How can you keep the past behind you when it looks this good?

This extraordinary machine is the Roland Sands Design Dakar GS. It started life as a 2008 BMW R 1200 GS, and belonged to a client who wanted to improve its adventuring chops. That led Sands to think back to the 1986 GS built by HPN and raced by two-time Dakar winner Gaston Rahier. From there, the inspiration just flowed.  

The team knew it wanted to swap out the GS’s stock 41 mm telescopic fork with the oversized 45 mm,  Öhlins-enhanced fork from a Honda Africa Twin. Of course, as you can probably guess, making a change like that meant some other things had to change by necessity. Pretty soon, the RSD team found itself grabbing the front half of the frame from a 2018 R Nine T to make it all come together.  

A little custom fabrication here, some random adjustments there, and pretty soon, the project started to come together with geometry that RSD notes was “almost identical to BMW’s enduro HP2.” A bunch more fabrication, ‘86-era fenders and a tank sourced from an ‘86 GS, and plenty of additional customization had the basic underpinnings down, and you can see an exhaustive list of all the work done and parts installed, straight from RSD itself. 

Roland Sands Design Dakar GS

The whole thing wouldn’t be complete without a custom retro livery from Air Trix, evocative of an era where tobacco advertising was everywhere in motorsports. In fact, to celebrate the launch of this particular custom, RSD also took the opportunity to “repurpose” the Marlboro mountain design and font to create a limited-edition capsule collection of RSD gear. Only 150 of these collections are available, and will only be sold as a set for a price of $160. We’ll be honest, we’d much rather have this beautiful GS—but if you’re a huge RSD fan, you might be interested. 

Sources: YouTube, Roland Sands Design