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Museum exhibit is pure ‘Awesome-Ness’

11 Arlen Ness custom bikes on display

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jul. 16, 2008, Photography by Michael Lichter
Arlen Ness will be on hand to open the new exhibit at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum honoring the master motorcycle designer and builder.

Ness will be part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the ‘Awesome-Ness’ exhibit at the Museum in Pickerington, Ohio, on July 24, timed to precede the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

The fifth in a series of exhibits devoted to motorcycle legends, ‘Awesome-Ness’ will display machines and memorabilia from Ness’ personal collection, providing motorcycle enthusiasts with a close look at the designer’s four decades of work.

The 'Smooth-Ness" was inspired by the 1932 Bugatti Roadster.Ness will be the second designer featured in the Museum’s Hall of Legends following 1999 Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee Craig Vetter.

“Like Vetter, Ness’ career shaped the entire motorcycle industry,” says Mederski. “Ness’ contributions, both creatively and from a business perspective, have fueled a global fan club that just keeps growing. We look forward to sharing his story with enthusiasts and admirers alike.”

Inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1992, Ness began his career in the ’60s by customizing a 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead which he displayed at motorcycle shows around the Oakland, Calif. area where he lived. His work caught the attention of motorcycle press and bike owners asking him to paint their machines. Ness soon opened a motorcycle custom painting business.

Curated by photographer Michael Lichter, ‘Awesome-Ness’ will feature 11 of Ness’ creations including his original motorcycle, the 1947 Knucklehead dubbed ‘Untouchable’.

Other custom motorcycles on display include:

  • Two Bad, a the 2000cc twin-engine Sportster;
  • Ness-Tique, a modernized custom based on a 1903 Harley-Davidson;
  • Red Flame Chopper, a high bar bike inspired by the ‘Untouchable’;
  • Top Banana, which won the Discovery Channel’s Biker Build Off competition;
  • Overhead Cam Sportster, a 1200cc sportbike, and
  • Mach Ness, a motorcycle powered by a helicopter turbine.

Three designs inspired by classic cars will also be on display: the 1932 Bugatti Roadster-inspired ‘Smooth-Ness’, the 1957 Chevy tribute ‘Nesstalgia’ and the ‘Ferrari Bike’ honoring the iconic Italian carmaker.

‘Awesome-Ness’ will be on display at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum until June 2009.