Getting dirty with Roland Sands Design - RideApart

Uploaded by drive on 04.06.2012


GRANT RAY: We're hanging out with Roland Sands today.
Welcome to RideApart.

ROLAND SANDS: Every thing we do, it's like, we're just real
riders to the core.
So that tends to give you credibility in a lot of
different spaces, where you can walk into a road race
place, and it's like I've been there.
I've done that.
Go to a motocross race, we've been there.
We've done that.
Flat track, we've been there.
We've done that, you know?
Even from the design--
not just the riding perspective, because we've
raced so many different ways as well, but the product
design perspective, because I've designed and built drag
race wheels for top fuel drag bikes.
And road race wheels, I designed a whole magnesium
road race wheel program back in the late '90s.
Flat track wheels, designed and built all the flat track
wheels that guys run currently, like the top
wheels, I designed 10 years ago.
So I've just been there and done that in so many different
places for like 20 years.
And you look at me, and you probably think I'm a kid.
GRANT RAY: But we know you've been branching out into a
completely new direction working with the gear.
How's that going for you?
ROLAND SANDS: It's cool.
It's something I really enjoy because I've always had my own
ideas about what I thought really nice gear would be.
And most of the time, it didn't involve plastic, or
branding, or race logos, or patches, or
anything like that.
I've always just wanted stuff that was really subtle and
more fashionable, but still had the protective
capabilities and still had something you could really
genuinely ride in, that was built to ride in, but didn't
exactly look like it was built to ride in.
This is the Ronin.
And the Ronin is a pretty nicely designed piece.
Feel the leather.
I mean, to me, when you grab the thing and you touch it--
WES SILER: It's really soft.
ROLAND SANDS: Right off the bat, you're like, wow, this
thing's comfortable.
Our armor situation is continuously evolving.

GRANT RAY: What's it like going into this, like actually
being a safety provider?
ROLAND SANDS: To be a safety provider?

ROLAND SANDS: You've got to take it seriously.
You've got to take protecting people seriously, and you've
got to develop product that matters and product that's
going to protect people.
I've got to feel comfortable falling down in it.
I've hit the ground so many times that I know what it's
like to have good armor.
I know what it's like to get hurt.

At the same time, these aren't road race jackets.
We're trying to produce something that's going to be
comfortable and wearable.
Anybody who grows up surrounded by mechanical
aspects and design, my dad was an artist in his own right.
He wouldn't consider himself an artist, but he had an
aesthetic that really meant something to the design of his
product line.
The way he cut his parts and the way he made his parts had
everything to do with the way that I design today because I
just grew up around good design.
I saw it happen in front of me, and I just absorbed it.
So for me to ever, say, write off the influence that my
upbringing's had would be ridiculous.
The first thing I ever did at my dad's
shop, I put these together.
GRANT RAY: What is that?
ROLAND SANDS: So this is--
I believe it's a release valve for an ejection seat on an
F-16 Fighter.
ROLAND SANDS: So I was responsible
for going like this.
I would take the washer, and I'd put the rubber washer on
it, and then I would put this on it.
You had to go the right way up.
This goes like that, and take this and go like this.
That was my job.
How old were you when that was your job?
Child labor.
GRANT RAY: Yeah, pretty much.
My dad paid me with ice cream and lollipops.


ROLAND SANDS: This is where it all begins right here.
So the way that PM's got this set up is that they just have
kind of a throughput system, that everything comes in here,
and circulates, and goes through the shop.
So all the raw materials are on this side and the back is
the shipping bay.
GRANT RAY: Levers?
So it's just a fully adjustable lever.

So you're just able to adjust the reach and the grab, so
stylistically, they're a little bit different as well,
as also being able to adjust the reach.
So for a female with smaller hands or a guy with bigger
hands, you use the same lever and just get a lot of
ROLAND SANDS: Or if you're road racing and your brake
pads wear down, you can adjust it out so you
have that reach, right?
How many people do you have working in here that do all of
the cutting and the cleaning?
ROLAND SANDS: I don't know the answer to that, but it's
somewhere around 180 people at Performance Machine.
GRANT RAY: It's a pretty good scale.
It's a huge crew here, man.
They build a lot of different components.
Our line of products is one of their biggest
lines here at PM.
The cool thing is the majority of our stuff is made in
America, built by American hands, machined here in
America-- quality-- everything, so it's something
to be proud of, for sure.
GRANT RAY: Just like that jacket.
Like components, I learn how to build them all.
If you kind of do that, you get a good base of how to
design things as well.
You're seeing how everything is coming together from the
table to the customer.
GRANT RAY: A lot of it you're seeing it coming from raw.
ROLAND SANDS: Yeah, we're seeing it coming from raw,
yeah, the entire process, but getting to do each of those
processes, too.
ROLAND SANDS: So this is where the real work
gets done in here.
These are the true artists of the shop.
So each of these guys is taking a part, like a raw
aluminum part, and just putting so much
hand work into it.

Slow rocker box--
this is torsional load, so it's applying an acceleration
load to the center of the wheel.
GRANT RAY: You can see it.
Touch this.
GRANT RAY: Oh, wow.
You can see it moving.
Put your hand there.
ROLAND SANDS: Isn't that gnarly?
It just is like, oh, my God, it's going to snap.
GRANT RAY: Yeah, I know.
ROLAND SANDS: Well, it's replicating what does actually
happen on a motorcycle.
Your motorcycle does things like this.
The tensile strength of the material that's on your bike
allows it to flex.
When you go into a corner and you feel the bike shuddering,
and moving, and doing things it's shouldn't be doing,
that's because parts are doing things like this on the bike.
Actually, the aluminum is moving.
And you have the real-world testing so that's what this is
GRANT RAY: Just watching you do that.
ROLAND SANDS: Crazy, right?

So this manufacturing facility is 43 years old.
It's been doing it a long time, so the processes have
been streamlined, refined, and this place is running better
than it's ever ran.
And they've really done a tip-top job of making
everything just flow through here as quickly as possible,
which you have to do, because being a machine shop in
California, it's probably one of the most difficult things
you can do.
And this is where all the parts come to, and they'll
come off the machine, and they come here.
Basically, you'll get a first-off part and they'll go
ahead and measure all the critical dimensions of the
part to make sure everything's fine.
Or a lot of times, they buzz through 200 of them at a time.
A lot of what PM makes is critical to 5,000 or less, so
everything has to be really finely measured and make sure
it all works right.
When you're dealing with hydraulic components,
everything has to be correct because if a little hole's off
8,000 your measurement's not going to work.
And we've had that stuff happen a lot.

GRANT RAY: I've never seen it before, either,
but the pile of bends--
ROLAND SANDS: Yeah, we got the pile.
GRANT RAY: Nice group of bends right here, man.
ROLAND SANDS: What was the question again?
WES SILER: I forgot.