Ask any weathered sailor that has salted the sea with his own sweat and tears and he can relay you the folklore behind the mystical Flying Dutchman. For several centuries many tales have floated around about the ghostly Dutch captain and his ship. Determined to forge through fierce weather, the captain cursed the heavens and tempted the seas, and in return he and his ship were damned to never make land, sailing the seas forever.
While definitely not damned, soulless ghosts, this bike and its captain, Hieub Okker, do have something in common with the fabled Flying Dutchman, they have done plenty of wandering together creating their own stories. Originally hailing from Holland, Hieub picked up the '70 FLH back in 1991 and commenced piloting the steed in just about any direction the wind would take them. From desolate backroads of the Netherlands to the sunny coastline of the South of France, and traversing the scenic mountain ranges of Spain, De Vliegende Hollander (Dutch for the Flying Dutchman) and Hieub have covered more miles together than most people and their bikes will ever see.
A little bit of old meets new. ACME used high-performance Ohlin's coil-over shocks and kept the juice drum in the rear.
A little bit of old meets new. ACME used high-performance Ohlin's coil-over shocks and kep
In fact it was when Hieub migrated west across the Atlantic and landed on the US East Coast that he felt it was time to refurbish the ol' Dutchman FLH. With nearly 40 years worth of road grime speckled up under its fenders and more than 70,000 miles on its odometer, Hieub and his bike rolled into the hometown of one of the largest and oldest motorcycle rallies, Laconia, New Hampshire. Befittingly, Laconia is also home to one particular custom shop, ACME Choppers, that is known for its ability to make old look new and new look old.
Hieub quickly established a friendly rapport with the ACME crew and a plan was struck to freshen up the look and performance of the tired FLH with some modern components, but still keep the classic look and feel of the original bike. Essentially everything was stripped from the bike and the team started with an empty frame. Knowing Hieub's penchant for logging lots of miles, the suspension was updated with a set of '08 Road King fork tubes and sliders that were cut down about 3 inches to get a lower stance. Out back the stock cans were ditched in place of a set of high performance Ohlin's shocks with adjustable compression, rebound, and ride height. The spoke wheels were cleaned up and doused in black then remounted on the bike with new rubber.
Tackling the sheetmetal was quite a heavy task as the ACME team fabricated a set of custom fenders that hugged the 5-inch-wide tires like second skin. Not only were the fenders a mess of work, but the crew also fabricated a set of custom stainless steel brackets for the front and integrated struts for the rear. Actually they had a hell of a time getting the rear fender to sit right. "It's hard to get a rear fender to sit in the correct position on a swingarm bike," stated ACME Choppers owner Wayne Ahlquist. The stock gas tank was utilized, however, the stock dash was tossed and in its place ACME had leather craftsman John Donahue create a handmade leather dash with a cig and cell holder.
Next, a set of custom stainless steel handlebars were fabricated and mounted with Exile's internal throttle and clutch setup on each end. All the wiring was hidden in the nacelle and they used a marine-style start/run/stop ignition switch. ACME also modified the headlight nacelle, eliminated the cover on the top clamp and made an adapter block to use its own 1 1/2-inch risers.
With the engine out of the bike, it was freshened up extensively and bumped up to 93ci with S&S flywheels, cylinders and pistons, and an Andrews AB grind cam. To give the old mill a little different look, ACME split and reshaped the rocker boxes. Once reassembled, they finished off the drivetrain with a JIMS five-speed trans for a four-speed frame, and a Tech Cycle 3-inch open belt primary. The engine was topped with a Goodson air cleaner and a custom 2-into-1 stainless steel exhaust with a unique fishtail tip that was all made in-house.
One of the last things ACME did before the bike was stripped down for paint was add a set of Fabricator Kevin's Forward Control Adapters so they could bolt on a set of 2000 Softail forward controls for Hieub's feet to rest. After the Kandy Man Darrel Sergent laid down some brown base light brown panels and silver leaf details, the bike was reassembled and ready for its maiden voyage in its refreshed state. Hieub was pleasantly pleased with the outcome, as he jumped in the saddle and has been clicking down the miles ever since. If you're lucky enough, you just might catch a glimpse of the two Dutchmen sailing past you, as they roam far and wide.
This dog bone bracket for the breather mounted off the backside of the transmission was also made in-house.
This dog bone bracket for the breather mounted off the backside of the transmission was al
The vintage-looking leather seat setup can easily go from solo to two-up in seconds.