Photography by Marc Urbano
In many ways, this bike was bound to happen. It had no choice. You might even say that builder Steve Carpenter, a 43-year-old expat Brit, has café-racing in his blood.
“My old man was a total nutter on his 500 Matchless,” says Carpenter. Dad was a member of the famed 59 Club, the original London café-racer clique.
Soon after son “Carpy” was of licensable age, he became a dispatch rider plying London’s unforgiving avenues, racking up hundreds of thousands of miles in all kinds of weather, many of those on single-cam Honda CB750s.
“I love the engine,” he says. “Dead reliable. And if it ever did need repair, the sohc 750 was made for nine years (1969-78), so parts were always available.”
Given Carpenter’s history, it’s only logical that he makes a living today turning out café-racers based on the 750 Four. His SoCal shop, Nostalgia Speed & Cycle (www.cb750cafe.com), has completed about 20 so far. This one, originally a ’75, is his daily ride.
Period GT grips and chromed controls ride on a dropped clubman handlebar, giving a real café feel. As does the view from the shortened H2R Kawasaki tailsection over the 5-gallon Dunstall petrol tank. A classic “pedestrian-slicer” front license plate is included, of course, and lots of checkerboard.
Carpy’s café-racer gets its mojo from a Yoshimura 910cc kit, Kenny H cam and a polished head. Rebuilt stock carbs with polished tops and K&N pod filters do the aspirating; a Yosh 4-into-1, fashionably stubby, takes care of combustion’s after-effects.
Building this bike at home was not an easy task. No room in the garage meant the work was done under the eaves on the porch, Carpenter wrapped in a blanket and sipping cups of tea to stay warm. The bike was completed late into the evening of December 24th. Remember your Christmas present from last year? Neither do we.