Arlen Ness, the customer motorcycle builder whose designs were featured on Sons of Anarchy, has died at the age of 79.
Ness’ custom bike company Arlen Ness Motorcycles announced on its Facebook page Saturday that Ness, a “visionary, loving husband, father, grandfather and leader of our family,” had passed away on Friday, March 22 in his home. He was surrounded by loved ones at the time of his death.
“The most important things in Arlen’s life were his wife of 59 years Beverly, his children, grandchildren, friends and motorcycles,” the statement read. “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,’” it continued. “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...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,” the statement concluded.
Often referred to as “The King of Custom Motorcycles,” Ness purchased his first motorcycle, a 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, with money he earned from competing in semi-professional bowling leagues. He began customizing motorcycles in his California garage in 1970 while working as an aluminum doors and windows installer and eventually opened a storefront, which later moved to Dublin, California.
Ness’ custom motorcycles, which earned him the Sturgis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 as well as induction into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, featured in numerous shows and magazines over the course of his career, including FX’s Sons of Anarchy.
Ness is survived by Beverly, his wife of 59 years, along with his children and grandchildren, including son Cory and grandson Zach, who are both custom motorcycle builders.
A memorial service and a celebration of life for Ness will be announced at a later time.