This is the Honda Grom. In the rest of the world, it’s called the MSX125. Squint really hard, and it almost looks like a Ducati Monster. I say almost because this thing is tiny – those are 12 inch wheels, you know. It packs a whopping 125 cc, much like a scooter, but it has a real 4-speed gearbox. It also gets 130 mpg.
In the post-recession period, motorcycling was a tough go for many young people. The OEMs focused largely on big cruisers and powerful sport bikes, leaving few options for those looking to start responsibly on small or middleweight machines. Ridership was down, especially among younger folks, as insurance costs on big-boy superbikes priced a number of would be riders out of the market.
Enter Honda, which took the bold step of going after the silent demographic that wanted fun middleweight bikes. In the span of two years, we’ve seen the CBR250R, the CBR500 range and now the Grom. The Grom is expected to cost $2999 and is basically a step up from a Ruckus scooter, the spiritual successor to Honda’s old monkey bikes. Glamorous and sexy? Not at all. It does have a certain cool factor, but most importantly, it is cheap and cheap to run. The tiny footprint means it can be parked anywhere.
I think it will do well with the “young urban dweller” demographic that auto makers are trying so hard to capture. All the concerns that they have about cars; parking, insurance, fuel costs, maintenance, they all go out the window with something like the Grom. It will be seen as a much safer alternative to a “big” motorcycle, but it’s also quicker than riding a bicycle. In fact, I can think of a lot of situations where something like a Grom makes a lot of sense, especially for those in between locations where it’s too far to walk but driving can be an equal waste of time since it will take longer to look for parking than it will to make the actual journey.
I’m really intrigued by the concept of the Grom, but outside of urban environments where speeds are low and space is tight, it’s hard to imagine many people getting real value out of a tiny 125cc motorcycle. Nevertheless, if more and more people start moving to these sorts of locales, then transportation options beyond the car will become increasingly viable. The Grom doesn’t seem to be a bad place to start.