By Mark Vickers
THE KING OF CUSTOM MOTORCYCLES – ARLEN NESS – RIP Arlen Ness, born July 12, 1939, passed away March 22, 2019. The official Arlen Ness announcement reads: “It is with heavy hearts that we announce Arlen Ness the visionary, loving husband, father, grandfather and leader of our family passed away last night March 22, 2019. Arlen passed away comfortably in his home surrounded by loved ones after the most creative and inspirational life anyone could imagine. The most important things in Arlen’s life were his wife of 59 years Beverly, his children, grandchildren, friends and motorcycles. Arlen once said that “Motorcycling has been a great ride…my whole life since I’ve been motorcycling has been wonderful. I’ve met so many nice people. Friends all over the world…. We can go almost anyplace and stay with friends. It’s been great.”
With few words Arlen conveyed his priorities every day, family and friends. Everyone who knew Arlen respects him for his achievements and for who he was as a person, both of which are superlatives. The respect is how Arlen came to deserve the commonly spoken nickname “The King of Custom Motorcycles”. Arlen rarely reflected on his own success. He never planned for it, this is because what he achieved had never been done before; it had never been dreamt of. Arlen has touched the lives of our family, the Arlen Ness team and thousands of others around the world with his genuine character. We will announce a memorial service and celebration of life after some private time, and appreciate your understanding. We thank you for your respects and condolences.
Although the Ness family cannot put their loss into words, they can look up and smile knowing Arlen has done something that few men do in a lifetime of trying. He has inspired.” Arlen Ness used the earnings from installing aluminum doors and windows to buy his first motorcycle, a 1947 Knucklehead, which he then customized. He soon developed a strong reputation and was in demand to build more customs which he initially did in the garage of his home in San Leandro, California. By 1970 his passion became his main source of income and he started Arlen Ness Motorcycles and moved to a storefront on East 14th Street, later moving to a facility in Dublin, California. His son Cory continues the legacy and now the third generation Ness, Zack, is also making a name for himself. Arlen won numerous awards and was a worldwide name and inspiration to many. He was a legend in his own lifetime.