The company is also an authorized dealership for Victory Motorcycles and for Indian Motorcycles. It’s been great.” With few words Arlen conveyed his priorities every day, family and friends. Arlen’s family thank you for your respects and condolences. Famed Custom Motorcycle designer Arlen Ness has been building cycles for the past 31 years out of a shop in San Leandro. He has inspired. Ness was recognized for his unique painting style and for developing a line of custom motorcycle parts. That bike started everything. One of those moments came two years ago when he was 77 years old, rumbling across the nation with his son Cory Ness on their hand-built motorcycles. It was really who he was,” said Cory Ness. Famed Custom Motorcycle designer Arlen Ness has been building cycles for the past 31 years out of a shop in San Leandro. You will be missed, Arlen. He was an icon of what’s current.”. A true gentleman, a one-of-a-kind visionary and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. DUBLIN, CA — Motorcycle designer and entrepreneur Arlen Ness died on Friday at the age of 79. The most important things in Arlen’s life were his wife of 59 years Beverly, his children, grandchildren, friends and motorcycles. Arlen Ness, ‘the king of custom motorcycles, dies, JOHNSONXXF-C-12JUN01-MT-MAC Arlen Ness with a custom bike he calls "Ness Stalgia"inspired by a 1957 Chevrolet. Mild-mannered. Arlen passed away comfortably in his home surrounded by loved ones after the most creative and inspirational life anyone could imagine. “You’d expect someone who built these amazing motorcycles to be loud, act super proud, have a sense of bravado. But once in a while he allowed himself to cut loose. Arlen rarely reflected on his own success. Ness received acclaim for his designs, most of which are noted for their unique body style and paintwork. Then in 1963, he bought his first motorcycle for $300, a 1947 Harley-Davidson knucklehead. The family moved to … by Michael Macor/The Chronicle, JOHNSONXXC-C-12JUN01-MT-MAC Arlen Ness cruises down East 14th sT. in San Leandro on a 2001 model that he just finished building. Soft-spoken.”. But man, you should have seen the look on people’s faces. Prior to his career as a motorcycle builder, Arlen worked as a pin setter at the local bowling alley, and later as a post office worker and furniture mover. Harley-Davidson Big Spoke Is All About Wheel Play, Local motorcycle clubs raise money to feed families during the holidays. “All of a sudden Dad lit up the tires and did a burnout across the gas station,” Ness said. Arlen was born on February 3rd, 1930 in Rockford, IL to Oscar and Ina Ness. Arlen Darryl Ness was born in Moorhead, Minnesota on July 12, 1939 to Elaine and Ervin Ness, and moved to San Leandro, California when he was in the sixth grade. Ness was born in Moorhead, Minn., to Ervin and Elaine Ness, who owned a furniture moving business and forbade him from owning motorcycles. Along the way, Ness handcrafted hundreds of wildly artistic motorcycles in low-slung, colorful sleekness, for customers that included celebrities from Journey guitarist Neil Schon to wrestler Hulk Hogan. Ness received a patent for the Big Shot, a method of altering the motorcycle’s fuel injection system, and thereby enhancing a motorcycle’s performance. Friends all over the world. His wife, like his parents, had told him she didn’t want a bike in the family, “so he had a friend ride it home, so mom wouldn’t see him on it,” his son said. The father-son team also has bikes on display at the Guggenheim and Oakland museums. by Michael Macor/The Chronicle, JOHNSONXXA-C-12JUN01-MT-MAC Arlen Ness is reflected in a chrome air cleaner cover on one of his many motorcycles. He has witnessed seven prison executions and has covered many of the biggest breaking stories of our time, from the Sept. 11 terror attacks at Ground Zero and the Columbine High School massacre to Barack Obama’s election as president, the deadly Mendocino Complex, Wine Country and Ghost Ship fires and the Occupy movement. Ness has received recognition and awards including Builder of the Year, induction into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards. “He wasn’t one to go to baseball or basketball games. Ness also competed in semi-professional bowling leagues, the earnings of which he used to buy his first motorcycle, a 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead that he later customized. Ness was married to his wife Beverly for 59 years until his death. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Jose State University and was raised in California and Nevada. He specializes in enterprise news-feature writing and breaking news, taking particular pleasure in ferreting out stories others might not find — from profiling the desperate lives of homeless drug addicts to riding the rails with hobos, finding people who sleep in coffins and detailing the intricacies of hunting down serial killers. Arlen Ness Inc. is completely owned and operated by a family and is the only motorcycle business, that houses 3 generations with the same last name in it. Everyone who knew Arlen respects him for his achievements and for who he was as a person, both of which are superlatives. Ness is survived by his wife, Beverly; his son, Cory of Alamo; his daughter, Sherri Foxworthy of Alamo; and four grandchildren. Famed Custom Motorcycle designer Arlen Ness has been building cycles for the past 31 years out of a shop in San Leandro. Very much a gentleman. And he built a factory that cranks out some of the most prized custom bike parts in the world. At the moment, Arlen Ness brand offers products for V-twin engines and motorcycle gear. He was inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame in 1992 for practically inventing the craft of motorcycle customization from his shops in Oakland, San Leandro, and finally Dublin, and his passing is being mourned on social media by bike enthusiasts from the Netherlands to Italy to Australia. Email: kfagan@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @KevinChron. But housing them in their backyards sparks fights, San Francisco and San Mateo land in purple tier, curfew to start Monday night, S.F., Santa Clara counties tighten rules amid alarming coronavirus surge, Editorial: Why President Trump’s pardon of Michael Flynn is even dirtier than the rest, Coronavirus live updates: Fauci warns of a ‘surge upon a surge’, 49ers cannot play at Levi’s Stadium under Santa Clara County’s coronavirus restrictions, California smashes record for COVID-19 hospitalizations as fears mount that hospitals could be overwhelmed, What happens to Bay Area students who decide to stay home this year? Arlen Ness died on March 22, 2019 at the age of 79. Famed Custom Motorcycle designer Arlen Ness has been building cycles for the past 31 years out of a shop in San Leandro. “It was so unlike him — he really was a responsible motorcycle guy, real friendly and humble. Kevin Fagan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. This date marked the 58th wedding anniversary of Arlen and his beloved wife Frances. His popularity grew as he built new custom bikes and then had those displayed on the bike show circuit and featured in motorcycle magazines. Arlen once said that “Motorcycling has been a great ride…my whole life since I’ve been motorcycling has been wonderful. Plastering the picture of a gangster on the gas tank, he nicknamed it “Untouchable,” and it soon started winning every motorcycle design show he entered it in. Arlen Darryl Ness (July 12, 1939 – March 22, 2019) was an American motorcycle designer and entrepreneur best known for his custom motorcycles. The Arlen Ness museum and showroom are located in Dublin, California. What he leaves behind is a 56-year career that almost single-handedly transformed motorcycles from being merely two-wheeled transit conveyances to museum-quality two-wheeled pieces of art. For a guy called “the king of custom motorcycles,” revered around the globe for transforming motorcycles into rolling art, Arlen Ness was unexpectedly unpretentious. by Michael Macor/The Chronicle, Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle 2001, JOHNSONXXE-C-12JUN01-MT-MAC Arlen Ness on a custom bike he calls "SmoothNess". 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. At the time, Ness was in the second year of a four-year fight against cancer. Robintek: Columbus Website and Blog Design. Today, the son and daughter run the Ness motorcycle dealership in Dublin, which includes a “museum” of 100 bikes built mostly by Ness, along with a few by his son. Arlen’s family will announce a memorial service and celebration of life after some private time, and appreciate your understanding. 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