Photos: RSD Desmo Tracker

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What happens if you take a 197bhp MotoGP replica and turn it into a flat tracker? Well, this happens. It’s Roland Sands’s Desmo Tracker, as the name suggest, a Ducati Desmosedici turned dirty. Last week, we pulled it out of Roland’s Alamitos shop for a little photo session.

Photos: Grant Ray

According to Roland (who hasn’t ridden it), “it’s a fully functional Dirtrack racer with proper geometry, seating position, bar height, gearing, suspension, the whole nine.” The former AMA 250 national champion modeled it after the dimensions of an XR750 race bike.

“All new aluminum sheetmetal, subframe, radiator shrouds, offset triples, single sided swingarm, offset custom spoke 19” wheels and hubs, Goodyears,  high bars, all custom Ti exhaust,” continues Roland, listing the changes he and his staff have made. “Whatever else we can throw at it. We run across new things every day. The name of the game with this machine is to keep it as simple as possible. We’re fighting the urge to make it more complicated. The true beauty of dirt track racers is really in their simplicity. I like to think this bike is a look at what could be a full factory ‘GP Dirtrack racer.’”

It’s not so much the paint or the suspension or the wheels you notice in person though. “The bike is ear-shatteringly loud,” complains Grant.

  • Jose


    • Michael


    • Richard

      According to whom?

  • Jose

    …but nice work!

  • Penguin

    I don’t know ‘art’ but I know what I hate

    And this …. I don’t hate.

  • Aaron

    want one!!

  • Thom

    Now this is what Roland Sands should be focusing on . Very nicely customized/modified M/C’s , especially M/C’s most folks would be afraid to touch

    Not Hipster clothing , leathers with no armor etc

    @ Jose – I’ve posted this quote before , but it bears repeating ;

    ” Stock is a Can of Beans on a Shelf ” – Big Sid Biberman

    e.g. Nothing is sacrilege or off limits when it comes to the customizers torch ;-)


    its amazing how many cool bikes the RS shops turns out. and if you go to their website, they say ‘everything is for sale’.

  • Glenngineer

    So fucking hard right now.

  • Brammofan

    The bike makes for a great subject, but Grant, your mastery of composition and depth of field really complete this work. Great job, as expected.

    • Grant Ray


  • John


    Can you explain the toggle switches on the right hand side of the bike?

    • Grant Ray

      It’s really only one toggle, which is for powering up the bike before hitting the starter button.

  • John

    I was really hoping to see this bike at the Indy mile this summer. I am really blown away by the finished bike, it looks great! I like that they carried over the air intake port from the desmo fairing to the number plate… My only complaint is that it looks like a catfish mouth :/

  • Charlie

    Very cool…for me, it eclipses a Bultaco Astro if it gets an old school headlight. Among the nicest customs I’ve seen in some time. Kudos to HFL for being the one stop shop for things motorcycle. Customs are a great feature. All HFL needs is a little controversy. Maybe a NYC Fastest Electric – people who go 80mph on deserted Long Island highways?

    • RocketSled

      But where are my HD chap watch articles? (I keed, I keed!)

  • nymoto

    It looks like it’s going fast even though it’s standing still.
    Wow. Wow. Awesome.
    Shit even Thom had something nice to say.

  • Jesse

    I’ll be in my bunk.

  • Andrew

    Damn, that’s cool.

  • je

    Screw you Roland for having a life I can only dream about!

    On a side note since I know you read HFL, if I take a weeks vacation and fly out to your shop may I hang out and watch you guys work?

    • je

      Umm I dont dream about you specifically just you know that stuff you make, the cool business, and maybe the hot girls you get to hang out with.. So yeah.. I can still come out right?

      • je

        So yeah I dont dream about the hot girls with you just mainly if I was cool and talented and could get hot girls.. Soooo when should I book my flight.

        • stempere

          It puts the motor oil in the basket…

  • damien

    Pretty damn awesome. Great pics too.

  • the_doctor

    I absolutely love it, and hope to see it in person some day.

    Also, Grant, do be such a wuss. Motorbikes are loud.

    • Grant Ray

      When’s the last time you stood next to a MotoGP bike being revved?

    • randry

      Ya, see it some day doin circles on the Springfeild mile! It would be like a sideways circus.

  • carcanal

    what? no video? i want to hear this thing!!!

  • Chris Davis

    Fantastic bike. I’m not a big fan of the one-eyed bass number plate or the radiator shrouds which add a lot of visual weight where trackers traditionally have none, but overall it’s pretty awesome. The IP integration is kick ass. Speaking of which, the tail is a masterful blend of dirt tracker proportions and Italian curvature. I can only imagine the throttle control it must take to keep that little rear tire connected.

    • Gene

      “LCD instruments in the TANK!! How the hell did he do that?!!”

  • FZR 1000 Alex

    I’m a little curious as to how long that exposed dry clutch would last in such a dirty environment. It’s a cool concept but form seems to have compromised function.

