Starting out of his garage in the 1960's with money he earned as a semi-professional bowler, Arlen Ness bought his first Harley. Armed with no more than a spray gun and a dream, he created his first chopper. That chopper launched a customizing career that in turn helped launch an entire industry.
His first customs were made in the garage of his home in San Leandro, California, but by the early 1970s he had moved to a storefront on East 14th Street.
Ness was recognized for his unique painting style and for developing a line of custom motorcycle parts. His popularity grew as he built new custom bikes and then had those displayed on the bike show circuit and featured in motorcycle magazines.
After more than three decades of custom bike building, his business, Arlen Ness Motorcycles, moved to a Dublin, California facility that includes a museum featuring more than 40 of his custom motorcycles. The museum displays his Untouchable, the twin motor Two Bad, the antique inspired Ness-Tique, Blower Bike, the Italian sports car inspired Ferrari Bike, and more.
Ness received recognition and awards including Builder of the Year, induction into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards. His son, Cory Ness, has worked with Ness for more than 30 years, and now runs the day-to-day business operations at Arlen Ness, Inc. Cory has himself been recognized as a top custom bike builder and even defeated his father in a 2004 episode of Biker Build-Off. Carrying on the family tradition to a third generation, Cory's son, Zach Ness, built several high end customs before finishing high school in 2006.
Arlen Ness passed away on March 22, 2019 at the age of 79.
To honor his legacy, the Ness family will be hosting a custom motorcycle at Bagger Racing League: Round 1, in Salt Lake City June 26th.
Got a custom motorcycle? We want to see it!
Classes include: Full Custom Chopper, Performance Twin, Big Wheel Bagger, Performance Bagger, and Metric Custom.
Register your bike at: https://baggerracingleague.com/pages/bike-show