2014 Honda Grom MSX 125 | First Ride Review

2014 Honda Grom MSX 125

2014 Honda Grom MSX 125 Motorcycle Test

At a claimed 225 lbs. wet, the 2014 Honda Grom 125 is a two-wheel vehicle that might be termed a real motorcycle, and may be Honda’s entry into my imagined category of “anti-scooter.”

Geared to, but not limited to, the Gen-Y crowd, this product features a 4-speed manual transmission, 12” wheels, single disc brakes (4-piston front and two-piston rear), inverted front fork and digital dashboard.

American Honda threw a fabulous party they called the Grom Prix, at its Torrance, Calif., campus Thursday for the birth of its new child, the Grom (known everywhere outside the US as the MSX 125). In attendance were all the usual moto scribes along with some surprise participants and a couple of umbrella girls. Even LAPD Chief Charlie Beck joined in and raced.

Honda organized a day that started with about 40 miles of street riding, and then morphed into racing around pylons in one of the company’s many huge parking lots. Riders ranging in age from 20 to 60+ were riding, flogging and, in general, having a blast on this Lilliputian single-cylinder, 125cc, four-stroke, fuel-injected cutie.

Adding to the fun were motorcycle racers, champions and legends, including Jeremy McGrath, Justin Barcia, Trey Canard, Melissa Paris, Jamie Bestwick, Benny Solis, Steve McCann, Cole Seeley, Mike Day as well as comedians and actors Alonzo Bodden and Hal Sparks, PWC rider Victor Sheldon, mountain biker Brian Lopes, surfer Sunny Garcia, musicians Atom Willard, Kelley James and Incubus’ Chris Kilmore and Jose Pasillas.

Our morning started out as a beachside ride down to magnificent Palos Verdes peninsula, which is not unlike coastal Spain. During this time I was able to perform a top speed run, reaching a terminal velocity of 53 mph on level ground. Tucked in, downhill, with a tailwind, I was able to reach 56 mph.

The Grom has no aspirations of freeway riding, but it is lively in town and, with a wheelbase just short of four-feet, it can flick like probably nothing you’ve ever ridden. Yet even with this abbreviated wheelbase the Grom was stable all the way to its top speed and the 12” wheels worked well with the whole setup of the bike. The only learning curve on the Grom is how fast it will turn, especially at slow speeds and riders seem to become accustomed to it within the first mile or so.

Most of your around-town riding will be high in the rev range, with redline around 8500 rpm and rev-limited at around 9000. The motor is quick to rev and quite happy to hang out up there, but you are going to need it keep it pinned to keep up with faster boulevard traffic. The 4-speed transmission has fairly wide-spaced gearing which suits the purpose of the machine. I often tried to up-shift when in high gear, though I doubt the bike would go any faster even if there were another gear.

The ergonomics are relaxed and there is ample room. I’m 6-feet tall, 185 lbs., and fit nicely. It’s true. The very firm seat allowed me to position my posterior exactly where I wanted it to get me all the room I needed to the handlebars as well as the foot pegs. This is no mini-bike and there is room for just about anyone. With a seat height claimed at 29.7 inches the Grom fits most.

To its credit, handling is decent and it ate up the tight curves down the hill in Palos Verdes. The Grom is happy to lean all the way to its pegs, as was proved in our races, and can be easily flicked with only handlebar input and little body movement. The budget-minded Vee Rubber tires (from Thailand) gave me all the confidence I needed to heel the little Grom over.

The suspension is on the soft side and that is expected. The inverted forks can be easily overwhelmed and speed bumps can be a terror as the forks just don’t have what it takes to absorb the shock glide over them, or any large bumps, smoothly.

With that short wheelbase, this is no surprise. The Grom handles like many of Honda’s little critters and your favorites of yore. If you miss the Honda Trail 70, your heart will be warmed.

The Grom is a minimalist and inexpensive mode of transportation, and fun for those with a scooter budget who are willing to forego such amenities as storage, wind protection and a more relaxed riding position. In return for these sacrifices, buyers will be rewarded with a real sports bike.

Don’t laugh just because your bike is bigger. The Grom will prove itself to be a great bike for beginners, students, MSF programs, vacation (or any) home garages, race track pits, or a rack hanging off the back of a SUV or RV.

An easy prediction to make would be that the Grom will grow a cottage industry of aftermarket parts just like Honda’s peculiar Ruckus scooters. People are spending $5,000 to $20,000 making wildly customized jobs with upgrades that defy description on that 50cc machine and might be taken by the Grom’s 125cc motor and sportier platform. It’s not difficult to imagine this will happen to the Grom, especially as it is a world bike, sold in the same trim, just about everywhere. Right off, I’m envisioning an extended swing arm and turbo kit.

The 2014 Honda Grom will set you back $2,999 (if you can find one at a dealer), and that price point positions it for those desiring reliable transportation. Of course, Honda will sell many of them to riders who, for three grand, just want to stash one in the garage. If you put on your Grom hat, it will be a hard purchase to resist - it’s fun!

Riding Style

  • Helmet: Schuberth C3 Pro
  • Jacket:  Joe Rocket Reactor 3.0
  • Gloves:  Joe Rocket Phoenix 4.0
  • Pants: AGV Sport Malibu Kevlar Lined Motorcycle Jeans
  • Boots: Joe Rocket Velocity V2X

2014 Honda Grom Specs:

  • Model: Grom125
  • Engine Type: 124.9cc 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
  • Ignition: Electric
  • Transmission: Four-speed
  • Final Drive: Chain
  • Suspension: Front - 31mm inverted fork; 3.9 inches travel; Rear - Single shock with steel box-section swingarm; 4.1 inches travel
  • Brakes:  Front - Single 220mm disc with hydraulic dual-piston caliper; Rear - Single 190mm disc with hydraulic single-piston caliper
  • Tires: Front - 120/70-12; Rear - 130/70-12
  • Wheelbase: 47.4 inches
  • Rake (Caster Angle): 25°
  • Trail: 81mm (3.2 inches)
  • Seat Height: 29.7 inches
  • Fuel Capacity: 1.45 gallons
  • Fuel Economy Estimate: TBD
  • Colors: Pearl Red, Metallic Black
  • Curb Weight*: 225 pounds

*Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride.

Photos: Kevin Wing


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.