The other day my wife gleefully showed me a video of a chap on YouTube dancing and singing about a pineapple and a pen. To her and her friends, it was the most hilarious thing they had ever seen, and over 85 million folks appear to agree.
Personally, I don’t get it, but that’s the whole point of a craze – to some it’s brilliant, to others it’s totally baffling. And that’s exactly the effect the Honda MSX125 has on riders.
For a company as straight-laced as Honda, it seems incongruous to have built a machine that has developed such a sub-culture as the MSX. But that’s what the Mini-Street Xtreme 125 has done – but not under the name Honda gave it.
To fully immerse yourself in the world of this bizarre Monkey for the modern generation you need to call it by its more popular street name – the Grom.
The actual meaning of the word ‘Grom’ is a source of conjecture, but it is generally reckoned to relate to an American surfer dude. But what isn’t up for debate is the Grom’s effect on two-wheeled culture. Every corner of the globe appears to have Grom owners’ clubs or groups of mates who gather together to ride this 125.
Dig a little deeper and you enter into the murky world of Grom customisation and performance enhancement. So what exactly is the appeal of a 9.6bhp mini-bike? Being 6ft 2in and 14 stone it was decided I was the ideal candidate to find out, so I grabbed the keys to a totally standard MSX125.
It’s not stupidly cramped, even for a tall chap like myself
Groms attract attention and in its Day-Glo yellow our particular bike certainly is a looker. With its Transformer’s style headlight and red calipers it just makes you smile. While the Grom is certainly a small bike, it’s not stupidly cramped, even for a tall chap like myself.
When it goes to full lock my knees hit the bars and the mirrors are so close I look sideways to see what’s behind, but it’s actually surprisingly roomy. Unlike a Monkey bike, which does feel like one of those clown mini-bicycles to ride, the Grom is mid-sized and can (just about) be ridden by anyone of any stature.
The start of my journey was on a main road and with the engine maxed out at 60mph (I once hit a dizzying 64mph) it was a little unnerving to look in the mirrors and see lorries close behind towering over me – though that’s nothing a big-bore kit wouldn’t sort.
In town the Grom is brilliant. Thanks to its small size you can zip through gaps and the low gearing means you can win most traffic light GPs, while the seating position puts you on a level with car drivers, so you aren’t ignored.
So can I now understand the fascination of the Grom? The Grom looks cool, is hysterical to ride and comes with a cool scene to get involved with, but it is also an excellent city bike, frugal to run and very non-threatening for newer riders.