2014 Honda Grom Review – Video

Resurrecting the street-legal beginner bike

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Grom: A grom (or grommet) is a young surfer, usually under the age of 15. Most of the time people that are called groms are youngins who are good. – Urban Dictionary

A natural first question when looking at the 2014 Honda Grom is, “what the heck is a Grom?” Besides being euphemism for a young surfing phenom, Grom is also the name of Honda’s latest fun machine. Why the weird name? Called the MSX 125 in other markets, copyright issues prevented Honda from using that name in America. But, since Honda is clearly targeting the youth — and the young at heart markets, the name is a great fit.

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The Grom is clearly a diminutive little motorcycle, but that doesn’t take away from its fun quotient, as we discovered during its press intro in surfer-laden Southern California. It’s perfect for new riders looking for a great learning tool, or the experienced pilot looking for a good time.

2014 Honda Grom Surfer

A grom and a Grom. Inspired by the youthful nature of the surfing community, it’s hard not to feel like a kid again when riding the Honda Grom.

At 29.7 inches, the seat height sounds more intimidating than it really is; the Grom’s narrow seat allows even relatively inexperienced riders the confidence to place both feet on the ground with ease. And don’t worry tall riders, the six-footers in our group reported being comfortable thanks to the low pegs and tall bars.

Powering the Grom is a fuel-injected, 125cc air-cooled Single Honda has produced almost a million of for its various worldwide products. It’s a SOHC, with an offset cylinder and a roller rocker arm for reduced mechanical losses. Despite the little engine and small stature, the Grom does its best to emulate its big-bike kin.

History of the Honda Monkey Bike

For starters, the 125 is mated to a standard four-speed trans with a real clutch. From there, an inverted fork, twin discs brakes, minimal, dirt-inspired bodywork and the 12-inch wheels with a CBR-style 10-spoke design give the Grom a much more upscale, “urban commuter” profile. Despite what you might make of its looks from pictures, you really have to see the Grom in person to appreciate it. I think it looks rather cool.

The Grom is the latest in Honda’s push to introduce fun, efficient, reliable, and most of all, affordable motorcycles to attract new riders or bring back former ones. Thanks to the economics of building a motorcycle in Thailand, the Grom can be taken from dealers right now for a measly $2999.

And what an entertaining way to spend three large. It didn’t take long in the saddle before the smile on my face from the affordable price grew even larger from all the fun. The little bike scoots off the line with relative gusto (for a 125 anyway), though clutch engagement was rather far and the thumper doesn’t pick up revs with much urgency.

Top 10 Modified Honda Groms

Each gear is spaced far enough for practical usage around town, with a tall first gear providing push all the way to its 8250-rpm redline. The next two gears have a wide, usable range, while the single cylinder struggled to reach 60 mph in fourth gear — the fastest speed I was able to reach with the available space. Downhill with a tailwind could probably net another five mph, tops. Still, there’s enough power to evade four-wheelers around the city. Or campus police.

2014 Honda Grom Engine

Honda has produced more than 900,000 of these 125cc Singles worldwide, but I reckon this is the first time it has powered something as entertaining as the Grom. Note, too, the shift lever for the four-speed gearbox.

But maximum velocity isn’t the Grom’s strong suit. It’s about cruising around town and getting into trouble without ever breaking the speed limit. It handles surprisingly well, with a significant amount of lean angle required before hard parts start touching down. Front travel from the 31mm fork is 3.9 inches, while the shock gives 4.1 inches. For such a little bike, the suspension felt compliant while carrying all 155-pounds of me, never bottoming and providing a comfortable ride on SoCal’s crappy roads.

Braking duties for the 225-lb. Grom are handled by a single 220mm disc with a twin-piston caliper up front and a 190mm unit out back mated to a single-piston clamper. Braking performance obviously pales in comparison to a CBR, but it provides decent power and feel, strong enough for the more daring journos to pull stoppies at red lights. Were it mine, a switch to steel-braided lines would be in order as the lever feel could be more positive.

The “Grom Prix,” a gymkhana-style race set up in Honda’s parking lot, was the ultimate demonstration of the bike’s smile-inducing capabilities. Celebrity guests like X-Games star Jamie Bestwick, current AMA Motocross racer Justin Barcia, supercross legend Jeremy McGrath and current AMA Pro road racers Melissa Paris and Benny Solis, all took to the Grom to show off what they could do.

2014 Honda Grom Action Front

Wearing funny glasses and a Captain America helmet is just par for the course when riding the Grom. It really brings out the teenager in everyone.

It was here where the peg-dragging, rear-wheel sliding antics really showed off the Grom’s impressive handling. Each rider, including the pros, couldn’t stop laughing after their stints. In the end, the team consisting of Jeremy McGrath and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck(!) took top honors. My group finished well down the order.

