Exploring Barber Small Bore on the 2025 Honda Grom

Ryan Adams
by Ryan Adams

Full throttle through meat, mud, and mayhem

Photos by Drew Ruiz

Barber Small Bore started out as the Smoky Mountain Crawl in Townsend, Tennessee back in 2017, very much thanks to Honda and its Ruckus and Grom models. Since then, its grown from a group of rowdy rednecks looking to have a bunch of backwoods fun, to more than 1,000 small bore enthusiasts (don’t worry, there are still plenty of rednecks) doing the exact same thing – and more – and now, all on the illustrious grounds of George Barber’s sprawling motorsports mecca just outside of Birmingham, Alabama. To say the event was wild would be an understatement. Racing, both on-road and off, stunt shows, hillclimbs, and more, went off with gobs of enthusiasm from both the crowds and participants alike as attendees cheered on the muddy mayhem that ensued, whether for glory or bust.

Honda has been sponsoring the Small Bore event for seven years now and has used it to pull the wraps off of new Groms in the past – most recently in 2021 – and this year was no different. We not only got the chance to explore the event on the 2025 Honda Grom, but also had the chance to explore its limits and ours, on the track.

Mud, meat, and racing

Upon touching down in Alabama, naturally, the first stop was the Buc-ee’s down the road from Barber. We loaded up our cart with various vessels filled BBQ’d meats – which ultimately turned into a nightly event – and prepared ourselves for the in-depth tech briefing to come where we’d learn absolutely everything we needed to know about this new 2025 Honda Grom.

We’re told the plastic (including the SP’s belly pan) from the 2025 models should be retrofittable to previous models, as nothing has changed otherwise.

There, we found out that the new plastic/styling was going to be the only difference heading into 2025. Given the machine, that’s not a deal breaker. Since MO’s last visit to Barber with the Grom in 2021, MSRP has increased $200 across the board to now start at $3,599 for the base model, with the SP ringing up for $3,699 and an ABS-equipped model priced at $3,799. Red, white, and blue options as well as black make up the 2025 color choices.

So, what can you do with a Grom?

Race ’em!

Big Red surprised us with the opportunity to compete in a three-hour endurance race onboard five race-prepped Groms. Five teams of three riders would compete in the Grom Prix on a small road course at the tail end of our first day in Alabama. The event organizers who happen to also be MNNTHBX founders, took care of the setup by giving our steeds golden umlaut-laden legs, clip-on style bars, Woodcraft rear sets, and full Yoshimura exhaust systems. What’s great about all of these mods is that they cost substantially less than they would on full-size machines – and that’s exactly why we saw so many $10,000 Groms, folks just can’t help themselves.

Of course, Buc-ee needs no introduction, but next to the beaver is two out of three of the MNNTHBX founders and Small Bore organizers, Greg Hatcher and Kevin Estep, two-up on a custom Grom they prepped for the event.

After a brief session on track midday where I managed to come to the realization that I felt totally out of my element on this track-focused Grom, I then had hours to contemplate/dread the hours of racing that were to take place between 5:00 and 8:00 pm later that day.

Honda taking safety and fun seriously.

Some of our colleagues had bad luck with weather while trying to get to Birmingham which caused a few ringers to be dispersed amongst the teams to fill them out. One team was awarded Honda employee/MotoAmerica racer HighRevTrev Watson, while another added two riders well-versed in road racing and particularly so with small bore machines. My team, however, was lucky enough to be filled out by MNNTHBX/Small Bore co-founder Kevin Estep.

A Le Mans-style start kicked off our 180 minutes of racing. Sportbike Track Time even provided live timing via an app so we could track the standings and our lap times.

Thankfully, it turns out if you spend 40 or so minutes lapping a track, you get used to the machine underneath you at some point. During my longest stint, I managed to feel more comfortable and gained pace as the minutes ticked by. What’s great about racing a Grom is that you can be as serious (or not) about it as you’d like. The stakes just aren’t terribly high, which makes it all the more fun. That said, there were lowsides, highsides, and a hospital ride for one unlucky racer during our three hours on track.

The scene just before a nine-bottle champagne shower.

The team did our best to remain consistent and upright while keeping our swaps and mandatory fuel stop as brief as possible. We weren’t terribly competitive against the top two teams, but we ended up bringing home a third place trophy, leathers covered in champagne, and some great memories.

Ride ’em off-road!

“Please do not compete in the off-road competitions.” It was said more than twice by our helpful Honda hosts. Bummer, but I get it – or so I thought I did. After hours on Friday, I was assured by Greg Hatcher himself, as he handed me an unmarked Ball jar of clear liquid, that there would be carnage the next day at the hillclimb. Hatcher explained the hill started with a pit of boulders at the bottom, ramping up to multiple log crossings, and finally a few rows of tires at the top for good measure… and it had just begun to rain.

Greg Hatcher said folks had complained to him about how difficult some of the obstacles were in the past, to which he replied, “Listen man, do you think there are 500 people lined up here in the woods to watch you make it UP this thing?”

And rain, it did. All night and well into the morning. Eventually it subsided, but not before leaving the ground fully saturated.

