A Honda Dominator built for the path, not the destination…
When Honda introduced the NX650 Dominator in 1988, we can safely assume they had no idea this “urbanized trail bike” would become a favorite of custom bike builders more than thirty years later, gracing the pages of the world’s leading motorcycle publications. The engine was a slightly upsized version of the air-cooled RFVC single from the XR600R, putting out a solid 36 horsepower and 35 lb-ft of torque, and the oil was carried in the backbone of the full-cradle steel frame, helping to keep things cool.
Enter our new friend Bruno Ferreira, who lives in one of the most beautiful cities in the world — Porto, Portugal — where he has many years of experience working on a wind farm. He’s always owned motorcycles ever since he was 16, but it was only last year that he finally took the step to customize one fully for himself. The inspiration? A trip to the legendary Wheels and Waves Festival headquartered in Biarritz, France:
“I always had the dream of creating my own bike, and now at 32 I got it. It all started last year when I went to the Wheels and Waves Festival… I went with a group of four friends, a group called ‘Witaca,’ hence the name I gave my bike. It was the first time I went to Wheels and Waves — I saw several custom motorcycles which made me want to start my project.”
The name “Witaca” derives from Ithaca, the mythical Greek island from Homer’s Odyssey — a name long associated with the desire for travel, adventure, and returning home after a long period abroad, in which you discovered the outside world and/or your own internal one. Says Bruno:
“Itaca is the finish line, but…why hurry to arrive? The poem ‘Itaca’ by the Greek Constantinos Kavafakis suggests that, anxious for the destination, we often fail to enjoy the route. And it is on the path that we live…it is on the journey, in the here and now, that life embraces us. May the path be long…“
The “w” in Witaca takes inspiration from Wheels & Waves, and the group includes Bruno’s friends Carlos, Jorge, and Rui — some of whom helped in the build. Bruno bought a ’98 Dominator for the donor, working out of his small home garage, and the project took about a year to finish.
“Having a 22 year old motorcycle, full of technology, comfortable, with a lovely exhaust noise, unique in the world, passing on the road and everyone looking — is a spectacular feeling..”
Bruno had purchased a helmet from our friends at Ton Up Garage, and he decided to base the dual-color paint scheme of the new project bike on the helmet itself.
Below, we get the full story on this custom Dominator, dubbed “Witaca 001.”
Honda Dominator Scrambler: In the Builder’s Words
My name is Bruno Ferreira, I live in Porto, the most beautiful city in Portugal. I have 32 years of experience working on a wind farm, and one of my favorite hobbies is riding a motorcycle with friends, and photography. I’ve had a motorcycle since I was 16, an enduro motorcycle and a road bike. I had never done anything like this on my bikes, I always put my personal taste in it but nothing great. Always the dream of creating my own bike, and now at 32 I got it.
It all started last year when I went to the Wheels and Waves Festival… I went with a group of four friends, a group called “Witaca,” hence the name I gave my bike. It was the first time I went to Wheels and Waves — I saw several custom motorcycles which made me want to start my project.
I bought a 1998 Dominator to get the job done. I have a small garage at home, with tools to service my bikes and cars. It is not a professional garage but I have all kinds of tools… So, I don’t have a lift, which would help a great deal.
In my own garage at home, I did all the work of disassembling and assembling the bike. It took me a year to complete the project.
My goal was to build a versatile, tall bike, with good engine performance, and with good suspension to be able to ride on the road and at any time enter a track and enjoy the moment. I didn’t base myself on anything specific — I simply made a motorcycle to my personal taste, with several unique parts CNC machined where there are no more like it in the world. I managed to transform mine into a unique motorcycle, different from all the others.
I only took advantage of the original motorcycle frame, wheels 21″ to the front 17″ behind, brake calipers, prop and collectors.
I replaced the suspension with an inverted Kawaba 47mm fork and Ohlins rear shock absorber — 420mm of course, but I left the original measurement between axles.
Aluminium handlebar — 28mm — with small and simple switches.
Aluminium levers. Custom CNC machined steering yokes.
Custom brake discs — I increased the diameter of the front disc to 280mm for greater braking.
Exhaust system completely rebuilt in stainless steel.
The subframe was all developed again, lighter and cleaner. I used a small Honda CG125 tank to make the bike lighter.
I opted for Mitas E-09 tires 20% on-road / 80% off-road.
Regarding the electrical part of the bike, I used the Motogadget M-unit Blue lithium battery for a cleaner and simpler installation, LED indicator lights and Barracuda license plate, LED headlight, taillight and built-in brake in the sub frame.
Motogadget Mini embedded in the support, totally personalized and unique in CNC, and to finish, I used the Motogadget M-lock for the ignition, thus making a 20 year old motorcycle unique, simple, versatile, alongside all the innovation we have in us nowadays.
My biggest difficulty in the transformation was a completely new and different bike suspension — mounting the rear Ohlins shock was not an easy task, I had to make the new upper support higher than the original, but then the problem was the carburetor air intake, which is right in front. I had to make a curve to put the DNA filter.
Having a 22 year old motorcycle, full of technology, comfortable, with a lovely exhaust noise, unique in the world, passing on the road and everyone looking, is a spectacular feeling.
It was with great pleasure at the end of the project to photograph what I built, a real pride. When there is dedication, commitment, willpower, everything is achieved.
I also thank my friend Carlos Castanheira, for having built me all the CNC machined parts.
Follow the Builder @bfferreira88 | @w.itaca