Blue Collar Bobbers – Bolt on Custom Kits

Blue Collar Bobbers Kawasaki Vulcan

Blue Collar Bobbers Kawasaki Vulcan

We've seen some pretty cool conversions on The Kneeslider, a Suzuki S40 in one case and a Yamaha Maxim in another, where the builders took a fairly common and inexpensive bike and turned it into something with radically different looks and lots of character. The bikes look great but the work necessary might be a bit more than some of you are ready to tackle. Now check out Blue Collar Bobbers. They start with lots of different models like the Honda Shadow, Yamaha V-Star, Kawasaki Vulcan and the Suzuki S40, too, and then offer bolt on kits to make it into something you won't see everywhere. The end result is a good looking custom bike that makes you look like a pretty crafty builder. Nice idea.

Blue Collar Bobbers Suzuki Volusia

Blue Collar Bobbers Suzuki Volusia

Right now, a lot of you would like a new bike, but it just isn't in the budget. Maybe the bike you have looks a little tired or, if you don't have a bike, you can only afford used. No problem. With a kit like one of these, you strip off some parts, add some paint, bolt on the kit and next thing you know, everyone wonders where you bought your new ride or where you learned to build custom bikes.

According to their web site, the kits include everything, right down to the nuts and bolts plus they come with a DVD that walks you through the entire installation piece by piece. It looks like even a novice builder can put one of these together, no wondering what to do next, just follow the instructions. No cutting and welding or radical changes, just get out your wrenches and screwdrivers.

I didn't see prices for doing everything at once, they list each subgroup of parts as an individual kit with a price, so you can add them all up to see what it would total, but that also means you can do this a little at a time. Plus, almost all of the parts are made in the USA. I like that.

These kits won't appeal to everyone because it's not their style of bike, but the idea is a good one. While the custom companies continue to struggle or shut down, kits to customize your own bike could fill the gap. Makes sense to me.

Thanks for the tip, Steve!

Link: Blue Collar Bobbers

Comments

  1. Nicolas says

    Very cool business concept. The kits they propose are very simple to design and manufacture (prolly everything outsourced), and easy to install on the bike. Now it all comes down to the heart of the problem : how much $$ does it cost ?

    Plus what makes the bikes really cool is the paint, and a good paint job is the pricey part of the build, in most cases …

  2. Marvin says

    Like Pheobe they are not really my kind of bike but its a good idea and I like the fact they have a good range of bikes. Changing the seat and the rear fender would make a great difference to the look of a lot of these bikes.

  3. Jay Allen says

    Anything you can buy off a shelf and bolt on isn’t custom, although it may be personalized. At least the parts aren’t part of our trade deficit

  4. B50 Jim says

    Excellent concept! For a reasonable cost, riders can look like they spent the year’s mortgage money for a custom bike. I like that the bikes retain their stock suspension and frame geometry that the factories spent lots of time and money developing — no weird handling, scary corners or death wobbles. Plus, a rider with ordinary mechanical skills and normal tools can put one together. A few weekends, some elbow grease and a couple cans of Rust-Oleum will yield a bike that will stand out and not wreck a marriage. This is one of the best ideas I’ve seen in a long time!

  5. Rich says

    Prices are listed for each “kit” on the Blue Collar website. Just click on an individual bike listed on the right side of the page and it opens a list of the individual items avaliable for that bike. Nice idea. As others have said, not my cuppa’ but I wish them success.

  6. Simon says

    I’m primarily a Harley guy, so these bikes strike me the same way those fake British sports car kits strike me. It ain’t the real thing. I also don’t get the trend for wrapping exhaust pipes. Functionally, this is a really bad idea.

    • says

      H-D is an old company, and built v-twins before any of the current manufacturers even existed. Since then a lot of manufacturers have built v-twins too,most of them being extinct by now. Sure, most of the Jap cruisers have copied the v-twin cruiser concept as well as a lot of styling clues from H-D, but by now they’ve been around for decades, certainly long enough to be regarded as a separate evolutionary road. And the custom bikes – like the ones here – built from them should rightfully be considered modern bobbers that just have taken styling clues from the 50’s and 60’s.

      These bobbers are no more ‘fake’ than a Yamaha Virago or a Mazda Miata, both of which have been around for about 30 years now. The fact that neither I or (probably) you would want the be caught dead riding/driving either of them doesn’t mean they are ‘real’.

      As for the heat wrap, I find it a bit odd the hear a Harley rider mention functionality as something worth considering. Much as I liked the H-D I once had, I’d rarely would use its name and the word functionality in the same sentence, if ever. Anyway, I doubt racers would use heat wrap if it wasn’t to improve functionality. I use it on my stock XS650, though that is only because the pipes were badly rusted and I didn’t want to spend money on new ones.

      Peace

    • Paul Y says

      OK, I have to weigh in on this one. These bikes are no less real than any of the custom choppers out there with no actual HD parts (all aftermarket engines and transmissions) that people spend a fortune on, but an HD dealer won’t touch for trade-in or service because they aren’t ‘real’. But some how the Harley crowd accepts them.

