“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.
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.
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.
With all the negative attention that motorcycling has been receiving in the mainstream consciousness lately, we are looking at you Hollywood Stuntz, we thought it would be prudent to highlight some positive press our beloved sport has received recently. As such, here is a great video-short by the New York Times that features Stan Dibben, winner of the World Sidecar Championship in 1953.
Mr. Dibben personifies just about every sidecar driver and passenger we have ever met: brazen, fearless, and slightly daft. You would have to be a combination of those three elements to do the things sidecar racers do on the motorway, even more so to do it on 1950’s machinery. Take seven minutes from your day, and enjoy this well done production from the NY Times.