RSD take the BMW R 18 drag racing with custom build

BMW R 18 Dragster Custom

The frame has been modified completely removing the rear suspension for drag racing.
Front and rear fenders have been slightly modified utilising the stock sheet metal parts in order to keep the classic R 18 silhouette.
Headlight taken from the original R 18 and highlighted with the headlight bezel from the design collection of milled aluminium parts.
The standard exhaust has been replaced with a hand fabricated Stainless Steel twin megaphone system utilising the exhaust tips from the milled aluminium parts.
The hydraulic front brake and clutch master cylinders are from Roland Sands Design.
The tank has been taken from the original R 18.
The paint finish is a two tone metallic blue with classic white BMW pin-stripes by Roland’s long time painter Chris Wood.
The forks have been taken from the BMW R nineT.
The front braking system has been taken from the BMW S 1000 RR superbike.
The seat has been built from scratch and is a RSD custom seat by Saddlemen.

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.

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.

The new production R 18 features an easily removable rear frame and a simple-to-dismantle painted parts set to give the owner a high degree of freedom for easily converting the rear end of the new R 18 to suit personal preferences.

The electronics were definitely the most difficult task we had to deal with as we put in nitrous oxide, 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 customising!” Roland points out.

The build process

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 modify 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.

RSD BMW R 18 Dragster

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.

Roland at work on the BMW R 18 Dragster

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.

The build was an exhausting process
Roland Sands has motorcycling is in his blood. His dad was a drag racer who built custom bikes and parts. As a result, Roland was brought up surrounded by cool bikes. It wasn’t long before he, too, was riding and had a racing career of his own that spanned ten years.

Roland is a handy peddler himself and raced in the AMA for many years, from memory his most notable performances were on 250 GP bikes. Unfortunately though in this instance no time-sheets were provided in the information we were given by BMW. Be interesting to see how quick they went….


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