Honda Dominator 650 (1988-2001) Motorcycle Review
- The definitive urban trailie
- Punchy power delivery, upright riding position
- Typical robust Honda build quality
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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 the Honda Dominator still makes its mark as a value-for-money commuting motorcycle.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The whole motorcycle verges on the budget, but providing you don’t ask too much of the shock or forks you’ll be OK. The Honda Dominator's shock is weak and off-road miles will knacker it in triple time. Ditto the rear sub-frame, which seems to be made of silver-painted cheese. The Honda Dominator's teeny nose fairing does its job up to around 80mph – after that you’ll be pressed into the familiar flying cruciform so beloved of naked motorcycles.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Most Honda Dominators will have had tough lives. Fact. Fortunately the SOHC, air-cooled single-cylinder motor is super-reliable and good for almost 100,000 miles, The only problem is overheating, which can cause the valves seats to drop, and oil consumption, which can border on the greedy. It’s got decent tug and away from motorways the Honda Dominator is a competent enough performer.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The serious things to watch out for when looking at a Honda Dominator are clunking motors, seized brake calipers, corroded tailpipes and damage sustained from off-road forays. Other than that it’s furred forks (protect them with clear nail varnish), chipped and worn cases, the odd busted spoke (run a pencil around them and listen for the dull ‘dung’ of a knackered one). Otherwise Honda Dominators will run and run.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Buy a Honda Dominator as a winter hack or commuter you won’t go wrong – it’s the same engine that’s now found in Honda’s FMX650. But the Honda Dominator is way cheaper.
You get a sump and hand guards, a tacho, a single trip-meter and that’s your lot with a Honda Dominator. The pillion seat, pegs and grab handle are excellent on this motorcycle, though.
|Engine type||4v single, 5 gears|
|Frame type||Steel cradle|
|Fuel capacity||16 litres|
|Rear suspension||Preload only|
|Front brake||Single 256mm discs|
|Rear brake||220mm disc|
|Front tyre size||90/90 x 21|
|Rear tyre size||120/90 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||50 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£101|
|Annual service cost||-|
11 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||43 bhp|
|Max torque||39 ft-lb|
|Top speed||105 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||14.6 secs|
|Tank range||165 miles|
Model history & versions
- 1988: Honda Dominator introduced. Electric and kick start.
- 1989: Grease nipple on rear shock, electric start only now.
- 2002: Honda Dominator deleted from range.
Owners' reviews for the HONDA NX650 DOMINATOR (1988 - 2001)
5 owners have reviewed their HONDA NX650 DOMINATOR (1988 - 2001) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
Purchased as first full licence bike, for overland adventure to india- across europe,. turkey, iran, pakistan, and around india (5 months) in 2001. (pre 9/11 and Pakistan was mad and friendly, go if the world ever calms down,... but not now!) I have also crossed spain twice. Despite minimal mechanical experience, and a fair few slow speed crashes and multiple drops the bike never failed to start. Punchy power and robust. A faithful friend to two amateur bikers. Slightly naff paint job, but it will never be sold. Excellent machine.
Brakes pretty bad., seat uncomfortable
Some corrosion issues now at 15 years old but not obsessively cleaned admittedly.
Buying experience: dealer- price forgotten
I've had my '97 Dommie for for seven years now and have used it as my all-year round transport to work. Rain, snow, sleet and ice the Dommie has seen it all and so long as I keep on top of the cleaning the finish still looks quite good; winter road salt will eat it alive. A regular change of the oil and filter ever 3,500 kms is an absolute must along with regular checking of the oil level. Mine doesn't seem to use much but I've heard stories of some engines being a bit thirsty and owners letting the level run low resulting in top-end rebuilds. Mines now done 51,000 kms and the only thing I can fault it on has been the starter motor letting me down but with new brushes it's working fine again. It used to be the butt of a few jokes from the guys at work who occasionaly commute in on their sportsbikes (only when the sun's shining of course), but with a couple of weekend rideouts with them along some twisty back roads they are a lot more respectful. It's gets a bit breathless on dual carriageways so keep clear of these whenever you can, but it is so gratifying to ride quickly along the back roads that afterwards it's a struggle to get my crash helmet off because of the huge grin I'm wearing. With 10bhp more and a better front brake this bike would be 10/10 I get just under 50mpg on the commute to work and 55mpg on less congested rides. Apart from a Hagon rear shock, the original saw one winter too many, the bike is standard. I keep thinking about swapping it for something else but I just can't bare to part with it. Perhaps I'll have to make some space in the garage for another bike.
The fact of the matter is; if you own a Dommie, you love the Dommie! When I bought this bike, I wasn't entirely convinced with it's looks and styling. I did not even get a chance to test ride it (restricted license), so it was a risk but I'm glad I went with it. It's an awesome bike. It's high seat is perfect for my 6'5" frame and even restricted it has enough horsepower and torque to pull my 20 stone bulk with ease. Being a Honda the build quality of the NX650 is outstanding. Mine unfortunately has a minor idling issue which I have yet to fix. Aside from this, the bike is solid. Built like a brick. I've dropped it more than once, resulting in only minor cosmetic damage to the fairings. Being a dual-sport, the bike is designed to take the occasional drop, the foot pegs and gear lever are spring loaded to prevent damage. The bike is perfectly suited to riding in winter, it is well balanced and the wide handlebars give great maneuverability. All in all this bike is a great all-year commuter. Rain or snow this bike performs. Full stop.
Seem to have bottomed in price now with most going at around £1500 mark - for which - if you get a good un - you will get a good useref reindly all year round fun bike. Not a scorcher performance wise but capable of cruising at 75-80 on the motorway if you must. High & long seat means good vision and room to move around or carry a pillion in comfort. Fancy little rack thing is more use than you might think. If you need a second bike or just fancy something different give the Dommie a go. I bought an Italian import which wasin better condition than similar aged UK models I had seen then. Chenged the light and put a MPH overlay on the KM speedo and Bobs yer Uncle as they say!
Nice simple, single cylinder, reliable, cheap fun bike to run...what more could you want!?! OK, so maybe another cylinder, but then you wouldn't get 60mpg?! We all know Honda make great bikes of rock solid reliability, but it's fun to ride too. A high seat suits some (like me!), but a high centre of gravity means that its easy in the corners with a great engine note from the dual exhaust too (almost in comparison to the VTR!). The only downside to this bike is the vibration due to it being a single cylinder - however...I'm willing to forgive it that as otherwise it wouldn't be the frugal fun machine that it is! If Honda could make a V Twin version with the same mpg 5 stars would be garanteed!!!