On the surface, The Harbortown Bobber by One World Studios Ltd. is a documentary about the build/restoration of a bobber bike owned by Scott Di Lalla, co-founder of One World, and co-producer/co-director of Harbortown.
However, what I took away from the 75-minute DVD was that the film is less about the skeletal remains of a ’69/’71 Triumph rising from the ashes, and more about the people (characters in a film for sure!) that help Scott along the way to realizing his dream of breathing life into a bobber of his own.
Certainly there’s an element of how-to, as modification of the fuel tank, restoration of a Swiss-cheesed frame into a solid and reliable platform, and fabrication of numerous-but-only-what’s-necessary components (including a one-off oil tank) receive ample screen time.
Yet, despite the occasionally detailed look at how various pieces of the machine come together, I found myself more interested, almost mesmerized, by the backyard moto-centric artisans that each laid hands on the Bobber.
Salty, down-to-earth fabricators and repairman, with names like J-Bird, Irish Rich and Meatball (not seen in this film), as well Cindy Rutherford, owner of Century Motorcycles in San Pedro, CA, unwittingly “make” the film while in the process of making the Bobber.
Watch closely and you’ll see how each unique player in this cast of sometimes-curmudgeonly-but-caring motoheads offer up philosophies on life without ever getting philosophical.
Harbortown isn’t bland or merely informative (characteristics many people associate with documentaries): On-board riding footage, and group ride shots set to non-mainstream original rock tunes, interlaced throughout the film help break up the build scenes into comfortably digested pieces.
And although there’s a homemade feel with much of the footage, the movie doesn’t suffer for it: Overall production value is high for what I imagine was budget-minded work, it’s almost like these guys have done this before!
The Harbortown Bobber is something of a sequel, as it was shot simultaneously with Brittown, a previously released documentary about the rebuilding of a 1971 Triumph 650 T120 engine, the very engine that now powers the Harbortown Bobber.
And, I suppose, Harbortown is in some sense part of an unintended trilogy.
The critically acclaimed Choppertown: The Sinners, was One World’s big documentary hit that highlighted the bobber-biker lifestyle, and was soon followed by the aforementioned Brittown, which chronicled Meatball and the rebuilding of the Triumph Twin.
Now, coming full circle and out from behind the camera, Di Lalla becomes both documenter and the documented, as he and One World co-partner, Zack Coffman, fully immerse themselves into the two-wheeled world they have so often captured for the rest of us to experience.
I’m not really into the bobber thing, but having owned more than my share of ratty bikes, I can appreciate and identify with the sense of satisfaction that can come from tinkering with and repairing your own ‘cycles, personalizing them along the way.
Come to think of it, those are the core principles of bobbers. Maybe I was a bobber after all and didn’t know it!
If you aren’t necessarily into bobbers either, but are a bike lover, chances are good you’ll be thoroughly entertained, possibly even enlightened, by this multifaceted motorcycle film called The Harbortown Bobber.