A Café in Calgary

Story by Greg Williams// Photos by Mory Peterson
May 28 2024

An enduring friendship continued after this bike changed builders when one man couldn’t finish it.

For the money invested in this custom 1982 Honda CX500, Walter Loeppky says he could have purchased a modern-day, fuel-injected, factory-built café-racer style motorcycle. But, writing a cheque and riding off the showroom floor on a brand-new machine wouldn’t have been as much fun — or anywhere near as meaningful — to him or his good friend, Greg Wigle.

“I’m an unintentional motorcycle builder,” Loeppky says from his acreage just south of Calgary. “I never set out to build a café racer from a CX500, but Greg did.”

Loeppky and Wigle met more than 30 years ago. They shared a common interest in carpentry and small-scale construction projects and often helped each other in their creative endeavours. Wigle was a motorcyclist, while Loeppky was something of a latecomer to the sport. Although he’d always wanted to ride, he didn’t do training and obtain his permit until 2011, when he was in his late forties. With his Alberta Class 6 licence in his wallet, Loeppky bought a 2004 BMW R1150R. It’s a machine he’s ridden ever since.

Making the Commitment

He tells the story about making the decision to ride. “On June 1, 2011, I was at the U2 concert in Edmonton with friends,” he explains. “I turned to the friends sitting next to me, and told them that by July 1, I would have my bike license and a bike. I immediately registered for a two-weekend course, passed my test the day after I finished the course, found my bike at a dealer in Vancouver, bought a helmet and a one-way ticket to Vancouver, and rode the 2004 BMW home to Calgary on July 3 and 4, just missing my self-imposed deadline.”

Loeppky was also a competitive bicycle racer. In 2014, a member of his cycling club asked if he’d be interested in buying a Honda CX500 she’d inherited from her late father. At the time, Loeppky wasn’t, but “Greg asked what year it was, and I told him it was a 1982. Greg had owned a stock CX500 thirty-some years ago but sold it once kids came along.” For $500, Greg brought home the ’82 CX500.

“Greg is an electrician by trade, and he ran a renovation business and is a very decent mechanic,” Loeppky says of his friend. “He is a Jack of all trades, and good at all things mechanical. He’s built other bikes, too, and he’d always wanted to get another CX500 and build a café racer. He’d built a chopper at one time, and always wanted to try different things. He’d never built a café racer before, but he was curious and eager to put one together.”

The Build Begins

Essentially, this is a build story in three…

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