Arlen Ness

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Arlen Daryl Ness
Arlen Ness.jpg
Ness in 2014
Born (1939-07-12) July 12, 1939 (age 77)[1][2]
Occupation Motorcycle designer, entrepreneur
Years active 1960–present
Known for Custom motorcycles
Relatives Cory Ness (son), Zach Ness (grandson)

Arlen Daryl Ness[2] (born July 12, 1939) is an American motorcycle designer and entrepreneur, best known for his custom motorcycles.

Early life[edit]

Arlen Daryl Ness was born in Moorhead, Minnesota on July 12, 1939, and moved to San Leandro, California when he was in the sixth grade.[3]


A motorcycle with two engines by Arlen Ness
A streamlined motorcycle by Arlen Ness
Ness-Stalgia Model
Arlen Ness Victory motorcycle at the Seattle International Motorcycle Show
Entrance to Arlen Ness Motorcycles in Dublin, California
Arlen Ness motorcycles and trophies on display in Dublin, California

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.[4]

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.[5]

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, 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 company is also an authorized dealership for Victory Motorcycles and for Indian Motorcycles.[6]

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.[7][8]

Ness has received recognition and awards including Builder of the Year, induction into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards.[7] 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.[citation needed] 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.[9]

Ness received a patent for the Big Shot, a method of altering the motorcycle's fuel injection system, and thereby personalizing a motorcycle's performance.[10]


  1. ^ "Happy Birthday to Arlen Ness, Legendary Custom Builder, Victory Motorcycle Dealer & Motorcycle Icon". Victory Motorcycles. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Blake Z. Rong (15 July 2013). article/car-life/happy-birthday-arlen-ness "Happy Birthday, Arlen Ness" Check |url= value (help). Autoweek. Retrieved 9 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "ART OF THE CHOPPER: ARLEN NESS – FIRST LOOK". Cycle World. Bonnier Corporation. December 17, 2007. 
  4. ^ "Arlen Ness Bio". Motorcycle USA. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Charle, Suzanne (16 October 1997). "When It Comes to Harleys, Arlen Ness Is One Very Cool Customizer". Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Manufacturer Models". Arlen Ness Motorcycles. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Arlen Ness - Heroes of Harley-Davidson". Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Mach-Ness - 74th Annual 2014 Sturgis ® Motorcycle Rally". Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Zach Ness Profile/ Sailor Jerry Presents Hot Bike Invitational Bike Build-Off". Hot Bike. Bonnier Corporation. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Supplemental fuel injector trigger circuit". Retrieved 8 August 2014. 


  • Lichter, Michael; Ness, Arlen, Arlen Ness; The King of the Choppers, MotorBooks International, ISBN 9781610608091 

External links[edit]