The Secret Life Of Roland Sands

With a father, Perry Sands, who was a well respected custom builder in the late 60’s and who later founded Performance Machine to produce high-performance disc brake systems, Roland Sands grew up around choppers of all kinds, drag, flat-track and road racing machines. Deciding at the age of 15 that a Honda CR 125 would be his first machine, his love for speed while riding it lead him to a 10-year racing career where he got multiple track records in the U.S. and Europe to culminate with the 1998 AMA 250GP Championship.

32 broken bones later, Roland joined Performance Machine as VP Research & Design, first focusing on wheel design, then on custom motorcycles to showcase PM and his own proprietary line of parts and accessories, all work earning him several professional awards, and later acknowledgment by the public at large after he was featured in a Discovery Channel episode of Biker Build Off (Roland Sands versus Jesse Rooke)    

In 2005, he created Roland Sands Design (RSD), relying like his father on state-of-the-art equipment to create new parts, enhance their appearance (he is behind the idea of the “Contrast Cut Finishes), taking on new adventures like being the first one to build a custom motorcycle out of a factory MotoGP motor, and keeping his 2-wheel creations in the category of those pushing design while maintaining high performance. Like many of the young generation to which he belongs (he is only 36 years old) he is perfectly aware of the rapid advances made by technology and electronics, and is convinced that it will soon lead the motorcycle industry towards many more innovative and higher performance products offered for much less money. 

While recovering from surgery after breaking a bone for the 33rd time, Roland answered my questions…  

Cyril. In High School, what your teachers said about you? Roland. I was a day dreamer. I used to spend all my time in class drawing and writing when I wasn’t trying to make people laugh. I had one really cool teacher named Mr. Stover.  He was a creative writing teacher who introduced all of us to Nirvana before anyone knew who they were. He would of said I was going to do something creative if I didn’t end up in jail.  

Cyril. Who were your childhood heroes? Roland. Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Kenny Roberts, Bob Hanna, Bubba Shobert, Marion Owens, Elmer Trett.  

Cyril. What was your 1st vehicle? Roland. Suzuki RM 50 motocross bike.  

Cyril. If you were not working in the motorcycle industry, what would do? Roland. Exact same thing I’m doing now I suppose, just without the motors.  

Cyril. What is your favorite way to relax? Roland. It’s hard to beat a couple of cold beers, the woman you love and a beautiful beach.  If that’s not available I’ll just take the beer.      

Cyril. What is the last music you downloaded in your iPod? Roland. I don’t have an iPod, I bought a Duran Duran record the other day.  

Cyril. What are you afraid of? Roland. Running out of ideas or of people to sell them to.  

Cyril. What is the person you would love to meet? Roland. I suppose it would be a person with big creative aspirations and a bank account to support it.  A person who was open to free form creation of Ideas space and culture. Someone with the ability to help express a true form of creative freedom as a lifestyle.  It’s what we are doing now but without the need to satisfy a bottom line number at the end of the year.  

Cyril. Which film made you cry? Roland. I forget, but movies always make me tear up.  

Cyril. Do you have any tattoos or piercings? Roland. Yes

Cyril. Name five things you hate. Roland. Keyboard gangsters, broken bones (I’m currently in pre-op for a broken tib/fib surgery), budget cuts, the economy, the couch.

Cyril. What is your best life achievement? Roland. Never listening to the negative but using it as fuel to succeed. The rest will follow.

Cyril. What do you miss most at home when you are on the road? Roland. My woman.  If she is with me I miss the weather. If the weathers is good I miss my dog.  

Cyril. What was the last book you read? Roland. “Me talk pretty one day”. David Sedaris.  Fucking hilarious.  

Cyril. Preferred actor, actress? Roland. I like Mickey Rourke. I always root for the underdog.

Cyril. Where is your favorite vacation place? Roland. Somewhere I haven’t been.

Cyril. Do you have any guilty pleasures? Roland. Souffle. Chocolate and raspberry at Fora down the street from my house.  

Cyril. Do you collect anything? Roland. Motorcycles and broken bones. I think they go hand in hand.

Cyril. What was your worst buy? Roland. My 2009 Ford 250 4×4. Horrible gas mileage.  I feel like I have “fuck the Enviroment” painted on my tailgate.  Any takers? I got to get rid of it.  

Cyril. How do you take your coffee? Roland. Latte.

Cyril. What was the most embarrassing thing you have ever made? Roland. A boob sculpture with Travis PASTRANA.  It was not good.  

Cyril. What is the best thing you can cook? Roland. Ribs. I can make a he’ll of a Cadillac margarita too.   

Cyril. When was the last time you were really angry? Roland. When I crashed my dirt bike in Mexico last week.  I knew immediately I broke my leg and I was not stoked.   

Cyril. What is your perfect weekend when you are at home? Roland. Little partying and music Friday night. Maybe a surf Saturday morning/afternoon. “Nap” with the old lady. Play some music and see what happens.  Sunday schooners. Horseshoes on the beach. In bed by 10 and ready to get back at it on Monday.  

Cyril. What is your preferred rally? Roland. Daytona is fun because I get to see all my friends from the motocross and road racing worlds as well as from the building scene. Sturgis is so good for riding though. It’s hard to beat.  

Cyril. What is the worst question a journalist asked you? Roland. How do you take your coffee?

28 Responses to “The Secret Life Of Roland Sands”

  1. 1 Bigalyts Mar 16th, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I always liked your Designs Roland. Your Parts and Acccessories are the shitz also. You have a lot of Talent and I think you already know the Dood with a Big Bank acccount………….Your Dad!

