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1950 Nimbus Bobber


Posted on January 8, 2011 by Scott in Bobber, Classic. 32 comments

Kim Scholer’s Nimbus Bobber is one striking bike. When he’s not riding it around Japan, you can find him cruising the roads of Denmark. We asked him a few questions about this interesting build.

What kind of motorcycle is a Nimbus?

It’s the only Danish bike produced in large numbers, and it was used for just about everything. 750 cc ohc straight four engine, 22 bhp, shaft drive, steel strip frame riveted together. They built 12,000 of them from 1934 through 1959, with only few changes. This is good for the spares situation, so an estimated 8,000 have survived. The papers for this one says 1950, but there are bits and pieces from many other years.

Why did you choose a Nimbus?

Mainly because it’s slow and reliable. I tend to go too fast when riding modern bikes, so for safety and to keep my license, this is better. It’ll cruise all day at 50 mph. My other bikes – an XS650 and a couple of MZs – aren’t particularly fast either. In addition to that, I really dislike wrenching, and I’m not too good at it anyway. Impractical when I prefer old bikes, but that’s the way it is. Fortunately Nimbus parts are cheap and easy to find. It’s a bit slow and underbraked these days, but I can still use it as an everyday tool.

Obviously the bike is not stock. What did you change and why?

When it comes to laws about modifying bikes, Denmark ranks somewhere in between North Korea and Burkina Faso, so serious modifications are out of the question. When the bobber craze came back some years ago, I figured I’d go with it, as I could build an almost legal modified one. Besides, I didn’t want to leave it all to the Harleys and Triumphs.

The front fork was cut down about three inches and the plate type handlebar was replaced with a moto-cross type. This was an interim solution, so I could see how the WLA-type bars should be bent. After a while I started to like it this way, so they’ll stay. Switch gear and grips are  from an East German MZ. The stock rear fender is shortened, headlamp is an Indian replica with VW intestines. A fellow Nimbus rider in Florida bought ‘The Peace Tail Light’ on ebay for me. Kickstand is off a Suzuki, and the seat is a stock H-D item, with a Saab door hinge beneath it. I once rode a Nimbus across the USA, after which I swore I’d never go further than the Copenhagen city limits on a stock saddle.

18″ Harley rims replaced the stock 19″ ones, and the Avon sidecar tires are chosen because I like the zig-zag pattern. Then there’s the gearbox, a modern four-speed constant mesh item. It cost US$2,600, about a quarter of what the bike is worth now. When I got used to it, suicide foot clutch and hand gear change works fine even in city rush hour traffic.

The stainless steel exhaust system was made to look like that of an Indian Four. It was beautifully done by a friend of mine. Took him three years do do it, though; he’s very good, but he also smokes too much funny stuff.

Did you encounter any problems when building it?

Not really, except my own laziness and a painter who kept screwing up things big time. Before starting this project I drew and redrew the bike probably 50 times, to make sure it’d look right. Unlike with other bikes – Triumphs, Hondas, whatever – if you change one thing on a Nimbus, suddenly eight other things look wrong.

Now it’s much more comfortable than a stock Nimbus, which – being an early 1930’s design – was designed for shorter men than me. When touring I mount a pair of highway pegs out front, so I can stretch my legs once in a while. I’m 55, mind, not 20.

How do people react to the bobber?

Favorably, without exception. Fifteen years ago they would have considered stabbing me at the annual Nimbus Club rally, but these day they all love it. The other vintage guys know I have a few more stock ones, so it’s cool with them too. The police stop me every so often, for other reasons, then once they realize I don’t have ‘fuck you’ written across my forehead, they usually compliment the bike. So far they’ve never mentioned the most obvious irregularities, like the missing front fender. Some years ago I rode it around Japan, where it opened a lot of doors for me, too. [Check out Kim’s blog to read about his Japanese road trip]

If Danish laws were less restrictive, what would you build?

Well, in an ideal world I’d hand somebody else my drawings and a blank check, and tell them to have it finished in a year or so. But seriously, my favorite project would be a very long, straight eight Nimbus with hub centre steering, done in steampunk style. I figured it’d take me five to eight years to build, and cost about US$60,000.

Somewhat less impossible would be a 1941 Indian Chief, the one with large fenders, rear suspension and the odd spring front fork, and with two Nimbus engines in a 10 degree V shape. One cylinder head turned around so a carb in the center could feed both engines, which of course should be mounted lengthwise. I’ve measured; there is room. Just. Second choice would be the same Chief with a Vincent engine, much like the one made a few years before both companies went tits up. The latter would actually be legal here.

Realistically, there may well be an electric Nimbus in my own future. Also I’m planning to give the XS650 a ‘1960’ look, with speedometer in the headlamp, steel rims, shrouded suspension and so forth. There are thousands of fine XS bobbers, XS café racers and XS street trackers out there, but I’m not in the habit of building what everybody else builds.

[Photography by Jeppe Sørensen]








  • Emaychee

    I love both the bike and his mentality; an excellent insight into elsewhere in the world! Thanks scott!

  • Dave

    Wow! I think I love everything about this bike. Well done!

  • Awesome article and the bike has a true one of a kind look to it.

  • skillet

    Really NICE scooter and GREAT write-up!!!

