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1956 BSA Goldstar

  • Motorcycles
  •  | 
A Lifetime on Two Wheels
Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio
As we dance through the whirlwinds of life, many of us run into periods where it becomes a challenge to find time for our interest in motorcycles. Whether it’s a new career, starting a family, or struggles with health, these changes can hold us back from our hobbies. The goal is to stay involved however we can, even if it’s simply spending time in the garage or hitting the trails on Sunday.
Joe Anania is a great example of someone who never let his passion for two wheels drift out of sight. He started racing motocross in the days of steel gas tanks and poor suspension before getting a service job at a local Kawasaki dealership. Eventually, Joe became an aircraft mechanic, sending him around the country for quite some time before returning to Pennsylvania just a few years ago. During that stretch, he kept involved with bikes in numerous ways, most notably by starting his own shop and keeping an ample collection of motorcycles. We’re grateful to have met up with Joe on his beautiful property in Washington county to talk about both his history with bikes and the lovely 1956 BSA Goldstar pictured here.
What influenced your obsession with motorcycles?
Joe Anania: I grew up racing motocross and harescrambles in Western Pennsylvania. Rocky Ridge, Murraysville, Aliquippa–there were tracks all over back then. I started out in the 100cc class with a Kawasaki G31M. It was originally a flat tracker, but the guy I bought it off of converted it into a dirtbike and lengthened the swingarm. After that, I raced a lot of 125cc bikes before all of the goodies. There was no power valve or water cooling, but you learned how to really ride a bike. You had to keep it on the pipe at all times.
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
How did you get involved with working on bikes?
JA: I initially learned how to work on motorcycles when my first machine, a Kawasaki G4TR, kept breaking down, and I couldn’t afford to keep bringing it to the dealer. After some time, I started repairing bikes for guys who rode in the woods behind my parents house in Brookline. Later, I answered an ad in the paper for a motorcycle mechanic at Kawasaki of Pittsburgh on Route 51. I was there for several years working for Tom and Carol DeRosa, who were fantastic people to whom I will always be grateful. They gave me the opportunity for my life long career as a technician.

After that, I attended PIA (Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics) and moved to Florida after graduating to work at the Pratt and Whitney Research and Development Center on jet and rocket engines. I then moved to Minnesota a few years later for a job with Republic Airlines. This is where I became interested in British motorcycles and started restoring and repairing them.
Tell us about the shop you had in Minnesota.
JA: My shop was a one-man show, but it did great. I built a machine shop and specialized in vintage motorcycles. It was ninety-percent Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki, simply because of numbers. The British bikes were mainly Triumph with some BSA and Ariel models.

Eventually, I started doing magnetos. Doug Wood in Pennsylvania and another guy in Texas would mentor me over the phone. I built a magneto test stand, and the work filled the winter months when I wasn’t as busy with mechanic duties. It was fun, and I figured it was a nice job for when I retire.

I moved back to the Pittsburgh area in 2019.
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
When did you start collecting and restoring bikes?
JA: It just sort of happened–from one motorcycle to suddenly tripping over bikes in the shop. I started buying and flipping them before building a couple of cafe racers each year. I got into restorations during the winter months, but in comparison, I made ten times more by just fixing bikes. I don’t really like doing restoration work because you follow a book. The custom work was more enjoyable and gave me the time to make gas tanks, chain guards, and lots of different parts. Being creative and using different machines was what I preferred.
Where did this 1956 BSA Goldstar come from?
JA: I’m a glutton for punishment because BSAs are probably the least reliable and poorly engineered bikes out there, but in my eyes, they’re the best-looking bikes going. I knew a guy on who met up with a group of us at the Mid-Ohio vintage motorcycle event. He was selling this bike, but it was different than it looks now. It was a race bike, and I knew he put a lot of money into it with the Ceriani front forks and five-speed gearbox. I had sold my house at the time and wanted to buy a bike that I really wanted. It needed a lot of work, and I changed it around as far as the seat, some metal fabrication work, and other details. It needed some care to make it work right, but the basic bike was pretty good to start with.
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
What makes Goldstars so sought after?
JA: They had a huge following and were one of the fastest bikes back then. I like them because of the way they look and run. This one in particular is nice because of the five-speed gearbox. The four-speed can have trouble with highways.
Where do you think the motorcycle industry is heading?
JA: Hopefully, it continues for a long time. The talk about eliminating bikes in Europe is worrisome, and I think all of us are concerned about the electric scene. I don’t mind it but don’t know if the battery is the answer.
Any advice you’d give to the younger guys getting into bikes?
JA: Just do it. You don’t have to spend much money. If you have a passion for it, you’ll be good at it. I learned so much on my own just because I wanted to do it. Nowadays there’s so much information on the internet. It’s something I use as a tool in my shop. If you want to learn or need an answer, chances are it’s somewhere on the internet.
Do you have any future plans with bikes?
JA: I’m going to keep tinkering with them. I’m doing some restorations right now, but when I get to the point of having enough equipment again, I’ll get back into more of the custom stuff.
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
BSA Goldstar cafe racer motorcycle Pittsburgh Moto
  • Featured in Issue 13
  • Built by JOE ANANIA
  • Words by KURT DISERIO
  • Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
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