Bobbers are quite possibly the original performance custom motorcycles. Riders have been stripping extraneous parts and “bobbing” fenders since knickerbockers and straw hats were in fashion. The idea is simple: take an ordinary motorcycle, remove anything not related to going fast, including rear shocks, side covers, and passenger seats and pegs, chop off the fenders to their most minimal size (or better yet, toss them in the bin with the other bits you’ve removed) and soup up the engine.
Part of the whole point, of course, was to build your own. There was no such thing as a “factory” bobber—and how cool could one really be? Admittedly, my expectations upon arriving in Madrid, Spain, for the global launch of the 2017 Bonneville Bobber were modest.
Oh, the bike looks awesome, and it’s one of the most anticipated new models to be announced this year. Triumph itself has made it clear that it built the Bobber to appeal to customers looking for a certain aesthetic—but so often in the past, building for style has also meant a compromise in performance.