Roland Sands Design - DAKAR GS
Jose Gallina

RSD Dakar G/S – Rally-Inspired, BMW 1200 G/S Custom

Roland Sands Design (RSD) once again turns its attention to BMW Motorrad – this time towards the R1200 G/S.

Meet the RSD Dakar GS, a tricked-out, Dakar-inspired machine replete with 1980s tobacco advertising iconography.

RSD Customs: An Overview

RSD is a dextrous force within custom bike building – both a prolific and versatile workshop, it produces a steady stream of distinctive custom builds and apparel. Manufacturers actively court the brand to produce accessories and parts for their catalogues.

Over the years it’s shown an aptitude for building a variety of motorcycle genres including, café racers, bobbers, flat trackers, streetfighters, sport and even drag bikes.

R 18 Dragster Image: BMW Motorrad

The vast majority of the Californian outfit’s creations are in the style of hooligans or muscle bikes, that use a diverse spectrum of starting platforms. American Big-Vs in the form of Harley-Davidson and Indian feature prominently.

Not absent though are large European twins in ‘L’ and transverse configurations – particularly Ducati and BMW which are the most conspicuous within the workshop’s build portfolio.

Suffice it to say, the brand has a penchant for starting with large displacement engines which are then made all the more powerful with RSD wizardry – a testament to RSD’s racing origin.

Notably, most builds are completed with extraordinarily, immaculate metalwork. The finished articles (nearly always) have rugged, yet somehow show bike looks. An expression of elegance fused with brute force. Handsome thugs.

To complement the raw power housed within the engine, RSD bikes are assertively styled to an end that while stationary they appear as though they might rev into life, of their own volition. And without any rider input begin aggressively pulling doughnuts around frightened and unsuspecting admirers.

The workshop’s latest build is no different, except you’ll find it spinning sand out of the rear while it pulls those doughnuts.

RSD DAKAR G/S Custom: From A BMW R1200 G/S ’08

Roland Sands Design - DAKAR GS

First presented at the One Show earlier in 2020 (where it received the EURO ALRIGHT AWARD), what you see before you is not a Dakar-winning BMW R80 G/S that’s been transported from the eighties. Rather, it’s BMW R1200 G/S from 2008.

Inspired by Gaston Rahier’s Marlboro-decal-wrapped, HPN, rallye-wining machines, this contemporary Bavarian adventure bike has been given the RSD treatment with a slew of robust custom parts.

The end result is a machine that’s equipped to endure sub-Saharan African desert crossings, and at pace. A stark contrast to the inter or inner-city commute on which the modern-day G/S is typically found.

Initially, the primary motivation of the build was simply to enhance the R1200 G/S’s ability to handle more challenging off-road terrain.

Subsequently, the team and the client agreed that the same objective could be accomplished but with a neo-retro visage (suggested by the RSD team).

RSD Custom Adventure Bike – Previous Form

Redondo PD Africa Twin with Police rider

It’s not the first time RSD has built an adventure bike. The first was surprisingly for the Redondo PD, for whom the outfit created two custom Africa Twins in 2017. The finish for those bikes was naturally more conservative – with emphasis placed on the ultimate function i.e. policing.

Once again for the RSD Dakar G/S, the emphasis is squarely placed on function – with policing swapped for tackling desert terrain. However, the Dakar G/S meets its functional duties with considerably more panache.

Nonetheless, it’s not a hollow pastiche of Rahier’s HPN bike. RSD says, “…each component was built as if the bike would be competing for a win in the fabled rally.”

That’s clear to see; at the front-end, the 41mm telescopic, GS forks were swapped out for a 45mm pair from an Africa Twin [CRF1000], that had been augmented with an Öhlins Racing cartridge.

However, that wasn’t as straightforward a task as initially thought due to the unique design of the stock BMW triple clamps. The front half of the motorbike’s frame was replaced with an RnineT frame. And as such, a new triple-tree clamp had to be engineered in-house to accommodate the R nine T front.

The team say the resulting geometry is “almost identical to BMW’s enduro HP2, which has off-road chops of its own…”

Roland Sands Design - Dakar GS front-on

So many hi-grade parts

The parts list for this custom build is extensive – numerous custom components (aside from the billet triple clamp) were created in-house by the RSD team. Additionally, the best-of-breed in aftermarket components were also added to the build.

Twin, XL Pro LED headlights by Baja Designs, nestled in (an RSD custom front fairing) light the way. K&N air filters help this desert rambler aspirate while Akrapovič handles exhaust.

ProTaper Evo bars augmented with a Scotts steering stabiliser – 21″ Excel and 18″ Excel rims on the front and back respectively hold together the oversized hub and spokes. They’re paired with a set Dunlop D908RR. A Lowrance Elite-5 Ti GPS unit is installed and found at the tip of a glove, for superb navigation.

Adding authenticity to the build (and a really wonderful touch) is an original 1986 G/S tank adapted to house the electronic fuel injection of the ’08 G/S. Equally so the custom Saddlemen seat and survival box

The Marlboro and Elf livery (courtesy of Air Trix) will transport eighties kids back to a period where not only was it considered cool to smoke but it was actively encouraged via motorsports.

The full parts list and the build from RSD’s perspective can be seen on its website.

Roland Sands Design Racing Dakar Collection

To celebrate this build Roland Sands Design has launched a capsule collection – a goodie box of sorts – with Roland Sands Design Racing branding, that emulates the era when tobacco dominated motorsports advertising.

Only 150 are being made available, with each pack containing a packable Anorak pullover, T-shirt and Snap Back cap, tobacco rolling tin, lighter, tote bag and Dakar GS hero card with a high-resolution image of the build, that’s personally signed by Roland Sands.

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