custom revolution



From Los Alamitos, CA, USA


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If there’s an action figure in the Alt.Custom scene, it’s got to be Roland Sands. He’s the only one of the Custom Revolution builders with a national racing championship (1998 AMA 250GP #1), and the only one who was born into the custom world; his father’s Performance Machine is an OG custom parts manufacturer. Roland Sands Design (RSD, founded in 2005) was a professional shop from the get-go, and a natural point of contact for major manufacturers (BMW, Indian) wanting to jimmy into the Alt.Custom scene as it developed. Thus, RSD and its energetic public face – Roland – have become critical to the motorcycle factories, as they seek to translate the energy and vision of Alt.Custom builders into actual production motorcycles, or at least show bikes in touch with what’s happening. As designers for major motorcycle factories are (of necessity) trained to build motorcycles within legislated parameters, a figure like Roland Sands is a crucial bridge to a movement created by independent artist/fabricators, with nary a concern for government mandates.

The “2 Stroke Attack” is a mashup of Sands’s two loves: racing and building customs. It’s a mix of an aircooled 1974 Yamaha RD400 two-stroke motor, in a 1997 Grand Prix Yamaha TZ 250 chassis. While a mix of Yamaha parts sounds a natural fit, the motor and chassis are from wildly different eras and built for totally different purposes. Sands sourced parts from World Champion Kenny Robert’s shelves and his own pile of racing bits, and built the fairing out of carbon fiber and the seat of hand-pounded aluminum. One tragedy of two-stroke engines being EPA-outlawed is the loss of expansion chamber exhausts as an artistic expression. They sweep and swell dramatically along a motorcycle chassis and compensate for a dearth of technical sophistication visible on the motor. Tuning the exhaust is half the speed secrets of a two-stroke engine, so the lack of overhead camshafts is a trade-off for big pipes.

The ‘2 Stroke Attack’ has been featured in BikeEXIF and RideApart.

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Follow the Builder: Roland Sands