Diff’rent Strokes: Roland Sands’ smokin’ Yamaha

Roland Sands crashed the party at the Born Free chopper show with this insane Yamaha 2-stroke custom.
At the Born Free show a couple of weeks ago, there was a lone road racer in a sea of choppers. And not a Harley or Triumph, either: it was a two-stroke Yamaha.

Born Free organizers Mike and Grant must have been scratching their heads, but they had the good grace to let Roland Sands’ 2 Stroke Attack into the show. And we’re betting it was the fastest bike there by a country mile.

Roland Sands crashed the party at the Born Free chopper show with this insane Yamaha 2-stroke custom.
“I worked on it for a year after I found a donor RD400 at a swap meet for $600,” Sands tells us. “It didn’t run. The only thing left now is the cases and the California title.”

Sands is an ex-racer, so most of the builds that roll out of his Los Alamitos workshop are tuned for performance. But this machine is on a whole different level.

Roland Sands crashed the party at the Born Free chopper show with this insane Yamaha 2-stroke custom.
The air-cooled parallel twin motor was rebuilt by Yamaha specialist Ed Erlenbach—owner of the world’s fastest RD400, at 164.73 mph. Ed has ported and tuned the repro Webco aluminum heads, which are fed by dual Mikuni flatslides.

The exhaust system is equally uncompromising, with hand-made expansion chambers made by Brian Turfrey hooked up to TZ250 silencers.

Roland Sands crashed the party at the Born Free chopper show with this insane Yamaha 2-stroke custom.
As you can imagine, the transmission has its work cut out. So it’s packed with hand-cut Erlenbach gears and mated to an early TZ250 dry clutch with Barnett plates.

The frame that’s trying to keep this firecracker of a motor under control comes from a TZ250. Help comes in the form of very sexy black-nitrided Öhlins forks: FG43 Road & Track items straight from the Swedish factory.

The magnesium triples are from Team Kenny Roberts, c.1995 era, and under the seat is an Öhlins TTX shock. It’s pushing against a genuine TZ250 ‘banana’ swingarm.

Roland Sands crashed the party at the Born Free chopper show with this insane Yamaha 2-stroke custom.
Team Kenny Roberts also provided the gauges—taken from a 500 GP bike. The the 17-inch magnesium wheels are also track fitments, used by Roland in the 90s, and the tires are Dunlop KR race slicks.

Roland has literally made his mark on the bodywork. The tank is from the TZ250 Roland won the AMA Championship with in 1998, with the crash dents hammered out.

Roland Sands crashed the party at the Born Free chopper show with this insane Yamaha 2-stroke custom.
The seat and tail unit, with stripes echoing the exhaust welds, is a neat fit. “Aaron Boss made that tail section a long time ago,” says Roland, “and it fit the bike perfect, so we used it. Then Scott Dimick and I did a lot of the fabrication in the last couple of weeks, in between the Victory Project 156 build.” The pinstriping is by Tom “The Undertaker” Clark: It says “2 Stroke Attack” in Japanese.

There are too many other parts to mention, but most are from the RSD catalog—from the gas tank strap to the clip-ons and grips.

Roland Sands crashed the party at the Born Free chopper show with this insane Yamaha 2-stroke custom.
It’s a stunning bike that goes against the flow of the usual raked-out, stretched choppers at Born Free.

“Stretch?” says Roland. “Yes, it’s a good idea to stretch before you ride it. It’s f—ing small.”

Roland Sands Design | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Joseph Hitzelberger

Roland Sands crashed the party at the Born Free chopper show with this insane Yamaha 2-stroke custom.