The Honda NX650 Dominator has been used and abused as a custom mule nearly as often as Airhead BMWs, with results varying from wow to ouch. Trends seem to be shifting from stripped minimalism to an amalgamation of eras and styles. The Dommie is capable of looking good no matter the outfit, so long as the correct tailor has been engaged.
Rua Machines from Portugal are one such master of transforming the ordinary into suave sophistication. They were called upon to revive a tired 1988 model (an early one with the all important kick start) owned by an agronomist from the Duoro Valley in the country’s north (where the decent wine comes from). The chap wanted a steed capable of battling the streets of Lamego, winding country roads and of course the dirt tracks leading to the fields containing his day job.
Rua’s team, Armando Fontes, Marco Mendes and Victor Rocha were inspired by Honda’s earlier drum braked and twin shocked trail bike, the XL500. The Pro-Link rear suspension has made way for a simple brace of YSS adjustable shocks, while the fork is original but fully rebuilt. The subframe is more involved than the usual tube’n’loop job to achieve strength required for the new suspension arrangement but also to offer ground clearance without a sky-high bench seat setup. Combined with the stepped saddle and rear mudguard the outcome is rather elegant.
Practicality has been incorporated neatly thanks to a multitasking exhaust hanger and pillion grab handle. The tank rack looks like the perfect size for a bottle of port and a picnic, or a map. The tiny smoked acrylic flyscreen is a useful addition, if only to keep one’s map from flapping. Behind lives a Motogadget Motoscope Tiny, rebated into a 7″ headlight.
The tank itself is from a CB360, painted matt gold to match the bronze frame. Visually this is a bike definitely needing side panels, an open rear triangle would have spoiled it. Here the stainless steel battery box and K&N filter are concealed, leaving the rest of the bike’s styling to do the talking. Gold engine side cases are an attractive retro touch while the rest of the inimitable RFVC lump looks great in original trim.
The exhaust is Rua’s own work, welded stainless tubing grafted to linished conical silencers. It’s difficult to tell from here but they look fairly open and probably loud. Wheels are of course rebuilt, powder coated rims and new stainless spokes. The stock 17 incher in the rear is paired with another rim of the same size up front, both running Dunlops Trailmax tyres.
It’s no secret than we’re big fans of the Dommie, especially when this well thought-out and built. Riding to work through the hills of northern Portugal and checking your work across a field or two…. not jealous at all – sigh.