HONDA MONKEY 125 (2022 - on) Review


  • New five-speed gearbox
  • Upgraded twin shocks
  • Classic Monkey styling

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Power: 9 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.5 in / 775 mm)
Weight: Low (229 lbs / 104 kg)


New £4,049
Used £3,100 - £4,100

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

As intrinsically linked to the 1970s as flares, the Honda Monkey first appeared as a child’s plaything in a Tokyo amusement park in 1961 before being made road legal and exported to Europe in 1963.

After booming sales in the 1970s driven by campers who strapped them to the back of their RVs, the Monkey’s popularity dropped off, only for Honda to rekindle the brand in 2018 with the all-new Monkey 125 to cash in on the retro craze.

Now, with Euro5 regulations forcing it to clean up its act, Honda have upgraded their mini bike with a new motor taken from their Grom and some new shocks – and that’s about it.

Honda Monkey on the road

It is becoming a recurring theme but as with a fair few ‘new’ Euro5-compliant 2021 or 2022 models the Monkey 125 feels almost identical to before.

The switch of engine has done very little to alter its character or performance and aside from marginal changes to the shocks and a new colour scheme (Pearl Glittering Blue which has blue anodised forks), it is effectively the old Monkey with an extra gear that slightly drops the revs and the same terrible dash. Is that a bad thing? Not in my book as Honda have really nailed the Monkey (aside from the dash...) and it remains a charming and fun bike that while fairly impractical makes you, and everyone around you, smile when you ride it.

Although they could just be laughing at the huge bloke riding the tiny bike... If you are in the market for a mini retro that has a bit of heritage behind it, your choices are basically limited to the Monkey or the new DAX125. Or you could go all modern and opt for the MSX125 Grom.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Not much has changed on the Monkey’s chassis aside from the upgraded twin shocks, which now feature two-stage springs and revised damping rubbers to improve their ride quality on bumpier roads and reduce bottoming.

With 102mm of travel I can’t see how on earth anyone ever bottomed them out (remember the Monkey lacks a pillion seat) but maybe RV drivers are more substantially built than me... The Monkey does deal with rough surfaces really well but as you are generally travelling quite slowly on a bike that weighs about the same (or less) than its rider this isn’t unexpected.

The same is true of its tarmac cornering ability, which is expectedly a bit sketchy due to the tiny 12-inch wheels but once you get used to how it feels you can motor on quite merrily and have a (slow-burning) blast on backroads. And stop well, too.

Honda Monkey turning left

Honda have kept their IMU-based ABS on the 2022 Monkey and it is very nice to see a 125 with a proper system such as this rather than the cheaper option of linked brakes and no ABS. Hit the front stopper hard and the system helps keep the bike level and the rear on the ground, which is reassuring, and overall it is a basic but effective safety net.


Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Monkey 125’s all-new Euro5 motor remains a pleasingly basic air-cooled SOHC 2-valve design (taken from the Grom) and has the same claimed power and torque figures as before with only a very small 250rpm change in where they are delivered and happier polar bears.

To ride it feels very similar to the old engine and it has to be said remains fairly sluggish with 55mph about your top speed. The introduction of a new fifth gear (the old model only had four) basically gives you an overdrive which drops the revs yet does very little to the speed as by the time you are ready to shift up into fifth the little motor has given all it has got to give.

Top speed is a claimed 57mph, which is about right on flats but an indicated 65mph is possible on downhills – not that you can read it on speedo...

Honda Monkey engine

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

There are a fair few Monkeys out there and a huge number of MSX125s, which share basically the same motor. In terms of reliability, the engine seems to come out very strongly but there again, what do you expect from such a basic four-stroke motor? A few owners grumble about the quality of the chrome finish on the Monkey, which can start to corrode, but overall these bike tend not to get used that much, especially in the wet, so all seems well.

Honda Monkey rear light

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

At £4049 the Monkey is quite a lot of money for a very small bike but you are buying from a ‘known’ brand and that also means you can get good finance packages. Honda are offering PCP deals that work out at £59 a month or HP that are £99 a month, both over three years with 6.9% interest and deposits of around £500.

Insurance is minimal on the Monkey and it is very cheap to run in terms of its fuel economy. Over a variety of roads (all mainly taken flat out...) the Monkey averaged between 100 and 126mpg, which is short of Honda’s quoted 190mpg. Despite the extra gear, Honda don’t claim any improvement in the Monkey’s economy figures when compared to the old model.

The engine requires servicing every 4000 miles, which is impressively long, but every service includes a valve clearance check. Assume about £200 a go but it is easy to do yourself if you are happy operating spanners and a feeler gauge.

Honda Monkey left side

There aren’t many natural rivals for the Monkey however the Grom is £3799 and Super Cub £3699. There is no price announced as yet on the DAX. If you want something modern (and mad) the Benelli TnT 125 is £2499 or the Italjet Dragster 125 £4999, neither of which have the Monkey’s retro cool.


3 out of 5 (3/5)

With IMU-controlled ABS as standard, there isn’t much more you can ask for on a retro 125. The Monkey comes with an LCD dash that ‘winks playfully [annoyingly!!!] when the ignition is turned on,’ however it also remains terribly dim and almost impossible to read while on the go.

