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|09-29-2015, 09:30 PM||#1|
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Roland Sands Geico Chief Flat Tracker
Leave it to Roland Sands to corrupt a sophisticated bagger, an Indian Chieftain, and turn it into a stripped-down, no-frills, powerful, dirt-churning hooligan bike.
Roland looked at an Indian Chieftain – a smooth-handling, powerful bagger with a full fairing, comfortable ride and hard saddlebags – and he saw the soul of a flat-tracker. Roland and his crew dismantled the Indian Chieftain, fabbed, bent, welded, and tuned, and out rolled the GEICO 75th Anniversary Sturgis Buffalo Chip Custom Indian Chief Racer.
Roland Sands Design Geico Indian Chief Flat Tracker
The bike made a clean debut on Aug. 2 on-stage at the Buffalo Chip. Tens of thousands of concert-goers roared their approval as Roland fired up the bike’s fire-breathing, modified Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin. The bike made its proper debut a few nights later amid a pack of fellow raw race bikes at the half-mile track in Rapid City, S.D. That’s where Roland got to run the bike in the Inaugural Hooligan Half Mile. He didn’t win, but then again, everybody won because here was a high-end custom bike bankrolled by corporate sponsors, and those sponsors said, “, yeah!” to the idea of Roland running the his latest masterwork on the Black Hills dirt track. That’s where the bike belonged, what it was built for, so it was a proper baptism by dirt.Here’s some background on what Roland envisioned, why he took the Indian Chieftain so far from its original purpose, and what work went into this amazing bike.
A Flat Track Bike
As Roland looked at the new generation of Indian Motorcycle models, he saw the race bikes of the past that built the brand’s performance heritage on race tracks of every type, especially flat tracks.
“I really like to look at the history of racing and much of that started in the dirt,” Roland said.
“The classic silhouette of rigid flat track racers is one of my favorite looks. De-raked frames, short wheel base, short forks, fat tires, and a bike stripped of all except what’s necessary. It doesn’t get much better than that… It just felt right.”“Plus, there were flat track races we could actually run the bike. It’s safe to say this is the only one-off anniversary build to get raced at an AMA National.”
Modified? Oh, Yeah.
This is truly a one-off, hand-built custom race bike. Sure, it rolled into the Roland Sands Design (RSD) shop as an Indian Chieftain bagger, but the cutting, stripping, and modifying started the instant the bike went up on the lift.
“Outside of the cases and engine internals, I’d say we modified just about everything,” Roland said. It’s a “hand-built frame from the ground up. We used the gas tank from the original Indian Chieftain but cut it all up to make saddle tanks and bent the backbone of the frame to roll with the tank.”
“We built the rear fender and mounts, number plates, modified the Paughco Leaf fork for aluminum uprights, and matched the rear fender struts. We used our new flat track race wheels for rolling hardware with a crazy vented rear rotor from Lloyd Brothers Racing and Dunlop’s new flat track tires. We fabbed up a custom exhaust too – there’s so much to list on this thing.”
Note that those new Dunlops are branded with the Indian Motorcycle script logo for a total custom treatment.
Some of the components might make their way into the RSD retail catalog eventually, but for now, they’re one-offs.
“Currently, you can’t buy anything” that’s on the bike, Roland said. “It’s all test product and prototype stuff, but if people are really interested in the stuff, we’d love to produce it.""The clarity cam and primary cover, floorboards, intake, and ignition cover – and the flat track race wheels – are all potential future products.”
A huge reveal and then you chose to race it?
Custom bikes are not cheap, which means GEICO spent some serious coin in commissioning this racer. Yet GEICO let Roland take it to the dirt track almost immediately after it was built.
Roland Sands Design Geico Indian Chief Flat Tracker
“GEICO is rad,” he said with a smile. “Their guys, Kelly and Jeremy, made the process and the launch easy and non-corporate. I think traditionally they’ve reached for that TV bike audience and this bike is aimed at core riders. The fact it touches on the historical significance of Sturgis, flat track racing, and the return of Indian Motorcycle is a combination that makes the bike very marketable for GEICO to a different audience.”Once the bike was built, Roland took it for a stealthy and quick spin plus a photo shoot in California, and he put a few miles on it outside of Sturgis.
“I rode the bike down the flood control in Long Beach, and on a dirt back road in Sturgis for about 20 minutes prior to revealing the bike.”
“Revealing the bike at the Buffalo Chip with GEICO and Indian Motorcycle for the 75th anniversary in front of a packed house of screaming bikers, it was intense,” he recalled. “We really wanted to deliver GEICO something different from what they were used to with the bikes they’ve commissioned in the past. The GEICO Indian Chief Racer was that bike, and it was really a solid moment for our entire crew. And with it being my 25th anniversary going to Sturgis, it was extra special.”
Then it was time to gear up and hit the track.
“We got a few test laps [at Rapid City], then right into a full-bore Hooligan race at the half mile.”
On a new special custom-built bike?
“It maybe wasn’t what you would normally do to a one-off corporate 75th anniversary build for a company like GEICO, but they loved it,” he laughed. “I had the confidence in the design and my crew’s skills to put my as well as the bike on the line in front of the AMA national crowd and live TV audience on Fans Choice TV. And as things work out sometimes, it worked out.
“I didn’t win, but I’d say we had a solid mid-pack finish and the bike worked pretty well. Mainly, the bike rolled off the track still on two wheels, which was the main priority.”
For more information on Indian Motorcycle and their bikes, visit IndianMotorcycle.com
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