2009 Ness H-D Street Glide
When I showed up to photograph this bike on a beautiful winter morning at an urban convention center, I wasn't sure how or where I was going to get it done. Without a hitch, the Ness team threw me the keys and had the doors opened for me. I didn't ask any questions, I just fired her up and rode out. For the sake of getting good shots, I rode the bike around for two hours until I came upon the chosen spot in Long Beach, California. This bike created a ton of attention, snarling traffic as people rolled down their windows to ask questions. Kids, young, old, and tourists were mesmerized by this ride. It was a great day and the 23-inch front wheel and raked frontend handled very well. The slight motor mods made a surprising difference; thankfully the local police were more interested in asking about the bike than writing me a ticket. -Toph
Contrary to the title above, this story doesn't involve a drunken incident with a milking machine and a tube of hand lotion. It might if we looked into my blacked-out past, but that's a road best left untraveled. Maybe that's because when life hands me lemons, I make margaritas. When life pulls the same trick with Cory Ness, he apparently makes a clean custom bike like this one. It's an '09 Street Glide-one of those great baggers with the all-new (at the time) chassis. Unfortunately, the same model year that made the Harley faithful grin ear-to-ear threw the aftermarket into a collective conniption fit. Manufacturers literally reinvented the wheel (among other parts) to fit the new frames. Arlen and Cory Ness were no exception.
That didn't seem to faze Cory too much, though. He was his usual cool, calm self when I asked him about this flame-clad street prowler. "We try to buy at least one new Harley-Davidson a year to check over for R&D," he informed me. "That's why we bought this bike-to check out the new frame changes as soon as possible."
The steeds weren't the only ones that had changed, however. More and more riders veered away from commissioning ground-up customs. Between the nation's economic nosedive and the do-it-yourself mentality that's seeping back into the forefront of the American consciousness, would-be custom bike owners would rather morph a cool ride from a stock Harley. Cory figured that trend into this Street Glide: "Guys are hacking up their bikes rather than building from scratch these days. We wanted to reflect that."
Eyeball the frame neck to see what he means. Ness research and development (R&D) re-raked the frame to really kick out the 23-inch front wheel. Cory elaborated: "You have the option with the new fork legs to unbolt the caliper on the right-hand side. We made that interchangeable so you don't have to do any cutting. It really shows off our new Hot Legs." Raking the frame took less than a day. Paul Yaffe made a set of raked triple trees that were exactly what Cory wanted to keep proper trail. What's more, the longer profile of the frontend looks great and the Street Glide still has plenty of ground clearance. That's not always a guarantee with a 23-inch front wheel. It wasn't just some hack job on a stock frontend to make the larger front wheel fit and the suspension travel took the bigger hoop into account for a safe ride.
Cory didn't limit the new innovations to the Hot Legs, though. The R&D team conjured up these new Over the Top headers to boot. Not only do they jazz up the motor's looks, the head pipes also fit stock or custom mufflers. Overall, the power upgrades were kept pretty straightforward-a set of Vance & Hines mufflers, a Retro Derby air cleaner, and a Big Shot EFI tuner.