Big-Bore Ripper from Latvia!
The Honda NX650 Dominator remains one of the most popular donors for customization in Europe and beyond. Introduced back in 1988, the Dominator was something of an urbanized trail bike or big-single ADV. Although the bike was imported in low numbers and never sold well here in the US, it was immensely popular in Europe:
“The Honda Dominator 650 is the motorcycle that defined the ‘urban trailie’ craze of the Nineties. Beloved by town-bound motorcycle couriers and B-road hackers thanks to its punchy delivery, rufty-tufty build quality and commanding riding position…” —MCN
Although production was ceased in 2001, you can still buy the very same 43-bhp single-cylinder engine in a brand new Honda XR650L — talk about longevity!
Recently, we had the pleasure of coming in contact with young builder Aleksandrs Svjatskis of Rascal Motorcycles, based in Riga, Latvia. Aleks has been working on bikes for about a decade, and in the summer of 2021, he quit his day job and went full time with Rascal Moto, building bespoke bikes for clients and performing regular maintenance and repairs.
This NX650 was built for a customer who would become a dear friend and future collaborator — one of the best parts of the process:
“This build reaffirms the old saying: A customer will become a friend sooner than a friend will become a customer…“
Aleks says the client was very involved in the design and build process, as is always the case with his customers. Highlights include the Yamaha WR400 forks, Royal Enfield Classic tank, custom subframe, 17/18″ spoked wheels, hand-crafted metal fenders, fully rebuilt engine, and hand-built exhaust.
Aleks says the rebuilt engine and weight loss made the bike a big-bore ripper, but the best part was the new friendship and promise of future projects:
“The biggest satisfaction from this project is the happy customer, who has become a good friend, and we are planning more builds in the near future.”
Below, we talk to Aleks for the full details on the build.
Honda Dominator Scrambler: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
So I’ve been working on bikes since 2013 as a hobby. In 2017, together with a friend, we bought two bikes to customize and sell — that’s how Rascal Motorcycles began. In summer of 2021, I quit my day job and opened my own bike shop and have been working on bikes full time since then.
I build bespoke bikes to order, as well as doing regular maintenance and repairs.
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was built for a customer.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The customer wanted a scrambler style bike that could seat two and look balanced. As with all my builds, the customer was very involved in the process, with his ideas and wishes.
This is actually an evolution or V2.0 of the bike, as the customer had already bought a seat and gas tank from a Honda CG125. So initially it was built a bit differently with a Baja Designs-style headlight and that CG125 gas tank, but the customer was not happy with the result, so I had another go at the build.
I went with a bigger tank from a Royal Enfield Classic and front fork from a Yamaha WR400.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Completely new subframe, with battery/electrical box under the tank for a clean look.
Gas tank from Royal Enfield Classic, modified to fit the frame and house a petcock (originally this tank has a fuel pump for EFI system).
Yamaha WR400 front fork. Front wheel is custom-built with a Talon hub and 18×3.0 rim. Braking: 320mm brake disc and Magura radial brakes with custom adapter.
The rear wheel was re-spoked with a 17×4.25 rim. Both rear fender and mudguard on the rear swingarm are handmade from sheet metal. Handmade exhaust.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
As the engine was fully rebuilt and a lot of weight was lost, the bike rides very good — it might not be so stable off-road, but it looks much better now 😀
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The biggest satisfaction from this project is the happy customer, who has become a good friend, and we are planning more builds in the near future.