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HomeHonda MotorcycleWhy The Honda NX650 Dominator Was A Huge Failure In The U.S.

Why The Honda NX650 Dominator Was A Huge Failure In The U.S.

In the late 1980s, Honda seemingly loaded several motorcycles into a cannon and shot them over to the United States in an effort for something to catch on. One such bike was the 1988 NX650 Dominator. It had a 644cc engine that was similar in architecture to Honda’s previous XR600R (via Rider Magazine). On paper, the specifications weren’t particularly egregious and were not the cause of the NX650’s failure in the States. The Dominator failed to live up to its aggressive namesake because it could not quite figure out what it was. It couldn’t fulfill the “dual” part of the dual-sport segment. On the outside, it had all the prerequisites of a street bike in that it had a big headlight in the front fairing, mirrors, turn signals, and places for mounting bags. It was also tall, looked mean, and had all the ground clearance of a serious dirt machine.
According to Rider Magazine, the bike was fine for riding on the street and was adequate enough for a cameo appearance on the dirt, but the bike fell flat on its face (sometimes literally) on any rough terrain. For starters, the suspension could not be adjusted easily without an entire Snap-On catalog’s worth of tools. Plus, the stock tires were too tame for anything rougher than a gravel driveway or a grocery store parking lot. The bike was only around for two years in the States before Honda pulled the plug after poor sales.

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