  7. B50 Jim says

    Back in the 40s and 50s, when riders were making the original bobbers, they used whatever they could buy cheap — Harley, Indian, English iron, you name it, they bobbed it. There was no Harley cult; low cost dictated their choice of ride. Was an Indian, Triumph or BSA any less the “real thing” than a Harley? By the same token, today’s rider looking to create his own bobber on a budget will use what he can buy for a reasonable cost — and that pretty much eliminates any Harley that runs and isn’t crashed. A bobber made from Japanese iron is every bit the “real thing” as Milwaukee iron.

  8. B50 Jim says

    As for wrapping pipes, I like to see the chrome or black steel, but wrapping is the style now, and cruising is half about style. When it goes out of fashion, we’ll see those pipes again; in the meantime there’s no harm done. And remember, a modern bobber evokes an earlier time when we regularly had to reach among hot pipes to fix our bikes. Remember those pipe burns? Wrapped pipes would be a good safety measure.

    • todd says

      supposedly pipe wrap traps condensation and rots the pipe out on the inside. We may not ever see those pipes again. No personal experience, this just seems to be the consensus.

      -todd

      • Real Rider says

        Over the course of probably 10 to 15 years, rust might become an issue. Untill then, really…there is no negative side affect to wrapping your pipes. its a simple question of preference.

  9. HoughMade says

    There are those who say that keeping the exhaust gases hotter until the exit keep them flowing better and more smoothly….I’ll have to take their word for that. I don’t know one way or the other, but I would guess that on a street bike you could never measure anything that would reveal any improvement in anything- a race engine on the edge of explosion? Maybe. In any event, I hate exhaust wrap. However, motorcycles are largely about personal style, so more power to anyone who likes it…”more power” philosophically, probably not physically.

  10. B*A*M*F says

    These are a great idea. I’m in agreement with B50 Jim on the stock suspension being retained. For a novice bike builder it’s the way to go.

    Nicolas is also right that paint is one of the more expensive parts of a project. That said, if you’re willing to put in the time and do the work, it’s amazing what you can do with rattle cans. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can get auto paints in rattle cans. I know people who have done amazing work in makeshift spray booths in the driveway.

  11. todd says

    This is a great business plan, one I’ve been SLOWLY working on as well. Mine won’t be cruisers so I probably just lost a large segment of the market. They should (or may already) consider selling complete bikes build on a customer’s existing bike along with selling the kits outright.

    Really this is a similar concept to the Harley catalog except they’re not limiting themselves to one brand. Eventually they will be able to create a large selection of kits for a number of different bikes. It’ll keep them in business for a long time.

    -todd

    • Ken says

      Especially if they get into a parts catalog like Parts Unlimited or Dennis Kirk, etc. That’s where the money is…

      Can someone please come up with a kit to turn lumpy cruisers like the Shadow 600 into a scrambler or a tracker?

  12. Rich says

    I’ve seen their website in the past. I like their concept of being able to change what your current ride is. At least it’s not the typical ape hangers, fringes, and other unnecessary chrome crap. They are very clean and serves the single purpose of being ridden. Something that can be done over a single weekend. I’m not a fan of exhaust wrap either, but I do dig Bobbers.

  13. Tin Man says

    Spend enough time and money and you can fool the uninformed into thinking you really ride a Harley… Why not market a kit to celebrate the ricer history? A Bobbed 750 Honda would be the real deal, As would a 1100 Kow, I’ve seen a Valkrie modified and everyone loved it, but I’m afraid a Harley clone will never get any respect.

    • Paulinator says

      Is there even one percent of today`s Harley riders that are still clinging to the “Made in America“ illusion?

      I think there is one of these tooling around in south FLA. It cought my eye and I dug it. I chatted with the owner – real nice guy.

    • says

      “…but I’m afraid a Harley clone will never get any respect.”

      This is probably going to read much worse than I actually mean it.
      But besides the fact that not every “bobber” is trying to be a Harley….
      When I see one of those Harley “clones” I think to myself, “Yeah, you wanted to buy a Harley, but you knew better…” So yeah, there is some respect in there.

    • Nicolas says

      any respect from who ?

      Any bobber nicely and tastefully done deserves respect, no matter what bike/brand it’s made of. At least the work, creativity and efforts of the builder/owner deserves respects, probably more so than the guy who just gave up to peer pressure and bought a ready-to-go bike on a showroom.

      HD does not have trademark/copyrights/intellectual properties on cruisers and bobbers and baggers, HD only has focused it’s products on this market, but that doesn’t give them any more rights or legitimacy than any other manufacturer to build them.

      If you don’t respect my XS650 bobber because it’s not a HD, well actually I don’t need that sort of “respect”, I’m glad that you don’t give it to me.

      Long life to HD, and long life to all the other brands, may them be japanese or indian or vietnamese or from the dark side of the moon, as long as they provide good products that keep us riding.

      • HoughMade says

        Couldn’t agree more. Great points. BTW-Anyone who doesn’t respect a decent XS650 doesn’t have any taste….but that a personal viewpoint. They’ve been bobbing those, chopping them and making cafe’ racers out of them since the first XS1s rolled off the line.

