It won’t be long now, my friends. Soon enough, there will come a day when old school will be old hat; retro will be passé, throwback will get thrown away, and the nostalgic will turn tragic. Instead of mining the past for motivation, it’s only a matter of time before motorcycle builders look back to the future for inspiration, and far-fetched modern designs will once again dominate the custom landscape.
Fortunately for us, the cycle hasn’t turned just yet; old school is still all the rage. So all you retro fanatics out there, let’s revel in the glory days while we still can.
We caught up with Sam Nehme and the BMS Choppers crew at Daytona earlier this year, painting the strip cherry red on this sweet little Star bobber. Now, you might say to yourself, “Self, I wish I could afford to cruise Main Street on a sweet bobber like that.” Well, it’s time to stop dreaming and start cruising, Homer, because now you can pick up a bobber just like this one from BMS for less than 10 grand. But before you plunk down your cold, hard cash, you’d best check it out carefully.
“I got all kinds of attention down in Daytona,” Sam told us after returning home from Bike Week. “Especially from the people who realized what it really is; that was the best part. Most people had no clue, though.”
What it is, is a 2009 V Star 250 that Broward Motorsports turned into a beautiful, classy, low-buck bobber. It doesn’t have a lot of power, it’s true, but it makes up for it with plenty of eyeball and around-town zip. “The guys were in the middle of assembling one of these for a customer who’d just bought one,” Sam explained. “We were upstairs in the custom shop, which overlooks our service department, and we’re looking out the windows watching them put a bike just like this together, and it kind of struck us.”
Starting with a stock V Star 250, Sam and his custom shop, BMS Choppers, stripped it down and got to work. “We black powdercoated a lot of stuff on it. Kept the wheel hubs, got laces, then redid the wheels in black as well.”
A stripped-down bobber is at its best when it’s kept simple, and even though this is a low-dollar bob job, BMS kept its approach straightforward and its build clean, just as it would a high-priced one-off. “You can see pretty much everything we did to the bike,” Sam pointed out. “It’s all right there in front of you: spring seat, white walls, apehangers, exhaust, air cleaner, drag pipes, bobbed fender … That’s about it.
“It’s a pretty simple design. See, the key to this bike is in the price point. It’s affordable, but it looks cool. It would make a great secondary bike for someone who just wanted a little around-town cruiser. Usually our bikes are radical. Shoot, some of our paint jobs cost more than this whole motorcycle! But that’s what makes it unique. It’s a simple build, but a neat one.”
We pointed out that it would make a cool ride for a youngster or a wife, and Sam agreed. “It’s kind of funny, ’cause at first everyone dismisses it, because it’s a 250. But the minute you ride it, you fall in love with it, because it’s so light and nimble, you can just throw it around. Some people have asked if we can change the gearing on it to pick up a little more top end,” Sam said. “And for somebody who’s going to be on the freeway a lot? Yeah, we can do that, and probably get another 10, 15 mph out of it. But it’s really just a little barhopper.”
Located in Davie, Florida, Broward Motorsports is a huge multibrand dealership that features full parts and service departments for most of the major metric manufacturers, as well as the BMS Choppers custom shop. It’s no secret that powersports dealerships all over the country have been struggling of late, but by cutting costs, courting its core audience, and cleverly adjusting to the times, Sam believes BMS tackled the economic downturn the right way. “We started taking steps to lower our overhead and things like that [awhile] ago,” he said. “So we’ve been able to continue to expand and grow while others are stepping back.”
For years, high-end radical one-offs were the custom shop’s bread and butter, but with customs beyond the price range of a lot of folks these days, low-dollar bikes like this one are more popular than ever. And by being open to change, BMS is still headed in a positive direction. “We wanted to throw it out there and see what kind of response we got,” he admitted. “If the demand is there, we’re ready to make a bunch of these. Not hundreds of the exact same model, but different packages: different bars, colors, pipes, chrome, et cetera. You should definitely see more of these around soon.”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, old school may go out of fashion, but it will always remain cool. The austere beauty of classic lines, the familiar appeal of pinstripes and whitewalls, the charisma of hot rod culture, these are the things that make the hairs on the back of our necks stand at attention and get our right wrists twitching with anticipation. Whether it’s café racers or low-buck bobbers, class never goes out of style. RB
By Jon Langston, Photos by Bob Feather