By on June 26, 2013

GROM_2014_10

 

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.

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52 Comments on “Generation Why: Honda Goes After Millennials On Two Wheels Rather Than Four...”


  • avatar

    I’m not sure of the appeal of this when I can buy a new-old stock cbr250r, FI, fuel injection, ABS & it can probably hit 100mph safely for ~ $3300 locally….

    Also, many large cities have bicycle sharing these days — chicago just started.

    1 year of bicycle sharing is about the same price of insurance for a young person for a month or two, let alone gas & everything else. In Chicago you can’t really move faster than traffic on bike or grom, unless you are (illegally) lane splitting. It’s not like you can take the grom out on I-94 or something …

    Add in the requirement of an L class & this is a non-starter for (most) urban dwellers in Chicago.

    When most people ride say 3k miles/year (maybe?) in the 6-8 months of the year you CAN ride here, going from say 60mpg on a cbr-250rr to 130 on a grom @ $10/g saves you 27 gallons of gas or $270/yr.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Where was this when I was young.

    Today I have a DT175 Yamaha two stroke that will probably never expire. If it does this would be a good replacement but I think the 250 would be better. The 125 would do it all but I weigh over 200lbs and don’t particularly care for 12″ wheels.

  • avatar
    niky

    Unfair to compare anything new to anything secondhand. You can always get something bigger/better/badder secondhand. How much bigger/better/badder depends on how deeply secondhand you’re willing to go.

    Reminds me of the Chappy or the baby Cub. Awesome little motorcycles, but not the most ergonomic things to ride.

    I’d hit it. 125 cc should be good for whatever you need, though it’d be screaming at over 60 mph with just 125 ccs and four gears.

    From pics online, it looks like they’ve got the handlebar height right, and you don’t have to go all hunchbacked to ride (unless you’re trying to tuck… however well you can do that on a tiny bike with no windshield…), that’s one of the issues you get with small bikes like this.

    Looks like a fantastic toy. Hope it comes here…

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure if you are referring to my post, but I was comparing New -> New.

      New, old-stock from a dealer compared to this…

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        Ah. NOS. Still, that means something that is past its sell-by and is on deep discount because of that. Not like-to-like. If the Grom doesn’t sell and ends up as NOS on the dealer floor, then in a year you can get it for less than that, even.

        -

        I don’t think they’re comparable products, though. The 250R would definitely be more thrilling out on the open roads or in the canyons, but the Grom would be a handier toy for pootling around in. Plus it’s EFI, which is a big plus in terms of economy.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m about 95% sure the CBR250r is EFI as well…

          In any case, If I saw both at a dealer, both new, with warranty and there hadn’t been any model significant model changes between NOS cbr250r and the current one, I wouldn’t give this thing a second look.

          Since they are both likely to be at the same dealer (honda) with similar warranty & very similar pricing, I’d say that is pretty comparable unless you really want to nitpick.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            Misread. Thought your post said carb.

            What I mean by comparable is whether or not they serve the same purpose. I drool over the CBR, too, but I see this appealing to a different sort of customer.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah I agree with you that they don’t serve the same purpose.

            As an “experienced” (only street, no dirt/track) rider, this doesn’t interest me so much since I couldn’t make it out of my subdivision without worrying about getting run over (speed limit 45 with real-world speeds of 55-60).

            My brother lives in an urban area, so might be a good candidate, for this, however, he wants absolutely nothing to do with a manual transmission. At one point he was even willing to invest 2 days & $350 in an MSF class. He’s not now due to business picking up (summer is his busy time).

            This is cooler looking than a scooter, and EFI = awesome, esp on smaller bikes. He’d go for it, but it would, at worst, need to have an auto trans option.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            Yeah. If they’re going after first timers, an auto is probably a must.

        • 0 avatar
          Brian P

          The Grom also has EFI. Honda stopped making road-going motorcycles with carburetors a couple of years ago.

          I have the bike that the Grom somewhat replaced in the Canadian market – a 2011 CBR125R. I’d rather have the CBR125R than this. It has proper 17″ wheels that I can get high-performance tires for, it will go highway speed, it has a 6-speed gearbox, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            That’s what I was wondering – short of the looks (hey, I dig a decent naked bike), I’m not quite sure what the Grom offers over the CBR125R.

    • 0 avatar
      cwallace

      Man, I’d wear a full face helmet with a tinted shield if I had to ride that thing, too. And I wouldn’t take it off until I’d walked at least a block away.

      You’d be lucky to get 60, even with four gears. This won’t work, because it keeps the one thing that beginners who like scooters don’t like– a manual gearbox. Nobody who is thinking about a scooter (i.e., non-motorcyclists) is going to consider one of these once they nearly flip it back on its ears the first time they pop the clutch.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Honda’s smart for playing this angle (and at the shop where I work, we’re breathing a sigh of relief at their newest offerings). There’s a little matter of street cred that most people aren’t considering yet.

