What is the best way to explore the Algarve? On two wheels, with a concierge and lots of style
Putting on a helmet, hopping on an iconic bike, gliding around bends and enjoying the summer breeze with class and style must be one of the best ways to discover the most beautiful spots in the Algarve. “Our goal is to get someone to drop everything, grab a charismatic bike, set off on a charming road and feel unique and unforgettable emotions,” Nuno Ramos, one of the managers of Soulful Bikes, sums up passionately.
With headquarters in Alcoutim, the company was created in late 2016 by three friends who shared a common passion: motorcycles. Throughout their lives they had memorable experiences all over the world that left their mark. “We basically created something we wished someone had already established in Portugal. We would have undoubtedly been their best clients,” he states. Nuno recalls learning how to ride a motorcycle with his grandfather at a young age, and the passion has remained forever.
With a business management degree and a background in banking until March 2017, he traded in the suit and tie required in his position as manager of a bank branch in Quinta do Lago to fully dedicate himself to his passion for bikes. His partner, Arão Guerreiro, is the most international member of the group: “A true globetrotter, who travels the world for academic and professional reasons,” Nuno reveals. Arão has a degree in business management, an MBA from the IE Business School, in Madrid, and an international career linked to consultancy.
The third member of this biking family, Márcio Castro, was the company’s driving force. With a degree in business information technology from London South Bank University, Márcio works in the oil and gas sector, managing complex information system projects in Europe and Africa. He was the one who convinced his friends to turn their addiction into a business. “He gets more tired on his holidays than when he is working, searching for the most incredible places and experiences,” Nuno praises.
Something that sets Soulful Bikes apart is that they provide two-wheeled experiences that champion “the Algarve’s more authentic side while driving unusual bikes”. Their current fleet has four iconic models. The Royal Enfield Classic 500, for example, invokes the post-World War II period. “Despite having all the latest safety technology, riding it is like stepping back in time. It is very easy to drive and perfect for the streets of typical Algarve villages,” he assures.
For the cofounder of Soulful Bikes, the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom is “the ideal bike for those who appreciate a custom style”. According to Nuno, “it offers low-position, solid, raw driving, where you can feel the unmistakable roar of a Harley-Davidson engine”.
“The rebel BMW R nineT Scrambler is, in my opinion, an irreverent and breathtaking bike,” says the cofounder, who describes it as ideal for cornering Algarve mountain roads. “Its precise driving pairs perfectly with the boxer and binary engine, which gives it a great deal of power that put a smile on any biker’s face.” Lastly, their top-of-the-range model is the brand new Harley-Davidson Street Glide. “It’s meant to devour kilometres with plenty of comfort and elegance. In true American style, it has a large-cylinder, binary engine, and powerful sound speakers,” he says.
Another exclusive treat available upon request is the concierge road service. “It is the highest level of route personalisation for a client. Soulful Bikes’ Riding Concierge team is different from anything else in the Algarve. Not only do they design a route around the client’s needs and interests, they also personally ensure a memorable experience, Nuno explains. The Riding Concierge is a road companion who accompanies the client along the whole route, ensuring the experiences are in keeping with their interests – from fine food and wine tastings to fabulous landscapes and roads with challenging bends.
“No request is too outrageous for us. We have had to catch planes, create a special picnic with champagne and the best produce from the Algarve mountains and even give a client a ride – because even without a motorcycle driving licence they didn’t want to miss out on the experience,” he reveals. However, there are already several preestablished route suggestions designed to maximise the two-wheeled experience.
Above all, the routes aim to show “the most authentic roads and landscapes of inland Algarve”, since, as the cofounder of Soulful Bikes explains, motorcycle enthusiasts appreciate “roads with a good proportion of curved and straight tracks, little to no traffic, surprising views and unusual activities during their ride”. The routes are designed according to the chosen bike model, the duration of the experience and the client’s preferences. One of their most popular routes links Foz de Odeleite to Alcoutim, with the Guadiana River keeping bikers company on the trail, which also goes through a river beach in the heart of Alcoutim. But the EN2 route, with its twists and turns, is also popular with biking aficionados and even includes several pointers on the best locations to enjoy the views and Algarve gastronomy.
There are currently several pick-up and drop-off points between Alcoutim, Faro and Lagos, and the service can also be provided at any other convenient location, such as Faro Airport or hotels. Daily bike rental varies between €80 and €250.
According to Nuno, the best is yet to come. In the future, in addition to continuing to develop exciting routes, there are plans to also invest in sectors such as tourism promotion and accommodation.
Nuno finishes with the old adage that, more than just a whim, riding on two wheels is a way of life: “Riding a charismatic bike through stunning landscapes creates feelings that fill the soul.”