2014 Honda Grom 125 | FIRST RIDE

Honda’s Surfer Punk Runabout Hits American Shores

By Zack Courts, Photography by Kevin Wing

They say: “You just have to smile”

We say: “You don’t have to, but you will”

Imagine for a minute the first bike that caught your attention as a kid. Maybe it was the neighbor’s Briggs & Stratton contraption or a minibike ad in a magazine. If you were lucky enough, you eventually got a chance to ride that first dream machine and it no doubt put a smile on your face. And if you didn’t, now’s your chance. Honda’s new 2014 Grom 125 is the reincarnation, in one way or another, of every kid’s dream bike.

Even so, the first thing you’ll notice swinging a leg over the Grom is how it’s not too small. Although I’m 6-foot-2, I was comfortable all day, thanks to a 30-inch seat height and a long, flat saddle that allows the rider to pick his or her favorite spot. Low pegs and a nicely raised handlebar mean anyone this side of NBA height will likely fit. You’ll look ridiculous long before you’re uncomfortable, that’s for sure.

The 125cc single does not, predictably, stretch your arms out of their sockets with vicious acceleration, but it’s a willing urban travel mate. With just enough acceleration to get you out ahead of apathetic sedan drivers, the Grom will cruise at 50-55 mph happily. Hills are a different story, but unless you’re regularly climbing truly steep grades, the Grom will haul you up just fine.

The engine’s dynamic is evocative of Honda’s recent CB500 trio or the NC700, in that it’s exceptionally docile and approachable. A heavy flywheel means revs climb slowly, but fueling is ultra-predicable. It’s the ultimate “eco-Honda,” and there’s almost nothing you can do to fluster the Grom’s steadfast spirit. I idled up and down a sloped parking lot in first gear doing full-steering-lock circles and even dragging my feet, all the while the Grom chugged along with the speedo stoically reading 3 mph.

The dash, too, will remind familiar Red Riders of Honda’s larger eco-twins. Basic digital readouts for speed, two trip meters, and a clock are available, while there are digital-bar readouts for engine speed and fuel level. Other nice touches include solid Nissin disc brakes front and rear, with the former providing enough power to lift the rear wheel easily. Or, so we hear...

A flashy, gold-hued inverted fork does the suspending up front, with a standard monoshock in the rear. The suspension, not surprisingly, is soft and did bottom out once as it carried my 185 pounds through a dip in the road. But the springs need to be soft to soak up what city streets throw at them, considering the 12-inch wheels hit bumps that much harder. You should be able to avoid most of the bumps, though, as handling is decidedly agile. As it should be, on a bike rolling on such small rims and having a claimed weight of 225 pounds.

No word yet on actual fuel mileage, although one Honda employee suggested she achieved well over 100 mpg. All I can say is that I rode about 40 city miles on my Grom and the fuel gauge never dropped a bar. The tank only holding 1.45 gallons certainly suggests that Honda is confident of good numbers.

According to Honda, the Grom was designed to, “carry a bit of attitude while promising fun times.” Pessimists will say that $3,000 is too much for a flashy new version of a bike that is propelled by essentially the same SOHC, two-valve motor that Honda has made nearly a million of (yes, more than 900,000) over the years. Make your own decision about what it’s worth. The truth is that the Grom is utterly competent and massively entertaining; you need a heart of stone to not have fun on one.

Tech SPEC

EVOLUTION

The engine traces its bloodlines back to the CT70 and Trail 90, but the modern chassis is all new.

RIVALS

Vespa? Zuma? Ninja 300? Not really. If you want a street legal playbike with a real transmission, this is it.

TECH

Price: $2999

Engine type: a-c single cylinder

Valve train: SOHC, 2v

Displacement: 124cc

Bore x stroke: 52.4 x 57.9mm

Compression: 9.3:1

Fuel system : EFI

Clutch: Wet, multi-plate

Transmission: 4-speed

Claimed horsepower: na

Claimed torque: na

Frame: single-backbone steel

Front suspension: 31mm inverted fork

Rear suspension: single shock of mysterious origin, possibly alien in nature

Front brake: Nissin two-piston caliper, 220mm disc

Rear brake: Nissin single-piston caliper, 190mm disc

Front tire: 120/70-12 Vee Rubber

Rear tire: 130/70-12 Vee Rubber

Rake/trail: 25.0° /3.2 in.

Seat height: 30.1 in.

Wheelbase: 47.4 in.

Fuel capacity: 1.45 gal.

Claimed weight: 225 lbs.

Colors: Pear Red, Metallic Black

Available: now

Warranty: 1 year

Contact: hondapowersports.com

VERDICT: It’s a class of one, and until something more fun comes along the Grom is king.

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