“Motorcycles ABC: Antiques, Bobbers, Customs,” the National Packard Museum’s annual antique motorcycle exhibit, opens Saturday and runs through May 19.
This year’s exhibit features more than 30 antique, bobber and custom motorcycles exhibited alongside the museum’s Packard automobile collection.
The exhibit will include some very rare antique motorcycles, including a 1911 Flanders and a 1917 Dayton; a number of significant American, European and Japanese bobbers, including an award-winning 1940 Indian Scout; and several vintage and modern custom bikes, including Evil Knievel’s own 1988 Knievel Cycle Chopper.
Antique motorcycles must be at least 35 years old and restored to their original factory condition to be eligible for judging by the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.
“Bobbers” first originated in the 1920s when riders modified factory bikes by cutting or removing the fenders and other unnecessary parts to shed excess weight for speed. The first bobbers closely resembled factory race bikes of that era.
Bobbers became very popular after World War II when new motorcycles were scarce but there was an abundant supply of cheap surplus war department bikes. Returning GI’s bought these military machines, removed the heavy or unnecessary parts, cut or bobbed the fenders, and sometimes exchanged parts from other brands of bikes to increase performance.
Most of the 1940’s Bobbers were modified Harley- Davidsons or Indians.
In the 1960s, custom designs became more radical as frames were cut and modified and front forks extended, giving birth to the “chopper” craze, immortalized in the film “Easy Rider.”
Due in large part to the popularity of television series such as “American Chopper “and “Biker Build-Off,” custom bikes have made a big comeback in recent years.
A Saturday morning lecture series will accompany the exhibition. Each lecture is free with paid admission to the museum. Here is the schedule:
Feb. 16: “Bobbers and Cafe Racers,” by Jesse Bassett of the GasBox in North Olmsted, 11 a.m.
March 16: “How to Restore Your Bike When the Parts You Need Are Not Available,” by Bruce Williams of Cortland, exhibit curator, 11 a.m.
May 11: “Motorcycle Safety for Group Riding,” by Al Navecky, safety instructor, of Warren, 11 a.m.
For information, go to packardmuseum.org or call 330-394-1899.