For many people, motorcycles are a weekend hobby used for escaping the daily grind aboard a two-wheeled steed of steel. But for Randy Neighbors, motorcycles are more than a part-time pastime. Motorcycles are life. l Neighbors owns and manages Randy’s Cycles on East Henderson Street in Cleburne. There he crafts, repairs and sells bikes and parts. Although he has been at his current location for slightly more than a year, Neighbors has been serving Johnson County for more than 30 years. l “This is what I love to do. I’ve just always had grease under my fingernails,” he said, laughing. “It’s just always been a part of me.”

Neighbors, 50, works on almost any make or model of motorcycle and will make small repairs build custom jobs.

“We can build a ground-up custom if that’s what someone wants,” he said.

Neighbors doesn’t advertise, so all of his customers come by word of mouth. Not that he needs advertising — Neighbors is up to his neck in work, he said jokingly.

“When you’ve been doing this for a while, people tend to follow you,” he said. “If they trust you, they’re going to bring the bike back to you. It doesn’t matter where you go, they’ll follow you.”

Full throttle for others

Fellow Johnson County biker Gary Lillard can attest to the trust between Neighbors and his clients. He has been a client of Randy’s for 30 years.

“He’s a great person,” Lillard said. “He does quality work, he’s honest and he helps everybody.”

In spite of a wreck in 2002 where a truck knocked him off of his bike and ran him over, Neighbors continues to ride and expresses his love of the brotherhood of bikers.

Bikers are often portrayed as brawling miscreants in film and media, but Neighbors is quick to point out that most are upstanding members of society. For example, about 25 years ago Neighbors and other bikers banded together to create one of the areas longest running charity events.

About 1984, Neighbors and several other motorcycle enthusiasts decided to organize a Christmas toy run for needy families in the area. Jerry Webber, who is now judge of County Court of Law No. 2, was another founding member.

“He and I and some other motorcyclists in Johnson County and Ellis County decided to do a toy run to benefit the kids in Johnson County who may have a short Christmas without some assistance,” Webber said. “If it’s not the oldest, it’s close to being the oldest toy run, I think, in this part of Texas.”

The group worked with Child Protective Services to find families to help, Webber said. Toys were first distributed in the basement of the courthouse, but the event has since grown so large it is held at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Posse Grounds in Cleburne on the first Sunday in December, Webber said.

Neighbors has been a great help with the toy run and the area in general, Webber said.

“He’s been a good person for the county in the motorcycle business, and he does good things with the kids of the county,” Webber said. “He works hard, and is an asset to the community.”

Business and pleasure

Motorcycles were a part of Neighbors’ life well before he could legally ride.

“My dad, when he was in the military, rode scooters like Vespas, Lambrettas and Cushmans,” he said. “So I guess maybe it was in my blood from the start.”

From then on, it was likely just a matter of time, Neighbors said.

“The first motorcycle I owned, I bought from a next-door neighbor for $15,” he said.

The bike hadn’t run for several years, but Neighbors fixed it up in an afternoon and drove it up and down the alley because he was too young to ride it on the street.

After that, he was hooked, he said. Neighbors soon sold the bike, making enough profit to buy a better bike. After tweaking it, he sold it to buy another better bike.

“It just kind of went on from there,” he said.

In 1975, Neighbors began repairing motorcycles at his home, and when he needed parts, he’d go to the now-defunct Funtime Yamaha in Cleburne.

“The owner saw me in there regularly, and he inquired what I was doing with all these parts,” he said. “So I told him, ‘I’m fixing motorcycles.’”

Eventually, Funtime offered Neighbors a job as a commissioned mechanic.

“Apparently, I was taking some of their business, and they figured it might be better to have me on their side,” he said, laughing again.

After a few years as a mechanic, Neighbors worked for several other dealers, gaining the trust of some clientele. He save enough money to open a shop.

“I’ve taken some brief reprieves and tried some other things, like sales work, but I just keep coming back to motorcycles because this is what I know,” he said. “This is what I love, this is me.”

Philip Navarrette can be reached at 817-645-2441, ext. 2337, or

React to this story:


Recommended for you