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Electric motorcycle challenge for Roland Sands

Roland Sands design
Roland contemplates an electric custom motorcycle

Custom motorcycle designer Roland Sands is enthusiastic about the future of motorcycles powered by electric motors and batteries.

Despite bringing back several retro themes and styles in his award-winning custom bikes, the enthusiastic boss of Roland Sands Design in LA says there is a bright future ahead with electric motorcycles.

“I loved the (Harley-Davidson) Livewire,” he told us when we recently visited his shop, design studio and workshop on Los Alamitos Boulevard.Roland Sands design

“They are super fast. Anything that gets your throttle hand itchy is good for me,” he says.

When asked how he would approach customising an electric bike, he became quite animated and excited about the prospect.

“Aesthetically you have a whole new set of parameters,” he says.

“I would make the electric motor part of the design rather than covering it up.

“I think Harley did a good job with the Livewire.

Harley LiveWire electric motorcycle Roland Sands design
Harley LiveWire

“Electric is perfect for the city.”

Watch this space. RSD is bound to make an electric motorcycle soon!

RSD has designed concept bikes for several motorcycle companies such as BMW, Ducati and Indian.

Roland Sands Design BMW Concept 101 bagger
Roland Sands Design BMW Concept 101 bagger

Some of these have even become the basis for production bikes.

Small but influentialRoland Sands design

Despite his influence in the motorcycle industry, his physical stature and business premises are both diminutive.

He has only two designers, two in the workshop and one mechanic, plus admin and retail staff.

Usually off limits to the public, Roland allowed us into his cramped design studio with its attached “museum” of his customised bikes and motorcycle memorabilia, plus his workshops where he has several hush-hush projects underway.

Roland Sands design
Private museum

He won’t say who they are for, but he has built several custom bikes for Hollywood stars and VIPs. Last time we were there, actor Micky Rourke’s chopper was up on the hoist.

Roland is 43 and is a veteran of the business selling parts and working in his father’s garage since he was 16, yet he looks much younger and fitter.

In his career as a professional motorcycle racer Roland won the 1998 AMA 250GP National Champion road racer championship.

These days his business is booming and Roland says he spends more time on the phone and in meetings than riding.

“I’d rather ride a motorcycle than work on it any day,” he says.

With that, he checks his watch and realises he is late for his next meeting.

Rather than hopping in a car, Roland goes down to the garage and pulls out a V-twin street tracker, spins up the back tyre and roars off in a cacophony of straight-through pipes and blue smoke.

Surely he’ll miss that noise and smell when he starts making electric customs!

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