What is this new Honda motorcycle with the Middle Earth name, Grom? It looks like a sportbike, but it’s small, powered by a little 125cc engine, making what, 10 horsepower? That means it’s not going to humiliate you by wheelying when all you were doing was checking for clearance in the throttle cable.
Lots of people would like to have a little fun along the way. What if they don’t want a motorbike to be their Batman suit that comes with a packaged identity? I’m a Harley guy. I’m a sportbike guy. I’m an off-road guy. No! I’m not a programmed guy—or girl—in one of your smug marketing categories, a book to be told by its cover. That guy on the little bike over there, in the T-shirt, jeans, jacket and sneakers? He could be Mark Zuckerberg for all we know.
Fun is surprise. Contrast. Choice.
Back when the economics came apart in 2008, I thought about the opportunity that gave the factories to re-start the fun and reach more people with fresh designs—smaller, easier-to-afford, useful bikes. In the 1960s, it began with “you meet the nicest people” on 50 and 75cc step-throughs, pleasantly shocking an older generation that feared anything with a motor and two wheels might give you tattoos or lead you onto the dark side. Bigger stuff followed—125s, 150s, 250s. There was no stereotype, so the rider told the “groovy little motorbike” where to go, not the other way around.
It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys
that two-wheel bike
We’ll ride on outta the town
to anyplace I know you’ll like.
In the 1970s, I rode thousands of miles on little 90 and 100cc runabouts because it was fun. I wasn’t going to find three big guys with bolt-cutters rolling my pride and joy into a van; it was beneath their notice. I could get wherever I was going by just putting in a dollar’s worth of gas and working the controls. No tattoos appeared. I could be myself.
Do you suppose Honda knows all this stuff?