    With the chopper in eclipse (good riddance, OCC) the cafe racer is now the cool bike. Millenials are pulling out lots of abandoned seventies and eighties Japanese vertical twin four strokes, caffing them down and putting them back on the street. And what are most of those bikes? Hondas. CB350′s, 360′s, 175′s 200′s, etc. Predominant because that’s what sold back then.

    Which means Honda is getting a street coolness they haven’t seen in quite a few years, no longer just making the ‘adult’ sport bike (squids don’t want sensible sport bikes, they want the one that tests .2 seconds faster even if they can’t come close to riding it), or custom choppers that come out two years after Harley Mania has died.

    And those CB500′s are sweet. I’m seriously considering a CB500F (the streetfighter version) for next year.

    • 0 avatar
      tbone33

      Yep, the CB500 is high on my next bike list too. I don’t get the 125 though. If you are going that small, scooters have more storage.

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      My Dad was riding Japanese Cafe bikes everywhere in the 70s and 80s. When I was born, he gave up his motorcycle. Once I left for college, however, he bought a pair of new motorcycles. A Honda Shadow cruiser, followed a couple years later by a Harley Road King. I think he considered them to be huge improvement over the smaller, less powerful cafe bikes of his youth. I wonder what he would think about the bikes he road because they were what he could afford, back then, being the cool bikes now.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    I was looking for something like this previously when I chose the Aprilia SR50 Ditech scooter. Great machine for what it is. The trouble with the Aprilia for me was the lack of top speed which takes too long to achieve anything over 30 mph. You feel like you are hindering traffic on two-lane roads with a posted 35 mph (which translates into 50 mph during the morning commute). The Aprilia didn’t work for my commute, so I sold it for more than I paid for it.

    I will take a hard look at the Honda since I have since moved 10 miles closer to work.

    Perhaps this is a glimpse of the new old Honda…creating a segment where there currently isn’t one.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Problem is a large portion of Americans the weight of the bike’s ~225 lbs. Have you ever seen a fat guy ride a sport bike? Or bettter yet take his fat girlfriend for ride?

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      I’d rather look at the fat girlfriend any day. BBWs FTW!

      One nice thing about a light bike/scooter is that if you encounter wet leaves, gravel, oil whatever.. and the bike starts to skid, you can just slam your feet on the pavement, hoik the bike back up and keep going. I’ve done this with a 500cc over stuff that would’ve laid-down a heavier bike.

  • avatar

    I still want a better scooter, something like the old BMW scooters but not as fance as their post-restart C30s. Unfortunately, being 199 cm tall I need something with a large frame. I’m not dead set against a normal bike, but Grom may be too small too.

  • avatar
    jfbramfeld

    I’ll pass by the remark about “starting responsibly” and simply note that it apparently has a one and a half gallon tank, which would be like a five gallon tank on good high mileage commmuter car.

    More important, it does not appear to have a top speed, at least one that could be considered an “overview,” a “feature” or a “specification.”

    John

  • avatar
    carr1on

    My wife bought a Honda Sh150i last year. It was a great scooter capable of going up to 65MPH, and great gas mileage (90MPG I think). We traded it earlier this year to a Suzuki Bergman 650 Exec maxi-scooter so she can ride on highways with me.

    Honda already has several scooter models. Is Honda going to discontinue the Ruckus, or the PCX or the Metropolitan? I see on their website they also have another new scooter named Forza at 300cc.

    The Honda SilveWing (600cc) is a good maxi-scooter, but the features don’t come close to the Suzuki Bergman for similar price.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      If they try to discontinue the Ruckus, they’re going to face a lot of dealers with pitchforks and torches. Right now, the two quickest sellers we’ve got at the dealership is the Ruckus and the Yamaha Zuma. 50cc Chinese scooters are dead, from the reputation of too many marginal brands with no support (the Jinan Qingqi’s we carried were good, I commuted on a 150cc version for three years).

      The Sh150i never took off at our place, as it was too expensive at $4500.00 or so. The PCX seems to be moving OK, for what market there is for a scooter that needs a motorcycle endorsement (in Richmond, 99% of riders who have either taken the course or passed the test want a motorcycle, not a scooter). We’re moving a few Elite 125′s, too.

      In our area, scooter appeal is tied heavily to the no license, no registration rule. Which, of course, our legislature is doing away with.

      I’m still considering a Sh150i for personal commuting. Still, that CB500F is less than one and a half times the price . . . . . .

  • avatar
    jco

    i’ve never even been on a moving motorcycle, but that CBR500R has been giving me all sorts of improper cravings. i’m small/light enough that a 500 bike would be way more than enough. i haven’t been riding since i was 16 so i am under no impression that I’d be capable of even meeting the limits on 250, much less anything above that.

    my little brother, who is definitely of the millennial gen, had a ’75ish CB450 that he had planned to do the cafe conversion to. but honestly, he’s about my size and we both agreed it was way too heavy. sold it a few weeks ago after owning it for a long time for more than he had into it.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I never understood the correlation between ccs and weight. 250cc bikes are rated to something like 350lb load carrying capacities.

