100+ horsepower, 350-lb Honda “CB890CR” from Barber’s backyard…
When Chris Klamer of Alabama set out to build a cafe racer, he wasn’t going to settle for a simple set of clip-ons and rearsets. He says:
“With most café racers it’s throwing some handlebars on the bike and rear foot pegs and it’s a café racer which for the most part is true. I just wanted more and so it was a full ground up build that took 3 years to get to where I am now.”
The result of those three years of hard work is his big-bore Honda “CB890CR,” built from a 1981 Honda CB750K donor he bought in rough condition from a local shop. The bike now sports the front end from a 2003 Hayabusa, a handmade aluminum tank, a spectacular paint job from one of the finest hot rod shops in the country, an 890cc motor built by Dan Marrs, and much more.
The performance numbers are simply staggering. Whereas the stock CB750K makes 67 rear wheel horsepower at a wet weight of over 500 pounds, Chris Klamer’s CB890 makes 100.6 rear wheel horsepower…at just 350 pounds soaking wet! This has to be one of the fastest street-legal CB’s in the country. The bike makes frequent appearances at the Barber Vintage Festival, where it won the Best Custom award in 2016 at the Motorcycle Classics magazine booth.
Below, we get the full story on this incredible machine.
“CB890CR” CB750K Cafe Racer: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I was always tinkering on bicycles, building customs. So it was kind of natural to move on to the motorized version. Started with mini bikes and moved up to Yamaha Enduro 60 then a Yamaha Enduro 175, next was a 1974 Honda CB350. After I blew that engine I bought a naked Honda Goldwing in 1978 brand new — I was in love with that bike. I now have a 1979 identical to that one that I have restored. I must have put over 100,000 miles on that bike and then my dad took it and added even more.
But then there was a time I had no bikes and just got back in to them about 10 years ago. Found a wonderful group of guys that love old motorcycles North Alabama Vintage Motorcycle Club (NAVMC) for short. We tend to have several gatherings a year and some neat rides. Being around them has fed my enthusiasm for restoring bikes.
Before all of that though I wanted to build a café racer but finding a likely candidate was being difficult. I already had my 2012 Kawasaki Concours so I had a reliable bike to just get on and go and at the time I had the funds to pursue this endeavor. Luckily, I happened by my local shop and they had a 1981 CB750K sitting on the table getting it ready to sell so I immediately told them I would take it. It barely ran, puked gas out of the carbs, and wouldn’t get out of its own way the one time I rode it.
At the time I had nowhere to put it and the person going to build my engine was too busy so it had to sit at that shop for 6 months before we could get the bike in for the engine to be removed. I was going to be working on the rolling chassis while the engine was being built. What you see now is the second version, which was my original goal, but at the time finding parts was tough so I ended up going with all stock parts. Not only was the bike heavy but it was scary to even ride.
That was when I started doing research on front ends and found that the 2003 Suzuki Hayabusa front end would literally bolt right on to the stock frame without a lot of changes. So we ended up using the entire front end even the stock steering stabilizer. The rear wheel had to be 5 ½” so the 6” Hayabusa would be too wide so went with a matching wheel from a 2000 Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit. This was the beginning of the existing version of my café racer.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1981 HONDA CB750K
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
After going to Barber’s Vintage Festival a couple of times the concept of the Café Racer peaked my interest. Soon I started doing research and I have noticed that the term café racer is used very loosely. With most café racers it’s throwing some handlebars on the bike and rear foot pegs and it’s a café racer which for the most part is true. I just wanted more and so it was a full ground up build that took 3 years to get to where I am now.
Unlike most people who will sit down and draw on paper what they want, I wasn’t that organized I just knew what I wanted in my head. When I did the rolling chassis I had everything welded and just knew it would work and luckily it did — not everyone can get away with that. Especially when you start putting wider tires and bigger brakes on a frame that was configured for much older style parts. I was just lucky.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The stock side engine covers were done with a water graphics carbon fiber pattern and then I sat down and hand-painted the lettering in to match the bikes color. I just like the extra little details. The upper carbon fiber triple tree cover was custom made by a gentleman out of Russia. The JMC Race swingarm had custom mounts welded on by Dan Marrs of Marrs Performance so we could mount that rear hugger that actually belongs on an Aprilia motorcycle. But looks like it was made for this cafe racer. I also took great pride in just making sure the fasteners all matched and or were very clean looking for the install.
• How would you classify this bike?
Definitely a Café Racer
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Yes, the engine build was done to perfection by Dan Marrs of Marrs Performance Motorcycles. He was hesitant at first because he specialized in Suzuki race engines for drag racing, WERA, and AHRMA. This was his first vintage motorcycle for an extensive engine upgrade. Because of the size of the Wiseco kit, the engine had to have all new piston sleeves. So they could be bored out to the piston size. He also had to slot the cam sprockets, so he would be able to degree them.
One of the main problems with the CB750K was airflow — it just completely fell off the stock engine. Dan was able to increase so much I had to get a larger set of Keihin carbs because what we had the engine was starving at wide open throttle.
A stock CB750K puts out about 67 horse power to the rear wheel on a 567-pound motorcycle. After the engine build we were able produce 100.6 horsepower to the rear wheel and close to 70-foot pounds of torque. Not only that but the second generation of this bike weighs in at exactly 350 pounds wet.
I would have to say the paint is a very close second to the engine and was done by Derrick Hathaway of Hathaway Hot Rods out of Albuquerque New Mexico. I have a friend that builds motorcycles in that area and she introduced us. I went with Derrick because I had tried several local shops and after thousands of dollars I had nothing to show for it. I gave Derrick the go ahead with his gut on the paint because by that time I was so frustrated with it I didn’t know where to go with it. He gave me his ideas and we went with it and what you see is a really spectacular paint job by one of the best shops in the country.