On the south side of State Highway 36, not far east of the Grove community, a western-style, cedar-sided building has become a gathering place for motorcyclists of all stripes.
Since opening its doors in December 2011, Grove Cycles quickly moved to the top of the list of independent motorcycle shops in Central Texas.
The business sells parts and apparel and maintains a full service department. On a recent weekday afternoon, several pristine, low-mileage used bikes for sale are grouped in the spacious parking area.
Described by his wife, Sandy, as “a fix-it guy,” owner Michael Gilbreath is the dominant force behind this enterprise, and not just because he’s a strapping 6 feet, 5 inches. Already the owner of two other successful businesses, he had an “ah-hah” moment while mowing his property.
“I was watching all the bikes cruise down the highway,” he said. “And I thought to myself: ‘What a perfect location for a motorcycle shop.’”
Moving into action, he decided to “just pour the foundation and go,” according to Sandy Gilbreath. The result of his eureka moment is a 4,000-square-foot building nestled among cedar elms, live oaks and pecan trees in the rolling landscape.
One reason for the rapid ascension of Grove Cycles may be the shop’s willingness to work on “metric bikes.”
“We don’t discriminate,” Gilbreath said, and the service bays reveal Honda Goldwings comfortably sharing space with Harley-Davidson touring rigs.
It’s not all about large-displacement motorcycles, either: a ’60s-era Honda 90 alongside a 45-year-old Yamaha 80, part of a local collector’s stash, have just been serviced.
The parts department is managed by Matt Broadman, who said that if their fully-stocked shelves don’t have exactly what the customer wants, “We can get it the next day through our special order service.”
Riding gear, special events
Grove Cycles is an authorized Custom Chrome, Drag Specialties and V-Twin dealer and has helmets, gloves, leathers and other riding gear.
Customers are offered additional events and activities to reinforce the Grove brand.
How important is this place to Broadman? Well, “Matt got married here,” Sandy Gilbreath said.
“We have bike maintenance classes, swap meets and Military Appreciation Day,” Gilbreath said.
“The swap meets are free for sellers, and our bike maintenance classes are complimentary, too.”
The next scheduled swap meet is Sept. 28; bike maintenance is Aug. 15.
Grove Cycles Service Manager Jay Symm lives in Lorena, but “my family’s from The Grove.”
This afternoon finds him fitting new tires on an ’04 H-D Ultra Classic, owned by Carroll Hemphill of Gatesville.
“I’m hoping this new rubber will give me 16 to 17,000 miles,” Hemphill said.
And his opinion of Grove Cycles?
“They’re fantastic — the service department and the whole shop in general,” he adds as Symm carefully rolls the big tourer out the door to test drive.
The shop has become a go-to resource for owners of older Harleys, too, since factory-authorized dealers no longer sell parts or service those models.
Sandy and Michael Gilbreath have a daughter, Sydney, 10, a student at Gatesville Intermediate.
Sandy Gilbreath said the whole family enjoys the business, especially Michael, even though “he’s spread kind of thin” running his other two enterprises.
With a glance at his wife, Michael Gilbreath said, a bit ruefully, “She’s living my dream.”