Kent Sweeney turns lifelong love into new business with opening of Side Street Cycles in Waukon

Brigitte and Kent Sweeney of Side Street Cycles

Waukon native Kent Sweeney has been an avid motorcyclist for over 25 years. He and his wife, the former Brigitte Brennan from Lansing, have turned his passion for motorcycles into a profession by opening Side Street Cycles, located at 104 First Avenue NW in Waukon. Opened for business April 1, Side Street Cycles is a motorcycle service center specializing in American V-twins and offering all services from basic maintenance to full custom builds, expert performance advice and both on-hand and special-order parts and accessories.
A motorcycle enthusiast since an early age, after graduating from high school Sweeney enrolled in the motorcycle repair program at Iowa Lakes Community College, where he graduated with honors. He continued his education by enrolling at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Phoenix, AZ and graduated with multiple expertise awards. “My first job in the motorcycle business was in Austin, TX at Central Texas Harley-Davidson,” Sweeney said. “After a short time, I became the shop foreman but was quickly offered a job as a motorcycle technician back in my hometown.”
After accepting the position in Waukon, Sweeney achieved Master Technician status in the minimum six years required by Harley-Davidson, and he has completed all Professional Harley-Davidson Assessments to date. “Ten years later while working at Waukon Harley-Davidson, I felt the need to pursue my dreams of owning my own service center,” Sweeney said.
The business model for Side Street Cycles is customer based, with the needs of customers coming first. While large dealerships have several departments (parts, service, sales, etc.), Side Street Cycles customers deal with only one person, whatever their needs may be.
“I feel my business is unique because I am your parts salesman, service manager and technician all in one. You won’t have to talk to multiple people to get one job done correctly. I offer professional work and a great atmosphere while still maintaining a personal level with the customer,” Sweeney said. “Before I started my own business I knew everyone’s name and machine but I couldn’t tell you what they looked like since I was behind the scenes working and not up front talking to the customer.”
Sweeney believes professional recommendations, professional work and safety are also important aspects of the customer experience. “I believe a customer’s motorcycle is meant to be ridden,” he said. “Recommendations will be given based on my knowledge of what works well with the riding style that the customer prefers.”
Sweeney says he believes a motorcycle should perform, look and feel better than it did before it was serviced at Side Street Cycles, and all safety checks will be performed no matter what kind of work is being done. "From basic maintenance to upgrading your machine, the customers should feel confident knowing that everything was done at the highest level of expectations," Sweeney remarked.
Owning his own business has been a lifelong dream for Sweeney. “I wanted to be able to make the customers’ dreams and ideas for their motorcycles come true for them without having the dealership pressure involved. Being able to have their machines maintained and serviced properly at an affordable level is something that is important to me, as I also have motorcycles,” Sweeney said.
Choosing Waukon as the location for his business was an easy decision for Sweeney, who is the son of Dennis and Nancy Sweeney of Waukon. “I am originally from Waukon and my family is here,” he said. Sweeney and his wife have two children, Chase (6) and Raven (2), as well as a chocolate lab named Mocha.
“You can’t beat our area for riding in all aspects,” Sweeney added. “From street riding to off-road riding, our local area has the best scenery and area to enjoy. We also have a lot of tourism attraction for our winding type of roads, which makes our area even more beautiful.”
In the future, Sweeney says he’d like to expand his business to include not just motorcycles, but side-by-sides, ATVs and personal watercraft. “If I get that big I would eventually employ a few people to make everything go smoothly,” he said.
Side Street Cycles is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 12 noon. For more information, visit or call 563-568-2048.