What on earth did men talk to one another about before the Industrial Revolution? Farming, hunting, war and plagues were probably about all the discussion topics that were available. Thank goodness for the introduction of mechanisation and all the engineering marvels which, after infinite years of boredom, eventually gave man something to get excited about during the following 250 years of his existence on this planet.The invention of the steam engine was only topped by the internal combustion engine as man’s ultimate moment. Trains, cars, bikes and planes made being born in the twentieth century fun. Farming, hunting, war and plagues still occurred but at least you didn’t have to walk home afterwards or talk about them.
Unfortunately man is never satisfied and always demands more and more progress. So instead of wisely calling an end to progress after producing the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, the 1959 Triumph Bonneville or the Harley Duo Glide, he had to keep on developing new and mostly unnecessary technology which overcomplicated his life and overloaded his brain, resulting in his present situation where function determines form and style means nothing compared to rate of performance. But thankfully, probably due to the thousands of years of simplicity which his forefathers accepted as life, man has the inherent desire to escape from the technological maze he has created and return, even for a brief time, to an era when mechanisation was an art form. The first decade of the 21st century has seen an upsurge in interest and in value of everything from old fashioned appliances to motor vehicles.
Our featured bobber is an example of the 1950’s style that satisfies our modern need for simple uncluttered elements to behold. This creation could never be a computer designed solution to functional transport. It is an expression of a man’s creativity which happens to also perform a practical purpose in a rather impractical way. It is like comparing a steam train to a modern streamlined express train. One uplifts the soul whilst the other just uplifts passengers.
This beautifully proportioned Yamaha XS650 twin powered bobber was built to the original owner Ray’s specification by Donovan from Primrose in Germiston. It has changed hands twice, and is now enviably owned by Sprocket. This motorcycle is built from parts spanning about 70 years. The rigid frame is a 1940’s Harley original as is the rear wheel. A widened, later model Harley petrol tank is fitted. The front shocks and front wheel are off a Yamaha XS650. The interestingly fabricated handlebars are off a…bicycle! I guessed that the distinctively shaped Arlen Ness styled headlight came off a Victory cruiser. A Jonway cruiser would have been the correct guess. Besides the wrapped exhaust pipes, the side mounted taillight, rear mudguard and springer seat, their is nothing more to this bobber. No gauges, no switches, no indicators, no ignition… just a kickstart away from escaping life’s technological clutter.