Dinosaur Bobber Still a Viable Street Machine

Way back when men were men and sheep were afraid, and political correctness had yet to rear it’s ugly head, motorcycle riding was for a few tough guys and a few rugged women. Motorcycles of the early 1950’s were no nonsense, kick-start only iron with few if any frills. America’s existing super-speed interstate highway system wasn’t even a twinkle in President Eisenhower’s eye, and gasoline was less than 15 cents per gallon everywhere. Motorcycles were economic fair-weather transportation for those men and women who loved the sun on their face and the wind in their hair!! No one can possibly ever know exactly when the first Harley-Davidson or Indian motorcycle became a custom chopped or bobbed street machine, but the stripped street bike trend started during the 1950’s, at least that’s the most popular consensus. Young, motorcycle riding men who came back from wartime duty in either the European Theatre or Pacific Theater were riding American war surplus machines that were both cheap and plentiful, those two adjectives almost always appearing in the same descriptive zone.

Local, small town motorcycle race tracks attracted hundreds of thrill seeking spectators like flies to dog poop, and those young men were eager to risk their necks for a few dollars and small, dingy but shiny trophy on any weekend they weren’t required to be a their place of employment. Most of the motorcycles competing in these local events were ridden to the track, then stripped of all unnecessary street equipment, ridden in competition round and round on dry dusty dirt tracks, only to have that street equipment reinstalled for the ride home. My personal theory is that on many occasions that street equipment somehow did not get re-installed, with the owner rider deciding that the stripped (chopped or bobber) version was just plain faster and more fun to ride without all that extra weight. Just a theory but it works for me.

The motorcycle seen here is a 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA belonging to Kenny Price, founder and owner of Samson Exhaust. Kenny purchased this machine 12-13 years ago. Historical facts about the origin of this machine are scarce, but Kenny told me he purchased this vintage two-wheeler after seeing it offered for sale on E-Bay. That being said, it is not known who actually built the thing, but whoever did, seemed to want to emulate the kind of motorcycle that was probably seen in the mid 1950’s. Take a long, studious look at the machine. If you’ve been riding motorcycles for more than 30 years you might just think “that’s just a Harley-Davidson flathead 45. No power, I’d rather ride an overhead valve machine.” My mind-set was exactly like that 30 years ago, but times have changed. When I look at this motorcycle with my now somewhat experienced riding perspective I see something I would love to ride anywhere. It looks lto be one of the early chopper, bobber motorcycles of the 1950’s but the modern electrical equipped installed contradicts that opinion.