Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Small packages (Honda Grom Review)

Yep, I rode the Grom yesterday. I can't see that name without thinking of a character from a popular game series and it makes me chuckle every time. But the Grom is not an orc. It's not quite big enough to classify as such. What it is though is an amazing little machine.

And when I say little, I mean it. It feels small and nimble, but with that 47 inch wheelbase, it's practically a minibike. In point of fact, the Grom's wheelbase is a fraction of an inch shorter than Honda's 80cc junior trail bike.

So, here's the Grom in a nutshell. You can see the link for the entire list of specifications, but what I took away from it is that it's a tiny, light, agile bike and it's a blast to ride on open roads. If I could get luggage and a rack for a crate, it might make a great stomper, though I have reservations on that, which will be expounded presently.

The transmission is a smooth little four speed. There's a nifty digital readout on the dash with a rev counter and the speedo. The horizontal 125cc engine is peppy and puts out good power form suburban or rural commuting. And that, for me, is the problem with the Grom.

Kevin, the sales manager at Lancaster Honda, asked me if it would be something that would fit my particular riding needs, and I had to honestly say no.

Here's the problem, it's not the size of the bike, the size is perfect. I think it's perfectly suited for rural and suburban riding for someone who is neither traveling a long distance, nor having to face stop-and-go traffic. A manual bike isn't the best for city riding, in any engine size, but it can be done. Just the same, take a look at any major city outside the U.S. that has a lot of motor-bikes and you'll see that the bulk of them are scooters, for that very reason. Then there's the engine.

Yes, the engine felt peppy on Dairy road, but it didn't feel like it had quite the oomph of my own scooter's. I'd take such a bike on a long trip, but I'd be happier with just a touch more power. I sat there looking at it for a moment after my brief jaunt, and I wrestled with the idea of possibly buying the bike, but it just didn't have quite everything it needed to convince me.

So, the Grom is a niche bike, but I think it could spark interest in small bikes in the mainstream. It looks fantastic and it is fun to ride, so long as there's not a lot of stop and start.

Bottom line, if Honda puts a 150 in a future version, it will turn my head, that's for sure.


Paul Smith said...

Quick addendum. There is allegedly an aftermarket bore kit to up the capacity to 180 something. That would make up for the shortcomings of the small engine...and void the warranty...and possibly shorten the life of the engine. There are also clutch and sprocket kits for the adventurous. The little bike has potential.

kz1000st said...

I can't even get in tune with the shifting thing Paul. After 50 years of riding, shifting is like breathing to me. What I can't get behind on the Grom is the cost. At $3200 it's more than an SYM Wolf Classic 150 and about the same cost as a Cleveland Cyclewerks 250, both of which are full size bikes. There is a Chinese bike of the same size and type for a mere $1400. Given the success of my own 50cc Cub clone that, to me, would be a much better option.

Deb said...

It IS tiny. Smaller than a Metropolitan or Ruckus.

What Honda should have done is to put that little 125cc engine in a new Ruckus or 06-09 styled Met.

Now those would be big sellers!

Nice review...

Paul Smith said...

Thanks Deb. It is indeed tiny. I felt like a giant on it, and I'm only average height for an American. I still think I'd love to own one, but just can't see it as practical for my own specific needs.

Paul Smith said...

Jim, I can see your point, but for many, shifting constantly in traffic is not something they want to do, which is why the CVT is such a popular transmission in highly congested areas. Yeah, personally, I could make it work too, but I still prefer a cvt for stop and start riding.

As for the cost, it is a Honda. You are, to some extent, paying for the name, but beyond that there's the reputation for quality that goes all the way back to the early Honda 50. Yep, you can get similar products from other makers, but that Honda name, for me that's peace of mind, and if I can afford a bit more for that, I'll pay it.

You're going to want to watch this space though, you'll like an upcoming entry. That's all I'm going to say.