Champion Chat: Roland Sands (Part 1)

NEWS March 23, 2012

Champion Chat: Roland Sands (Part 1)

AMAPro: You’re designing the official Big Kahuna surfboards that will be given out at the Big Kahuna Nationals this year, how has the design been coming along?
RS: It’s been cool working with, they’re a great crew, and I also had an opportunity to work with some of my friends over at Hurley Surfboards, who are shaping the surfboards. So we’re going to be creating something that’s not only a cool art piece for these guys but it will actually be a really good surfboard too. They’re not props, this is going to be the real deal, and I think it will be fitting for the Big Kahuna National for this to be a legit piece by some great companies. We’ve got three great companies working together on this, it’s really exciting.

AMAPro: You were the 1998 250 GP Champion, and won races against a lot of big names in the history of motorcycle road racing.
RS: Racing was a huge experience and a huge part of my life.  The experience is definitely what has led me to where I am today in so many ways: hard work, passion for the sport and basically riding my butt off, which I’ve basically turned into designing my butt off. It’s been a great experience. It’s been a life-long dream to win an AMA Championship and to do it on a 250GP was just crazy. It’s great to have that accomplishment and to have that to look back on. No one can ever take a championship away from you, that’s for sure.

AMAPro: Following your career in racing, you made the transition to a successful businessman in and out of the motorcycle industry through your design company. What’s
RS: Certainly the custom bikes and motorcycle parts have led my business for the last five years. We have stepped from that realm into doing a full apparel line now, highlighted by a great group of custom leather jackets. It’s riding gear that doesn’t exactly scream riding gear but more style-based gear; super high quality stuff, great materials with really more subtle technical features. That’s definitely where my business is moving, being able to bring style and performance together in a non-traditional, blending way where you get the best of both worlds; fashion and performance blended together, kind of like the bikes that we build.

AMAPro: Did your experience as an AMA Pro Road Racer help with your transition to the business world?
RS: For sure man, when you’re racing, it’s always a fight. It takes perseverance to win, it takes dedication, it takes getting your head in there and getting done what needs getting done, whatever it means. Whether you’re working until 1 a.m. rebuilding your motor or you’re pushing as hard as you can on the last lap, you just never give up.  Business is the same way, nothing comes easy. I don’t care what position you’re in or what you’ve been given to do the job, but to be successful year after year and to create winning designs or winning parts or motorcycles, it’s the continuous fight. Trying to stay creative is a fight and trying to stay on top of the heap of things going on in the world and keep your name out there is a continuous battle.

AMAPro: Cameron had mentioned that when you were racing you didn’t have a helmet but now you have more helmets than you can count, how has your relationship with Bell Helmets evolved?
RS: That’s pretty funny, I’ve ridden Bell Helmets my whole racing career, and we worked on getting a replica Bell Helmet when I won my championship and it just never happened. Back then Bell was definitely more into Motocross. Now we have really created a great partnership with them, whether it’s helping them with some of the design work, whether it’s graphic design and creating concept helmets, it’s been a cool relationship and those guys are pushing. We do stuff with them, graphically speaking, that no one has ever done before on a motorcycle helmet. It’s awesome to see what they can do.

Click here to head over to M1 PowerSports for Part 2 of Champion Chat with Roland Sands, where he talks with M1 PowerSports about the his memories of racing at Road Atlanta, the Historic Moto Grand Prix and the upcoming Triumph Big Kahuna Atlanta.

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