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Old September 3rd, 2013, 06:30 PM   #1
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[] - 2014 Honda Grom Review

Grom: A grom (or grommet) is a young surfer, usually under the age of 15. Most of the time people that are called groms are youngins who are good. – Urban Dictionary

A natural first question when looking at the 2014 Honda Grom is, ďwhat the heck is a Grom?Ē Besides being euphemism for a young surfing phenom, Grom is also the name of Hondaís latest fun machine. Why the weird name? Called the MSX 125 in other markets, copyright issues prevented Honda from using that name in America. But, since Honda is clearly targeting the youth ó and the young at heart markets, the name is a great fit.

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The Grom is clearly a diminutive little motorcycle, but that doesnít take away from its fun quotient, as we discovered during its press intro in surfer-laden Southern California. Itís perfect for new riders looking for a great learning tool, or the experienced pilot looking for a good time.

A grom and a Grom. Inspired by the youthful nature of the surfing community, itís hard not to feel like a kid again when riding the Honda Grom.

At 29.7 inches, the seat height sounds more intimidating than it really is; the Gromís narrow seat allows even relatively inexperienced riders the confidence to place both feet on the ground with ease. And donít worry tall riders, the six-footers in our group reported being comfortable thanks to the low pegs and tall bars.

Powering the Grom is a fuel-injected, 125cc air-cooled Single Honda has produced almost a million of for its various worldwide products. Itís a SOHC, with an offset cylinder and a roller rocker arm for reduced mechanical losses. Despite the little engine and small stature, the Grom does its best to emulate its big-bike kin.

For starters, the 125 is mated to a standard four-speed trans with a real clutch. From there, an inverted fork, twin discs brakes, minimal, dirt-inspired bodywork and the 12-inch wheels with a CBR-style 10-spoke design give the Grom a much more upscale, ďurban commuterĒ profile. Despite what you might make of its looks from pictures, you really have to see the Grom in person to appreciate it. I think it looks rather cool.

The Grom is the latest in Hondaís push to introduce fun, efficient, reliable, and most of all, affordable motorcycles to attract new riders or bring back former ones. Thanks to the economics of building a motorcycle in Thailand, the Grom can be taken from dealers right now for a measly $2999.

And what an entertaining way to spend three large. It didnít take long in the saddle before the smile on my face from the affordable price grew even larger from all the fun. The little bike scoots off the line with relative gusto (for a 125 anyway), though clutch engagement*was rather far and the thumper doesnít pick up revs with much urgency.

Each gear is spaced far enough for practical usage around town, with a tall first gear providing push all the way to its 8250-rpm redline. The next two gears have a wide, usable range, while the single cylinder struggled to reach 60 mph in fourth gear ó the fastest speed I was able to reach with the available space. Downhill with a tailwind could probably net another five mph, tops. Still, thereís enough power to evade four-wheelers around the city. Or campus police.

Honda has produced more than 900,000 of these 125cc Singles worldwide, but I reckon this is the first time it has powered something as entertaining as the Grom. Note, too, the shift lever for the four-speed gearbox.

But maximum velocity isnít the Gromís strong suit. Itís about cruising around town and getting into trouble without ever breaking the speed limit. It handles surprisingly well, with a significant amount of lean angle required before hard parts start touching down. Front travel from the 31mm fork is 3.9 inches, while the shock gives 4.1 inches. For such a little bike, the suspension felt compliant while carrying all 155-pounds of me, never bottoming and providing a comfortable ride on SoCalís crappy roads.

Braking duties for the 225-lb. Grom are handled by a single 220mm disc with a twin-piston caliper up front and a 190mm unit out back mated to a single-piston clamper. Braking performance obviously pales in comparison to a CBR, but it provides decent power and feel, strong enough for the more daring journos to pull stoppies at red lights. Were it mine, a switch to steel-braided lines would be in order as the lever feel could be more positive.

The ďGrom Prix,Ē a gymkhana-style race set up in Hondaís parking lot, was the ultimate demonstration of the bikeís smile-inducing capabilities. Celebrity guests like X-Games star Jamie Bestwick, current AMA Motocross racer Justin Barcia, supercross legend Jeremy McGrath and current AMA Pro road racers Melissa Paris and Benny Solis, all took to the Grom to show off what they could do.

Wearing funny glasses and a Captain America helmet is just par for the course when riding the Grom. It really brings out the teenager in everyone.

It was here where the peg-dragging, rear-wheel sliding antics really showed off the Gromís impressive handling. Each rider, including the pros, couldnít stop laughing after their stints. In the end, the team consisting of Jeremy McGrath and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck(!) took top honors. My group finished well down the order.

Honda hasnít yet released fuel mileage numbers, but the fuel gauge on the easy-to-read LCD gauge cluster didnít budge at all after my 30-something-mile ride. Itís safe to expect crazy-good mileage from the 1.45-gallon tank.

The Gromís toy-like feel and around-town practicality was appreciated by the less-experienced riders in attendance Ė itís a motorcycle that isnít the least bit intimidating. More aggressive journos, myself included, enjoyed the grin factor brought about by man-handling the affordable little bike.

If you look closely, youíll see the Grom has passenger pegs. Admittedly a tight fit, two-up riding is possible should you need to give attractive joggers a ride.

Wherever we went, admirers and onlookers alike couldnít stop pointing in amusement. We werenít sure if they were laughing with us or at us, but either way, smiling is a natural reaction whenever you see one. Itís a similar reaction from the saddle.

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