Monday, 13 March 2017

Honda Dominator Dirt Tracker

North Star is all about Enduro, alright. But this doesn't mean we only live around those beauties. We have are weakness and our habits in the motorcycle world as well. Andreas for Instance haas a Yamaha Tenere of 1992 which he adores and renovates in every chance and Sylviu is soon going to be in restoration trouble by owning a Suzuki DR 650 of sometime back in the '90s. 


I strongly believe
that he who has restored
a motorcycle, will never
be the same person again
in his entire life


Restorations and custom bikes making is like a tattoo. Before you end the project you are already thinking of the next one. Its not a disease, this can be cured, once you restore a bike, you are done. You belong to this world. You look at engines in a different way, and when you see a frame, you see potentials. Leather has a different meaning in your life from now on and tools are your best friend. You want to learn how to weld, the characteristics of metals and paints, you want to learn how to pin and stitch, how to glue and  join, how to set and clean. You read, you grow your knowledge base, you do mistakes but it doesn't matter, its good to make mistakes. When you talk to someone like you, you talk in a different language and you understand and get understood. This is the life of the restoration community. 


Restoring a bike is
like getting a tattoo.
Before you finish one
you are thinking of 
the next 

It happened to me with tattoos so I also had it with a bike. I saw a project on line once, can't even remember where but I surely remember the name. It was called Dirty Sandy and it was a pure beauty. A classic Honda 1990's engine, both with electric starter and a kick starter on the side. I would recognise that engine even if I was blind from a mile away. Standing tall and strong between the vertical bars of the frame, with a hand made exhaust neck and refurbished, clean, looking brand new, like it came out of the box. In love with Hondas since I had a couple in my life, including an XR and an XLR, I started looking at this project. 

Honda dominator, striped naked. A Honda red painted Tank from an XL600R. A hand made seat, an after market exhaust end and hand made exhaust neck (You may call this another name, we Greeks call it a neck) The head light came out of vintage Acerbis or UFO plastics catalogue, yellow square light, the head mask placed upside down, as we used to do the old days, just to be called a "dude".

I got stuck to something funny. The front rim was not the Dominators   21 inc Rim, but a 19. BMW's front size I thought, and recognised those knobs, or heels, or any other name you call those square rubber knobs on the tires. Amazing looks, didn't know about grip yet, but would sacrifice anything for the looks. Those tires, the red colour and the total looks of the bike got stuck in my head all night. Thats was it, I had restoration fever, didn't know it then, but this fever is incurable. 


Amazing looks, didn't know about grip yet, but would sacrifice anything for the looks. 


Phone call, after phone call, I located a Honda Dominator, in a very good shape. It looked well preserved and in a very reasonable price. Booked the deal in some hours and the amazing thing happened. The guy who sold the bike, knew everything there was to know about these engines and models, since he specialises years now in restoring them. 

We got the bike on the ramp in a few days, after we worked out the paper works, payments, licenses etc. First step, strip it naked and paint the frame. 

If you are going to sand blast the frame, you are in danger, and you will leave marks on it, next buyer, you in the future or your kids are going to curse on you for this. The best thing you have to do is use blaster with glass beads. Trust me, there is a difference. 

Dominators rear frame is already looped. You don't need to proceed to any mods on it. If you want to deliver a nice paint job, I strongly recommend to contact the local Honda Dealer for the colour codes they were using on the bike. If he is there for long, he has the codes in the repair manual of the Honda XLR, XR and Dominator. if not, a research on line will help you. I was lucky enough for my guy to have kept the originals in his warehouse, jeopardising only the quality of the substances after all these years, which came out alright, I guess. 

Use anti rust protection to all your work. This should be your first colour layer on the bike. Paint it Black as it was. Unless you want to go crazy of the final design, use shinning varnishes 

Honda's engines are legendary strong and healthy. I decided though, to fulfil a dream I had since I was a kid and made a full restoration on the engine as well. Changed and improved everything on bike, did the necessary shining of the intakes and the out takes, changed the piston, shaft, valves and the engine was brand new. 


The tank had to be from an XLR 600, since I heard someone saying it fits exactly on the frame using the same screws and bases. Ebay didn't help, and this was one of the very few occasions I could not locate something old there at that time. Turned to the local market and.... tadaaaaaa !!! Not only I found one, but with the fuel tap its self placed on top and the original fuel switch. It was unbelievable, but it was there and the guy agreed to sell it and send it to me without knowing what I was going to do with it. An XLR 600, with the original paint and decals was on it was to me.

Honda XL 600 R

When I received the tank, the only thing left to do was to polish it. Used a 3M Polisher, and my disk tool which has adjusting RPM, did the procedure 12 times and the tank was glowing like it came out of the Japanese factory a few days ago. Not even boxed yet !!!

Next step, take the forks apart, clean everything, change oil and seals, clean the valves, replace the rubber protection, re install. Do the same with the rear. I strongly suggest you change the spring in the rear suspension with a softer one, the new seat is not going to be so comfortable. 

Installing the suspension on the bike, you reached the stage where you have to install your wheels. But what did I do with them?
New rims, a 18 in the back and a 19 in the front. Good cleaning and painting of the hubs and new spokes. Wheel look new, and immersive with those CONTI TKC 80 tires. 

to be continued... here 

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North Star is the first Enduro Touring company that operates in Greece. Our philosophy is based on one thing: "We do it because we love Enduro Riding". We organise enduro tours, providing all necessary.



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