“How many axes does the IMU use?…And who makes it? Bosch?” asked a journalist during our press launch briefing for the new Honda Monkey. That journalist was yours truly. I am that guy at the Monkey launch.
To be fair, my curiosity was mostly personal. After all, one of the cheapest motorcycles in Honda’s arsenal comes available with IMU-assisted ABS, while more than a few of Big Red’s full-on sport bikes in the lineup do not…how weird is that? Please tell me more, Honda.
But, the question strikes a larger tone when it comes to bikes like the Honda Monkey: the tech specs don’t really matter. No one cares. The appropriate measuring stick for a bike like the Honda Monkey isn’t an objective one that is found on spec-sheets and lap times, which is a tough pill to swallow for a detail-oriented motorcycle journalist.
To that end, I am not sure if the Honda Monkey is a good motorcycle. But more importantly, I am not sure that it matters. Let me explain.
Hello from Santa Catalina Island, where we are about to go ride the new Honda Monkey mini-moto. A play on Honda’s past, the Monkey is built off the modern Honda Grom platform, but uses styling that is more at home in the 1970s.
A retro-modern approach to the mini-bike craze, the Honda Monkey is trying to rekindle some of those “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” feelings, which launched the Japanese brand into the public mainstream almost 50 years ago.
As such, we will be spending the day on this popular Californian destination to see how the Honda Monkey handles not only from a technical perspective on the road, but also we want to see what “je ne sais quoi” of two-wheeled fun the Monkey brings to the table.
With cars largely verboten on Catalina, bikes like Honda’s old Trail 70 and Trail 110 are popular choices here (as are golf carts, but that is an entirely different story), which makes the island a smart pick for this press launch.
Per our new review format, I will be giving you a live assessment of the Honda Monkey right here in this article (down in the comments section), and I will try to answer any questions you might have about this unique motorcycle.
So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Honda Monkey, before even my own proper review is posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Honda personnel. So, pepper away.
You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #HondaMonkey, #POWERofNICE #RideRed.
There is something about the Honda Monkey that we find adorable and appealing, as we did with the Honda Grom, of which the Monkey shares a platform (namely, its 125cc single-cylinder engine with DOHC).
So needless to say, we were thrilled when we heard that Honda would bring the Monkey into production, and today we get confirmation of news we expected: the Honda Monkey will come to the USA as a 2019 model.
Priced at $3,999 of the USA ($4,199 if you want ABS), the 2019 Honda Monkey will be available in October, and come in two colors: red or yellow.
When the Honda Grom debuted, we didn’t know what to make of it. A mini-moto for the street, the 125cc motorcycle was unassuming, underpowered, and oddly positioned. We loved it, and so did you.
Big Red is doing that with the 2018 Honda Monkey.
We have been speculating for some time whether Honda would bring its monkey bike concept to market. As we predicted, the model wasn’t destined for the 2016 model year, but now two years later, and with the Honda Grom at the end of its product cycle, the 2018 Honda Monkey is finally ready for primetime.
I won’t rehash too much of what we have said about how the Honda Monkey is a master-stroke from the Japanese brand.
Simply stated, the Honda Monkey builds off the popularity of the Grom, adds in some retro flare (which is so hip right now), and creates the potential for an all-new “You Meet the Nicest People on Honda” moment. Now it’s time to put those words to the test.
The Honda Grom is a motorcycle I cannot explain. I don’t know why Honda built it; I don’t know who that bike is for; and I don’t know where you would actually ride a Grom…I just know that I want one.
Interestingly, the Honda Grom shares an ancestry with the Honda Monkey lineup – a series of small-displacement, and curiously sized, Z-series motorcycles from the 1960s and 1970s.
Now paying homage to the Monkeys of yore, Honda has one last concept from the Tokyo Motor Show that we need to cover: the obviously named Honda Monkey 125 concept.
American Honda is recalling two machines for problems with their fuel pump internals, the Honda Grom (MXS125) pocket bike and the Honda Forza (NSS300) scooter.
