One of the most well-defined and recognizable lifestyles is that of people who are in love with Harley-Davidson motorcycles – bikers. Perhaps the mythos of this lifestyle – whether real or imagined – is captured best in two famous biker flicks: The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando as cop-hating Johnny Stabler from way back in 1953, and Easy Rider from 1969, starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson. And who can forget the song, Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf from the sound track of Easy Rider?
The biker lifestyle is not just an American phenomenon. It exists all over the world, even though the term for Harley owners and riders may be different. In Australia, for example, they’re “bikies,” instead of bikers. Doesn’t sound quite so intimidating, does it? Oh, well, the lifestyle is the same and except for riding on the wrong side of the road, an American biker would feel right at home with his Harley down under.
Whatever they’re called, many people have not only considerable sums of money invested in this lifestyle, they also have an emotional, almost spiritual bond that’s right up there with the cowboy culture.
Brian and Venus Carlson’s Streamline Cycles is one of the better-known biker havens in Erath County and has been since they opened in 2000. Brian is an American Motorcycle Institute, or AMI trained-and-certified mechanic and says, “We get everything from cops to cowboys in here, for everything from flat tires to complete rebuilds. We pretty much do it all.”
Asked how he got into the motorcycle business, he says, “I was about 17 and took my bike into a shop up in Illinois. The guy did a whole bunch of work that I didn’t authorize and it ended up that my repairs were about half what the bike had cost me in the first place. I thought, 'Hey, there’s money in this.’ So I went over to another after-market bike shop and talked to a guy there. He recommended I go to AMI down in Daytona Beach, Florida, which is what I did. It was intense but very good training.
“I went to work for the guy who told me about AMI, but business was slow and he couldn’t keep me on. I’d been to Texas once and liked it, so I headed out here,” Brian says. “I went to work for a couple of dealerships up in the Metroplex and did that for about 20 to 25 years.”
Brian says that this time of year, from about Thanksgiving through winter things slow down considerably. That’s when he works on longer-term projects like ground-up rebuilds.
“I try to keep one or two projects like that to keep me busy during winter.”
Asked about his customers he says, “I have the best customers anywhere in the country. I never have a problem with any of them. They pay on time for what I’ve done; no bad checks or any of that stuff. I’m really blessed with the quality of my customers.”