Recently, Janne Heitakangas of Turku, Finland, sent us this incredible NX650 scrambler. We shared the bike on Instagram with the caption “Good as Gold.” Geoff Baldwin, editor of Tank Moto magazine and the man behind Return of the Cafe Racers, commented to say:
“I don’t know why exactly but something about this bike’s proportions really appeal.”
We couldn’t agree more. Perhaps it’s that bit of California rake, combined with the slightly uptilted seat and stubby front fender. And certainly helps that the builder, Janne, is an automotive design engineer, who must certainly have a trained eye for proportion. Whatever the reason, this bike has that elusive “It Factor” that every builder seeks. Even more amazing, the bike was built on a budget of $550!
We will let Janne himself tell you the rest.
Good as Gold: NX650 Scrambler in the Builder’s Words
This is my first real build project. With my old motorcycles, I’ve mainly done bolt-on type of customizations. With this bike, I wanted to do as much as possible on my own. The idea was to make a retro-looking old dirtbike, but with a “modern,” more reliable technique that would be lighter and more nimble then the original Dominator. I work as a design engineer in the automotive industry and this have helped me in many ways during the project. I started of with visualising the bike in Photoshop and making the frame in CAD. It was really important for me to make the bike look really clean and get the lines, proportions and symmetry right.
The base for the build was a 20 year-old Honda NX650 Dominator 1995 that was manufactured in Italy. I kept the bike in stock condition the first summer because I wanted to learn what I wanted and needed to customize. I ended up loving the bike and there wasn’t really that much I wanted to change other then the looks.
Clutch was slipping, the bike needed lowering and stiffening up the front end and just loosing weight.
All the parts I stripped off the bike I sold. I ended up making over 500€ (550USD) ,and I decided that would be my budget for the bike. So I didn’t really use any money building the bike other then buying the bike. This was possible because I did most of the work myself and used a lot of scrap parts. The most expensive part I bought for the bike was the Shorai Lithium battery.
I use the bike daily and on all types of roads so the Michelins hybrid type of tires was the most ideal but I will need another setup for the snowy Finnish winter-season.
Many NX650 builders just leave an empty gap after removing the stock air filter box. I decided to build a storage box and covered it with the same leather as the seat. It’s really big and goes through the whole frame and fits my tablet, phone with charger, and a couple of beers. All the electrical components are under the seat and the Shorai Lithium battery is fitted between the frame and the tank.
I left the attachments for the baggage rack in the rear, and can now attach it quickly to have my dry-bag fitted.
After some work on the clutch this baby wheelies a lot. I noticed that the crankcase breather spitted oil in the air filter when you wheelie. So I fitted a separate crankcase breather in the front and high up on the bike…problem solved.
Many of the fuel and oil hoses are now transparent, its nice to see the engine pumping oil and gas around while running.
The visible parts are a huge mixture of different bikes, all I don’t even know where they are from. The front mudguard is from Yamaha XT660, and it is meant to be mounted onto the tire and pointing backward. The rear fender is from an old Harley.
The tank is a CB 125 K5. This is a tank that not very people use on the Dominator, since the fuel tap collides with the frame. (The normal choice would be the CG125.) I found this tank and just loved it and refused to make any changes to it. So I made changes on the frame instead so the fuel tap fits. I think it’s real charming with all the dents and scratches.
The blue bates style front light came with a chrome ring and I started to look for something more matching. I ended up putting a copper frame on it and it looks great. Brakes are stock but I have given them some golden color like many other parts in the build. Seat is custom made; I sketched the looks and a local seat upholstery made it.
Exhaust looks like stock but has been modified to fit the new frame and they are just for looks, they are quite empty on the inside and the sound is awesome. The steering bar is a modified MX type bar, I used a grinder to remove the support bar and changed the angle a bit and then added some color and brown grips.
A black mini speedometer with illumination was installed to keep track of the speed.
Follow The Builder
Follow Janne on Instagram: @motosetc