Alumni Profiles

Anthony Santarosa

Motorcycle entrepreneur mixes engineering and creative design

Anthony Santarosa

Santarosa close-up
Degree: MS ’97; Favorite UB memory: Discovering the Internet. “Most access then was through text-based browsers like Lynx or Gopher.” Interests: Hockey. A season ticket holder of the Buffalo Sabres for the past 10 years, Santarosa is a goalie coach for the Grand Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles hockey organization, and plays regular Monday night pickup games. (photo by Douglas Levere, BA ’89)

When Anthony Santarosa, owner of Radioactive Cycles, a custom motorcycle manufacturer and retail shop in Tonawanda, New York, first enrolled in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 1991, his intention was to become a professor.

He had no idea that in just two years, life would take a dramatically different turn with a diagnosis of cancer, and that his goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur—combining his technical skill as an engineer with a lifelong love of motorcycles—would in fact be realized.

“Business has always been what I’m good at,” says Santarosa, who grew up riding mini-bikes and had dreams of being self-employed. “I noticed that the biggest companies in the world were not run by MBAs, they were run by engineers.”

Before enrolling at UB, Santarosa completed a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Rochester. At UB, where he says he thrived academically in the collegiate atmosphere, the focus was on the genesis of fundamental principles of engineering, and on optimization, “the best way to do things.”

“The program provided me with a different perspective on how to look at problems,” he says, explaining how the technical know-how of the engineer applies directly to the creative work of custom-fitting an existing motorcycle.

Typical requests are for unique handgrips, fenders or paintwork, while practical alterations require refitting the bike to accommodate a rider with a particularly tall, short or heavy frame. “Most customers say, ‘I want my bike to look like that,’ but they don’t know how to get it there,” he says. “I can look at something and say, ‘this needs to be done to achieve this look.’”

In 1993, midway through his UB graduate studies, Santarosa was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. After enduring two surgeries, achieving remission and starting his own business, Santarosa proudly states that getting married, having four healthy children, and obtaining his pilot’s license top a long list of accomplishments. He credits the support of UB colleagues, but most importantly his close-knit family, in aiding in his recovery and subsequent career success. “Family is everything. Without my family, I don’t think I could have done it,” he says. “They are the reason I am here.”

Story by Alexandra Chughtai-Harvey, BA ’99