Sofi, So Good
By Sean Mooney: You might expect someone whose childhood memories include being strapped to the tank of a motorcycle and taken for a ride to be very wary of bikes as an adult.
But it seems that this very experience had the opposite effect on 31-year-old Texan, Sofi Tsingos, who has enjoyed a lifelong love affair with motorised machinery. And the culprit? Her dad.
“Papa duct-taped me to the tank of a BMW when I was almost out of diapers,” Sofi laughs. “Then we went riding up and down the airstrip at his aircraft maintenance shop.”
Sofi grew up messing around with old cars and motorcycles in her father’s workshop. And the two still work together in their two-car garage in the northern suburbs of Dallas, otherwise known as the headquarters of their motorcycle customisation business, GT-Moto.
It has been about four years since Sofi started working in the garage full time. Before that, the certified BMW, Ducati and Triumph technician worked in mainstream service departments for several years.
It’s safe to say that there’s nothing mainstream about what she’s doing these days. GT-Moto’s builds and restorations include unique cafe racers like the Triton, built around an original Norton 1966 Featherbed Frame, and a 1977 Honda CB605 bristling with Suzuki, Harley-Davidson and Ducati performance parts. Then there’s a 1961 BMW R50/2, 1948 Harley Servi-Car and 1966 Ducati Sebring 350, among others. All beautiful. All unique.
“Each bike is different from the next and each one is telling its own story,” Sofi explains. “They all take a long time, as each one is made by hand. It brings me joy to see that we finished a bike for someone who cherishes it as much as we did during the building process. We learn from each build.”
Seeing the light
On good days, Sofi says her work becomes a form of meditation; other times, “it is a weight on my shoulders because it’s so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel”. “But once you see that light, you forget about all of the stress it puts on your body and mind,” she says. “It’s not for everyone, but it really makes you use your imagination. It makes you think outside of the box and be creative. It’s like you never grew up. You play and make things when you are a child. Why not keep doing it?”
Once you build something, Sofi continues, it needs to be looked after. “You can build something badass but if you don’t maintain it and take care of anything it needs then it becomes neglected,” she says. “It will tarnish, rot, rust and stop working one day. When you take care of something you have built by hand, it puts your mind at ease. If you take care of your bike, you take care of your mind. When you take it out for a ride, you will never worry about what you didn’t do. You know it’s healthy.”
The same applies to human health, Sofi says. “You nourish, clean, and manage your body and mind just like anything else you care about,” she says. This philosophy is central to the work of GT-Moto, which donates a portion of all profits to support cancer research and people who have been affected by cancer.
There is a very personal reason for this. “Cancer runs in both side of my family,” Sofi explains. “Papa almost lost his life years ago from lymphoma, and it was the worst hospital/doctor experience. I could go on for days about the story, but it’s what made us decide to start building customs to raffle off and donate all of the profits to different charities.”
‘The industry has been so good to me’
In 2016, Sofi was diagnosed with and treated for an autoimmune disease called ulcerative colitis (UC). Although she is currently in remission, she still experiences significant relapses and now has an increased risk of colon cancer. “I’ve learned a lot about UC as I had never heard of it before,” Sofi says. “Once I started telling people, I was sad to hear how many friends I have who have been dealing with it for a long time.”
Even though she has been able to keep her UC from flaring up for a while, Sofi decided to get stem-cell infusions in Panama late last year. “A friend actually opened a GoFundMe page to help with the infusions,” she explains. “It was strange being on that side of it. I am usually the one donating, so I’m incredibly grateful for their help. The industry has been so good to me.”
This philosophy might explain why Sofi is so willing to throw her support behind charitable pursuits targeting men’s health, such as the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and Full Tank Moto. “Men support women and we support men,” she says. “It already feels great to ride, it feels even better to ride a bike for a wonderful cause.”