The recall affects 2014-2015 model year machines, and centers around the resin bracket inside the fuel pump, which may swell and cause the pump impeller to seize.
As a consequence of the resin bracket swelling, the fuel pump may seize, which would stall either motorcycle. Because a stalled vehicle can increase the risk of a crash, a safety recall has been issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If you read as many motorcycle news sites as I do, then you surely know that Honda is almost definitely probably maybe debuting a new “monkey bike” in the near future. The source of this news is Honda’s recent application for design patents in the European and Japanese markets.
Intellectual property filings are a great way of seeing what a motorcycle OEM is up to, but as our colleagues at Motorcycle.com correctly pointed out, they can also be a great source of red herrings.
This is because motorcycle manufacturers not only patent and trademark the design they intend to put into production, but also the design they don’t intend to produce, but have still shown the public. This is just smart policy when it comes to intellectually property protection.
Fortunately or unfortunately, it’s easy to jump to conclusions when one sees a filing that exactly mimics a show bike or concept, as we’ve seen this week with the Grom-powered Honda Monkey.
The adorable pocket-sized motorcycle that won our hearts in 2013, the Honda Grom, is getting an update for the 2017 model year, and it’s headed to American soil as well.
As such, the 2017 Honda Grom sees the “monkey bike” getting a visual refresh (now available with more neon) and restyled fairings. Other changes include an LED headlight, flip-key, sportier handlebars, underslung exhaust, revised tail section, and higher passenger seat.
Available in August 2016, and priced at $3,199 MSRP, this modest model refresh should help the Grom compete with Team Green’s latest entry, the Kawasaki Z125 Pro.
Understanding one’s lust for a Honda Grom is a lot like explaining good pornography: it is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it.
That idea encapsulates everything you need to know about Honda’s monkey bike. We can’t tell you why you want one, we just know that you do. Honda’s sales on the Grom back that notion up, as well.
In fact, the Honda Grom has been so successful, now Kawasaki has its own version of the pocket-sized machine coming to the US, and we doubt that they are the last manufacturer to do so.
Beyond being just an adorable grocery-getter, we are seeing a plethora of Groms at the race track – and not just as pit bikes. Grom racing is becoming a thing, with more than a few minimoto series making spec-classes for Honda Grom racers, or including them in their 150cc programs.
To that end, Honda’s racing department, HRC, has the Grom that you want – nay – need. Behold, the Honda Grom race bike from HRC.
Behold the 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro, Team Green’s answer to the Honda Grom. This four-stroke, 125cc, 225 lbs “monkey bike” from Kawasaki hopes to tap into the same unassuming, approachable, and fun vein that the Honda Grom exposed three years ago.
Like the Grom, the Kawasaki Z125 Pro appeals to two very different demographics. One the one hand, it is the perfect learner bike for young and green (no pun intended) riders – you can see as much in the photos at the end of this post that clearly target the millennial skateboarding young male.
On the other hand though, the 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro is just as much of a machine for older and more experienced riders, who are looking for a cheap and fun machine to add to their already comprehensive stable – perhaps as a grocery-getter or pit bike at the track.
If we can continue to the comparison to the Honda Grom, this dual approach appears to play out well in the market, with the unassuming motorcycle gaining attention from a surprising wide and large demographic. As such, Kawasaki is smart to jump on the trend.
The Honda Grom has been a sales success that no one saw coming. But in true Honda fashion, the adorable monkey bike wormed its way into our hearts, and has been flying off dealership floors ever since.
A domain that’s normally dominated by Asian manufacturers, namely the Chinese, it is perhaps not surprising then that we see the Benelli Tornado Naked T breaking cover at the 2015 EICMA show.
Available in either a 125cc or 135cc air-cooled, four-valve, dual-spark, single-cylinder format (like there’s really a big difference between the two), the roughly 12hp machines are a stylish alternative to the Grom’s…gromness.