A hill climb, straight rhythm, and multiple classes of off-road racing were set to take place on Saturday. With the freshly watered tracks, it was just bound to be a bit sloppier, and a bit more interesting than originally anticipated. Naturally, the hill climb was the biggest draw. Everything from built-out pit bikes, to Groms and Monkeys, and even e-bikes attempted the hill. Less than a quarter of the folks who attempted the climb made it further than half way. That said, the first up – on a small-bore dirtbike – cleaned the course with ease. Likely a mental tactic by the MNNTHBX fellas to show that it was indeed possible.

Some did better than others.

With a mariachi band at the finish playing alt rock, we watched as one poor soul after another stalled out at various positions up the muddy hill. One of the finishers on a Monkey got hung up on the tires at the end as his 12-inch wheels were swallowed up by the standard car rubber. Once he managed to catch traction on his way through, he promptly sent himself and the machine into the crowd, which apparently included his mother who was cheering the rider on. Thankfully, no lasting injuries were reported.

Moving on to the off-road racing, classes of all sorts including vintage small bore machines, Groms (naturally), scooters, and pit bikes raced through the woods and on a small moto track just outside of the trees. The straight rhythm track had significant flooding at the bottom of each jump, and I never saw if it actually ran, but folks attempting to race scooters through the trees and up muddy embankments was still a blast to watch (and I’m sure more fun to be competing in).

Team Harbor Freight didn’t make it far on his pink scooter during the off-road race and after crashing the sled twice at low speed trying to turn around, three or four people helped pull the rig up a sloppy incline.

As the races continued and the spectators moved in and out, the tracks and parking areas turned into a mess. More so than our time spent on the road track, the off-road racing had even more of a feeling of child-like fun to it. Probably because one just had to resign themselves to being completely covered in mud.

We can’t skip the museum

Look, I was excited for the event, and being able to explore it on the 2025 Honda Grom, but I had never been to Barber, which means I’d never been to the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Museum. Sure, it may not have anything to do with Groms (yet), but the facility on its own is a reason to come to the event, or Alabama for that matter. The well-kept grounds of the motorsports park and hidden statues (some more so than others), hint at the eclectic, yet world-class facility that is the Barber Motorsports Park, but the museum is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. The quality and scale of it is hard to put into words, and after spending just a few hours over the span of two days, I absolutely agree with the people who told me, “You really need three days minimum to see everything.”

The VFR 500, 750, and VF 1000 R to the left were the first three motorcycles acquired when George Barber set out to build the world’s greatest motorcycle museum.

Museum Communications Director, Robert Pandya gave us a tour of the facility’s multiple levels including the staging and prep areas where machines like Kenny Robert’s race winning GP bike sat on a bench getting prepped for an anniversary event in the near future.

In addition to the 1,000-plus motorcycles on display, we also had the chance to take a peak in the Advanced Design Center at the top of the building which was built to inspire new generations of creative thinkers and has a complete high-tech workspace for industrial design. It would just so happen that the machines weren’t the only treasures tucked away in all corners of the building. Famed motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche happened to be toiling away in the Advanced Design Center during our visit and graced us with his presence to discuss the ADC and his views on design.

We gathered around for Mr. Terblanche to share his secrets.

There really is too much to say about the museum here. It’s absolutely incredible and a must-see for any motorsports enthusiast. I’m already plotting a week-long trip to get back there with multiple projects on the docket.

What an event

The Grom has been, since its inception, an invitation for personalization. The accessibility of the machine in terms of cost, ease of use, and community, has propelled the Honda Grom into a motorcycling pop culture phenom of sorts that has not only seen the US overtake Thailand in global sales for the popular miniMOTO, but also elevated the Grom as Honda’s number one selling motorcycle in the U.S. by a large margin. The Honda Grom has brought people together in the same way the CT series and others once did so many years ago. The Grom allows for a sort of carefree, child-like indulgence of freedom that doesn’t need to take itself seriously to enjoy – and the Barber Small Bore event is an eclectic amalgamation of the endless possibilities and fun that these machines bring.


Just days after publishing our experience from the Barber Small Bore event, MNNTHBX posted this statement on the event's Facebook page, "It's with mixed emotions we're announcing 2024 was the end of the run for Barber Small Bore. After a decade of building two wonderful events, it's been a great ride. We've had the opportunity to bring so many dumb ideas to life, make hundreds of new friends, and build so many great memories." The post goes on to say, "What now? We don't know.... First we'll rest up a bit. Just a guess, but you may see us supporting other events, and maybe getting back to some fun grassroots gatherings for the people.

All good things must come to an end, and we are certainly glad to have had a crack at Barber Small Bore before the hatchet dropped.

Become a Motorcycle.com insider. Get the latest motorcycle news first by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

Ryan’s time in the motorcycle industry has revolved around sales and marketing prior to landing a gig at Motorcycle.com. An avid motorcyclist, interested in all shapes, sizes, and colors of motorized two-wheeled vehicles, Ryan brings a young, passionate enthusiasm to the digital pages of MO.

More by Ryan Adams

Join the conversation
3 of 4 comments
  • L.W. L.W. on Jun 19, 2024

    These tiny bikes are something everyone should try. I bought a TNT135 on a whim when Groms were otd'd at more than my Z-400.

    It took me back to riding that Honda Mini Trail in 1970. It brought that feeling back for a moment. So much fun to slice n dice up city traffic with.

    I trade bikes out like a used car dealers, but that lil pee wee will be in the garage due a while.

  • Mike buhler Mike buhler on Jun 29, 2024

    I just got to the museum last week for the first time. Absolutely amazing! I wish I'd had the full tour you lot had!