2014 Honda Grom | Quick Shift

Honda's new Grom squeezes big fun into a small package

Courtesy of Honda

There's a motorcycle gang that passes through my hometown every other weekend and on weeknights, but this gang doesn't look half as dodgy as the one that probably ran through your head when you read “motorcycle gang.” That's because all 10 or so of the guys in this group are on Honda Ruckuses, a 50cc scooter that's done impressively well on showroom floors and been just as big a hit in the aftermarket. These Ruckus fanatics are primarily college-aged guys with a hankering for cheap thrills and fabricating (almost all of the scooters are modified in one way or another), and this—in addition to some gray-haired folk—is the Grom's likely demographic also.

Introduced as the US version of Big Red's more apprehensively named MSX125, the Grom is Honda's second look at the bike you or your parents grew up on, but with the Grom you get a 125cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine with two valves, four-speed tranny, and a cherry on top in the form of electronic fuel injection. Suspension is comprised of a 31mm inverted fork with 3.9 inches of travel and single shock with 4.1 inches of travel—0.03 inch more than the CBR250's piece. The tires are wrapped around 12-inch wheels, and the brakes are a dual-piston caliper that clamps to a single 220mm disc up front and a single-piston caliper out back that bites on a 190mm disc.

You can only squeeze 1.45 gallons of fuel into the Grom, which pushes the bike's weight up to 225 pounds, Honda says. It feels light and comfortable, though I noted (with my 6-foot-3-inch frame) that my knees would hit the edges of the tank cover if I didn't move toward the back of the one-piece saddle, which almost defeats the purpose of having passenger pegs. So does the 125cc engine, we figure. The seat is excessively firm and puts a time frame on your ride, but the rest of our staff felt like the bike was comfortable enough for lunch runs and had enough space between the seat and footrests.

We bet you couldn't count on one, maybe two, hands how many parts the Grom shares with the Honda CB500 models, this switch housing included. Controls are ultra user-friendly.Courtesy of Honda

A 29.7-inch seat height sets your head just above the roof of a sedan or at the window of a standard SUV, so the little Grom doesn't exactly disappear among cars—hard to when everyone's staring at it, of course. Our test unit managed 55 mph with a 180-pound rider sitting upright, so you can run alongside the majority of Priuses without much effort. But more impressive is that if we tucked in, headed downhill, and skipped lunch we could reach an indicated 70 mph. Brakes performed well on the other end of that run, with enough power to pick the rear wheel up as we came to a stop!

The Grom feels stable at either speed and never shook its head or wobbled around those 12-inch hoops. The suspension feels soft and bottoms over bigger speed bumps, but the bike's fuel-injection system is perfectly calibrated and allows you to accelerate from a stoplight with the precision of someone who has been riding since the day Honda's first CT came out. On top of that, the Grom's controls are accessible enough that we'd use this exact bike to teach our significant other how to ride.

We didn't go that far (for fear of growing more gray hair) but did use the Grom as a pitbike on race weekends and for numerous laps around town. In all these cases it was just as fun as we'd expected it to be. Moreover, it started every time, ran with absolute precision, and put a smile on the face of everyone who looked its way.

Honda has definitely got a winner on its hands, and we expect to see more Groms running through our hometown in the near future.

2014 Honda Grom
MSRP: $2999
Type: Air-cooled, SOHC single-cylinder, 2 valves/cyl.
Displacement: 125cc
Bore x stroke: 52.4 x 57.9mm
Compression ratio: 9.3:1
Induction: PGM-FI
Front tire: 120/70-12 Vee Rubber
Rear tire: 130/70-12 Vee Rubber
Rake/trail: 25°/3.2 in. (81mm)
Wheelbase: 47.2 in. (1199mm)
Seat height: 29.7 in. (754mm)
Fuel capacity: 1.45 gal. (5.5L)
Claimed wet weight: 225 lb. (102kg)