Honda Grom: Good things come in small packages
THIS IS AN IDEAL BIKE TO SATISFY THE WANNABE STUNT RIDER
Forget everything you thought you knew or assumed about very little bikes. For Honda’s Grom is a bit like a terrier, its compact lines far smaller than its outsize character.
Honda says the Grom’s heritage is directly linked to the 1960s small-wheeled Monkey bike. Not having ridden one, I’ll take Honda’s word for it. But at first sight you’ll suspect the Grom — official designation MSX125 (Mini Street X-treme) — isn’t your standard commuter scoot from that odd mix of full- and pocket-sized parts.
Swing a leg aboard — no trouble, it weighs only 101kg and the seat’s just 765mm off the ground — thumb the starter, grasp those high-rise bars and you’re off.
You realise very quickly there is more to the Grom than a pocket-sized powerplant. It starts with a surprisingly deep-throated soundtrack that’s an exact match to the equally surprising strong pull off the line. The weeny single-cylinder engine may have a bore about as wide as a can of V, but it pulls as if that modest 5.5-litres of fuel has been boosted by a mighty caffeine hit.
The 125cc engine is matched to a four-speed gearbox.
Honda says the bike outputs 7.2kW at 7000rpm and 10.9Nm at 5500rpm. It doesn’t sound like much, but every last fraction of it is put to good use.
That fuel-injected twin-valve air-cooled 124.9cc engine is matched to a four-speed gearbox, all slung into a sturdy steel frame with inverted front fork, monoshock rear, and disc brakes at both ends working on fat little 12-inch cast aluminium wheels.
The motorcycle sits on a sturdy steel frame with inverted front fork.
Honda planned the bike to take a pillion, though the passenger can’t be too fussy about comfort.
It uses a mono-backbone frame with everything hanging from it, a key to its stripped-back look.
The design tucks stuff like electrical parts inside the fuel tank cover, delivers a large, easy-to-read and informative digital instrument panel, a fat muffler ... and not a lot else.
The Grom features a large, easy-to-read and informative digital instrument panel.
You don’t need much else once you start wringing that throttle to the stop. You’re quickly at peak torque, short-shifting up the gears, and surprisingly only starting to seriously run out of breath near 100km/h — though I admit I did see just over that, tempting fate, perhaps, but I suspect a traffic officer would look at any three-digit radar number, take in the bike, rub his eyes and go home for a lie-down. So I had to try it.
What especially impressed was the suspension package. Twelve-inch wheels can make for twitchy handling, and scooters I’ve ridden over the bumpy roads around home skip and skitter across potholes and lumps.
But the Grom just seems to absorb them, while those wide bars let you make the most of the agility to the point that on the endless 25km/h corners near my home base, or a gymkhana set-up, you could run rings around almost anything — just look at that turning radius, only 1.9m.
No wonder folk are stunting them. Think I’m exaggerating? A cursory review of YouTube reveals endless clips of owners riding them on the back wheel, the front wheel ... even Honda NZ got on the bandwagon, and slung a stunt rider aboard (watch the video below).
The Grom is a comfy ride, even on those little twelve-inch wheels.
Who’ll buy it? Commuters seeking a bit of fun is the obvious answer, especially given the diminutive bike seems to accommodate a wide range of rider size. And I can see them being popular for wannabe stunters who’d rather take risks nearer the ground and with a bike costing only $4995.
Temporarily avoiding bigger bikes thanks to an injury, I’d been pouting fit to beat the band at the idea of a steady diet of weeny commuters.
But if they’ve all got this combination of easy-to-manage size and handling, hooligan persona and almost ludicrously hilarious dynamics, I may never want to step up again.