Bush-built: A Honda NX650 Dominator adventure build from Australia

Custom Honda NX650 Dominator adventure bike
Adventure riders know that the more your motorcycle falls over, the less you worry about your motorcycle falling over. It’s an essential philosophy if you plan to take your bike into the rough stuff. And it’s the reason that the fuel tank on this Honda NX650 Dominator is full of dings.

The Dominator belongs to Tristan Dewey, a film and television composer and sound engineer based in Bend Of Islands, a rural area just outside Melbourne, Australia. He’s been an avid reader of Bike EXIF for eight years now and figured it was time to build a custom scrambler of his own. But Tristan’s Dominator is no show pony—he’s built it as a bonafide adventure bike.

Custom Honda NX650 Dominator adventure bike
“It was inspired by my childhood pet goat, ‘Rumba,’ that would climb the un-climbable,” Tristan tells us. “I built it for my local hills—designed to be jumped, bumped, dropped, and often buried in mud.”

“The aesthetic was influenced by the old dented Honda 175 fuel tank, gifted by friend, Evan Lordan. It gives the rider permission to drop the bike in difficult terrain and enjoy the moment while adding another story to the bike’s history.”

Custom Honda NX650 Dominator adventure bike
Without a workshop or shed at his disposal, Tristan started the build on the back of an old Bedford RL truck. He had limited tools at his disposal, yet he managed to do everything on the 1996-model Honda NX650 Dominator himself, outsourcing only the lacing of the new rims. “It’s been a rough and ready journey with lots of mods along the way,” he quips.

The work started with a full tear-down so that everything could be cleaned up and powder-coated before being reassembled. Tristan rebuilt the motor with a new Wiseco piston, while Electrosil in Greensborough honed the cylinder.

Custom Honda NX650 Dominator adventure bike
Tristan also installed a Magura hydraulic clutch and a Mikuni TM-42 Carb. There’s no airbox—instead, Tristan alternates between a ‘regular’ pod filter and an oiled foam filter, depending on how gnarly the conditions are. Lower down you’ll find an upgraded oil cooler, courtesy of Sutton Cycleworks in Arizona.

The stainless steel headers are Tristan’s handiwork too, and terminate in a Supertrapp muffler. “It was my first attempt at welding stainless with a very basic TIG welder,” he says. “Far from perfect, but true to the nature of this bush-built bike.”

Custom Honda NX650 Dominator adventure bike
Despite the rough-hewn nature of the bike, it sports several tidy mods. Tristan rewired the bike around a Motogadget controller, then stashed the important bits in a hinged electronics tray that sits under the seat. The regulator/rectifier is mounted further back, with extended bolts that hold a removable license plate bracket.

Stashed inside the under-seat box is the bike’s new CDI and a Lithium-ion battery. There’s LED lighting all around, with custom-made brackets keeping the headlight and front turn signals in place. The cockpit sports Magura handlebars, a Motogadget speedo and switches, and Oxford heated grips for those late-afternoon rides home.

Custom Honda NX650 Dominator adventure bike
Up front, you’ll also find a pair of burly hand guards with fold-out mirrors, and an aluminum fender that Tristan rolled on a small (and cheap) English wheel. The waterproof canvas tool roll that sits above the headlight carries “every tool needed to repair the bike out in the bush.” A Rotopax fuel cell mounts to a custom bracket out back, so that Tristan doesn’t have to cut his adventure jaunts short.

Other upgrades include new brake discs, Pivot Pegz foot pegs, and an oil filler cap with a built-in temperature gauge. Jeremy at John Titman Racing laced the stock hubs to new Excel rims with heavy-duty spokes, while Tristan swapped the original shock out for a Honda XR600 unit.

Custom Honda NX650 Dominator adventure bike
The fuel tank is adorned with new reproduction Honda badges, and the custom seat is upholstered in kangaroo leather. But there’s no paint job as such—instead, Tristan’s been riding it hard, dressing the fuel tank in more scars than it came with.

“It’s been dropped and bits have snapped off,” he says. “But it’s always made it home from every road and roadless journey it’s been on.”

Tristan thanks Jas at Jax Garage and Jeff at Revival Cycles for the electrical advice, Modern Motorcycle Sydney for their fast parts delivery, Siri Hayes for her photography tips, and Nick Venn for introducing him to Bike EXIF in the first place.

Custom Honda NX650 Dominator adventure bike

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