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Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

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Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

Arlen Daryl Ness was born in Moorhead, Minnesota on July 12, 1939. Experts and connoisseurs of customizing all over the world call him a "godfather" not because he can make you an offer "you can't deny", but as a mark of respect of his achievements during his long and very successful career. In his 76, he is №1 in the world and a patriarch in custom moto production.

When rare motorcycles were homemade products made by handymen with welding gas-jets, jab saws, vice clamps and tones of black paint, Arlen Ness preferred the baroque. He implemented gilded parts, ornamental chase into design of bikes; decorated elements of transmission with aluminium carving and dyed sheets of frame into "nonbike" colors. The seats were upholstered with plush and velour. Arlen installed two engines on one bike, Which was unbelievable for many, but was normal for him. He placed those engines into Ironhead Sportster and, therefore, extended its power-weight ratio.

Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

His, at first sight, extraordinary bikes determined a new direction in motorcycle production in early 1970-s. Arlen was one of the first bike-designers, whose eccentric style caught fancy of the hippie, whose culture flourished in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Arlen Ness combined "flower power" and “horse power“ to create motorcycles, which later determined that time or even era.

Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

In 1965 ape-hanger handlebar was combined with peanut tank and 21 inch. wheel. That were the bikes of that time. Wide forks weren't popular yet and initially altered motorcycles, which, due to their form and geometry, were called "bobbers" or "diggers", might have been developed from racing Harleys at that time.

Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

Ness said that Denver Mullins from California had begun producing extraordinary prolonged motorcycles called "choppers" by the end of 1960-s. But he might have made them popular on the south of California, while on the north, on Arlen's homeland, bobbers still were style of the day. Arlen decided that custom-made motorcycle must include elements as of Southern, so of northen Californian style. he idea of such bike consisted of ape-hanger handlebar on prolonged Sportster's frame with short travel of suspender.

Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

The first Arlen's bike was Harley-Davidson “Knucklehead” of 1947. Arlen took it down, added a peanut tank and painted it green using a vac as airbrush. After taking the first prize at local bike show, he seriously decided to run this business. He painted bikes in daring colors and it actually brought him profit. Enough to be in cottonwool. That's how Arlen Ness got a reputation in Bay Area. And he still keeps his first bike.

Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

Arlen started his full time business painting bikes for the money earned from bowling games. Later he expanded his work by making customized loose parts for tuning and installing them on bikes.

Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

Arlen's projects provided a future for other customizers and his followers. There were even legends about his work with sheet. In a way, he invented a new bike different from others of that time. Ness was one of the firs manufactuers, who developed and produced spare parts for exclusive motorcycles. He produces nearly 50 motorcycles per year. He assembles and finishes every bike his mini-factory produces by himself. The only part he leaves for his team is installation of engine.

Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

Arlen Ness still keeps all the motorcycles he created since 1967. In fact, some of them he intentionally bought out from his customers. Today his museum collection consists of almost 60 motorcycles. Arlen thinks that every talanted person is able to assemble a unique bike from parts from his catalogue. Though, he admits master touch and creative approach are unique indeed. Only under certain conditions bike turns into real work of art.

Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

Arlen thinks that this is good that bikes become popular now, because people riding bikes attract more attention of wider public. They like motorcycles, because this is some kind of hobby. Ness wached the bike fashion come and go. Bu he said that bikes would be popular for at least 10 or 15 years. Nowadays assembling bikes is more like hobby than way of life, but he managed to make his hobby a prestige business.

Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing

Today the name of Arlen Ness is not connected with just Arlen himself. Today this is brand, the Ness family, lineal business, high quality standard, masterwork and art. "There is no small or unimportant task. If there is work - it must be done" - this is some kind of moto of this firm. Besides, Arlen and his son Cory are consulting designers of Polaris company, which produces Victory bikes. And the Vegas model was created with their direct participation. They adapted and developed new line of tuning for this tech, altered the design of serial motorcycles adding the personal touch to each of them.

Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing Arlen Ness - the godfather of bike customizing
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