  • HMM

    What does the white glove/hand on the license plate represent?

  • I am floored by the photo shots. I'm so glad the standard way of shooting motorcycles is being rejected! Raisin pie to the shooter of this bike…justification has been achieved! A beautiful bike shot in lighting and positions that really does justice for the builder and bike!

  • Bhoethoel

    That Great bike

    • Chris Saddler Sam

      hi kim
      great bike
      compliments, once more!
      btw, how much $$$ for the other “bobber project” u had for sale?

  • norman

    Great bike, very likeable guy, superb pictures. Overall, one of the best articles i`ve read here so far. Thanks!

  • This bike makes me wonder what it'd cost to get a Nimbus for myself…'cause I know I'll never be able to get an Indian4 or a Cleveland4
    🙁

    btw, I very much like the attitude expressed by the peace sign /V-for victory/ hello tailight vs the more common road devils, middle
    finger taillights more commonly seen. I'd bet it helps with the "gendarme encounters."

  • RocketRobinHood

    Just wanted to HIGHLY recommend the blog/story of his Japan trip linked to in the article. I read it last year and found it funny and really interesting, with lots of great photos. Start at the beginning and lose 2 hours.

  • Scott

    @RocketRobinHood YEs, the Japanese trip blog is a really good read. Kim is a talented guy.

    http://www.nimbustripinjapan.blogspot.com/

  • Kim of Copenhagen

    Thanks for all the kind words. Now some answers:

    HMM; The hand on the license plate represents The Law's all-seeing eye. The home made P47 license plate was done in honour of Katherine, an old WAAF pilot I once spent some enjoyable hours with. She flew planes from the factories to their bases in WW2, and 'The Jug' was her absolute favorite.

    Chessie; Getting up at 5 am is against my religion, but apparently that is the best time for taking pics. Or so the photographer said.

    Davidabl: Over here Nimbuses are anywhere between $4K for a basket case to $12K for a pristine one. If you're seriously interested I have one I'd part with. It includes a cut-down front end and an exhaust system like mine.

  • Kim of Copenhagen

    Small mistake in the write-up: I didn't ride it in Japan for years. It should have read 'Some years ago…'

  • Andrew

    @ Kim of Copenhagen Thanks for yr feedback and for making such a beautiful (and well photographed) bike. Tak!

    PS. Life is short – PLEASE make that concept bike happen… 🙂

  • Chris

    Yes please!!! I love this steampunk stuff, too. That bike would be just intergalactical.

    And the bobber is lovely anyway. Like your attitude towards slow speed cycling. It is just like fast food vs. slow food,
    the last one is much healthier. 🙂 Guys and girl, keep on riding safe to yourselves and your bikes out there.
    Happy season 2011 everybody!

  • Septic the Sceptic

    Cool bike, but I can't help but wonder how it is a "bobber".

  • G-Man

    So nice to see the mind of alternate thinkers at work!
    Imagine a world void of mainstream design and altenate thinkers taking over!!!!

  • kik

    SWEET, love the bike.

  • Tom Nielson

    Ah! – just beautiful, a bike I'd want to ride. The photography is outstanding, it really compliments the lovely machine. I'm also an XS650 fan but being of Danish heritage a Nimbus would suit me just fine!

  • stig scholander

    Great bike, congratulation!! A good example of the scandinavian way, build and work with what you got!!!

  • Mingh

    That's a top bike! and i'm usually not into bobbers.

    really a bike that is (rather than want to be) cool

  • Seth

    Septic, the loss of front fender, solo seat, and just the overall feel of the build constitutes this as a bobber.

  • K. of Kobenhavn
    Nimbus is just a dream at the moment–but it is another reason to want to go back to Danmark. Since last time was 45yrs. ago.

  • great piece, scott. beautiful bike, kim.

    i recently did a little piece myself about the nimbus history and was reminded about the guys taking a couple of nimbus bumblebee bikes around the world (http://kccd.no/home_en.html). it's taking them much longer than they planned but they are still at it, cruising through africa now.

    fearless motorbikes, those nimbi.

  • Asshole Welder

    thats not a bumblebee no more, thats a killerbee, i love it, ride the piss out of it!!! hilsen en anden dansker der er misundelig

  • Asshole Welder

    thats not a bumblebee no more, thats a killerbee, i love it, ride the piss out of it!!! hilsen en anden dansker der er misundelig

  • wannaby

    Hmm.. I have been searching for a basketcase or even a tranny and rear drive  wheel for for a couple years now for my project nsu four that I want to build like mads four and have gone through several ….well respected supplyers and nobody has gotten back to me …so nimbus parts are not that plentifull unless you speak danish and are in the know.

    • kimscholer@vip.cybercity.dk sc

      Wannyby: http://www.jcnimbus.dk speaks English and does mail order. I can also put an ad in the local Nimbus mag asking for parts. AND I have the special bolts needed to attatch a Nimbus flywheel to the NSU engine – yours for free if you get back to me at ccc40821@gmail

  • Sweet Ride .. I love the taillight!

  • Tom Somyak

    Love this, would like to see more pics!

    • ccc40821

      Send your email address to ccc40821@gmail.com, and I’ll mail you better pics.