When you live, breathe, and write about bikes you tend to get hit with a myriad of questions about everything from ‘what should I buy’ to ‘why do you waste so much money on parts’. But a good one that often comes up is why don’t Honda make the NX650 Dominator anymore? Sadly, the answer falls to our North American friends, the model did well around the world but was pulled from the US after just two years following dismal sales. That, however, hasn’t stopped a growing number of custom builders turning out excellent examples and few are as clean and custom cool as ‘Bakula’ by Slovakia’s Earth Motorcycles.
Before we dive into the amazing work of Ales and Vlad, I should clarify that a Dominator with its big single would probably fail most modern emissions tests to be sold as a new vehicle. And the Honda CB500X is not a bad replacement, but with nearly 50kg more weight and weaker power delivery, it’ll never be the Domi that we know and love. All the more reason then for the boys from Earth Moto to take an old NX650 and instill their core philosophies of design purity, emotion, and joy into the faithful Honda.
Having built a brilliant example before, the path ahead was easier the second time around and the bike was stripped down to the bare frame. The standard chassis is dotted with brackets and tabs for all of that ugly fairing and big seat that came with the stock bike, and these have been cut off and ground back. Then to suit their style an all new subframe has been fabricated, using round bar that flows off the square centre posts. In a very clever touch, the ends are left open to house the recessed taillights and then the whole chassis coated in black powder.
The looks, like most custom Domi builds, are a drastic departure from the late ’80s styled plastics that adorn the standard bike. They all get thrown away and a classic scrambler appearance is brought to life. A new tank bolts over the backbone, in traditional early Honda CB style and has been repainted a lovely 2K white. But it’s the seat that steals the show, its traditional leather covering with black stitching and custom rolls, flow perfectly over the new subframe and even form the tail section. A simple headlight finishes out the look, with its double-stacked lights giving a nice touch.
Having gone for the minimalist route, weight saving, and excellent handling were a high priority and the boys were on track for a sub 140kg machine. So, to ensure the suspension was up to scratch, the front forks have been internally lowered 5cm and rebuilt to the highest of standards. There are all new bearings throughout and all of the components that aren’t chrome have been finished in a gloss black. The rear shock and linkages are also completely rebuilt and modified to suit the build, and a new sprocket and chain lighten the load.
To reduce the unsprung mass and have the bike suit more sealed road riding and less time in the dirt, the standard 21in front-wheel was shown the door. In its place is a lightweight 19in rim, that is matched to a 17in for the rear. The blacked-out pair are rebuilt onto new hubs with custom chrome spokes and then wrapped in Mitas Enduro Trail tyres, a 60/40 specification. All the fun must slow down or stop at some point, so the brakes are all brand new front and rear. The lines are stainless items from Venhill for a better feel at the lever and the rear switch has been moved for a cleaner look.
To get the famous 644cc single back to its best, it was decided a full rebuild was in order and the engine was stripped down to the cases. The bottom end and gearbox have both been rebuilt, before new rings, gaskets, and seals were used and the piston slotted in. All taped up the engine was vapor blasted for an as-new finish and the carb ultra-sonically cleaned, rebuilt, and then fitted with a DNA pod filter. To finish the engine off, the headers were blasted and given a coat of ceramic finish, and then that wicked stainless-steel muffler bolted on.
The electronics play a key role when building a bike with such a clean finish that is also uber functional. So the loom has been built from scratch to suit and is based around a Motogadget m.unit with an alarm and keyless ignition. Highsider LED items take care of the turn signals front and rear and the Speedo is now a very slick unit from Daytona. A tiny Aliant LFP battery slots into place and weighs less than a kg, with a matching regulator fitted to keep it powered up correctly.
The result not only looks sensational, with its clean custom lines but now packing over 60nm of torque and weighing just 139kg, the Earth Moto NX really is better than anything Honda could offer up.