Not many people know what they want to do when they grow up when they’re in junior high, but North Haven’s Steve Kobuta knew for sure. When the school handed out the career assessment surveys, he checked other and wrote in his career choice: a Harley Davidson mechanic.
Kobuta not only realized his dream by going to Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Florida after graduating from North Haven High School in 1994, but he has owned his own shop – S & M Cycles – for the past 10 years and he enjoys doing business in North Haven.
“The people are nice and it’s my hometown,” he said.
Kobuta’s interest in bikes started before he was even a teenager. He started riding dirt bikes at age 12 and rode his first Harley at 16.
“One of my older friends had a motorcycle and introduced me to it,” said Kobuta. “Ever since then I’ve loved working on them, riding them and the free spirit and brotherhood of it.”
After graduating from MMI, Kobuta worked at a dealership for 10 years, gaining experience. In 2002, he left the dealership to open a place of his own. Kobuta runs a full-service motorcycle shop that includes service work, motors, rebuilds and frame up jobs – and he even build bikes from scratch.
Though he originally specialized in Harley Davidsons, two years ago, Kobuta branched out to include almost anything with a motor on two wheels – and even some four-wheelers, too.
“Now I could do the Japanese bikes, dirt bikes and quads and even mopeds,” said Kobuta. “Something that sets us apart is everything is done in house on all Harleys from 1903 to 2012 – all the motor work, four cylinders, heads.”
Kobuta admits that owning his own business isn’t always easy, especially in today’s economy. Though this isn’t the first time he has had to struggle to make it through a hard time.
“I shattered my leg in an accident riding a dirt bike in 2003,” said Kobuta, who now has metal pins in his leg. “I almost lost the shop, but I got out of the hospital and came to work in a wheelchair.”
With the riding season coming to a close as winter approaches, Kobuta is hoping to pull in more business during the colder months. He also offers winter bike storage on a first-come first-serve basis.
There is one upside to having some downtime, though – Kobuta is able to work on his ultimate dream.
“I’d really love to have my own motorcycle out there someday – the Kobuta Chopper,” said Kobuta, who rides a bike he built himself. “It takes a lot of money to get there with the manufacturers’ licenses, but that is my ultimate goal.”