Photography by Kevin Wing
If you Google search the word “fun” right now, the pop band from New York comes up first. After that, it mostly depends on where you’re located: Fun things to do in Irvine, fun things to do in Orange County, etc. Check Google in another week and the thing that may come up at the top of the list is: Honda Grom.
Although I’m a massive fan of having fun, the word fun annoys me. It’s over-used. Everything is fun. And when it’s not fun, someone has grabbed the thesaurus and fun becomes “enjoyable, entertaining, amusing, pleasurable, pleasing, agreeable or interesting.”
While all those words describe the new Honda Grom to a tee, the word that will be most used to sum up the Grom will likely be fun. Though it will probably be a bit more descriptive than that. As in, “Damn that thing is so much F-ing fun. Holy crap that thing is fun.”
Honda introduced the new Grom to members of the motorcycling media yesterday at its Californian headquarters in Torrance and to a man/woman, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t gush superlatives after riding it. Okay… they all basically said it was “fun.”
Funny how a little bike like the Grom can cause such a fuss. In fact, we’re not sure we can recall a bike with so much hype… and at $2999 it’s $19,996 cheaper than the last motorcycle that came with such fanfare – the Ducati Panigale.
So what is the Grom? Well it’s… it’s… it’s kind of difficult to explain. It’s a mini-streetbike. For those of you with a long memory, it’s a Honda Monkey Bike. On HGH. More than anything, it’s a round-trip ticket to your inner hooliganism.
At the heart of the Grom is its 125cc fuel-injected, single-cylinder four-stroke engine. While it won’t pull your arms out of the socket, the engine package is perfectly suited to the motorcycle it’s in. It’s by no means a scooter and you shift through the four gears with a clutch just like the real motorcycle that it is. The fuel injection translates to smooth throttle response and, combined with the lightest clutch pull imaginable, means you could teach virtually anyone to ride the Grom. You could take off from a stop while juggling chainsaws at Venice Beach on the Grom and still never stall it.
The little engine sits in a compact little steel mono backbone chassis. The inverted 31mm fork offers up 3.9 inches of travel with the single shock in the rear gives you 4.1 inches of travel. Of course we didn’t do this (wink, wink), but if you wanted to jump it off curbs and over speed bumps, you could probably do so.
Stopping power comes via a single 220mm disc up front and a 190mm disc in the rear and the brakes are perfectly adequate for getting the 225-pound Grom (fully fueled, etc.) to a stop. The hooligans amongst us also had no problems doing nice big stoppies on the Grom, the front brake nicely paired with a fat (120/70-12) front tire – almost as if the designer had stoppies in mind. Wheelies were tougher, but also doable, but only in a closed-course environment (more winking here).
The Grom handles well and turns on a dime with its short wheelbase of 47.4 inches, but it’s also plenty stable in a straight line at speed. And what is that top speed? Right around 60 mph.
Newbies and the vertically challenged will find the low 30.1-inch seat height a real bonus with the Grom. The seat is also comfortable and the bike will carry two people (it comes with passenger pegs), though you better be two small people – i.e. under 300 pounds combined. Put it this way, it will make you a bit more picky when picking up hitchhikers.
Although the tendency at times is to ride the Grom like a dirt bike, it’s definitely all street with an LCD digital dash that gets a speedometer, odometer with A&B trip meters, clock and fuel gauge.
The Grom comes in two colors – Pearl Red and Metallic Black – and both have a nice metal flake gleam to them.
While our day with Honda started with a street ride that took us from the Torrance HQ to the beach and back, it was back at the office where the real fun took place. Honda organized the Grom Prix (get it? Play on words, Grand Prix/Grom Prix, get it?), a three-rider team race that took place on a tight and twisty racetrack marked by cones in a portion of the massive Honda parking lot. The track showed just how versatile the Grom is… it also showed that 45 riders of varying ability (from our very own teammate Justin Barcia to almost beginners) could rip off laps virtually all day with only two or three crashes (one of which was our very own teammate Adam Waheed of our sister website Motorcycle-USA.com – on his very first lap: “Pablo, I just wanted to be really tight in front of tight McGrath and tight everyone else.”)
The competition was sort of like bracket racing at the drag strip, so the timed action was intense with the outcome in doubt until the very end. Jeremy McGrath’s team won (a three-man effort that included Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck) with Waheed, myself and Justin “please not another third place” Barcia finishing… third.
But back to the bike… it’s one that you’ll want in your garage. Or on the back of your motorhome or fifth-wheeled trailer. It’s motorcycle that you can jump on and go ride - without a lot of forethought or planning – on a cruise to the store or a flirt with the inner hooligan that resides somewhere within all of us.
For the want of a better word, the newest Honda is Gromilicous.