We recently had an opportunity to throw a leg over the newest Arlen Ness Victory Vision. Before even reading anything on the page it was probably clear this bike is bright and bold dressed in a Nuclear Sunset orange hue. Arlen Ness has been painting and building bikes for over 40 years and has amassed worldwide recognition for his forward thinking custom builds and extensive parts line. Many of Arlen’s most famous creations have usually stood out from his peers; his unique eye for style has rarely been described as subtle. Adding to the Ness popularity is the fact that Arlen is about as humble a man you’ll ever meet—gracious, soft-spoken, and genuine. A testament to his legacy is his family and coworkers Cory and Zach, Arlen’s son and grandson respectively. Somehow, whether through nature or nurture or both, the two developed the talent and drive to build motorcycles. Cory and Zach each have a Victory Signature Series model as well. Each of the bikes is a numbered, limited edition, custom Victory model styled by three Ness generations.
Arlen’s involvement with the Victory Signature Series dates back to ’04 and the Vegas that carried his name. For the ’09 model year Arlen got to put his touch on the Vision Street (a since discontinued model; a Vision without the trunk) that debuted the previous year. The Vision is a big, bold, out-of-the-box bike and we couldn’t think of another motorcycle on planet Earth more fitting to carry the Ness moniker. The Vision looks as if Arlen himself helped design it; he actually didn’t. The bold, unique, and unusual looking Vision was originally introduced for ’08 and stunned and polarized the motorcycle world. People generally have a love it or hate it opinion of the Vision’s looks, but there isn’t anyone that doesn’t notice it. The Vision was a new motorcycle designed from the ground up, beholden to nobody; the world didn’t need another Harley-Davidson look-alike. That decision was brave and risky, and certainly got tons of attention and press. Years later we came to find out that was exactly what Victory wanted. Victory told us they could have released the less extreme Cross series before the Vision.
Imagine how cool it must be when each year you get a new blank slate Vision and given carte blanche to paint and accessorize with your personnel palette. There’s a lot of real estate to put your mark on. The past three Arlen Visions were primarily black with progressively more subtle graphics as the time went on.
Without seeing the bike there’s a good chance you could imagine if you tried what color Nuclear Sunset may be. It’s big, bright, and bold—the explosive orange contrasted with black flames, with subtle highlighted hues of red and orange. The paint is magnificent and changes from dark to light shades of orange and an almost crimson color depending on the strength light and sunshine.
Tip: If you don’t like attention do not buy this motorcycle. The 2012 Nuclear Sunset Ness Victory Vision stands out.
After riding the bike and getting some miles under our feet we reached out to the Arlen Ness headquarters, located east of San Francisco, in Dublin, California. There were specific questions we wanted to ask Arlen—important inquiries involving the Ness relationship with Victory as well as his inspiration; even his favorite nickname.
Baggers: This year’s Ness Nuclear Sunset Vision is awesome; it looks like it’s in reentry from space. What inspired you?
Arlen: I’ve always been using a black base and this year I wanted to do something a little more visually exciting and that orange just exploded and flames always look hot.
B: Regarding the evolution of design and styling; is this generally a long, planned out process or do you get hit with a bolt of inspiration?
A: It takes time, but I’m working way ahead of production schedules. The 2013 Ness Victory is already done and I’m working on the 2014 design now. This gives me quite a bit of time and works out really well.