roamer is priced at RM73,900.