Arlen Ness

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Arlen Ness
Born 1939 (age 74–75)
Occupation Motorcycle designer, entrepreneur

Arlen Ness (born 1939) is an American entrepreneur and motorcyclist, who is best known for his customized choppers and hot rods.


Ness-Stalgia Model
Arlen Ness Harley-Davidson at the Seattle International Motorcycle Show

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.[1] 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.[2]

After more than three decades of custom bike building and developing his business to the point that it supports a several hundred page parts catalogue, Arlen Ness, Inc. moved to a Dublin, California facility that included a museum featuring more than 40 of his custom motorcycles. The museum displays his famous Untouchable, the twin motor Two Bad, the antique inspired Ness-Tique, Blower Bike, the Italian sports car inspired Ferrari Bike, the '57 Chevy inspired Ness-Stalgia, the Bugatti-like Smooth-Ness, the Discovery Channel's Biker Build-Off bike Top Banana, and his jet-powered Mach Ness.

The Mach Ness is a motorcycle Ness built in 2005, inspired by Jay Leno’s turbine-powered bike, that incorporates a jet-powered helicopter engine as its power plant. The design, concept, paint, and graphics were created by Carl Brouhard and the hand-made aluminum body work was by Bob Monroe.[3]

Arlen has 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 Arlen 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 The Great Biker Build-Off. Carrying on the family tradition to a third generation, Cory's son, Zach, built several beautiful high end customs before finishing high school in 2006.

Ness received a patent for the Big Shot, a method of altering the motorcycle's fuel injection system, and thereby personalizing the motorcycle's performance.


Arlen Ness; the King of Choppers by Michael Lichter and Arlen Ness was published in 2005. It includes photography by Michael Lichter.

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