THE BIKE EVERYONE WANTS: CASELLI FOUNDATION 450SX

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Custom Bike artist Roland Sands built the bike for a good cause.
Custom Bike artist Roland Sands built the bike for a good cause.

The Caselli Foundation is on a mission for Kurt. In the wake of Kurt Caselli’s tragic fatal accident in the 2013 SCORE Baja 1000, the call went out for more safety in off-road racing. The Caselli Foundation was created to explore ways in which this could be done and then to raise the necessary funds. In one short year, the foundation has already made a big difference. At the 2014 Baja 1000, the leaders of the race were never without helicopter support during daylight hours. The helicopter provided by the Caselli Foundation not only served to monitor the race, but on several occasions it was able to clear livestock off the course.
That kind of support isn’t cheap, but so far funds have come to the foundation in several ways. One of the most interesting was through the Roland Sands On Any Sunday 450SX-F bike. The bike was auctioned off at the Second Annual Kurt Caselli ride at Glen Helen Raceway, and, of all people, it was Kurt’s teammate, Ivan Ramirez, who placed the top bid. The bike is a beautiful creation worthy of display in any custom bike show. It was created by Roland Sands with a retro-bike theme in order to honor the release of On Any Sunday, the Next Chapter. We got together with Roland Sands to talk about the bike.

DIRT BIKE: How did you get involved with the Caselli Foundation?
ROLAND SANDS: I had known Kurt for a little while and got to ride with him in Baja. We became friends and discussed building him a bike, but we never had the opportunity to get it built before he passed. Then I got involved with the On Any Sunday movie, and I came up with a sketch to build an On Any Sunday bike. Everyone loved the idea, and the Caselli Foundation was the perfect beneficiary.

DB: Where did the inspiration for the project come from?
RS: Kurt’s spirit and love for the desert tied in perfectly with On Any Sunday, and the bike really was born of all those things. It was ideal that we got to start with the bike that Kurt would have been racing, and it was also a lot of pressure, because we had to build something that was still fully functional. I really wanted it to be something he could have raced, and the final project got pretty close.

DB: Have you ever done anything like it?
RS: We’ve built several KTM customs based on KTM motocross bikes—a flat tracker, a few café racers—so we were familiar with the bikes. But getting the vintage motocross silhouette correct wasn’t an easy thing. It’s the first bike of its kind that I’ve seen. Walt Seigel built something similar a few months before we finished ours, but the aesthetic was very different.

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Ivan Ramirez is the bike’s current owner.

DB: Who paid the expenses involved with the build?
RS: We had a lot of great supporters for this project who donated parts, and that really helped out. Red Bull stepped up and donated some money for the build. KTM donated the bike. Chris Wood at Airtrix was a huge supporter and donated the paint job. We covered the fabrication, build and logistical elements. Most of our sponsors are listed on our website:
www.rolandsands.com.

DB: How much Kurt is in the bike: bar bend, levers etc?
RS: Cameron Brewer, who’s my project coordinator at RSD and a longtime friend of Kurt’s, put the bar package together along with Kurt’s mechanic Anthony Di Basilio. We definitely thought about Kurt a lot as we built the bike. Every decision we made had Kurt in the back of our minds guiding it. It felt like that anyway. It was a special project.

DB: What feature was the most difficult to build?
RS: Getting rid of the modern look of the stock bike, and scratch-building a completely new look while retaining rideability was not an easy thing to do. Getting the lines of the bike correct—getting the scale of the tank versus the seat and side shrouds to be in rhythm—all that was important. It’s all a matter of a quarter-inch here, a little more there, to get it to come together—and making the radiator shrouds blend/disappear. With every water-cooled dirt bike concept, this is a tough thing to get right.

DB: How much time did you have to build it?
RS: Fab was like three weeks start to finish, then two weeks for paint, and a week to get it built and ready for Ivan Ramirez to rip it at Pismo Beach, then ready for the On Any Sunday, the Next Chapter premiere.

DB: What aspect gets the most attention?
RS: A lot of people are curious about the front tire. The trials tire front and knobby rear combo were a popular desert setup in the early days of desert racing and ties back to the On Any Sunday theme. Although not ideal for motocross, it was amazing in the dunes at Pismo. We also lowered the bike slightly, which we wouldn’t have done for straight-up racing across the desert, but other than that, it’s race-ready. The bike has very limited modifications and could be converted back to a stock bike, less a few tabs we ground off the frame. I’d love to see a group of dudes racing these things at full tilt in vintage gear, scrubbing and throwing huge whips. A modern vintage race series would be epic.

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