Apple pie has nothing on Harley Davidson when it comes to being American. Since 1903, Harley has manufactured some of the most loved and iconic bikes in history, from its first racer, the Harley Davidson® Motorcycle to their beautiful line of Touring motorcycles, the company has managed to win over the hearts of motorcycle lovers, not just in the United States, but all over the world. But there are two of their bikes in particular that seem to incite a bit of confusion amongst general population: the Low Rider and the Street Bob, both from Harley-Davidson’s Dyna Line. Now, it’s true that these bikes are very similar in appearance when it comes to their basic build, and they have many other shared characteristics as well. But the fact is that these there are more differences than one may realize between the two, and knowing them will help even the most uneducated of laymen tell them apart. There is no better time than the present to discuss these differences, so let’s dive in.
The Harley-Davidson Low Rider
When the Low Rider was first released in 1977 there was a fad among motorcycle enthusiast that centered around customization. Those who rode Harleys took to making their bikes suit them perfectly, which seemed to involve the installation of pull-back handlebars on motorcycles that boasted a sexier, lower-profiled suspension system. Along with that came seats which sat lower than what other traditional bikes of the day had to offer off the showroom floor. When the Low Rider was designed and manufactured, it was basically Harley-Davidson answering the public’s cry for this hot new look, and it worked like magic.
The Harley-Davidson Street Bob
When it comes to this bike it was in the Dyna Glide line, and basically it was a retro tribute to the motorcycles ridden by the military during the second World War. When the actual war bikes came back from government use, all of the war-necessary extras that had been attached to the bikes, such as gun mounts, ammo containers, and other items were taken off so civilians could ride them safely and more easily on streets and highways. They were called ‘bobbers’ by those familiar with them, a name which referred to removal of the war accessories that had been taken away, making it a much simpler-looking machine.
What are the Other Differences?
Now you’ve heard the basic origin of both the Low Rider and the Street Bob, and you probably agree that they sound nothing alike. Well, if one isn’t aware of either bike’s humble beginnings, they probably still can’t tell one from the other, if they could anyway. With that being said, it will help to understand that most of the differences are in the way the bikes are designed. The Low Rider, for instance, will tend to come with a bit more trim and embellishments, like chrome work, noticeable mirrors, or other unique accessories. But with the Street Bob, less is more. The whole point of the bike was to keep things as simple as possible, and it showed. The Low Rider also had a low profile, so the rider sat low, which meant that the handlebars had to be reachable, and this led to the use of pull-back handlebars; the Street Bob’s handlebars are in more of a ‘normal’, upright position. In the end, the Low Rider was a sleeker, cooler looking bike that had a bit of an attitude, while the Street Bob was meant just for riding for the joy of it.
So, if the differences are so obvious, from their histories to their look, why the confusion? Well, the two bikes have some similarities as well, and they seem to throw off the average Joe. This is exactly why it is better to just break things down and eliminate the lack of knowledge by making people knowledgeable.
First of all, it should be said once again that both of these bikes are from Harley-Davidson’s Dyna Line. Because of this fact, there are many shared physical characteristics that can make them look very much alike, and this can make it difficult to differentiate between the two on a whim, or with only a glance. For instance, they are very close in general style and size, and their chassis are alike. The bikes also share the same style of basic instruments, and boast power that is comparable. It should also be noted that while the Street Bob is somewhat ‘minimalist’ as far as motorcycles are concerned, it does share the low seat feature with the Low Rider, which is only about 25 or 26 inches in height. This particular styling in the seat area has made both of these bikes a popular choice with riders of shorter stature, both men and women alike, though anyone who prefers the low-slung look could prefer one of them.
The truth is, there are enough differences in the bikes, regardless of the similarities, that one could easily tell them apart just by identifying a few of the traits that aren’t shared by them, says Revzilla.com. For anyone who likes to identify a bike they see in a flash, keeping in mind the little things, like seat positioning, handlebar styles and positions, and even they style of the little extras that the company has thrown on for looks, can make all the difference in your efforts to know what you see. This is certainly true when attempting to tell a Low Rider from a Street Bob.
So, the moral of the story is simply this: Just because two things seem the same doesn’t mean they are. Look for the things that help the model stand out unto itself. Learn as much as you can, if that is where your interest lies. In the end, the differences and similarities only matter for a moment, because each bike is its own, and its wheels roll unto themselves unlike any before it or after it, and each owner will attest to that truth about every bike they have ever ridden.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker