Gt-moto talks fam­ily, duct tape, and life on two wheels

Motorcyclist - - Shift - BY NICK JAQUEZ

IN AN UNAS­SUM­ING, brick-clad Plano, Texas, neigh­bor­hood, the fever­ish pound­ing of a plan­ish­ing ham­mer can be heard above whirring lawn mow­ers and the soft jin­gle of wind chimes hang­ing above sun-drenched porches. A blind­ing flicker emit­ting from their mod­est two-car garage means that Sofi Tsin­gos and her fa­ther, Ge­orge, are hard at work cre­at­ing a be­spoke piece for a Gt-moto cus­tom mo­tor­cy­cle.

Around the garage are projects in every stage of con­struc­tion. On the lift, gath­er­ing dust while it awaits com­ple­tion, is Sofi’s per­sonal sin­gle-cylin­der hard­tail project. Bor­row­ing de­sign el­e­ments from the Art Deco styling that Sofi and Ge­orge love so much, the bike sits as cus­tomer or­ders take pri­or­ity.

An­other project in process, a Du­cati Sport Clas­sic, awaits body­work. Resting be­side the weld­ing ta­ble is Sofi’s first build, “Frank,” which is on leave from its owner, who is over­seas. Vin­tage head­lights, with pedi­gree enough to make their way to a restora­tion project or re­pur­posed onto a full cus­tom, line up atop cab­i­nets. To make more room amid the tight quar­ters, Sofi wheels a beau­ti­fully re­stored 1961 BMW into the drive­way.

Gt-moto, which is named for Sofi’s dad, was forged in 2013 shortly af­ter Ge­orge was di­ag­nosed with throat cancer and given four months to live. An ag­gres­sive reg­i­men of ra­di­a­tion treat­ments was pre­scribed by doc­tors to save his life. See­ing her fa­ther’s health, body, and spirit de­te­ri­o­rate, Sofi did ev­ery­thing she could to keep his mind and body ac­tive in their lit­tle garage. Whether it was the de­vel­op­ment of a part or sim­ply tight­en­ing a sin­gle bolt be­fore suc­cumb­ing to ex­haus­tion, the prob­lem solv­ing and cre­ation in­volved in con­struct­ing a cus­tom mo­tor­cy­cle helped Ge­orge per­se­vere, and he ul­ti­mately beat the cancer rav­aging his body.

Rewind roughly three decades to nearby Ad­di­son Air­port. Ge­orge—an air­craft main­te­nance me­chanic, a shop owner, a mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­ast, and a new sin­gle fa­ther—is try­ing to fig­ure out how to give his squirm­ing in­fant daugh­ter a ride aboard his 1973 BMW R90S. As with most sit­u­a­tions, the log­i­cal so­lu­tion was duct tape. Rid­ing with her fa­ther up and down the taxi­ways of the air­port, lit­er­ally ad­hered to top of the gas tank, in­stilled the love of mo­tor­cy­cles in Sofi.

The level of metic­u­lous de­tail of Ge­orge’s work led the likes of

well-known car builders Car­roll Shelby and Delmo John­son, among oth­ers, to travel across the coun­try (and the world) to have their air­planes main­tained by one of the best in the business. Reared in a hangar among air­craft wrenches, Sofi was des­tined to be me­chan­i­cally in­clined.

Mo­tor­cy­cles were a ma­jor part of the Tsin­gos house­hold. Sofi be­gan rid­ing dirt bikes at age nine. At 16, with the im­pe­tus of her fa­ther and the for­tu­itous ac­qui­si­tion of a free track ses­sion at the Dal­las In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor­cy­cle Show, she be­gan do­ing track­days. Mov­ing from a Suzuki GS500 to a Du­cati 748, she started mak­ing passes. Once she could push the 748 no faster, a race-prepped 996 pro­pelled her to a podium fin­ish, the one and only time she com­peted in for­mal com­pe­ti­tion.

Later, Sofi went on to en­roll at Wy­otech in Day­tona Beach, Florida, where she grad­u­ated at the top of her class. While Sofi was work­ing as a Du­cati ser­vice writer in New Hamp­shire, her fa­ther’s di­ag­no­sis spurred the move back to Plano so she could be near fam­ily and his physi­cians. As part of the re­cov­ery process, Sofi and her fa­ther be­gan build­ing mo­tor­cy­cles in their home garage as Gt-moto.

Sofi’s most re­cent project was a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Alicia Mariah Elfv­ing (bet­ter known as “Moto Lady”), an MV Agusta Bru­tale 800, which was raf­fled off, the pro­ceeds go­ing to St. Jude’s Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal. Each year, Gt-moto builds a bike for char­ity, and the Tsin­gos take great care in se­lect­ing the re­cip­i­ent. Be­ing touched by cancer them­selves, they felt that St. Jude’s com­mit­ment to the fam­i­lies of cancer pa­tients, as well as an ac­tive re­search pro­gram, earned their dona­tion.

BE­LOW Fa­ther and daugh­ter, the early years: Sofi’s twowheel ed­u­ca­tion be­gan while she was still in di­a­pers. ABOVE LEFT Ge­orge and Sofi Tsin­gos plan on mak­ing the move from their well-or­ga­nized al­beit full-to-ca­pac­ity two-car home garage to a larger ded­i­cated work­shop at some point in the fu­ture, but their cur­rent ad­dress has thus far served them well. When asked about her idea of their des­tiny as cus­tom mo­tor­cy­cle builders, Sofi ex­plained, “I want to cre­ate a place where an em­ployee can be gen­uinely happy and pro­vide for their fam­ily. I want to es­tab­lish a com­mu­nity for cre­ative peo­ple.”

BE­LOW Spe­cialty tools fab­ri­cated by Ge­orge Tsin­gos are scat­tered across work­benches, each marked sim­ply with a Sharpie. Out of sight, a lathe sits silent, the floor around it lit­tered with shav­ings from its last use. Packed tightly against the welder are a plan­ish­ing ham­mer and English wheel await­ing their next as­sign­ments. ABOVE Build­ing a cus­tom mo­tor­cy­cle has its ups and downs, Sofi said. “You are do­ing some­thing you have never done be­fore, so you are learn­ing a lot, but you are also hav­ing th­ese re­ally hard mo­ments.” BE­LOW LEFT The strik­ing MV Agusta Bru­tale 800 was raf­fled off, with pro­ceeds go­ing to char­ity. Gt-moto will surely con­tinue to im­press with its metal and al­tru­is­tic works well into the fu­ture.

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