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Reviewed: Honda MSX 125 Grom

triumph trident 2021

Not only has Honda’s MSX 125 been given some performance updates for 2022, but it’s also officially adopted the Grom name too. So why are these bikes so popular, and just how good is the new model?

There’s no denying that Honda’s MSX 125 has cultivated a serious reputation, gaining a cult following the wo rld over and a large modification scene. It’s a cool and quirky, three-quarters sized, machine that many owners around the globe have spent both money and time on, making into their very own masterpieces, from big-bored fully-faired racing versions to impressively spec’d off-road weapons… and literally everything in between.

And for 2022 not only has the MSX 125 officially adopted the ‘Grom’ name (the long term nickname that was previously only used officially by Honda in the United States) but it’s also been endowed with a few minor updates too. Although it’s essentially still the same chassis, suspension and engine platform as before, the new model is now Euro5 compliant, yet it still makes the same figures of 9.7bhp and 7.7 ft/lb torque thanks to few little changes, such as a new cylinder.

Bigger news is an extra (fifth) gear for 2022 too, in order to make higher-speed cruising that little bit more comfortable. Sure, those figures might not sound like a lot, but you have to remember it sits just a snip over 100kg ready to roll, which makes things pretty fun when you see that seat height sits at just 761mm. Honda have also given the Grom an updated dash setup, alongside new fairing panels that are now removed with just a few bolts for ease of accessorising. 

If this sounds like a bit of you, the 2022 model will set you back £3649, or around £60 a month on a PCP deal. If you’re in the city, that might work out a hell of a lot cheaper than a monthly train ticket, but is the Grom still worth the hype and cult status?

It’s quite a difficult thing to explain, but there’s this real charm about a Grom that really does confirm why it deserves the cult status. The mixture of that perfectly scaled engine in the diddy chassis, alongside those mini wheels and brakes just oozes fun, and with those snazzy new plastics, it looks even better than ever before.

This is no normal machine and jumping on gives a sense of that; being seriously small, this is one of the few bikes on this planet that I can swing a leg over with absolutely no effort needed, thanks to that insanely low seat height. Even so, and considering the minuscule dimensions of the engine and chassis, the Grom is actually roomier than I’d expect.

Grom2_WEB

Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means a comfortable tourer or even a fairly roomy A2 machine, yet thanks to the surprising amount of distance between ‘pegs, ‘bars and seat, it really isn’t a back-breaking place to be. Thanks to that new dash, the cockpit actually looks fairly smart too, which is nice.

It has to be remembered that this little beast houses a motor that sits under the 10 horsepower mark, so while firing it up for the first time isn’t underwhelming per se, it doesn’t exactly set the soul on fire. Flicking it off the side-stand is a different story though, as the kerb weight of 103kg makes the Grom feel as light as a feather, while the toy-like dimensions just ooze that feeling that this Honda is a little bundle of fun. And that’s exactly what it is, as from the very first time I let that insanely soft clutch out I was sold.

For a new, inexperienced or a rider who just wants to build their confidence, I can’t think of a better machine to hone their skills on. The gearshifts are slick, the throttle response is predictably gentle and the mixture of a tiny turning circle alongside an impressively balanced machine makes the Grom an absolutely weapon in terms of tackling the city commute.

Sure, the chassis and suspension is the same as before but it offers up a load of feedback and even though the MSX is only carried by tiny wheels, it is impressively stable at higher speeds, while the addition of an extra gear at the top end really does make a monumental difference in terms of cruising along north of the 45mph mark.

I was lucky enough to nail quite a few miles on it too, to the point where I even headed out on it in a full, one piece leather suit as it seemed like a good idea. It’s not a serious bike, but it’s not trying to be, and that’s what makes it so good. It’s designed to be fun. And it is!

But in all seriousness, if you’re looking to buy some these as a real, working warhorse then you do have to weigh up the pros with the cons. For starters, although the size is charming in so many ways, it also finds itself very quickly out of its depth – as soon as you edge towards busier, bigger roads that are frequented by lorries, big vans and heavy traffic at speed it just doesn’t quite have enough presence to feel as safe as a regular sized machine.

Oh, and if you do end up out of the city, although that fifth gear does make a difference to cruising at sensible speeds, it does still run out of steam very quickly indeed, even compared to some of the other 125cc machines on the market.

Grom3

Conclusion

The Grom is a thing of absolute beauty for so many reasons, but the main one for me is the pure fun and feel-good factor that it brings.

Thanks to the mixture of the compact dimensions, small power figures and the tiny weight it’s an absolute hoot to not only throw around in town, but also to tackle some your favourite twisty B-roads too. It has its very own flair that just produces an insane amount of smiles, and it’s also practical, as not only could you could park it in the smallest spaces, but it drinks barely any fuel as well.

It's a motorbike that defies class. It’s the sort of machine that can be ridden equally by L-plated teenagers and Fireblade owning veteran. It’s happy as a city commuter or a brilliant little runaround stuck on the back of a motorhome. It’s the sort of machine where you probably want to wear jeans and jacket, but won’t look out of place if (as we did) you wear full leathers and enjoy revving out that little motor.

Sure, it’s not perfect and it has its foibles, but for what it is? It’s a bloody awesome bit of kit.

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