Roland Sands expands his empire


Have no doubt, Roland Sands has carved out his own space in the two-wheeled landscape.

With his company Roland Sands Design, the son of Performance Machine’s Perry Sands is an entity unto himself. He’s developed a pure aesthetic with the custom bikes he builds and the parts that he designs and creates for RSD and PM. It’s an aesthetic that can’t be pigeonholed, but can be broken down to the individual genres that Sands blends together to achieve RSD’s unique look.

It’s clear that if he wasn’t involved in motorcycles, Sands would be designing something — anything. He’s as much an artist as he is a gearhead, and it’s at the nexus of where those two things meet that RSD exists.

The company has grown and morphed from operating as the design and R&D arm of PM to a standalone operation that features one of the most unique business models in the powersports industry. Effectively now a design house, RSD operates multiple business models under one umbrella at its new design-infused headquarters in Los Alamitos, Calif.

In addition to the hard parts and custom motorcycles it still produces — currently on the stands are builds for Mickey Rourke, Tony Hawk and National Powersport Auction’s Justyn Amstutz — RSD also us doing design work for OEMs such as Harley-Davidson and KTM, has licensing agreements with Bell helmets and Spy Optics, operates an e-commerce store and a retail showroom at its headquarters, and is launching a line of apparel this month.

The apparel will be available dealer-direct and RSD is currently on the hunt for about 50 “critical” dealerships to carry the line which includes limited edition leather and textile riding jackets, T-shirts, head wear, hoodies, gloves, wallets, belts and other accessories. To get a look at the new gear, go to

“Primarily we would prefer to work with dealers that have a very solid platform in understanding and presenting the pure essence of motorcycling. Freedom, adventure, fun, creativity and diversity. Not just retailing commodity items, but gateways to a true lifestyle experience,” says Roger Sgarbossa, RSD’s general manager. “They would need to have a strong (or be open to building) apparel and accessory program, and be open to unique methods in regard to in-store product presentation.

“We want to partner with our dealers in creating a complete RSD experience.” According to Sands, the RSD apparel line borrows from the bikes and bolt-on parts RSD produces, which always have featured a mix of disparate elements with an eye toward form and function. Design is essential to everything RSD does. “Our aim for the apparel is to mirror that; combining beautiful materials, design and finishing with functional features, protection, comfort and style,” Sands explains. “Ride all day or out to dinner, it’s your favorite jacket in your riding closet.”

The apparel and accessories line also will feature the occasional limited-edition run of certain items two to three times a year. Sgarbossa says the these products likely will be available in quantities of as few as 20 pieces at a time. The limited-edition products will be priced to reflect their exclusivity and unique designs, he adds.

For dealers interested in carrying the gear, be forewarned that this isn’t stuff you’re going to pile onto a shelf or stick on a rounder. The crew at RSD has a bigger vision than that. Take a tour around their art-heavy headquarters and boutique showroom and this is immediately apparent.

“Our store fixturing is critical to the success of the brand and our dealers. We are committed to working with our dealers in creating a complete-as-possible in-store RSD experience,” Sands says. “The environments will range from full custom built-outs including RSD-designed-and-built fixtures and branding materials, with opportunities for presenting RSD bikes (possibly for sale) to more space-conscious custom wall graphics, branding and fixtures.”

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Dealernews had a chance to visit the new RSD digs and talk with Sands about the evolution of his company. Click on this link for a quick Q&A, and see some additional pictures of the RSD gear and the facility.

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews July 2011 issue.