Riding To Sweet Sofia: Roaming Streets With Wine In Hand & Solving Bad Bike Vibrations

After navigating a herd of sheep in a village near Melnik, my ride to Sofia over a busy two-lane twisty road winds along the Struma River and through vast fields of colorful sunflowers. After an hour the road turns into a divided highway. The bike is running well, but in my feet, I sense a vibration, and I’m worried something is loose or wrong. Feeling it in my footpads, when I roll off the throttle, the backpressure causes more vibration. Then there’s also a rattling noise, I fear that the baffles in the pipe have shaken loose.

In Sofia, I find a hotel near the center in just over two hours. As I ride through the center and around the government building complex, it all becomes familiar. I last visited Sofia in the all of 2016 after touring from Iceland to Scandinavia (I took a ferry), the Baltic countries, and crossing the Danube from Romania to Bulgaria. Back then, I only spent two days here in the capital, so already I’ve explored and appreciated more of this country. Now on a new mission, I look forward to continuing the exploration.

In town, the vibration of my bike is more prominent. So I reach out to Militza’s boyfriend, Boyan who owns an automotive detailing center in Sofia and ask if he can recommend someone in Sofia. He tells me to stop by his shop in the morning, and if his team can’t figure it out, he’ll find someone who will.

Once settled into my hotel and with my bike securely parked in its garage below, I take care of business and send email and text messages to contacts here in Sofia and east to Plovdiv, and beyond. I plan to find more vineyards and farms that are changing the face ob Bulgaria’s food and wine scene. I also aim to discover more here in Sofia.

For dinner, I try to go to Karmare, recommended by Militza, but it’s dark and closed when I find it on a side street near the center. The sign on the door says they’re experiencing serious technical problems and will be closed until they resolve them. Militza suggests I try Bistrello, another good option nearby. By now it’s getting late, but luckily I arrive twenty minutes before the kitchen closes. My waiter suggests a grilled veal steak, and I choose a salad of pink tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and roasted peppers—a new preparation of the classic Balkan Shopska salad.

I choose a wine from Dragomir, a highly rated winery from the Plovdiv area southeast from here in the central part of Bulgaria. I plan on visiting the winery because they focus on making premium quality wines from Rubin, another local Bulgarian grape varietal. Tonight my choice from Dragomir is red wine blend of Rubin, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Not able to finish the bottle alone, I share a glass with my server.


Dining at Bistrello in downtown Sofia, Bulgaria’s vibrant capital city. Here’s a modern take on the classic Balkan Shopska salad.


I choose a wine from the Plovdiv area of Bulgaria, a blend of the Bulgarian Rubin grape with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Dragomir—I make a note to surely visit the winery when I head southeast.

The friendly and professional staff of Bistrello in Sofia decant my wine and let me walk home with a wine glass deserved for the Dragomir wine.

After dinner with still more than a glass in the decanter, I’d like to slowly sip the wine, but the restaurant is now empty, except for me and my glass wine. It’s time to close.  So I ask my server for a “to go“ cup so I can finish the wine in my hotel room. He wanders to the bar, pauses and shakes his head, returning to my table. He squints his eyes and scrunches his face. “This wine is too good to put in a cup,” he tells me. Here’s a gift from Bistrello, just take the glass.

Soon I’m walking the dark streets of Sofia with a glassful of Dragomir wine in a proper Schott-Zwiesel glass. I walk across the usually busy Vitosha Street Promenade, the few locals and outsets still sitting in cafes or strolling down the street barely notice me and my glass of wine. I take a sip and cross the street. Even the guy at the front desk at my hotel doesn’t blink when I roll into the lobby with my glass of wine.

The next morning I ride to Kushev Detailing to meet Boyan who offered to look at the bike. He greets me with fresh espresso, and we all survey the motorcycle. I kick the lower part of the exhaust that connects to the SuperTrapp pipe. It rattles. There are just three points that connect the exhaust system from the pipe to the engine.

The Kushev Detailing shop is modern and clean. Two black Skodas with back tinted glass sit shiny and clean as if the garage is a Skoda showroom. Another employee works on a BMW. The floor is spotless, and the shelves are all lined with products designed to clean, preserve, and protect automobile finishes. I’m impressed.

One thing is sure, the baffles in the pipe are loose, and that’s the culprit for the noisy rattling—but not the vibration I feel in the footpads. A close examination shows that the lower part of the pipe is rubbing against the bracket where the Jesse Bag connects. So the vibration of the exhaust, especially under back pressure, sends a vibration to the bracket which likely causes the Jesse Bag to vibrate, too.

Over about an hour, the team at Kushev Detailing in Sofia fights and muscles the brackets and bolts around the exhaust until they finally get the rear bracket away from the exhaust. It’s difficult, because of the complex Jesse system, adjusting one area affects another area. But they succeed.

Boyan Kushev (R) and his twin brother Boncho (L) along with their friend and partner Martin Lakov in the middle all of Kushev Detailing in Sofia muscle my exhaust and Jesse brackets so it will no longer vibrate. Thanks guys!

As for the loose baffles and vibration from inside the pipe, I’ll find someone down the road who has the packing and rivets. I must take the pipe apart—a much bigger project than we can tackle here—we got the most important issue resolved. I’m not worried anymore.


Mentioned In This Post

ul. “Knyaz Boris I” 66
1463 Sofia Center, Sofia
+35 089 540 5555

Kushev Detailing
bulevard “Sveti Kliment Ohridski” 67
1756 Malinova dolina, Sofia
+35 088 870 3149



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