On a warm January day in sunny SoCal, Roland and his cronies took to the backroads of Long Beach for some good, dirty fun.
On a warm January day in sunny SoCal, Roland and his cronies took to the backroads of Long
There’s the wheel and there’s the reinvention of the wheel. To take something that’s already constructed, let the creative juices flow without boundaries, and flavor it up with your own identity is a beautiful thing. Why eat a ham and cheese sandwich with two slices of Wonder Bread and Kraft Singles when you can spice up the traditional fare with sun-dried tomatoes, prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, pesto, olive oil/balsamic vinegar, or whatever the hell else your heart desires? That’s the beauty of creativity. This is Roland Sands Designs’ (RSD) modus operandi: building stock bikes into intricate, functional rolling sculptures.
Take this 2011 Softail Blackline for instance—if you would have even recognized it as that. It’s not a ground-up custom, no. But that’s the simplistic brilliance of what RSD is capable of creating with its now-vast parts line, something that looks completely one-off; however, all the parts strewn about this motorcycle are bolt-on goods. No frame-cutting or TIG-welding needed, which is appealing to garage bike builders around the globe with a passion to wrench on their own rides. “We consider this style of bike building a great middle ground for guys who want to build their own bikes but don’t have a garage full of fabrication and machining equipment,” Roland commented.
Not that Roland doesn’t enjoy cutting up a perfectly good Harley, taking torch to metal or Sawzall to gooseneck, because his repertoire definitely reflects the opposite with the laundry list of radical customs created since the company’s inception in 2005. For this particular project, Roland likes the fact that this post-op Blackline features some of RSD’s hottest, and soon-to-be-hot parts, because he’s more interested in educating the public of how drastically a stock Softail can change visually with RSD parts. “This bike really represents where you can get with a Blackline relatively easy without any major modifications. Our major mod to the bike was the rear fender. The wheels and tires make a huge impact on the way that bike looks. Omitting the front fender, direct mounting the rear fender and having it hug that [rear] tire really tightly, along with the spring seat, that just changes the overall look of the bike. It’s weird because it looks so different but it really isn’t that far away,” Roland explains.
Softails aren’t usually high on the list for dirt track conversions, which is probably why RSD decided to use the Blackline as the platform for this build. Pushing the limits is what put the company where it is today. Why stick to the norm? That’s no fun. “Nobody’s really done the flat track version [of a Softail] and we wanted to stick with the stock tank because we wanted to keep it Blackline. We wanted to show what could be done with the Blackline without throwing a bunch of crazy sheetmetal at it. It was more like, ‘Let’s see what we can really do,’” Roland explains. Roland was adamant about keeping the stock Blackline tank so people could easily identify that what they were looking at was indeed a Blackline under all that gear. RSD also retained the stock frontend, triple trees, and made modifications from there.