Julian von Oheimb is the German master of Milwaukee metal. He’s been on the podium at the AMD World Championship an incredible three times—with one win and two runner-up places. And that’s in the ferociously competitive Modified Harley-Davidson class.
Last year, Julian decided he needed a showpiece build for his shop, One Way Machine. So he pulled out all the stops with this industrial-looking Softail, which he’s nicknamed Iron Riot.
Julian is a perfectionist, and even the donor bike had to be perfect. He put the word out to his contacts in the USA, and three months later struck gold. Hiding in a hot rod shop was a 2001-model carbureted Harley Softail Standard, in perfect condition, with just 1,400 miles on the clock.
He bought it and had it shipped across the Atlantic to his workshop in Staufenberg, about an hour’s ride north of Frankfurt.
Straight away, Julian took the rigid mount, 1450cc Twin Cam motor out of the FXST frame, and dismantled the bike for a thorough inspection. The next step was to clean up the engine, transmission and oil tank.
He’s kept the Softail’s original CV carburetor, but it looks even shinier than when it left the factory. The engine internals were in immaculate condition, so the powerplant has just been treated to a new air cleaner and rocker boxes, plus a new points cover. The breathing is revolutionized though, with a simple and elegant exhaust system.
It was time to work on the concept, and while rummaging through his storage, Julian found an old DKW tank from the 1930s. After substantial reshaping and re-tunneling, it slotted into place—and gives this Softail a whole new aesthetic. Julian then made a new gas cap out of an old automobile hood ornament that, believe it or not, was spotted on eBay.
The forks are from a 2004-model Sportster, fitted with custom shrouds, and were a straight slot-in fit. New steering stops prevent the LSL clip-on bars from hitting the fuel tank.
The one-off seat was built to order in the US, and the rear fender is an aftermarket part—which Julian remodeled and installed using handmade brackets. He also fabricated the battery cover, out of a single sheet of metal plate.
The heavy-duty engineering is in the perimeter brake setup, which adds to the industrial feel of the Softail and keeps the wheels looking open. Aside from a smattering of Beringer parts, it’s Julian’s own work—along with the chain drive conversion.
Lowbrow Customs supplied the wheel hubs, TTS the spokes, and eagle-eyed readers will suss out the rubber as Avon at the back and Firestone at the front. (Note: after the shoot, more road-friendly tires were installed.)
The pegs and grips are from Rough Crafts: Julian and Rough Crafts’ Winston Yeh are like-minded men on a similar mission, and Yeh is an official sponsor of One Way Machine.
The finish on Iron Riot looks raw, but it’s actually paint applied by regular collaborator
Cocobreezé of Frankfurt. We pressed Julian to reveal what the process was, but without luck. “I can’t say anything about that—it’s the painters secret!”
“Compared to my earlier bikes, I spent a lot more time and money on the details here—the perimeter brakes, the chain drive, and so on. Cost efficiency took a back seat and no compromises were made.”
Anyone who is familiar with Harley-based show bikes will know that restraint and good taste are often abandoned in the pursuit of prizes. But there’s a more subtle and timeless style going on here, and the AMD Championship judges agreed: Julian was once again on the podium, with a silver trophy.
Frankly, we’d have awarded Iron Riot the First Prize. But the Softail has since cleaned up in all the big German custom shows over the past few months, and picked up the prestigious Editor’s Choice award at the Custombike magazine show too.
If there’s any question mark remaining, it’s around that obscure hood ornament on the gas cap. Julian is stumped, and so are we. If anyone can identify it, please let us know.