Roland Sands and his team up the ante !
IT IS HARD Not to love the renowned custom bike designer Roland Sands and what he has meant for bike building over all these years. He is an original in many senses of the word, and so are many of his designs.
This time He set his teeth in the brand new BMW R 18 and stripped it down to create a straight line dragster featuring the iconic and massive boxer powerplant. The result: the R 18 Dragster. He and his team have created a unique masterpiece built around the impressive 2-cylinder Big Boxer, giving their creativity free reign in the process.
Up close and very personal
Roland Sands’ personal story served as a source of inspiration for his work on this bike. “With an engine that’s so visibly the center piece, I immediately thought of muscle cars. My family has always been into going fast and my dad was a drag racer, so I thought it made sense to strip the bike down to the essentials and shape it to go fast on a straight track,” the designer explains.
The BikeBrewers team have been visiting drag strips as far back as the seventies, so we share his emotions and ‘catch his drag’.
The technical design process used by Roland Sands.
Roland Sands always starts by sketching his ideas on paper. This allows him to figure out the basics of the shape and what the stance and the geometry of the bike could look like. “In the end, the real magic happens when we bring the sketch to life”, Roland explains.
More than any other motorcycle, the new R 18 offers a highly customizable design. It features an easily removable rear frame and a simple-to-dismantle painted parts set. These are features custom fans all over the world are fond of. Very smart thinking by BMW.
Roland explains: “The electronics were definitely the most difficult task we had to deal with as we put in nitrous oxide (BB edit: YES!), stripped out the stock exhaust and changed the intake drastically. It was a bit of an experiment, but we dialed it in! The final product is impressive and characterised by a high level of craftsmanship, as can be expected from BMW Motorrad. Right from the beginning, I couldn’t wait to get customizing!” Roland points out.
What to keep and what to throw away
For the the R 18 Dragster, the team around Roland Sands retained the stock neck geometry of the R 18, removed the bike’s rear end and turned it into a drag racer. Moreover, they chose to maintain the bodywork of the original R 18, but modified the front and rear fender to fit the modified frame. The whole customizing process took about three and a half months. The bike then headed to the workshop for final assembly and a day at a drag strip.
“Every bike needs different sources depending on the build, special materials or parts. Every new bike concept is a bit of a learning process even after having built over 200 bikes. We always want to understand the genre of the bike we are building in, it’s the key to keeping it authentic and functional,” explains Roland Sands.
Aside from the R 18 Dragster custom bike, Roland Sands also created two different design collections of milled aluminium parts for the launch of the R 18 Cruiser: “Machined” and “2-Tone-Black”. The “Machined” and “2-Tone-Black” ranges include front and rear wheels available in different dimensions than the standard sizes. In addition, the range of these exclusive milled parts includes speedometer housings, handlebar clamps, risers, handlebar grips, hand levers and mirrors as well as engine housing trim elements, filler caps, intake silencer covers and much more.
For the R 18 Dragster, Roland Sands used the milled parts design collection “2-Tone-Black” to customize levers, wheels, valve covers, breast plate, headlight and gauges. The front end was taken from the BMW R nineT. The seat as well as the exhaust were created from scratch.
The R 18 Dragster custom bike in detail
1. The frame has been modified completely removing the rear suspension for drag racing
2. Front and rear fenders have been slightly modified utilizing the stock sheet metal parts in order to keep the classic R 18 silhouette
3. The headlight has been taken from the original R 18 and is highlighted with the headlight bezel from the design collection of milled aluminium parts
4. The standard exhaust has been replaced with a hand fabricated Stainless Steel twin megaphone system utilizing the exhaust tips from the milled aluminium parts
5. The hydraulic front brake and clutch master cylinders are from Roland Sands Design
6. The tank has been taken over from the original R 18
7. The paint finish is a two tone metallic blue with classic white BMW pin-stripes by Roland’s long time painter Chris Wood
8. The fork has been taken from the BMW R nineT
9. The front braking system has been taken from the S 1000 RR superbike
10. The seat has been built from scratch and is a RSD custom seat by Saddlemen
The making off