2014 Honda Grom | Motorcycle Test
In many ways, the 2014 Honda Grom is pretty much review-proof. Sure we can test it for performance, but the bottom line of motorcycles such as the Grom is how much fun it is. Nonetheless, let’s get the technical info out of the way, as well as the actual ride review.
Certainly looking at the Grom, it looks like a cute little guy. It has a laid-down air-cooled motor with a design that dates back to the 1960s, and has since been used by a wide variety of two-wheel (CT90), three-wheel (ATC110) and four-wheel (TRX90) Hondas, past and present.
However, don’t get the idea that the 2014 Honda Grom is outfitted with an old motor. It may be a SOHC two-valver, but it features newer technology, such as fuel injection, electric start, a low-friction offset cylinder and roller rocker arms. The transmission is a fully manual four-speed (this configuration often uses a centrifugal clutch), and we were concerned how the necessarily wide spacing would work in such a small displacement package. So, we fired it up and went strafing through the streets of Los Angeles and surrounding suburbs!
The most important concern is getting away from a red light, and avoiding getting swallowed up by cars. The solution—rev the little beast up (it even has an LCD tachometer) and slip the clutch a bit. If you have an experienced hand, it takes no effort to hit 30 mph by the opposite crosswalk of a standard urban intersection on the Honda Grom. That’s certainly fast enough to get away from cars cleanly. The first test is accomplished.
The decent acceleration lasts until about 40-45 mph on the Honda Grom, depending on how heavy the rider is. It has passenger pegs, but we couldn’t persuade a passenger to hop on the diminutive bike. After 45 mph, acceleration continues slowly until you hit a top end of 55 mph or so. We suggest not taking it anywhere with a speed limit over 50 mph, unless it’s a lightly travelled multi-lane road, such as rural Pacific Coast Highway on a weekday, where you can stay to the right and out of the way.
Although it is only a 125, the Honda Grom does not present the rider in a small way. The 12-inch tires keep the ground clearance low, but the seat is relatively high (almost 30 inches, which is higher than many full-size cruisers) along with the bars. The pegs are low, so you have a seating position that is almost stand-up. It’s like one of those backless computer chairs–you’re fully upright, which keeps you visible, even if you aren’t moving quickly. Plus, with the comfortable ergonomics and nice seat, you can ride for a couple of hours without taking a break, though most won’t take the Grom on such a long ride.
The aforementioned 12-inch wheels with Vee Rubber tires could raise some eyebrows for those worried about handling. Fortunately, Honda went with a high profile design, and with the top typical operating speed of 50 mph, the handling is fine and the Grom is stable at speed. You get a single disc, front and back, and the braking is excellent with the meaty contact patch. Stoppies are doable, of course.
Weighing in at 225 pounds, you can easily toss the Honda Grom around. The chunky tires have a strong footprint, so there’s not much in the way of pushing or drama when hitting the corners in town. The only adjustment a rider of full-size motorcycles has to make is to initiate your turns late. When you tell the Grom it’s time to turn, it turns—right now! It’s stable around corners, but it does turn quickly.
Okay, with that out of the way, it’s time to talk about just how much fun the 2014 Honda Grom is to ride. Well, as you’ve probably heard, it is a complete and total blast.
Because it’s a cute little bike, you can get away with all sorts of things that would get you in trouble on a full-size motorcycle. When I found myself in a nasty Hollywood traffic jam where I couldn’t even split lanes, I just went up a driveway and down an unoccupied sidewalk, and then back down on the road at another driveway. Usually, that would get nasty stares from those stuck in automobiles. On the Grom, people give you a thumbs-up and laugh! It’s quiet, relatively slow, and non-threatening, plus the darn thing is cute and everyone loves it. Yeah!
Other temptations are using the handicapped ramps at corners as impromptu jumps. The only fly in that ointment, other than a ticket, is that the soft suspension (four inches of travel at each end) of the Grom, even with its fat tires, just isn’t up to that sort of riding. That’s too bad, as the bike loves to get a little air. For normal riding the suspension has excellent action and absorption, even on the typically nasty Los Angeles streets.
Oh, and don’t do anything illegal when riding the Grom—don’t even speed, and always use your turn signals. All tests were done under controlled conditions with professional riders and all the other standard disclaimers that you have ever read. Heck, who are we kidding? Even American Honda, a pretty staid corporation, shows the Grom being wheelied through someone’s front room in their ads! Go wild, but don’t blame us.
Honda came up with a winner with the Grom—no doubt about it. It was an instant sellout, and we’ve seen people asking $5000 on Craigslist for the 2014 Honda Grom 125, which has a suggested list price of $2999. That pretty much speaks for itself. The Honda Grom is hugely fun, and can be had for a less than three grand—if you can find one!
Photography by Kelly Callan
Helmet: Speed and Strength Rage With The Machine
Eyewear: Serengeti Agazzi
Jacket: Speed and Strength Rage With The Machine
Gloves: Joe Rocket Phoenix 4.0
Pants: Drayko Drift
Boots: Joe Rocket Big Bang 2.0
SPECIFICATIONS: 2014 Honda Grom 125
Engine Type: 125cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 52.4mm x 57.9mm
Compression Ratio: 9.3:1
Valve Train: SOHC; two valves per cylinder
Induction: PGM-FI with automatic enrichment
Final Drive: Chain
Front: 31mm inverted fork; 3.9 inches travel
Rear: Single shock with steel box-section swingarm; 4.1 inches travel
Front: Single 220mm disc with hydraulic dual-piston caliper
Rear: Single 190mm disc with hydraulic single-piston caliper
Wheelbase: 47.4 inches
Trail: 3.2 inches
Seat Height: 29.7 inches
Fuel Capacity: 1.45 gallons
Colors: Pearl Red, Metallic Black
Curb Weight (full tank): 225 pounds
2014 Honda Grom Suggested Retail Price: $2999.