All in the Family: 1972 Yamaha XS650

Join Andrew and Martin Dolcini as they revive a family heirloom.

Photo by Nick Cedar

In the 1960s, you could get old American motorcycles for next to nothing. The few eccentrics who were interested in these two-wheelers amassed huge parts stashes for less than the rent on a warehouse to store them.

By the late 1970’s, enough people were collecting American bikes to start prices climbing, but older British and European motorcycles, and parts for them, could be picked up by enthusiasts for cheap. Time went on, and by the turn of the millennium, prices for classic American motorcycles were often five and six figures, with British bikes not that far behind. At which point, collectors discovered Japanese classics — that is, some Japanese classics.

Looking back

Somehow, while older Hondas have acquired a following, Yamaha 650 twins from the 1970s can still be bought for a song. That isn’t to say that people don’t love them or that they are bad motorcycles, just that they have not become collectible — yet. Enter Andrew and Martin Dolcini. The Dolcini brothers have started a workshop for the restoration of 1970-1983 Yamaha twins, and have apparently hit pay dirt. They haven’t needed to do any advertising — word of mouth is bringing in customers.

Photo by Nick Cedar

The Dolcinis are historical all by themselves. They descended from one of several Italian families who emigrated to Northern California in the 1850s, shortly after the Gold Rush got underway. Milk products and fruit were short of supply in Gold of prices. Of course, there was also a roaring trade in alcoholic beverages. The Italians pooled their money, bought land North of San Francisco, and started farms. The rolling hills looked a lot like home, and the Northern California coast has a Mediterranean climate, enabling the newcomers to use the farming techniques they had learned back home in Italy. The California wine industry was started by these immigrants. Other Italian families, like the Dolcinis, opened dairies, and still others built boats, became commercial fishermen, and invented both cioppino (San Francisco fish stew) and the crab feed.

Kurt Sitzberger
2/18/2021 3:44:40 PM

One of the first bikes this 61 year old seriously considered. So why didn't I get one?

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