By Kayleigh Rahn
For Tuscola’s Bill Noble and Dendi Gould, life is best lived on two wheels rolling down two-lane back roads.
With no limit on distance, from Florida to Tennessee, the couple will take off with a crew of two or 20 to see the sights and experience the wind.
Noble has been riding since 1968, while Gould, a third generation biker, has found wind therapy for 11 years. And as a “him and her,” as they say, biking has been a central part of Noble’s and Gould’s relationship.
“We love going to bike nights, and I think I’ve found a way to be around motorcycles all the time,” Noble said.
After nearly five months of searching, in April, the couple began work at the former Bumper to Bumper building on 100 W. Ficklin, where they’ve opened a bike service shop, Dark Horse Cycles.
“This building couldn’t be more perfect,” Noble said. “It needed a lot of work to make it what we wanted, but it’s turned out great.”
The space sat empty for nearly two years before they got to work. They widened doorways, remodeled the bathrooms, and converted the mechanic area and bike storage space.
Now, Noble, a self-taught mechanic, is taking on work for area residents.
“Since I’ve rode for so long, years ago I didn’t have the money to pay a mechanic back then, so I had to figure out things on my own,” he said. “That’s how I’ve learned over the years.”
Dark Horse is an all-service motorcycle repair and consignment shop that takes on all brands of bikes, scooters, and four-wheelers. They have riding apparel and accessories for sale, as well.
“We guarantee all our work, and we’ve already had repeat customers for different work,” Noble said. “Electrical, regular maintenance, just about anything and for the larger projects we’ll wait for winter (including engine rebuilds). We’re going to offer off-season storage, as well for a monthly fee. A lot of people don’t have the room in their garages. We’ll keep an eye on them for service and oil leaks, and they’ll be maintained with a battery tender on them.”
The couple says they’ve had several people say they are happy to have an option in town rather than running their bikes to Champaign or Decatur, Noble said.
“If they can’t get their bike here, we’ll help them get it here,” Gould said of their local customer base. “We’re not beyond going to pick one up and delivering one.”
After Noble finishes the service work, Gould spends time detailing the bikes.
“She’s the best detailer you’ve ever seen,” Noble said. “She spends the time to make them really look good.”
“My favorite thing is when he’s done all the work on it, I’ve done all the cleaning on it, then the customer comes in after it hasn’t ran in two years,” Gould said. “(Noble) tells them what is going on with the bike, and I can’t wait until they start it. The customer hears that bike run, and I keep an eye on their face. They just glow. It makes me almost want to cry. That’s just a thrill to me.”
The shop does not have set hours though they are typically open Monday through Friday 4-9 p.m. with weekend hours as well.
“We stay open on weekends because that’s when people are off work,” Noble said.
“We’ll do our riding earlier in the day,” Gould added.
They quietly opened their doors in July with word of mouth serving as their best advertisement.
“There’s a not a day we don’t have a couple people come in out of curiosity just to find out what services we offer,” Noble said.
Noble and Gould invite community members to come in, enjoy popcorn and coffee, and visit.
“We end up giving an awful lot of free advice, which I don’t mind a bit,” Noble said. “If there’s something a guy can do at home, and I can help in anyway, that’s fine too. I’ve always dreamed of having a motorcycle shop like this.”
Walk-ins and appointments are welcome. For questions, call 217-454-9710 or 599-1386.