Featured in Custom Bike, March 1979
The 10 Best? Well, to be quite frank, nobody can label any 10 bikes
as the best in CUSTOM BIKE. Rather, each bike featured in our publication,
we feel, stands on its own merit, rewarding its owner with the satisfaction
that he built it his way. Also, each enter-tains those who see it in person,
as well as those who view it as we at the magazine do. Bike shows are for
visual competition. Bike magazines, on the other hand, are for enthusiast
identification and gratifica-tion.
We are aware of the shortcomings of pinning these bikes as the top 10
bikes for the past 12 months. But though it's not the ideal process, it
is the most simple and direct approach to the matter. Some might say we
should focus upon such things as workmanship and creativity in styling
and engineering. For,allother bikes notwithstanding, the 10 shown here
boast some of the most outstanding individual efforts in bike building
that we have seen to date. From east to west, north to south, we have reviewed
all the feature bikes within the last 12 months. We thought it fitting,
then, to recap them in our special anniversary issue.
We begin our special gatefold of the top 10 with Arlen Ness' Especial.
It almost seems fitting that a Ness bike start the feature. The man from
the San Francisco Bay Area, through the years, has earned a reputation
for not only building beautiful bikes in quantity, but in quality, too.
To many readers, the name Ness connotes custom biking at its best. And
for that, we are grateful to Arlen.
The other nine bikes are, well, why don't you turn the page and see
for yourself? We're sure you'll agree with us that these bikes are truly
standouts in our sport.
We have listed each bike's name, followed by a brief description of
its mechanical makeup. At the conclusion a short bibliography is given,
telling in which past issue of CB it appeared.
Turnirig heads is what custom biking is all about. Arid Tom Summers
did just that with his Triumph Bonnevile. In fact, he got so carried away,
he decided to turn the head on his vertical twin motor, too! Thus, was
Internally, the 71 motor is stock, excepting a Barnett clutch. After
a total rebuild by Paul Short, the cases, bolts, valve covers and other
external pieces were sent to Brown Plating for chrome and gold. The head
was then turned 180 degrees so the carbs would face forward. This necessitated
a new set of header pipes, built by Ross Wheel Service.
The stock frame was replaced by a P & R Savior, equipped with a
sprung rear axle (plunger-type suspension). The front end of the frame
was extended six inches, and the neck raked 45 degrees. This was to accommodate
the six-over Smith Bros. & Fetrow springer front end mated with a 19-inch
The rear wheel is a 1 5-inch Invader, sporting a 165-15 radial tire.
Tom selected an early Triumph brake for the rear to mount to the Invader
To help generate the racy low-rider look, a narrow diamond tank was
fabricated bV Lundberg. The lines continue to the specially built seat
by Hiawatha Lake Upholstery, and into the stubbed rear fender.
Tom painted Turnabout, then sent ihie finished product to D.J. Eckel
for the leafing and striping. Final assembly included mounting the headlight
beneath the steering neck and the tiller bars from Drag Specialties.
Although Turnabout's distinctive engine composition grabs your attention,
the craftsmanship and thought to detail help make this bike a standout
in any bike crowd.
This about-face Triumph was the centerspread feature in the September
1978 issue of CUSTOM BIKE.