Honda hasn’t yet released fuel mileage numbers, but the fuel gauge on the easy-to-read LCD gauge cluster didn’t budge at all after my 30-something-mile ride. In fact, some members of our sister site, the Grom Forum, are getting over 100 mpg from the 1.45-gallon tank!

The Grom’s toy-like feel and around-town practicality was appreciated by the less-experienced riders in attendance – it’s a motorcycle that isn’t the least bit intimidating. More aggressive journos, myself included, enjoyed the grin factor brought about by man-handling the affordable little bike.

2014 Honda Grom Action Right

If you look closely, you’ll see the Grom has passenger pegs. Admittedly a tight fit, two-up riding is possible should you need to give attractive joggers a ride.

Wherever we went, admirers and onlookers alike couldn’t stop pointing in amusement. We weren’t sure if they were laughing with us or at us, but either way, smiling is a natural reaction whenever you see one. It’s a similar reaction from the saddle.

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  • Craig Hoffman

    3 large will also buy a very clean used bike that is a lot more fun than this toy. Another grand will buy a new CBR 250. A CRF125 with street legal stuff tacked on would be better, and also offer trail riding capability.

    I guess I don’t get the appeal of this bike. It is not practical or particularly interesting, and no amount of marketing can overcome that.

    • Beanard

      Craig, Do you live in Jacksonville? I for one love the Grom. If I had an extra 3 large I would buy one in a heartbeat.

    • Fred

      I agree, it needs to be priced more aggressive. Say around @2200 or less.

    • Keith Lamb

      There’s lots of $3k scooters selling well, this is cooler than those and from what I’ve seen at dealers, they are selling reasonably well. It’s obviously not for you, and I should add, not for me either, but if it sells it’ll bring new riders to Honda.

  • H.R. Paul

    Motorcycling for youths really isn’t that cool anymore. Not like it was when we were kids.I Pad, war games, phones, texts, this is the age of the computer. The industry has lost a huge chunk of it’s patrons to attrition. Today’s youth segment wants something they can play with and not be a “bike head”. (like a scooter, one of only 2 segments showing any significant growth in 2013, the other being adventure machines) . The industry needs an infusion of new blood desperately, and the youth market is where it’s at. The Grom say ” come play with me”…Dig it in a big way…

    • Craig Hoffman

      Very good point. I am a grumpy oldish guy, definitely not the target market.

      Honda has done a great job with their new 500 twin. It will also be interesting to see how the NC 700 plays out. A friend of mine intends to buy one with the fairing and paddle shifters. He is a very short dude and does not want a cruiser.

      • H.R. Paul

        we’re both not the target market any more :)

    • Eric

      I think kids are still into it, but they’ve been priced out of it. Looks like it’s changing tho. When I was in high school (1990) you could get a Ford Ranger with auto/ac with a sticker price of $5,999. In 2011 the Ranger was over $18,000. Where I grew up you didn’t buy a new car as a teen, you ended up with something pretty decent for just over a grand and something that’d do the job for around $400-500. Even used cars on a dealer lot in my town are almost always over $10k. That’s a heck of a lot of money to a 16 year old, it’s a heck of a lot to me! Until the 250s and 500s introductions, there wasn’t a lot of options that can even aim at a kid’s wallet. It’d take a lot of lawns mowed to buy even a $8,000 bike. I think Honda’s on the right track, you gotta attract young buyers to make old buyers.

      • H.R. Paul

        Good points all…

  • CrashFroelich

    Everytime I get on a 125/250cc bike, I giggle like an idiot because I’ve forgotten how much fun these things were when I was young, and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

    • I am the king

      all along i thought a meteor killed the dinosaurs… now i realize it was because they rode motorcycles without helmets.

  • I am the king

    what idiot puts his foot down street riding. that’s strictly a dirt thing.

    • Kevin Duke

      You’ve never seen a supermoto race, have you?

  • I am the king

    the guy with the surfboard… did he ride that thing with the surf board? how? what lame @#$% promotions

  • Jan Snider

    I like the size of the Grom, its small footprint would make a great bike. My only question is why not make a Super Grom, say 150 to 300 cc range. I believe there is a market for a just slightly larger engine size, so that the average rider could go to the freeway or Interstate without feeling like the engine is about to explode. I know, for the price you get a lot of motorcycle. But, even Honda makes a 150 cc scooter, the PCX150 and the 300cc Forza. Why not put either of these engines in a Grom frame and call it Grom X or Super Grom? Like the Cub and Super Cub of yesteryears, they would sell.

    • Kevin Duke

      The scooter engines use a CVT for a transmission, so they wouldn’t be appropriate for a bike such as the Grom. That said, more power is almost always better.