“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.
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.
Now with the space heating up with competition from manufacturers like Kawasaki and Benelli, Honda is having to defend the niche that it carved out with the Grom with a new model.
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.
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.
Kawasaki’s pocket-sized motorcycle, the Kawasaki Z125 Pro, is getting a recall for a faulty shock absorber, which according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), may leak oil and lose functionality.
Since the loss of oil from the shock absorber can change the handling characteristics of the motorcycle, which in turn could lead to a crash, Kawasaki is recalling 1,282 units of the Kawasaki Z125 Pro.
When the Honda Grom debuted in 2013, the other Japanese manufacturers took note. The first copycat was Kawasaki, which earlier this year debuted the Kawasaki Z125 Pro, but we shouldn’t forget the fact that Suzuki brought out its EXTRIGGER concept at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, as well.
Listening to our calls, the Suzuki EXTRIGGER coming to market seems to be getting more likely now, as Suzuki has filed for patents in the China, Europe, and the United States for the plucky electric machine. Just in time, to battle with the freshly updated Honda Grom.
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.
A brand better known for trotting out the same “timeless” designs each year, Suzuki seems to be finally waking up from its recession-induced slumber, and debuted two intriguing motorcycle concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show.
We already showed you today more photos of the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion street bike concept (please Suzuki, build this bike), and the Japanese OEM has shown a shining for the budding electric segment as well.
The Suzuki Extrigger electric concept is an interesting machine, as its form factor is very similar to the Honda Grom. Using the same electric motor as the company’s Suzuki E-Let’s scooter, we can assume that the Extrigger is packing the same unimpressive figures of 2hp and 11 lbs•ft of torque as the E-Let, though Suzuki does say that the Extrigger weighs a paltry 137 lbs, which is alluring.