  2. 2 gina woods Mar 16th, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Good interview – nice to “see” the inside of Roland. “What is your best life achievement?” Great answer – the best to you!

  3. 3 BadMonkeyMW Mar 16th, 2011 at 9:43 am

    The Glorystomper is still one of my favorite custom bikes of all time. Always enjoy Roland’s unique style that doesn’t follow the flavor of the month trends in the custom bike world.

  4. 4 Tracker Mar 16th, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Nice bike creations and parts. Wish that all builders also get the same logistic support of PM sophisticated machinery.

  5. 5 Nicole Mar 16th, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Nice interview, I like his unique style. Like father, like son.

  6. 6 Shifter Mar 16th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I like all his bikes, but not crazy about the custom Victory High Ball I saw in Daytona last week. Budget to work on it? Very good bolt-on parts already copied over and over by many in the industry.

  7. 7 Palomo Mar 16th, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    The kid Roland is not such a kid. Mature marketing approach.

  8. 8 Patrick Sharp. Mar 16th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I was not expecting he would listen to Duran Duran. But except this, great answers.

  9. 9 Henry Hamond Mar 16th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    The fruit didn’t fall far from the tree. Good heredity. Cool bikes.

  10. 10 Manhattan Choppers Mar 16th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Any pal of Johnny Chop has to be a great kid.. All I use is pm, continued success @ RSD.

  11. 11 fausto Mar 16th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Ha Ha the coffee comment was too funny!

  12. 12 Delski Mar 16th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Big up’s Kuzz hope the legs gets better

  13. 13 Robert Pandya Mar 16th, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Heal up man – we got some race gas to burn!

  14. 14 Red Roberts Mar 16th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    “M.O.” Is one of my hero’s too & I’m 26 years older than you. The rest of your heros are impressive – but there’s something to say about a carpenter from Oklahoma City that turned into a 10 time Top Fuel National Champion….. Mostly with PM brakes too..

  15. 15 Steve Mar 16th, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Roland is an inspiration in the world of custom, his visions on art and function really work on so many levels and his bikes bring people for us into Harley-Davidson’s from all age groups, and that’s what we need in the industry, cool rides, sexy bikes, and something to motivate non riders and riders from motocross, cruisers and Tourers, we all need something to excite and stimulate us to do something different, he manages to do just that….

    Steve Willis Shaw Harley-Davidson UK

  16. 16 Dylan Mar 16th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Ha! Sedaris is funny as hell. If you read this Roland. Go pick up the rest of his books. All are equally funny. Dig your work too! Amazing bikes.

  17. 17 hoyt Mar 16th, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    long-live vinyl.
    Looking forward to the desmosedici dirt track bike. Dial-up Gregg when its done and maybe showcase the R1 & the desmo at the mile this summer?

  18. 18 Gas Man Mar 16th, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    There is little to nothing I don’t like coming from Roland.

  19. 19 Brenda Fox Mar 17th, 2011 at 12:05 am

    Authentic ~ Real Deal ~ and a true leader that carves his own path.
    Roland Rocks!

  20. 20 Craig Cervenka Mar 17th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    One of my favorite race moments of all time was was at Road America over 10 yrs ago when Roland was in the 250 series at it began raining in BUCKETS during the race. Roland put on a show I’m sure no one in the stands will forget, as he probably wore out the bottom of his boots flat-tracking it through the turns.

    One-by-one, riders continued to lose it through the turns, but Roland stayed on the gas like a crazed man on a mission and ultimately won the race (also beat Rich Oliver that day).

    I haven’t seen anything like that for a while, and we are fortunate to have creative guys like Roland in our industry (also one of the good guys!)

  21. 21 John Nasi Mar 17th, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Truly a great family that I am glad to be friends with.

    Still love the times of riding from LA to Sturgis with Perry, Uncle Ted, Summer, and Roland. Upon an early morning rollout in Wheaten Wyoming, Roland walks out to his custom just covered in toilet paper from one of our many pranksters on the trip. With no response, he throws a leg over his (now) parade float of a bike and burns out of his parking space with a grin as he speeds off down the road… paper and all.

    What a great dude.

  22. 22 martin Twofeather Mar 17th, 2011 at 11:50 am

    This was great thanks Cyril

  23. 23 Roland Mar 17th, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Thanks for the comments and the interview Cyril. I feel blessed to of grown up around motorcycles and the people that love them. Here’s to great times and more to come. Cheers, it is Saint Paddy’s day isn’t it!


  24. 24 golfish Mar 17th, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    everybody is Irish today, I’m Irish everyday 🙂 I tease me kids cause my wife is a native, they love to drink but can’t handle it.

    Good stuff RS.

    I lost a tiny screw on one of my\your hand controls a few years back. I drove down to the OC thinking I was going to have to pony up a mint getting this special screw. Met your pops, pointed out the screw I needed and he sent me on my way with a screw in hand and no charge. Can’t beat that with a stick 🙂

  25. 25 maroco Mar 18th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Amazing bikes and components, all the best.

  26. 26 Uncle Ted Mar 18th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Years ago when I first came to work at PM Roland was having his first business cards printed and he asked the question what should my title be, I replied “Lucky Sperm”, now I would have to say the title “Designer Extraordinaire” would be a fitting title. I love ya man, Uncle Ted

  27. 27 George Chaos Cycle Mar 21st, 2011 at 11:54 am

    regardless of who he is related to, the man has carved his own path. Ive yet to see one of his bikes and think it looks like anybodys but a RSD. He always keeps them guessing

  28. 28 Speedasaurus Mar 21st, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Roland: You’re a role model for many “Y’ers”. Be careful and live long. Will you be at the Redbull GP this July? Hope to look you up. Speed….

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Cyril Huze