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