"Most people don’t customize Screamin’ Eagleedition Harleys. Neal is one of the few."
Back in 1985, you’d have found me ski racing while listening to Journey on my headphones in high school. The two just seemed to go together for me. I never really asked myself why, but after talking to Journey founder and guitarist Neal Schon, I get it. This Screamin’ Eagle Dyna with the caf racer pedigree? It’s his. As it turns out, Neal is a long time speed freak. Not the kind that ends up on Celebrity Rehab, either. If it has wheels and a fast motor, he loves it, and will ride or drive it for the adrenaline thrill you get only on the road.
In the late '70s Arlen started putting cafe fairings on old FLH police bikes. In the early '80s he made his own fairing and started selling them in the Ness catalog.
In the late '70s Arlen started putting cafe fairings on old FLH police bikes. In the early
That was what led him to Arlen and Cory Ness for this project. Clan Ness has realized more than one two-wheeled vision for Neal; this Dyna is their latest collaboration. Neal got it to replace another fast bike of his, then had it stripped down and reshaped via healthy doses of fabrication on the tank and fenders courtesy of his friend Cory. It was difficult trying to figure out what to do, Cory reflects. Most people don’t customize Screamin’ Eagleedition Harleys. Neal is one of the few. The Ness team trimmed the Dyna down to fighting weight by stripping off the turn signals and switching over to a slim Le Pera seat with a custom fabbed tail section that flows into the shaved rear fender’s new lines. The gas tank hugs the front of the seat smoothly and up front, flat track handlebars set the rider’s mitts in close while also shedding a few pounds by being lighter than the OEM hand holds.
By dishing the waist of the tank, the Ness team allowed Neal to dig his knees in tight for a more racy feel when carving the canyons.
By dishing the waist of the tank, the Ness team allowed Neal to dig his knees in tight for
The two friends spent a lot of time bouncing ideas back and forth. In the end, they came up with the caf racer look and a few special surprises, such as the Performance Machine wheels. After being anodized, they were polished for a unique look. Ness also swapped out the tires for a set of Avon pavement huggers, giving Neal extra grip when he’s leaned over on Cali’s winding mountain roads.
We hunted Neal down for an interview, catching up to him on a beach in Maui, two days after he’d run into Arlen in Hawaii. He was able to pull himself away from his beach chair and umbrella drink long enough to talk to us. Rock star life is tough like that.
HB: How do you guys know each other?
NS: I met Cory Ness years ago. I was a fan of his and Arlen’s even then. It turned out Cory was a fan of my music too.
HB: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
NS: I started off on dirt bikes when I was smaller. I really liked the freedom, wind, and thrill motorcycles offer. Love fast bikes and cars; speed in general. It’s the adrenaline rush you get with acceleration. I don’t need to go 200 mph, although some of my cars and bikes can do that. If I ride a bike to the studio, it affects how I play that day.
HB: What was your first street bike?
NS: Some Yamaha 750 that I traded in early on for a Harley FXRS. I loved that bike. Chicago Joe built it up for me. That bike was sporty and fast. It’d spin the bolts off the rear sprocket.
HB: So why this Dyna?
NS: The FXRS got ripped off! I wanted a shorter framed Harley-Davidson and the Dyna was the closest thing I could find to what I was looking for. After that, I took it to Cory and they made it into the sporty machine it is now. It’s definitely fast and gets up.
HB: Where is it now?
NS: It’s in my garage. Right now, I have seven bikes. Every time I get another one, I say I’m going to sell one to make space. Then I think about how much money I’ve got in it, and how much I’ll lose selling it off, so I end up keeping it. I love to ride all my bikes.
HB: What do you like most about this one, though?
NS: It’s a smaller bike for me. When you get on it, the stance is sporty and puts you in somewhat of a lay-down position. The crisp, tight handling on a coast run is what I really love about it, though.
HB: Am I the only one who thinks Cory Ness looks like Tony Stark?
NS: Hiss. Your phone’s cutting out, Mark. I didn’t get that last part. Hiss...
Right about this time, Neal’s cell phone cut out but not before he let us in on his next project bikea Street Glide with a 110ci motor with a supercharger. Hopefully when it’s done, he’ll share it with us like he has his music. HB