The Technics inspired Sportster came to life after Andy Bell (left) and Roland Sands (right) concocted a way to echo the Panasonic brand.
Whether he’s building a bike for Mickey Rourke, modding a Bonneville T100 for the Tony Hawk Foundation or reworking a WR450 into a Supermoto beast for Ben Spies, Roland Sands puts his stamp on every project to come out of the shop. And no, I’m not talking merely of the RSD logo; there’s a touch of grace in the way he handles the lines of an exhaust pipe or cuts the tail of a Sportster, a seamless blending of 21st century industrial design with nostalgic elements that make riders, old and young, feel as if they were living in the proverbial “good ol’ days.” One of the recent builds to come from the RSD shop in Southern California serves as a prime example of this union and, as always, it’s a beautiful piece of machinery.
The Technics Sporty was born of the partnership between Panasonic and its hugely popular Technics brand, the RSD crew and Nitro Circus madman Andy Bell. Mix in a Harley Sportster 883 and what you get is a seriously bad-ass looking bike that takes its cues from Technics’ DH1-1200 Headphones and the iconic SL-1200MK2 Professional turntables.
There’s no shortage of examples of how motorcycles and music intersect, but this design moves away somewhat from the tried-and-true rock-n-roll stereotype surrounding bikers. While the turntables certainly allude to the days of vinyl, they also suggest a connection to the prevalence of DJs scratching in rap and hip-hop as well as to the continued growth of electronica of all types. Builds like the Technics Sporty certainly don’t signal the end of raked-out choppers and head-banging rock-n-roll, but they do indicate a broadening influence in the world of customs.
“It was really based on the subtle black and silver color pallet and gloss/textured finishes,” said Sands about how he remained true to Panasonic’s Technics brand when building the bike.
I had the chance to chat with Sands about the build, and according to the man himself it was Bell who made the connection with Panasonic. The electronics brand was looking for a new way to advertise its Technics products, and after Bell and Sands got to brainstorming they thought, what better way to step outside the box than to build a bike based on DJ equipment and develop an original song along the way.
“Bell is one of my best friends and he had a relationship with Panasonic,” said Sands. “We ended up linking with Tom who runs Technics at Panasonic and he was looking for ideas. Bell and I drank a couple beers and came up with the concept.”
Part of Sands’ M.O. is to build “fun functional bikes” that aren’t “crazy or over the top.” With the Technics Sporty, he also wanted to show how different a Sportster could look without having to do an excess of modifications. The wheels were one of the biggest exceptions, one-off pieces fabricated specifically for the project. Other than those, Sands chopped the tail and developed a Carbon Slant 2-into-1 exhaust pipe, both of which will be available to buy from RSD soon. He bolted-on a host of RSD parts, including grips, footpegs, fork preload adjusters and handlebar risers, just to name a few.
In terms of a ride, the Technics Sporty comes with some vintage-looking Firestones that perform well-enough, according to Sands, but it was built for a rider about his size, 5’8”, so Bell, at 6’1” was a little cramped during the video shoot, though it was so much fun that there were no complaints.
The ultimate goal was to echo the Technics brand and in terms of developing a fun, sporty bike with just the right amount of attitude, we’d say he hit the mark.
“It was really based on the subtle black and silver color pallet and the gloss/textured finishes,” said Sands. “We also used a couple key design cues like the speed dots on the wheels that echo the headphones and originally the turntables. It’s cool, when you spin the wheel it actually reverses the pattern just like on the turn tables. You can see it in the video at the beginning.”
Make sure to check out the video below to see Bell at the helm of a Technics turntable and hear the original song, all while Sands pieces the ride together.