Like every motorcycle manufacturer, Honda is fishing for new riders, and the 2014 Honda Grom is the company’s latest lure. Think of it as a bright, shiny spinner, like the kind you’d use to catch that big ol’ lunker that lives at the bottom of the lake. Except the big one Honda is after is Generation Y, which consists of young people who have smartphones glued to their heads and are so wrapped up in digital technology they have little inclination to get driver’s licenses, never mind buy cars or motorcycles. That’s a worrying trend for anyone in the business of building two-wheelers, one Honda hopes the Grom will reverse.
While scooters––the traditional entry-level vehicle for new riders––are perceived as cute and non-threatening, the Grom brings what Honda calls “attitude” to the party, attitude in this case being a small bike with some big-bike features. The single-cylinder, 125cc engine is fuel injected, has a roller rocker arm to reduce friction, and comes with a four-speed transmission that works through a manual clutch just like the big kids’ motorcycles. This isn't twist-and-go simplicity, and that should make the Grom more exciting than its limited displacement suggests.
The steel frame supports an inverted fork with 3.9 inches of travel and a box-section swingarm with a single shock that yields 4.1 in. of travel. A 220mm front hydraulic disc brake teams with a 190mm rear to bring the Grom to a stop. The seat sits 29.7 in. off the deck, roughly in the middle of the 47.4-in. wheelbase. The Grom’s all-up weight is a claimed 225 pounds. This ain't no Ruckus.
Although the Grom looks at first glance like a pit bike with delusions of grandeur, it is in fact street legal, and comes with lights, instruments, and a 1.45-gallon gas tank. Honda isn’t specific about mileage beyond saying it’s “impressive.” With a claimed 9 horsepower at their command, Grom riders won't be clogging up the carpool lane on the freeway, but should be able to stay out of the grilles of SUVs on city streets.
After seeing photos of the Grom, just about the first words out of every Motorcyclist staffer's mouth were, “I’d love to ride one.” Whether any of us will slap down a Visa for the $2999 device remains to be seen. We are professionals, after all, so there's to be some extensive testing first. So we'll see you Gen Y types on PCH, okay?