Roland Sands Builds the Classiest Off-Road Racer Ever

Custom motorcycle building and adventure motorcycles have been an increasingly growing theme in the motorcycle world for a long time now. Roland Sands has been whipping up high-performance machines that never sacrifice form for function. After years of pushing the custom motorcycle world, he might have done his coolest work yet with the RSD Dakar GS.

This new build started as a stock 2008 BMW R1200 GS. The owner who commissioned the Dakar GS offered his suggestions to Sands to make it more off-road worthy, and I’d imagine he was pretty pleased with the result.

Purpose-built and pretty

Before starting Roland Sands Designs, (RSD), Roland Sands spent years racing various motorcycles, including the 250GP. His experience as a white knuckle racer informs every one of RSD’s creations. He typically builds bikes with a specific riding application in mind. According to ADV Pulse, Sands says he drew inspiration from the R80GS built by racing specialist HPN-Motorradtechnik and piloted in the 1986 Paris-Dakar by Gaston Rahier.

The list of modifications and fabrications is longer than the house cat’s tail. ADV Pulse explains the painstaking process of converting the Dakar GS front end to look more like the ’80s suspension without compromising modern motorcycle handling. They took the oversized 45mm telescopic fork legs (upgraded with an Ohlins cartridge kit) from Honda’s Africa Twin.

Fabricated and custom parts 

In order to make it all mount up correctly, the RSD team had to take the front end off of a 2018 BMW R nineT. Aaron Boss at RSD has charged with fabricating new triple clamps to fit the newly spliced in front end. 

Along with the borrowed and fabbed parts, RSD also used a myriad of aftermarket parts from other manufactures like AltRider guards, an aluminum skid plate from Touratech, and crash bars from SW Motech. The RSD GS sits on a 21-inch custom Dubya USA wheel up front and a 17-incher out back. 

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They didn’t do much with the subframe form the original bike other than minor fab work to fit the larger fenders and the custom Saddlemen seat. The crown sitting atop this off-road king is the original fuel tank from the 1986 R80 GS Dakar bike. That’s the kind of stuff you can count on the Roland Sands and his team to pull. They find original parts that make a would-be replica into something that bellies up against the real deal. 

The Dakar GS is finished in the original Philip Morris livery, sealing the deal on the chances of a double-take from anyone who has an eye for the ’80s Dakar bikes. Roland Sands and crew fabricated the headlight fairing inhouse to round out the desert racer. 

The attention to detail to aesthetics and performance never ends. The team machined all the valve covers, throttle body covers, the triple clamp, the swingarm pivot, and the radial breastplate. 

Run the Dakar yourself

A picture taken in Paris on June 10, 2020 shows a trophy of the Dakar Rally. - The Dakar Rally will take place in Saudi Arabia
Paris Dakar trophy | FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

As stated in the ADV Pulse article, Roland Sands says that this bike can be built again for anyone willing to fork over the buckets of cash it would take to do. If you want to step right into the wild world of the late ’80s off-road racing and have the cash, RSD is the place to be.