Black Phantom: OWM’s custom Harley Softail oozes avant-garde style

Custom Harley Softail by One Way Machine
While it’s no secret that we’re fans of Harley-Davidson’s Milwaukee-Eight Softail range, there’s not a single one in the bunch that we could fairly call lithe or elegant. And yet, that’s exactly how we’d describe this custom Harley Softail from Germany’s One Way Machine.

Appropriately nicknamed ‘Black Phantom,’ it’s an exquisite machine—even by One Way Machine founder Julian von Oheimb’s exacting standards. The brief came from a returning client, and the brief called for something as sophisticated and timeless as a vintage Rolls-Royce. No pressure, then.

Custom Harley Softail by One Way Machine
The easiest job on the list was picking a suitable donor bike. For the first decade of Julian’s career, he favored older Harleys—but he’s shifted his focus to The Motor Co.’s new bikes in recent years. Of all the current Softail models, the Street Bob 114 has the least stuff to take off.

“It’s not that easy to build an old school bike with the modern technology and power of the Milwaukee-Eight engine,” says Julian. “That’s why 95 percent of customizers who want to build something in a classic style fall back on a basic bike from an older model year. I also like to work on old stuff, but old bikes are often very unreliable—and OWM customers are not mechanics.”

Custom Harley Softail by One Way Machine
Julian’s built enough modern Softails by now to know how to work around their modern frills. On this project, he sourced a handful of Softail-specific parts that would make a massive impact with minimal fuss. But for the rest, Julian had to rely on his engineering chops.

One of the client’s requests was that the Street Bob should trade its traditional forks for a more unique front end. Julian sourced an aftermarket girder unit, and then set to work executing a number of changes.

Custom Harley Softail by One Way Machine
First, he fabricated an all-new bottom yoke to match the fork to the Street Bob, then he fettled the system’s working bits to optimize performance. Next, he dressed the front end with a custom-made plate and a series of handmade stainless steel fins. (A pair of LED lights sits just below the new nacelle.)

Most of the custom parts are hard to spot—like the headlight mounts, linkage bolts, axles, and axle caps. Lower down, the fork grips a skinny 21” front wheel from TTS, while a bespoke bracket hosts a polished Performance Machine brake caliper.

Custom Harley Softail by One Way Machine
The rear wheel is a heavily modified 19” Harley V-Rod front wheel. Julian also converted the Street Bob from a belt to a chain drive, mounting the rear sprocket on a custom-made hub that mimics the style of vintage drum brakes. On the other side of the rear wheel, a special bracket holds another two Performance Machine calipers.

If the vintage tires have you worried, rest assured that they’re just for show; OWM’s client plans to swap them for more suitable rubber when the riding season starts. Julian picked them for display purposes because they echo the ribbed theme that’s carried throughout the build.

Custom Harley Softail by One Way Machine
Scan the bike, and you’ll find the same stainless steel fins that adorn the front plate running across the top of the custom-made fuel tank, down the radiator cover, and on the swingarm gussets. Rather than overuse this motif, Julian opted for a more muted look for the tail end of the bike. The seat pan and rear fender are all one custom piece, topped off with luxurious crocodile leather on the seat, courtesy of Spirit Leather.

The polished fins pop hard against the mostly black Street Bob, as do the myriad polished covers and accessories that Julian has so cleverly selected. Chikos Pinstriping handled the paint job, right down to the gold pin-striping and wheel accents, and the hand-lettered graphics. Gold OWM badges and engraving on the gas cap, courtesy of Carsten Estermann, add to the mystique.

Custom Harley Softail by One Way Machine
The brief also called for a low and stretched riding position, so Julian installed a set of Thunderbike forward controls, now sporting Rough Crafts pegs. The handlebars are OWM parts, held in place by CNC-machined clamps that place them below the top yoke. They’re kitted with plug-and-play Softail controls from Rebuffini and new grips from San Diego Customs.

The Street Bob’s OEM speedo and indicator light panel sit further back, courtesy of an aftermarket housing from Thunderbike. Kellermann LEDs handle turn signal and taillight duties, with an OWM license plate bracket keeping things street-legal.

Custom Harley Softail by One Way Machine
Finally, the engine wears a smorgasbord of gorgeous aftermarket parts. The cam and rocker box covers are from Rough Crafts, while the clutch cover comes from Baker. EMD in France supplied the finned primary cover, which Schwartz Optical Tuning polished to a brilliant finish before Carsten Estermann once again worked his magic.

For the exhaust, Julian welded a Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde muffler to a set of Vance & Hines headers, then added his own CNC-machined end cap. The polished air cleaner comes from Performance Machine.

Custom Harley Softail by One Way Machine
Julian’s switch to modern machinery hasn’t cramped his style one bit. This might be a brand new Harley Softail, but it boasts the same sort of avant-garde neo-retro style that we’ve come to expect from the German customizer.

It just might be his best custom Harley yet.

One Way Machine | Instagram | Images by nook

Custom Harley Softail by One Way Machine

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