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2003 Honda Ruckus - Inspiration Point

Aug 22, 2013
Photographer: Jon Domingo

The modern-day Honda builder, whether they know it or not, is immersed in multiple forms of inspiration. Some blatant, others subliminal; life’s “live feed” transcended via the Internet, automotive magazines, and local builds play a role in what we build and how we build it. Information is shoved down our throats at breakneck speeds, and as a result, build quality has increased by leaps and bounds.

A perfect example of this fast-moving progression is Jon Domingo’s 2003 Ruckus. Sure, people were personalizing these two-wheeled people movers the moment they started rolling off of showroom floors; however, comparing builds of the past to today’s rolling works of art looks like light-years of separation. Skim through Domingo’s spec list and you’ll find that every portion of his Ruckus has been modded, upgraded, improved, and in some cases, completely removed if deemed unnecessary. As he explains, inspiration was key to bringing his vision to life. “Inspiration came from my buddies out West. When I saw what they had and how well built they were, I knew I needed to have one. With the crazy gas prices, I wanted to have a unique vehicle that I could ride around Chicago for a daily commute during the summer. The stock Ruckus was good to ride around, but I’m the type of person who has to personalize everything I own.”

Found and purchased in Wisconsin, this Ruckus didn’t stay stock for very long. Soon a complete tear down occurred, and Domingo began a nine-month journey that included plenty of trial, error, and real-world R&D. He adds, “We named it Kaiju, which is Japanese for ‘strange beast.’ It’s something you don’t see everyday. The plan was to build something to drive daily, with reliability and the neck-breaker appeal. Being a photographer, I wanted to build something that would reflect the things I look for when I’m shooting, which are the details on top of the clean, simple look.” Details abound, including a few firsts in the Ruckus world according to Domingo. “Being original means custom parts, so a lot of the parts we designed for the bike were sent out to be CNC [machined]. This is the first Ruckus in the world to use six-pot front/four-pot radial rear brakes. It’s also the bike that started the Koso afterburner taillight trend.”

Efficiency was key, and the factory 49cc mill was no part of the equation. A larger 170cc powerplant was swapped and outfitted with a high-lift cam from Taida, a 48mm velocity stack, and Mikuni TM-28 front-face carb. Akrapovic provided its Megaphone Ti exhaust, and Domingo opted for a custom-built, big-bore header to completely overshadow the Ruckus’ original power output. A cleverly used electronic fuel pump ensures the carb is always primed and avoids any thoughts of losing pressure during WOT.

With the powerplant sorted, attention was turned to the aesthetics. Anthony of A&L Bodyshop expertly sprayed the frame with Bianchi D2 Celeste Green, while Domingo got his hands on a rare Daytona gas tank cover that he had hydro-dipped in a faux woodgrain finish.

Proper rollers are a must on any type of project vehicle, whether it’s two or four wheels in question. A call to Exospeed produced a custom three-piece forged drag wheel, which was then wrapped in a Michelin 2CT dual-compound tire—the same ones used by competitive motorcycles. Keeping Domingo on the straight and narrow is an ATR coilover out back, and a Jiso 290mm drag fork up front.

As a high-level automotive photographer, Jon Domingo has seen his fair share of quality builds in person, and his mental notepad is chock full of ideas after countless shoots. Combine that with his window to the world via the Web, and you start to understand just how important inspiration, both conscious and unconscious, tends to be.

Owner Specs

Daily grind
Design engineer and automotive photographer

Favorite sites,,,

Scren name

Building Hondas
15 years

Dream car

Inspiration for this build
Fatphos x Minkus

Future builds
Z-swapped Ruckus, 66cc Metropolitan, 10x10 Ruckus

Bolts & Washers

ATR Fatty GY6 mounts
Custom engine brace bar
Taida T-300 cam
48mm velocity stack
Mikuni TM-28 front-face carb
SeanSean front-facing-carb angle flange
Koso throttle kit
SF custom big-bore header
Akrapovic HP Megaphone Ti exhaust
Mr. Gasket electronic fuel pump
RRGS oil cooler
-6AN lines
NCY Ti dipstick
11-pole stator
Unlimited CDI
Motorio DR2 Variator
Koso Delta Racing clutch
Koso CNC Racing clutch bell
Custom lightened flywheel
Powerlink 842x30x20 belt
RRGS Ti front axle

ATR Low Stance rear coilovers
Jiso drag fork with ext. damper

Frando Radial 6-pot front
Frando Radial 4-pot rear
LoS 260mm front disc
ATR 200mm rear disc
Ceramic racing pads
Frando dual master cylinder
14mm piston levers
Goodridge stainless racing lines
ATE Super Blue Racing fluid

Wheels & Tires
Front: Billet 8-spoke 12x3.5 +9, MG 100/600-12
Rear: Exospeed Star 8 13x7 +12.7, Michelin 2CT 140/60-13
ATR rear hub
LoS front hub
LoS front/rear hub spacers
Kics R40 Neo-chrome lugs
Rays Forged valvestems

Bianchi Celeste Green paint
Daytona hydro-dip woodgrain gas tank cover
Shaved rear frame
ATR lower seat frame
Tucked handlebar
Tucked front frame
Tucked rear frame
Rucksters extension bar
FLP stem cover
Gojin dress-up kit
Rat Koubou gas cap
Koso afterburner taillights
Rigid Industries 6-inch LED lamp
Kiatco frame caps
Custom Neo-chrome bolts

Koso DB-2NR gauge
Push-button start/kill
Integrated headlight/turn signal indicator

Custom Bride seat
Gojin drag bar
Thompson BMX stem
Password:JDM stem cover
POSH Racing grips

LoS Garage crew, Standard Functions, Frando, Fizz Autosports, A&L Bodyshop, JDM Chicago, JL-Garage, Exospeed, RC Scooters, D Nice, Yogi, Chonicrebellion, Fatphos x Minkus, Kevin C, Christian R, TotalRuckus

2003 honda ruckus RRGS oil cooler Photo 8/8   |   2003 Honda Ruckus - Inspiration Point


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