Even a Monkey can break speed limits in restricted areas so this is a very annoying oversight by Honda that should have been rectified in the update. Unlike the Grom, very few Monkey owners go to town when it comes to customising their bike so nearly all used bikes are standard. If you really want to be seen, loud pipes are available and you can tune the engine using hop-up parts for the Grom. Not that it is a very good idea...

Honda Monkey dash


Engine size 124cc
Engine type Air-cooled, 2v, sohc single
Frame type Tubular steel backbone
Fuel capacity 5.6 litres
Seat height 775mm
Bike weight 104kg
Front suspension Inverted forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Twin shocks, non-adjustable
Front brake 1 x 220mm discs with two-piston caliper. ABS
Rear brake 190mm single disc with single-piston caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 120/80 x 12
Rear tyre size 130/80 x 12

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 110 mpg
Annual road tax -
Annual service cost -
New price £4,049
Used price £3,100 - £4,100
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 9 bhp
Max torque 8.1 ft-lb
Top speed 57 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 160 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2018: Honda Monkey – Honda relaunch their iconic Monkey.
  • 2021: Honda Monkey – The Monkey gains a Euro5-compliant engine with a fifth gear and revised shocks.

Other versions

Honda now have three small 125 models in their range built around the same engine. The Dax 125 is even more retro than the Monkey or if you fancy something more modern you can opt for the Honda Grom.

Owners' reviews for the HONDA MONKEY 125 (2022 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their HONDA MONKEY 125 (2022 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HONDA MONKEY 125 (2022 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Engine: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Equipment: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
4 out of 5 The Monkey is so much fun!
15 April 2024 by Dave Chase

Year: 2023

The Monkey is a bike that is more than the sum of it's parts. Despite a low powered engine, an average gear box that seems to have a few false neutrals and is a little imprecise and, I agree with the review, a dim dash that really should be better, the bike is amazing fun. Used in town and city or, best of all, exploring narrow country lanes (including mild green ones), the bike is in it's element. Hugely manoeuvrable, and that grin factor of getting every last once of performance from the machine means that it is top fun. I wouldn't recommend as an only bike, but as a second bike to explore the countryside, it's in it's element. Be prepared to spend time talking to strangers as they all love the looks and it generates smiles all round.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

It's got a plush seat and the riding position is very neutral. I can ride this most of the day and be no more in discomfort that any other bike! If you are going to make the best of it's green lane potential, I'd suggest upgrading the rear shocks otherwise you might lose your fillings. It's not a practical machine - no pillion provision at all and no storage anywhere. After market options are out there including racks and top boxes if you'd like.

Engine 3 out of 5

Anaemic but bullet proof engine means that you'll be up and down the gear box which, to be fair, is part the fun. Overtaking can be nearly impossible though! Having said that, it can be surprisingly rapid away from the lights and, with the wind behind you, will sit at 55 mph or so. Don't use it on the big roads though: this is for the small windy stuff where the impressive flickability of the bike means that you can have massive fun avoiding the ruts and potholes that lesser bikes will fall foul of.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

I've done over 1,500 miles in 6 months over the winter. The bike gets very mucky, but cleaning takes little time even if it is a bit fiddly (like many bikes). The only negative is the chain which seems to stretch very easily but even a noob like me can fix that inside 15 minutes. Seems very well put together and no obvious corrosion so far.

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

I took out a service plan so the first three services are sorted. I think the bike is actually quite expensive for what it is. Bearing in mind that you can get a Triumph 400 for less that a thousand more, it makes you think. Fuel economy is excellent at about 135 mpg, but the claimed 180 mpg is a bit silly as you'll never get that in the real world. The tiny tank needs replenishing every 130 miles or so but I could probably get another 20 miles if I pushed it.

Equipment 3 out of 5

It's a basic bike. You'll probably need mirror extenders as the bars are quite narrow and I couldn't see anything behind me. The tyres are actually fine despite being unbranded. Their 80:20 road biased and provide a noticeable hum when travelling on the road which is quite enjoyable.

Buying experience: Bought from Honda dealer in Shrewsbury. They are a good bunch and I really enjoy dealing with them. I bought at full price without a trade-in but I think the service plan was a bit cheaper than normal. No complaints.

5 out of 5 Cheapest bike you'll ever run!
29 June 2023 by Colin

Year: 2023

Fuel economy great with the Monkey< I never have a problem reading the dash even in bright sunlight

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

It's a bit choppy over big bumps but never really bad. You can go places off-road I could never get to on my GS.

Engine 5 out of 5

The engine feels much livelier in the Monkey than any other 125 I've ridden, probably due to the very low weight.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

The bike always starts first time, even after being left for a couple of weeks while on holiday. More than can be said for my BMW GSA!

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

I got a good deal for my first 3 services of £150 from Honda, after that it costs £10 for a str of oil & £9 for a genuine Honda oil filter! So you're looking at around £20-30 for a full service! Mine does over 150 miles on a single tank of petrol which is fantastic.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Not much equipment but it has everything you need, two trips & a fuel gauge.

Buying experience: Great buying experience from Honda Supercentre in Blackpool

5 out of 5
19 June 2023 by Callpaul

Year: 2022

Best bike for fun

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
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