      Honda’s 500s are a great thing for the motorcycle market. There is def a lack of true middleweights (not 130HP 600s). Me personally though, I prefer the extra grunt of a 650 twin. My lowly Ninja 650R hits 120 without a problem but doesn’t surprise me in the twisties.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      CB450′s make wonderful cafe racers. Three years ago, I helped our finance kid (mid-20′s) set one up, designed the rear sets and linkages, painted the tank for him. He kept it for three weeks, discovered it wouldn’t “do the ton” (top speed on a NEW one in 1970 was 95, idiot!), and sold it without giving me a chance to bid on it.

      Kiss one friendship goodbye.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    When we lived on the edge of the city/urban area I seriously thought of getting a scooter. Just something to run down to the river on nice afternoons, or just toot around in. I was thinking something more vintage style; I don’t care much for that thing. Looks too much like a little kids sports bike…

    But our young selves found the city life wasn’t really for us, so we moved out into the country side. Now I long for a Thruxton 900 to ride around here….. don’t think I’ll ever do it though.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Get the Thruxton. The only thing stopping me from doing the same is that I’d stop riding my ’69 Bonneville cafe racer (have had it for twenty years now). They’re incredibly wonderful bikes.

      • 0 avatar
        AMC_CJ

        I probably could get financing for one. But right now I have a case of too much stuff, plus I’m a bit worried (and for those who love me, scarred to death) something will happen and I’ll get hurt.

        If they still make them 30 years from now when I retire, I’ll buy it as a present for myself. If not, guess I’ll go vintage.

  • avatar
    bk_moto

    Cool! I would hoon that thing all over this great city.

    As my riding career progresses, it’s finally dawning on me that the most fun bikes are the small lightweight ones. I’ve started to notice that every time I replace a bike with a new one, the new one is smaller than the one before. I went from BMW R1200GS -> Triumph Tiger 1050 -> Triumph Tiger 800 which is concurrently owned with a Kawasaki W650. However some of the best fun I’ve ever had on two wheels is probably on my girlfriend’s recently-acquired ’04 Kawasaki Ninja 250R. Small, light, agile, loves to rev. It puts a huge shit-eating grin on my face every time I ride it and wring its neck. Best $1000 ever spent.

    It really is more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Seems a small cool bike has one glaring defect: Doesn’t take much for one or two guys to muscle it into the bake of a pick-up in seconds.

    They should’ve made it look way more nerdy than it already is.

  • avatar
    April

    Since scooters are pretty much used for in town transportation I think I would rather get a street legal moto in the 225/250cc range (a friend thinks the Honda XR250 is pretty spiffy). It would have enough power/speed to keep up with traffic on most city streets and a bit more robust so I can deal with potholes and curbs.

    Plus I can play in the dirt later. :)

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Yeah i’d rather get a street legal dirt bike too. The only problem with motorcyles is the death factor. Per mile driven the chance of fatality is something like 80x higher then a car.

    The death rates don’t look too bad when you first check them until you discover most motorcyle riders don’t ride alot..

    • 0 avatar
      April

      My moto friend has told me at some point I’ll lay down my (future) bike so I better wear safety gear. It’s crazy when you see the scooter crowd wearing shorts, a thin shirt and flip flops. Can do a lot of damage even at 30 mph.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        Good, you’re listening to your moto friend. Intelligence is safety gear, too.

        • 0 avatar
          April

          Yeah, she doesn’t mind the weird looks when she wears her pink moto boots and day-glow jacket to work. ^_^

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Excellent… be different, stay safe.

            And if you’re going to try the tall dirt bike thing, do it now while your sensorimotor skills are peak and your cartilage is still sproingy.

            Later, you’re gonna want that saddle height to come down, down, down.

        • 0 avatar

          ++. I’ve been down 3 times @ 20-25mph MAX in full leathers & walked away with nothing more than a bruise…

          All 3 times were under 50F, cold tires, road debris, right hand turn onto small street.

          • 0 avatar
            April

            “And if you’re going to try the tall dirt bike thing, do it now while your sensorimotor skills are peak and your cartilage is still sproingy.”

            While Spaceship April has a few rivets sprung I think I’ll do fine keeping my tail feathers high.

            :D

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    “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.” You realize there’s a thing called a Suzuki TU250x right?

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    I will jump on the Honda band wagon here. I have never owned a bike but rode a few and I have been toying with the idea to buy one now. I can take 90% low traffic dirt roads to work so I have been looking over the CB500X sister bike to the CB500R. Or maybe step up to the NC700X.
    Syke any thoughts about which would be better for a newbie?


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