It’s hard to beat a big single “thumper” for ruggedness, versatility, and all-around motorcycling fun. Last summer, the good folks at Hoxton Moto — creators of a Youtube channel with 10,000+ subscribers — rebuilt one of our favorite street-legal singles of all time, a Yamaha XT500, and went thumping around South England:
“We were so taken by the go anywhere, big single experience that we decided to build a Street Tracker.”
They decided to start with a Honda NX650 Dominator as their base — the company’s 45-hp, street-oriented dual sport, built from 1988 to 2003 with an engine similar to that of the XR650L. We especially love the vintage CB350 tank — turned into a true piece of art beneath the brushes of Maxwell Paternoster — and the bespoke aluminum mudguards and cowling.
Below, we get the full story on this Honda Dominator street tracker from Shaun of Hoxton Moto.
Last year Hoxton Moto restored an iconic Yamaha XT500 and spent the summer thumping around the lanes of South England. We were so taken by the go anywhere, big single experience that we decided to build a Street Tracker.
The Design and Style
After researching the multitude of Street Tracker builds, we were drawn to the bikes which had a simplicity of design: symmetrical and minimalist. We knew we wanted to retain the dirt bike, high suspension, and knobbly tyre look, but we also wanted to introduce a racy Supermoto vibe. We were also inspired by the characterful and distinctive Street Tracker builds which had a mash up of new and old components.
All of Hoxton Moto’s bikes are generally built on low budgets. Which, right from the outset, means buying cheap donor bikes. However, the allure of snapping up a bargain can often work out more expensive in the long run. We considered many donor bikes but settled on the robust Honda Dominator NX650. We found a weather beaten back-yard bike locally and handed over 500 quid. Slipping into our scrubs, we quickly stripped away its cracked and battered skin to reveal its vital organs. Sadly, they showed signs of tiredness and neglect. Stepping back from the bench, it became apparent that a total rebuild was our only option.
We took apart the engine and sent the head and barrel off for vapour blasting. Staring into the remaining guts of the power unit, we were relieved to see the engine was in good working order.
For symmetry, we retained the original rear wheel and sourced another 17” rim for the front. Both front and back rims and hubs were painted black and assembled with stainless steel spokes and black nipples. The wheels were booted with Conti TKCs.
We then reassembled the rolling chassis to evaluate the symmetry. We decided to alter the angle of the sub-frame by a few degrees and shorten its length whilst allowing enough room for a (skinny arsed) pillion.
After fabricating the under-seat housing for the large cranking battery, we were able to make the seat pan, which incorporated an embedded rear stop / tail light. With the seat plate fabricated and the foam shaped, Glenn Moger then upholstered the seat with black leather and graduated stitching.
We had started fabricating our own ally tank and had set about shaping, cutting and wheeling it. However, we stumbled on a gnarly Honda CB350 late 1960’s tank with bumps and scratches. Surprisingly this dishevelled tank had the original decals and the rust was not too severe. Being quite taken with the tank’s charm and battered narrative, we decided to use it. We hoped the clean modern look of the rest of the build and this quirky, un-restored piece of motorcycling history would give an eye-catching contrast to what was beginning to look like a Street Tracker.
The tank looked strangely good with the rest of the bike but it needed something extra. Having admired the playful illustrations of Maxwell Paternoster over the years, we gave him a call.
Maxwell agreed to daub the tank with his brushes, highlighting the bumps, dents and scratches with his comical and witty jibes. This pushed the tank narrative further and also created a unique piece of ‘datanoster’ art.
Although our builds are usually driven by a bias for form over function, the inclement climate of the UK means mudguards are essential. There are plenty of stock guards available on the market but — as we have an English Wheel in the workshop — we decided to make our own with exact radiuses and a bespoke profile. In addition, we added polished ally tips — just because we thought it was a good idea at the time.
Having purchased and mounted a triangular headlight and digital display, we set ourselves the tricky task of shaping a cowling which would house the light, neatly mimic the shape around the digital display and wrap around the upper forks between the yokes.
After hours of bending, bashing and many rejects, the cowling emerged. Again, we added ally tips to finish it off and mirror the mudguards.
We kept the instrumentation and controls looking as simple as possible. The original levers and cables were retained. The new Renthal Bars, Biltwell Grips and the simple switch gear were chosen for their no frills minimalist look.
We found a space under the tank to mount the CDI unit, solenoid, fuse box and rectifier / regulator. We then built a bespoke loom which linked up the electrical components and instrumentation.
The final piece of the build jigsaw was the exhaust. The original Dominator configuration has twin exhaust ports and two silencers. But we thought one silencer would give the bike a much cleaner look. We kept the original down pipes (which already had stylish twists and bends) and added a SC projects slash silencer. Our buddy, Sid at Unit 9, then cleverly made the 2-into-1 collector and linking pipe between the collector and the silencer.
Our finishing touch was the fabrication of triangle shaped sub frame panels. These were painted black and adorned with NX650 decals. And finally, we lacquered Hoxton Moto decals on the lower front forks.
Highly finished and ‘no expense spared’ custom builds are impressive and jaw dropping. However, us shed builders with limited budgets have to take a different approach.
Using our basic skills, hand tools and avoiding off-the-shelf components, we get a great deal of satisfaction fabricating, adapting parts and creating a bike close to our original concept. From the initial idea, our bikes seem to evolve; sometimes driven by a unique part found at an auto-jumble or by what is physically achievable in the workshop. And occasional unashamed plagiarism.
Bike Name: HM006
Donor: Honda Dominator NX650 1994
Style: Street Tracker
Tank: Changed original tank for a Honda CB350 tank, which was then illustrated by artist Maxwell Paternoster.
Wheels: Replaced front rim from 21” to 17”. Rebuilt both wheels, painted black rims and hubs, stainless spokes with black nipples. Fitted Conti TKC Boots.
Engine: Top-end stripped, vapour blasted, painted and re-built
Frame: Altered sub-frame angle and reduced length with square profile loop. Rear shock: Replaced original mono shock with YSS and painted spring white.
Seat and Rear Light: Fabricated seat base plate and embedded rear light mounting. Upholstered by Glenn Moger. Fabricated removable seat cowling for pillion use.
Mudguards: Front and rear and mounting brackets fabricated in-house. Finished off with polished ally tips.
Headlight and Digital Display: Mounted triangular shaped headlight and Digital Display. Fabricated cowling to fit neatly around headlight, digital display and upper forks. Finished off with polished ally hood piece.
Running gear: Simple switchgear, Biltwell grips, standard levers and cables. Venhill hoses.
Wiring: Re-mounted electrical components (CDI Unit, Batt, Rectifier, Solenoid, Horn, Fuse Box and Ignition Switch) and weaved new wiring loom.
About the Builder
Hoxton Moto’s core business is making films for our dedicated motorcycle Youtube channel, Hoxton Moto. We also build custom bikes such as a 1960’s Honda Race Replica, CB550 Brat Bike, Moto Morini Café Racer, Harley XLCH Beach Racer and Yamaha XT500 (Restored). These have all been exhibited at the Bike Shed Show in London and Revolution Exhibitions in Hastings (apart from XT500 restoration).