Leave it to Roland Sands to build what might be the coolest motorcycle to ever wear the Chief name. Of course the guy who invented the Super Hooligans series for big-bore twin bikes is going to come up with a fun and interesting way to make the series all the more interesting. While the team has put together a number of FTR1200 racers to run on dirt in that class, this year the series is running a few paved road courses. Why not flip the class on its head and throw a massive aircooled twin in the mix?
The new 2022 Chief is an improbably good mid-sized cruiser, but I’d hardly ever consider it a sports machine. That’s what makes this subversion all the better. It’s taking a machine that was never meant for a task and pushing the square peg through the round hole. And it works better than even I could have expected.
Where the stock 111 cubic inch Thunderstroke engine produces around 79 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque, this one has been fitted with an aftermarket “Stage 2" performance kit, including new cams, a bigger intake, and new engine mapping, good for about 90 horsepower and 130 foot-lubs. Throw in the free-flowing equal-length custom race exhaust, and it’s probably even a bit more than that. Compare that to the heavier watercooled 120 hp/87 lb-ft found in the FTR1200s that Roland’s team runs in the same series, and there’s an interesting fight on our hands.
This new Chief was built to the hilt a month or so ago in preparation for the inaugural Bagger Racing League round at Utah Motorsports Complex. While this didn’t run in the Premier Bagger class that got all of the headlines and column inches (LOL) the Big Twin class where this machine played, was even more competitive with 20 bikes on the grid. Pro-rider and occasional journalist Rennie Scaysbrook took the Chief out for its first race, and promptly won the whole shooting match ahead of a race prepped Harley FXLR Softail.
After its win last month in Utah, the bike was prepped for the Laguna Seca round, where it would be up against a different level of machinery. Instead of the Bagger Racing League’s Big Twin class, where basically only mid-sized bikes like this are allowed to compete, it would be racing in the Super Hooligan category during the MotoAmerica weekend. The bike was prepped for pro-racer Eric Bostrom, who managed to finish in tenth position, but was no match for the more roadcourse-ready KTMs, proper FTR1200s, Ducatis and Aprilias in the class. In fact, nobody was prepared for the speed of the KTMs, which saw Chris Fillmore and Andy DiBrino streak away from the field, some three seconds a lap faster than anyone.
Obviously a factory-stock Chief isn’t going to be running quick lap times anywhere, so what exactly did RSD do to this bike to get it up to race pace? Well, for one thing they replaced just about every part outside of the factory frame and engine. Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the front fork and brake and fender are factory FTR1200 fare, as are, well, a lot of things. The shop basically built an aircooled FTR, and I’m totally here for it.
I just get so riled up by these weirdo builds, and I hope that the proliferation of baggers and cruisers in road racing continues, because I definitely want to see more of it.
When I asked RSD what went into the build, this is the list they sent over. It’s... extensive.
116 cubic inch displacement
Indian Stage 2 Cam Shaft, Throttle Body & Injectors
Indian Stage 1 Intake
Dunlop KR448 Front Tire 120/70 R 17
Dunlop KR451 Rear Tire 200/60 R 17
Loydz Garage ECU Tune
RSD 17” Race Wheels
RSD Custom Equal Length Stainless Steel Exhaust System 2-into-1 with SC Projects Muffler
RSD Custom High Clearance Billet Primary Cover
RSD Handlebar Risers
RSD Billet Gauge Mount
RSD Custom Chromoly Handlebars
RSD Custom Chain Idler
RSD Custom Regulator/Rectifier Mount
RSD Custom Adjustable Shift Linkage
RSD Custom Front Brake Lever Guard
RSD Custom Adjustable Sub-Frame
RSD FTR1200 Front Brake Reservoir Cap
RSD FTR1200 Rearstand Spools
RSD Super Hooligan Front & Side Number Plates & Mounts
FTR1200 Rear Reservoir with RSD Reservoir Cap
FTR1200 Carbon Fiber Front Fender
S & S Triple Clamps
S & S Chief/Challenger Hubs
S & S Chief/Challenger Triple Clamps and Rear Caliper Bracket with Brembo P34 Caliper
S & S Chief/Challenger Chain Drive Countershaft Sprocket
S & S Challenger Rearsets with RSD custom mounting brackets
Saddleman Tail Section
Saddleman Custom Seat
Saddleman Custom Tank Pad
Saddleman Carbon Fiber Belly Pan
ASV Unbreakable Clutch Lever
K & N Oil Filter
Motul Twin 20W50 Oil
Brembo P13 Rear Master Cylinder
Brembo Serie Oro Rear Brake Rotor
Brembo 17RCS Front Master Cylinder
Brembo M4 Cast Monoblock Front Calipers
Brembo T-Slot Front Rotors
Rizoma Foot Pegs
Spiegler Brake Lines
Vortex Rear Sprocket
RK Pro DR 530 Chain
FTR 1200 Forks with GP Suspension Cartridge Kit
Antigravity Lithium Battery
Stomp Grip Tank Traction Pads
15” Fox Dyna Shocks
Speedymoto Crash Sliders
Heal Moto Quickshifter