Motorcycle enthusiast turns passion into an enterprise

Donnie Bryant donnie.bryant@empiretribune
Carlson, who has recently hired another mechanic to help him, still gives his personal touch to a bike entrusted to his care. DONNIE BRYANT/E-T

Small business owners are a crucial part of the American workforce, and Brian Carlson is a perfect example of someone who creates his own workspace and makes it a success. “I couldn’t find a job down here, I didn’t know anybody,” Carlson admitted. Not to be daunted by a lack of job offers, he set out to fill a need and opened Streamline Cycles at the corner of Frey and Belknap streets.

Question: What brought you to Texas from Illinois?

Answer: “Me and a buddy of mine just took off one day. Decided we were tired of shoveling snow and left. We didn’t know we were going to go to Texas. Just ended up here. We ran out of money.”

Carlson and wife, Venus, had not yet planted roots in Stephenville, but faced with an ultimatum when discussing the possibility of having a family, he found himself heading into unfamiliar territory.

“I didn’t want to raise kids in the city. Venus said, ‘Well, I’ll fix that. We’ll just move to Stephenville.’”

Question: Have you always been into bikes, and what prompted you to open your own shop?

Answer: “I’ve been doing motorcycles since I was 20 years old. I probably started back in ’80. I worked with dealerships up in the metroplex 'til I moved down here.

“I got my first bike when I was 17. That’s how I got into the business. I went to a local bike shop to have my bike repaired and they stuck it to me. And when I got it back, it was worse than when I took it in. I think I paid three grand for the bike, and my ticket for repairs was $1,500. I had this scary guy looking at me and saying, you know, ‘Pay up or you’re going to lose your bike.' I was like, ‘Wow, where am I going to come up with 1,500 bucks?’

“That’s basically how I got in the business. I got messed around real bad taking my bike in to someone else.”

Question: Someone like that gives bikers a bad reputation. Do you ever meet up with the stereotypical biker as portrayed in the movies?

Answer: “I have the best customers. They’re more than just a number. We know about them, their families. There’s a lot of loyalty and it’s a big family.

“My shop through the years is a neutral zone. If you have rival biker groups - at least for the years I’ve been in it - and they come into the same shop, they take their problems someplace else. It’s like a code of honor.

“Bikers are loyal and there’s a camaraderie here. I couldn't ask for better customers. I’ve been very blessed to have a Harley shop here in the Cowboy Capital of the World.”