The 2016 Honda Grom
What’s the most fun you can have with or without your pants on? If you’re a fan of travelling on two wheels, a different four letter word could well spring to mind:
With ‘beginner’ bikes so often sitting at 500 or 600cc these days - part of a seemingly unstoppable trend of making bikes bigger and more powerful - it’s been with equal amounts of surprise and relief that we’ve seen the ‘small street’ sector exploding of late. Thanks to a recent round of 250 and 300cc offerings from almost every major manufacturer, there’s been a 125% upsurge in sales since 2010.
‘But why stop at 250cc?’, Honda’s engineers presumably asked themselves. So they didn’t.
First brought to the Australian market in 2014, if not for its street-wise styling, the Honda Grom could easily be mistaken for a scooter. At 125cc the Grom may seem underpowered to some, but its power-to-weight makes that number more than enough. This motorcycle, you see, is what chocolate manufacturers might confusingly call ‘fun’ size, but in the case of the Grom, the word ‘fun’ couldn’t be any more appropriate.
The winner of Motorcycle USA’s Motorcycle of the Year Award in 2014, the latest iteration of the Grom has received a cosmetic update, but has kept the hugely popular (and fun) powertrain.
Let’s have a look at what this year’s Honda Grom has to offer.
While the 125cc single-cylinder engine has been transplanted straight out of Honda’s Wave scooter, unlike a scooter, power is provided to the rear wheel of the Grom via a fully-fledged four-speed transmission, offering riders far better get up and go than its scooter cousin.
While there isn’t exactly a tonne of weight to move, you’ll still need to be careful not to shift up too quickly – hitting low revs will have all 125 of those cubic centimetres straining to push you forward. But sticking to the powerband will have you nipping around without a worry in the world about holding up traffic. While it’s not exactly a freeway-swallowing machine, it’s more than capable of anything below triple figures.
At just 104kg, there’s not much to stop, but the hydraulic discs do it well. The lack of ABS (which isn’t entirely surprising for such a basic bike) doesn’t seem as though it will affect the bikes ability to come to a quick halt.
And now we come to its comfort and handling. Many will look at the bike and be instantly concerned about riding it. If it’s a fun-size bike, do you need to be a fun-size person to be able to enjoy it? I can say categorically that no, no you do not.
Swinging your leg over the bike is, as you’d imagine, a simple enough task. With the seat resting just 75cm off the ground, the riding position is unconventionally low. But surprisingly, there’s no hint of a cramped feel while you’re riding, even for those who top out at above the 6’ mark. The only trouble that taller riders may face is with the mirrors – they’re positioned in such a way that you may get a better look at your own elbows than you do the traffic.
The nippy acceleration is matched by equally excellent grip through the corners, despite the tyres looking as though they’ve been stolen from an oversized pram. The Grom is an absolute pleasure to worm through city backstreets, and you might find that you choose to take far more shortcuts than usual on the bike, just to get a feel of that cornering ability.
The styling of the Grom screams enjoyment. If it weren’t for the undersized 12” wheels, it could pass as a full-sized naked bike if viewed from a distance. The 125cc engine is almost entirely exposed, with the seat and bodywork sitting atop the powertrain. It comes in a range of two-tone colour options, including red, yellow and black. A digital dash gives you crisp tacho, speed, fuel and time readings.
When the dust settles, it’s obvious that the Grom isn’t a bike built for the ‘serious’ rider. Its market is the rider who is learning the craft, or is looking for a bit of extra fun. And as an entry-level LAMS bike, or a cheeky little runabout, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that brings as big a smile to your dial.
With or without your pants on.