“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.
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.
If there ever was a motorcycle that earned the word “cute” is its best descriptor, the Honda Monkey might be it. A diminutive and fun motorcycle, it was hard to look good on Honda’s old Z-series bikes, though the machines themselves still carry their own unique flavor of cool to this day.
Fast-forward fifty-years later, and Honda is bringing the Monkey back, this time in the guise of the 2013 Honda MSX125. Manufactured in Thailand, the Honda MSX 125 (MSX = Mini Street X-treme 125), the 125cc, 9.7 hp, four-stroke, two-valve, single-cylinder, fuel-injected fun machine will be a Spring 2013 model in markets around the world (no word on North America though).
The ultimate pit bike for us Anglo-Saxons, the Honda MSX125 also serves as a practical and durable machine for markets where potholed asphalt is a luxury where roads rarely exist. With the seat just a touch above 30 inches off the ground (30.1″ to be exact), the new Honda Monkey is a friend to the short man (or woman) as well.