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ARLEN NESS’ SECRET WEAPON DURING THE ’70S CHOPPER BOOM

Jeff McCann, who discreetly signs his works with his hidden signature “Motorcycles Forever” got his first bike back in ’65, at the age of 20. An accomplished artist, McCann began customizing motorcycles a few years later, and soon found himself with a steady side-gig of painting and customizing friend’s bikes.

By the 1970s, with his incredible skills and the Easy Rider chopper boom in full force, McCann was in hot demand. He opened his own custom bike shop in the San Francisco Bay area – as did Arlen Ness. Arlen, a master builder, was also a good painter– but nothing like McCann. McCann also brought serious design, photography, and printing skills to the table– contributing heavily to the first Ness catalog and logo. It was a partnership that benefitted both sides, and that lasted for years. McCann’s saved personal images and memories of that time are truly priceless.

“In the fall of 1969 my friend Chris and I decided to open a retail store selling Chopper parts. We had built and sold 4 custom bikes that year, and all our friends were asking how to buy the parts mail order. Ed Roth published Choppers magazine, which contained ads, including one for AEE Choppers of Southern California. We had purchased parts from them for my first panhead chopper that same year. Deciding on the name CJ Custom Cycle Parts, we made a business plan and went to the bank for a start-up loan. To say the bankers laughed at us would be an exaggeration, but they declined our request. I complained of their shortsightedness to my co-workers at the newspaper and Fran Walling, a fellow artist in the display advertising department, offered to loan me the money from part of her husband’s life insurance settlement. We agreed to pay her 1% more than bank rate on a two-year repayment plan.” – Jeff McCann… read more >

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