‘Theme’ bikes have a bad rep these days, and rightly so. Most are little more than a train smash of disparate elements glued together by marketing departments with more money than sense.
But occasionally you see a brand collaboration that works, with well-integrated design elements and a bike that just ‘looks right’. This is one of those redeeming examples, an alliance between Roland Sands Design and Technics, the DJ and audio technology brand.
Sands’ brief was to evoke the style of Technics’ ubiquitous SL-1200 decks, familiar to everyone in the business of spinning records. He chose a 2010-model XL883 Iron Sportster as his starting point: part of Harley-Davidson’s ‘Dark Custom’ range, it’s designed to evoke the dirt tracks and drag strips of the 1950s. Sands, however, has pushed the XL883N in an entirely new direction.
The tank has been heavily-modified and is matched to a completely new seat and tail unit. The stocky, upright demeanor of the standard Sportster is gone—it’s now low and sleek, with 39mm clip-on bars to accentuate the look.
Other RSD parts are used to great effect. That includes the inlet and exhaust, the ignition and rockerbox covers, and the rearsets. The brake calipers are from Performance Machine, hooked up to RSD 11.5” discs, and much of the cabling is from the Barnett Stealth Series.
And those wheels? They’re custom fabricated and 19” x 2.5” in size, both front and back. “The true link between the bike and the turntables came alive the first time we rotated the wheels,” says Sands. “It was very cool to see the dots on the wheels shift direction as the wheels spun.”
The mix of silver and black paint—with satin and gloss finishes—is also inspired by Technics’ products. And it works beautifully. Subtle and stylish, the Technics Sportster should be studied carefully by every marketing manager planning to commission a custom bike build.