Kindred Karma

Story by Sam Longo// Photos by Sam Longo
April 14 2021

A 25-year friendship results in passing on the custodial duties for a much loved motorcycle.

For many of us, motorcycles often transcend being mere mechanical devices. We often build relationships with them, name them and even speak to them as if they were human. Occasionally, these “combustion-fired companions” can reward us, becoming a catalyst to create or spark future friendships. The story of this 1976 Honda CB750 Café Racer clearly matches that unique phenomenon.

It was a lovely Sunday morning, and the vintage motorcycles arrived in droves for some friendly bike banter and a good greasy breakfast. I was riding my own trusty 1973 Honda CB750 Café when a stranger approached and struck up a conversation. His name was Ed Liu and he offered to buy my bike. At that point, I had owned it for over 20 years and was not interested in selling. He already had a very nice fleet of classic motorcycles and I was quite flattered that he was interested in mine.

A Stunning Motorcycle

As fate would have it, we became friends and over the course of the next few years I helped him build his own. The CB750 Café Racer you see here is his creation. Originally commissioned and built by Carpy of California to Ed’s specifications, this motorcycle arrived in Canada almost ready to go from his point of view, but still required some fine-tuning and fettling. I pulled the engine and installed a Wiseco 836 kit, Barnett clutch and Dyna Ignition coils, and I rejetted the carbs. I also did some minor suspension work and Ed worked his magic on the cosmetics. A little later, Ed opted to install 29 mm Keihin CR race carburetors.

Ed’s CB750 Café Racer is a stunning example of the ’70s era single-cam Honda. Parked beside my own 1973 Honda at various rallies over the years, his always shone just a little brighter and always generated many admiring comments. Competition aside, our brotherhood, created over these two bikes, was complete.
As the years progressed, Ed’s bike collection grew, but he always had a soft spot for his hot rod Honda Four. Vintage Ducatis, Nortons and BMWs came and went, along with a plethora of modern motorcycles, but this Honda always remained as one of his favourites. He was an excellent rider and I soon learned to forget trying to keep up with him. Whether we were riding ’60s era 305 Super Hawks in a U.S. Moto Giro or blasting up to breakfast on our CB750s, his riding ability always put me to shame. I am sure he put up with me mainly because I could fix whatever mechanical gremlins occurred if his bikes ever failed him.
Unfortunately, in the end, I could only stand by and watch as his body…

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