  14. James R says

    The only reason I bought a Harley was because of the huge range of aftermarket parts available. I actually wanted to build a bike from scratch, but where I live a bike like that would be next to impossible to register. Plus I’m not sure my skills are up to it. Now I have a Harley that is just how I want it, and it’s kind of the anti-Harley. No shiny anywhere.

    Now if a kit like this had existed when I still had my Kawasaki Meanstreak I might have been a whole lot richer!

  15. B50 Jim says

    Back to painting your bike — rattle cans do a great job at a low price. Pay close attention to preparation; that’s the the biggest factor in getting a good paint job. Best to strip the parts to bare metal, use metal-prep, prime, wet-sand, prime and wet-sand again using 600 grit, and paint. The secret to a good final coat is spending lots of time rubbing it out. Lay on a couple more coats than you think you’ll need; paying close attention to ridges and seams, then use red polishing compound, followed by white (I like Blue Coral) and then a good cleaner/wax. I found that Krylon will polish to a glass-like shine but don’t use in on the tank because gasoline attacks it. Rust-Oleum is a good choice for a finish that resists just about anything. It’s like the enamel used by the factories back in the day. It’s not easy to spray down smooth, but it dries hard as nails in about a week, then you can rub it out (lots of elbow grease needed here!) and it polishes to a nice, 60s-style shine. You won’t get a “foot-deep” shine because the pigment is homogeneous and doesn’t “settle out” of the carrier, but you’ll have a paint job that you can be proud of. Color choices are limited but if you’re doing a bobber you won’t want lots of custom color anyway. I shot my B50 in Safety Yellow and it gets plenty of compliments. When I tell them it’s Rust-Oleum they don’t believe me. Total cost for the entire job was about $20.

    • HoughMade says

      You are spot on. The one thing I would add is that farm implement paint (available in spray cans from Tractor Supply, Farm and Fleet, Rural King, etc.) Seems to dry to a very hard and resistant finish. It has limited colors, but the paint quality is quite good. I used “Ford Gray” on my motorized bicycle project and it worked great. I have also had very good results from baking painted parts in an oven at around 195-205 degrees for 3 or 4 hours. Paint hardens very well and less schmutz settles in it. After it cools, it can be wet sanded (if necessary) and buffed. Not so sure I would do that with a tank, though, unless I was more than sure there was no hint of fumes in it.

  16. B50 Jim says

    HoughMade — that’s the kind of thinking that riders once employed when they wanted a great bike but had few bucks. Possibilities abound if you only look for them. As for farm supply stores, they’re some of my favorite places. Stroll the isles and you’ll find all kinds of little gadgets and goodies that you might be able to apply to your project bike, car, truck, bicycle, whatever. Plus you can buy a 5-gallon bucket of 10W-40 for your old pickup and a bag of horse supplement for your hay-burner.

  17. Rokster says

    I could never understand the point of exhaust wrapping so I do find all the comments interesting. Nobody however mentioned anything about the wrapping changing the sound of the exhaust. Can anyone relate their experiences in this regard?

    • says

      No change in sound on my XS650. Maybe the resonance will change ever so slightly if you run straight pipes, but then the obnoxious noise level will make that impossible to hear.

  18. B50 Jim says

    Rokster —In the car world, wrapping headers on a high-performance vehicle makes sense. With a complete exhaust system optimized for the engine, keeping the exhaust pulses hotter produces a small but measurable increase in horsepower. It also reduces underhood temperatures significantly, and cuts overall noise levels. In the motorcycle world, it strikes me as purely cosmetic, although at the race track it would reduce the incidence or pipe burns to hands, arms and legs.

  19. Paulinator says

    I watched a young guy take on an old Yamaha 400 as his first project with ZERO prior skills. He went thru a virtical learning curve while he “bobbed“ it. A few of us lent some tools and equipment while pitching-in a bit of help (re-wiring the ignition correctly, demonstrating and doing a couple of welds, etc.). The end result was completely respectable. FAST learner!!! Smiles all around.

    This product-line would let someone take on that first project without needing to be a savant.

  20. James R says

    When I changed all the sheet metal on my Softail I bought all new bits and sanded them as smooth as I could with a belt sander etc. Then I got them all powder coated in “texture black” which is apparently used in commercial kitchens. It cost me exactly 1/10th to powder coat them Vs what I have been quoted for painting. And it seems to be a very durable finish. I didn’t want high gloss. My bike seems to be the “anti-Harley” because there is nothing shiny on there at all. If you look closely at the Fenders you can make out the odd machine mark but overall it looks very “industrial”, which is what I wanted.

    Why not use something more durable? Why do we have to use paint? Although that idea of using farm equipment paint sounds great. I could live with a Tractor red bike!

  21. pure paint says

    I built a 600 vlx with bolt on bobber parts, gave it old school custom paint in my garage for about $40.00. People check it out everywhere I ride, also have one second place trophy in the mild custom street class. I have about $2,800 in the entire bike. Buy a Harley for that. enough said. I’m 50 years old. I use to ride a Harley for the presteige. But I’m small and I like the smaller bike, and I’m at an age where I no longer care what people think.