Arlen Ness Custom “Accel” 1986
Ted Doering first met Arlen in 1977 at the Cincinatti Trade Show
The yellow street-style digger Accel bike was built in 1986 and has a 90-ci “Knuckster” motor. The “Knuckster” motor is a Knucklehead top end with Sportster cases, as far as Arlen knows it is the only one in existence. The fuel tank is incorporated into the top bar of the frame and the oil bag is in the back down tube. Both are made from steel cylinders that were put into a press to achieve the shapes Arlen envisioned. Arlen drilled holes where possible for a revolutionary look (started the trend even popular today) and to save weight. The bike featured a Honda front end and four smooth-bore carbs to give credit to its racing roots.
This motorcycle was a large part pioneering the performance niche in the V-Twin industry and several trends that are still popular today.
Using money he’d won as a semi-professional bowler, Arlen Ness bought his first Harley-Davidson In 1967. Soon after, armed with just a spray gun and a dream, he stripped the bike down and gave it a paint job of his own creation. The paint job made such an impression on Arlen’s friends and fellow riders, that he decided to enter the bike in a custom show — and he won!
That turned out to be just the kick-start he needed. With nights spent in the garage working on a growing list of customers’ bikes, it wasn’t long until Arlen opened his first store in San Leandro, CA, while still working full time at his day job. More work led to more shows and more trophies, and Arlen eventually decided to leave his day job and become a full time bike builder and customizer.
In 2003, Arlen and approximately seventy hand-picked employees opened the new World Headquarters in Dublin, CA. This 68,000 sq. ft. building features a sales showroom, parts department, apparel store, service department, shipping and receiving warehouse, photo studio, a museum of Arlen’s famous builds, a production area for the new line of NESS MOTORCYCLES, and Arlen’s and Cory’s workshop, where visitors can actually see the masters working their motorcycle magic.
Arlen’s refusal to imitate others, along with his sense of style and willingness to take risks, is reflected today in his company’s slogan, “Always innovate, never imitate.”