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Meet Michel Valle of Alchemy Motorcycles in Barrio Logan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michel Valle.

Michel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Tijuana Mexico and raised in San Diego. I started building custom cars at age 15 when I purchased my first car, a 1966 VW Beetle. Not having much money growing up, I had to be resourceful and needed to learn how to work on my own car from the start. I have also always had love for art and design. Customizing cars was my outlet for both of my passions; mechanics and creating something beautiful. Later on, I purchased a condominium with my now wife. Not having much space to work with, plus wanting to get back into wrenching, I turned to vintage motorcycles to satisfy my need to start a new project. I had never worked on motorcycles before, so I took my time to learn every inch of my vintage 1965 Honda CB160. During this time, I took the opportunity to learn how to rebuild motors, paint, and weld. Being self-taught had its challenges but having the knowledge of how to paint and weld on my own was a gift that has given me much satisfaction. After building my first custom vintage motorcycle, friends and family that wanted their own motorcycles restored or customized. One project turned into two, two turned into four, and four turned into eight…… by then, I had crafted my own style of redesigning vintage motorcycles into my own vision. I draw inspiration from all kinds of things from architecture, fashion, to interior design, and so forth. What I am most inspired by is the aesthetic of vintage European race cars of the 40’s, 50’s, & 60’s.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Being self-taught has definitely been challenging. I have always been a hands-on person and combined with not wanting to bother anyone by asking them to teach me, I just figure things out on my own. Turning my passion into an occupation has been challenging in the sense of having to deal with the day to day logistics of running the business. Sometimes that part takes time away from what I really love to do, create.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Alchemy Motorcycles – what should we know?
Alchemy Motorcycles is a full-service customization and restoration shop. We specialize in pre-1980’s vintage motorcycles. We fabricate, paint, upholster, and rebuild vintage motorcycles to their former glory, and most of the time have them looking better than the day they left the factory. We are mostly known for our one-off custom builds. We try to tailor our builds for our customers by getting to know them personally. It’s important for us to meet in person and discuss the project in detail. We then have customers send us photos of things they like outside of just the motorcycle realm (What kind of clothes they wear, what kind of art they like, what kind of car they drive, …….). This truly becomes a collaborative build. We fit each customer’s personality and aesthetic while still keeping our sense of style to the project. I am most proud of being an example to my children that they can chase their dream and make it their own.

We chose the historic neighborhood of Barrio Logan because of it rich Hispanic history and vibrant art culture.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Alchemy Motorcycles wouldn’t be around today if it weren’t for the support of my wife, children, entire family, friends, and clients. From my wife pushing me to follow my passion, my older brother being my right-hand man, my family for providing free babysitting services, and everyone else who has contributed time, effort, and money to help me pursue my crazy idea of tailor made motorcycles.
 

Pricing:

  • Full custom builds starting at $6,000
  • Full restorations starting at $5,000
  • Partial custom builds starting at $4,000

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jim Sullivan; Nick Vuong; Alan Nakkash

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