  • mugget

    Nutso. The exhaust looks awesome. I’m guessing it will only be a matter of time before Roland takes it around a dirt track… I gotta see that…

    • Coreyvwc

      Actual racing dry clutch plates are only intended to be used for one race or so (quick change). So longevity isn’t really a functionality issue. Putting a dry clutch on a street bike is a functional hindrance though, hence the wet clutch on the new 1199. Even Ducati can’t be gimmicky forever…

  • jason McCrash

    “According to Roland (who hasn’t ridden it)”
    Am I the only guy on here that thinks this is strange? That says to me that Roland’s SHOP built this bike. He might have designed it, he might have financed it, blah, blah, blah, but if he hasn’t RIDDEN it then he sure as shit didn’t build it. Somebody testrode it to make sure everything works and signed off on it, put that guy’s name on the bike.

    Hasn’t ridden it…….. wtf…….

    • damien

      I think I heard he built this for a customer. Maybe he’s waiting to give them the inaugural spin?

      • stempere

        Testriding the bike around the block != ridding it.
        Edit: intented at jason McCrash

        • jason McCrash


          • stempere

            My point was that he most likely test-rode it to see if anything comes off but didn’t you know, ride it, ride it…

            • jason McCrash

              Gotcha. In my mind that counts as riding it. But he is quite literally cooler than me so he might be thinking like you said.

      • jason McCrash

        That doesn’t sound safe. See the Cafe Racer episode where a Boz Bro crashed on a test ride.

    • Mule

      Ever think that means that NOBODY has ridden it…..yet? WTF? He might have finished it 10 minutes before the pictures were taken. I believe if anybody knows anything about the motorcycle world, they know RS will be burryin’ the throttle on this one soon enough!

      • jason McCrash

        Easy there Roland’s boyfriend. And 10 minutes is time enough for a ride in my book.

        • Mule

          Right girlfriend. He should let you ride it. Further, I don’t even know him and more to the point, I don’t really care for his builds. Half chopper/half performance, with huge amounts of time and billet parts. Not that you’d know the difference.

  • 10/10ths

    Well, whether he had a hand in this or not, the bikes that have been rolling out with Sand’s name on them lately have been, to my eye, some of the best custom bikes out there these past few years.

    • jason McCrash

      Agreed. I just can’t understand how he had time for a quick photo shoot or interview but hasn’t jumped on the thing in a parking lot. Riding a bike I just worked on is the best part of working on a bike.

  • JC

    Gorgeous,any video of this?

  • Anders

    Wicked. The best looking duck-faced cyclops I’ve ever seen.

  • M

    vastly improved rsd logo…

  • Joe

    Come on guys, we gotta keep bikes like this lovely creation under wraps so Sands doesn’t start getting mainstream attention. Before you know it, Discovery will be knocking on his door, and he’ll start turning out Ducatis with 21″ wheels while wearing a handlebar mustache.

    So for the sake of keeping these awesome bikes coming, this bike sucks hard. Move along.

    • dux

      Agreed! Don’t sell out to the Discovery Channel, good sir.

      • Gene

        I don’t know… I think he has the ability to not knuckle under to Discovery and do what he wants, and a bunch of Harley pirate assholes might get schooled in what a REAL custom looks like.

        • Andrew

          He did a few shows though I am not sure which but I am pretty sure he was on at least one biker build off episode. I remember him and Jesse Rooke building bikes then actually riding them to see which was faster.

          That was a few years ago so he would seem to have avoided becoming an OCC clone.

  • 1

    Man that must have been some crash that wrote off the Desmo originally. On the track too I’m guessing, no insurance.

    This is so obscenely cooler than the NCR Desmo.

    • John

      Nope no crash. The guy just wanted a tracker.

      • 1

        No shit. That’s pretty intense. And kinky.

        • John

          Its like having enough money to buy a Lamborghini and then pay someone to make it look like a 1980′s Fiero. Thats not a jab in anyway. I think I it takes a lot of balls to do what these guys did, and the end result is truly fantastic.

  • Will

    Only Roland, man. Who else?

    Grant, superb. Respectful, capturing the graphic of the object. The lighting is tailored like a goddamn suit. A one of a kind bike needs some sort of attention, especially from HFL.

    Going to stop gushing. Neat loud thing Neat.

  • Thom

    there’s a video up on RSD’s blog.

    The thing howls like a banshee and looks like a handful on the dirt with the Cycle World journo looking very nervous. Love it.

  • Michael

    Wrong time of day for photos. I just cant feel it. Any sound?

  • Liquidogged

    Uhhh, I hate to ruin the love fest, but…

    The bike is not good looking as a whole. Up close, the details are beautiful and the craftsmanship is impeccable. But from 5 feat it looks a little ungainly. The exhaust doesn’t seem to follow any other lines on the bike, the shrouds are too big, the swingarm doesn’t look good in white… anyways to each their own, I suppose. I’m no purist ducati fanboy (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but I don’t think they made a bike as good as the original. Looks-wise anyways. I’m sure it’s buckets of fun to ride and of course that’s always most important.

    • nick2ny

      It looks tough and purposeful to me–the beauty is secondary to the function, and that’s what makes it beautiful.

      None of those are “beautiful” but they sure are beautiful.

  • Troy R

    I’m usually on the fence with this Sands stuff, but this is Evil. I like it:)