Thunder Bob’s Interview with Roland Sands

“King” Kenny Roberts gave Roland Sands a motor from their MotoGP KRV5 engines; the only MotoGP engine ever to leave their coveted paddock. Sands creates a complete custom with the highly-engineered race engine. Then Roland Sands Design put the build on DVD for all to see.

We catch up with Roland on his build.

1. What’s your background? How did you get into custom building?

Been in the industry basically since I was born. Grew up around bikes and bike people my entire life. My dad was a machinist and bike builder and innovator as well as a guy who loved to go fast. He started a company called Performance Machine in 1970, I think I’ve been working there since I was 3. I built my first custom bike when I was 16, it was a flat track style sportster with upside down forks and a big motor. I spent the next 10 years racing in America and overseas on 250 GP bikes. Won a championship, broke 5 track records and 29 or so bones. In 2002 I retired and built my first big twin custom, people liked it and I’ve been flat out every since.

2. What inspired you to make your first film? How did it come about?

We wanted to show people what went in to building a conceptual custom and to show some of the heritage behind today’s motorcycle racing. It was meant to inspire people to think about what is possible, what has not been done and what can be done.

3. Why make a custom bike around a MotoGP motor?

All it took was a phone call from Chuck Askland, Kenny’s team manager and I knew I wanted to do it. I’ve been a fan of Kenny Roberts since I was a little buddy and a chance to work with Kenny and the 200 HP moto GP engine he created was too good to pass up. All that was left was to figure out what we were going to build, I’m still amazed he wanted the board tracker.

4. Do you have any other films planned? What’s next for RS and RSD?

I would like to do another film that is focused on more builders and brings the lifestyle elements of the custom bike culture out. On the business front we’re going to continue to innovate new products and build crazy bikes that twist the boundaries of what a custom bike can be. We are also working towards doing design work outside the industry using what we’ve learned building bikes.

5. Anything else you’d like to say?

What you think about you bring about, surround yourself with good people who are motivated and good things will happen.

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