B: Can you clarify what the Ness relationship with Victory is? Are you designers, consultants?
A: At this point we are more consultants, but in the early years of Victory Motorcycles we had some design input. Currently, our main involvement is with each of the Arlen, Cory, and Zach Ness Signature Series motorcycles.
B: The Vision looks like your design but in reality you had nothing to do with that?
A: That’s correct. We saw the first drawings and it really looked space aged and then we watched how it evolved. The Vision is an absolutely wonderful bike, with amazing handling, great power and yeah, it looks like a Ness.
B: How has the bagger craze changed your business?
A: We have always been in the bagger business. We were the first with the deep drop saddlebags, but in the last several years it just went crazy and it’s the focus of the Ness product line. We spend a ton of time on product research for baggers.
B: We’re seeing the 23 and 26-inch front wheels becoming the new 21? How do you look at some of the newer bagger trends? Are we going to see 30-inch wheels, raked triple trees, and slammed suspension for example, become the norm; the must have parts?
A: It’s true that builders are pushing the envelope and giving people what they want. But all of that can work really well—you just have to be really careful as a builder. Everything has to be done right—no compromises. The proper triple trees, rake, and trail need to be calculated and tested; otherwise it could be dangerous.
B: Will this trend to outdo the next guy kill baggers similar to the chopper industry a few years ago? Ultimately making the bikes unridable for the sake of looks?
A: Some of the builds out there are going in that direction, they are bigger and heavier, and generally harder to ride than a chopper. Plus some builders don’t understand weight distribution and that saddlebags can actually make your bike wobble. There’s just so much to it. Our wheels are sent to a lab for testing, and the raked necks and triple trees are checked for strength and function. Everything we build is tested, tested, and retested then used in the real world before it hits the street. We’ve learned a lot working with Victory. They are very particular when it comes to safety. It’s great for everybody.
Vision owners… are fanatics about the machine; not the brand or marketing, but the motorcycle
B: It seems like the Victory relationship works well for both parties.
A: Very well! Many of their designers are all really young and creative, they’re not afraid to think out of the box, and Victory supports that.
B: We’re thrilled that Indian is now part of the Polaris family.
A: You know if Polaris is behind the wheel it will be a great bike. It’s going to be exciting.
B: Perhaps we will see a Ness Signature Indian?
A: You just never know, but I’d like to do that.
B: We’re going to wrap it up Arlen, but before we go there is just one more question. What’s your favorite or preferred nickname? We often hear you described as the Godfather of Choppers or the King of Choppers?
A: Well, actually my friends just shorten it to The King.
B: Thanks Arlen for your time and to Kevin King, General Manager of Arlen Ness Enterprises for assistance.