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Hidden Gems: Meet Nikola Bulajic of Pegasus Sidecar Tours

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikola Bulajic.

Hi Nikola, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I was born in the former Yugoslavia shortly before its dissolution, during which my parents packed up and began a new life in the United States in 1996, settling in Detroit. In pursuit of the sacred American Dream which to me never was a cliché, I was able to pursue undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and graduate studies at UCSD. During my undergraduate career, I was also very fortunate to secure two study abroad experiences, spending a year in Munich and another in Rio de Janeiro – two incredibly dynamic cities full of life where I worked as a tour guide and which infected my wanderlust. Shortly before my UM experience was to begin, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, so I took a year off to help her heal. When she was fully recuperated, I had a few months to fill before classes began so I purchased a cheap motorcycle, packed it with a tent and a few essentials, and hit the open road in the direction of whichever horizon happened to be the brightest each morning. The goal was to roam the country visiting as many national parks as possible, keeping to a minimal budget which forced a level of profound focus and self-sufficiency and allowed me to exercise and further develop my passions for travel, motorcycling, writing, photography, and camping.

So in 2011, I spent about four months and put 26,000 miles in the mirrors as I slowly got to know and fall in love with our beautiful country, in what I named The Pegasus Project – a solo world tour for the American Cancer Society. The following summer, I shipped my bike to Europe and did much of the same, learning to be self-sufficient and quite capable in this new passion of solo motorcycle adventure touring. That summer, I ended up reuniting with a young lady I met briefly in an elevator in Rio who shares a similar existential need for travel, and a few months later, we were married – we now have a toddler which has been a wild adventure. Much like the original settlers of times past, as with the founders of our great city such as Horton and Father Junipero Serra, along with the native local Kumeyaay people well before them, I moved to San Diego in 2014 in search of a better life which our great city has generously provided. Meditating one afternoon on the cliffs above Black’s Beach as the sunset behind the horizon about how to share my passion for motorcycle travel with locals and tourists alike, I created Pegasus Sidecar Tours – private, narrated city tours on the most advanced motorcycles and locally produced two person sidecars, cruising lazily along the coast exemplifying the idyllic SoCal lifestyle.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Save for the forced pandemic hiatus, overall the road has been challenging but gratifying. Naturally, starting a small business immediately after graduating has been a challenge. But fortunately the life on the road followed by two years of motorhome living in Michigan has made me a man of modest desires and humble needs. Navigating the complex local bureaucracy of starting a whole new business concept has also been challenging, but the extremely positive reactions to our tours has given me so much energy to push forward. My former experience of living abroad and working as a tour guide and the natural evolution of The Pegasus Project into Pegasus Sidecar Tours has made this experience very exciting. Another main difficulty has been navigating the bureaucratic jungle of California’s business regulations, as well as finding appropriate insurance coverage considering sidecar tours are such a novel offering in the guided city tour market. Ours was the first company of this kind on the West Coast, and we pride ourselves in using the highest quality motorcycle and sidecar combination available on the market.

Our motorcycles are the indisputable kings of the road – the iconic pearl yellow Honda Goldwings, the most sold motorcycle in history, made by American workers in Ohio. And our sidecars are state of the art 2-seaters made by a local company just up the coast and put together and maintained by a local mechanic from San Marcos. The challenges thus far have been predictably largely financial, COVID-19 closures not withstanding, in that the cost of entry, marketing, and conducting business has been significant – but I believe that a great personal service and such a unique experience will continue to be recognized and rewarded. San Diegans have always valued quality – our denizens’ active lifestyle is proof enough of this – and my goal is to continue to aim for nothing but excellence. I am very confident that our business will continue to thrive and grow, for we have nowhere to go but up; and thus what has been the main challenge so far will inevitably be overcome – however, a challenge that will always remain and that I take seriously, and wholeheartedly welcome, will be to represent our city well and to do it justice when introducing locals and visitors alike to its glorious past, dynamic present, and exciting future.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Pegasus Sidecar Tours offers private, narrated city tours in the most unique and exciting way imaginable – on a motorcycle with a sidecar. We cruise the coast lazily while the guide (myself) narrates in the background. San Diego being the birth of California, amazing history is present on virtually every corner. Our excellent weather and scenic surroundings just add to the experience. Our tours are personalized and customized to each individual or group according to their personal desires and expectations. We are also happy to accommodate pets because as San Diegans know best, life is better with a furry friend by your side! I take my guests to places they would likely never discover on their own or through other group tours, and the ride itself along with the equipment is part of the experience. We can fit up to three passengers – two in the spacious sidecar and one behind the guide, and each receives and HD Bluetooth helmet so that we can all communicate. We also offer romantic picnics by the beach considering in our busy, modern lifestyles, the typical wicker basket picnic seems to have become a rare artifact from the past.

We are most proud of creating a company that aims towards excellence in all respects – our personalized attention to detail has customers pleasantly surprised – this being such a novel entrant to the tourism industry, most folks don’t exactly know what to expect, and even locals learn a ton and see their city in a new light. And it all happens in an exciting and novel way. What sets us apart from other tour companies is that we are the first and only ones to bring this idea to San Diego, and we are the only sidecar tour company in the world to combine the two most luxurious motorcycles with the largest, most advanced and comfortable sidecar on the market, while stimulating the local economy through local partnerships we are always looking to expand. Many visitors often have only one day or one chance to get to know our city – my goal is that Pegasus Sidecar Tours is simply the best way possible to use that precious time – we take this, as well as representing our city properly, extremely seriously, and are honored for the opportunity to do so.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
My family has been the biggest support in this venture starting from my wife, herself an accomplished makeup artist and entrepreneur, who fully understands and supports my motorcycle addiction. There is a woman who does not mind sipping morning coffee while sharing the living room with various machines.

I also couldn’t have done this without the support of the very talented work of my business partner and professional photographer Peng Shi of www.pengshi.com– this is the best-traveled man I have ever met, by far, and his stunning photography is a gift to our city, as much as our city’s beauty is a gift to us all.

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Image Credits:

Peng Shi

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