HONDA MSX125 GROM (2014 - on) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Annual servicing cost: £70
Power: 10 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.1 in / 765 mm)
Weight: Low (224 lbs / 102 kg)

Prices

New £3,389
Used £2,500 - £3,300

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Honda MSX125 or Grom as it is also known

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.

Honda MSX125 is just about big enough for taller riders

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.

Ride quality & brakes

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

But Groms aren’t designed for main roads; they come alive on back roads and in busy cities, so I turned off the A-road and took to country lanes, which is where I started to understand the fascination with the Grom. On a tight and twisty road the Grom is hysterical.

Its short wheelbase of just 1200mm, and wide 12in tyres make it super-agile and you attack each corner as if it were your last, desperately conserving every single mph. I’m reminded of my days as a teenage hooligan on a 125 as I risked life and limb refusing to close the throttle and barreling around bends with only a small semblance of control.

The speeds are such that you never feel like you are going to hurt yourself, but the Grom’s light 101kg weight and small size means you just hurl it around and giggle. I can only imagine the chaos if a group of Grom mounted mates were added into the equation – which is exactly what most owners do and is why Grom clubs are springing around the globe.

Engine

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

In standard trim the Grom is great fun on backroads and a cool city tool with looks that make people stop and smile – but it is bloody slow, even for a 125. The bare bones are all there and the fact it is such a giggle and so charming has led to numerous companies devising solutions to the Grom’s failings.

If I had a group of Grom-mounted buddies I could see my garage being full of big-bore kits and the like, adding another amusing dimension to the experience. Crucially, the Grom makes me smile and at the end of the day that’s the underlying reason we all ride bikes.

The fun happens at sub-60mph speeds, making it far more licence friendly than a sportsbike as well as cheaper to run. So yes, this is one craze I could buy into. 

Reliability & build quality

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

The Honda MSX125 is made in Thailand, like a lot of the smaller Hondas on the market, but the build quality and reliability is just what you would expect from the Japanese manufacturer.

We've had two owners' reviews for the Honda MSX125 Grom, and they're relatively positive in the main with a four-star score overall. The main drawbacks are ride quality and brakes.

Value vs rivals

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

The Honda MSX125 has a claimed fuel economy of 185mpg – yes, you read that right – and a price of £3389, which adds up to some cheap motoring – although, on a day of murdering the little 125, I only got a slightly disappointing 100mpg.

The MSX125 is over £800 cheaper than a KTM 125 Duke, but £400 more expensinve than a more comparable Yamaha YS125.

You can pick up a used Honda Honda MSX125 for sale for a little over £2k.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

Although the brakes lacked ABS up until 2018 they are strong and the fact they don’t have any electronic watchdogs means you can do skids or stoppies if/when you feel the urge. 

Stoppies are possible on the non ABS versions pre-2018

You get LED headlights, LCD digital dash with speedometer, twin trip meters, fuel gauge and a clock, so it's a pretty basic affair especially compared to the TFT Bluetoothiness of competitors like the KTM 125 Duke.

Specs

Engine size 125cc
Engine type Air-cooled 2-valve single cylinder
Frame type Steel mono-backbone frame
Fuel capacity 5.5 litres
Seat height 765mm
Bike weight 102kg
Front suspension USD Front Forks, 31mm
Rear suspension Mono shock, steel square pipe swingarm
Front brake ABS - Single 220mm disc with hydraulic dual-piston brake caliper
Rear brake Single 190mm disc with hydraulic single-piston brake caliper
Front tyre size 120/70-12
Rear tyre size 130/70-12

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 185 mpg
Annual road tax -
Annual service cost £70
New price £3,389
Used price £2,500 - £3,300
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term -

Top speed & performance

Max power 10 bhp
Max torque 8 ft-lb
Top speed 60 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 224 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

Honda Launched the MSX125 in 2014. In America it is known as the Honda Grom. In 2018 the bike got a styling upgrade and ABS was added.

Owners' reviews for the HONDA MSX125 GROM (2014 - on)

4 owners have reviewed their HONDA MSX125 GROM (2014 - 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 MSX125 GROM (2014 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 3.8 out of 5 (3.8/5)
Engine: 3.8 out of 5 (3.8/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £70
5 out of 5 Most fun I have had with my clothes on in years!
23 October 2020 by IAN W

Version: SF

Year: 2016

Annual servicing cost: £70

As a 59 year old 20 Stone bloke, I was somewhat dubious that the Grom would hit the spot, but boy oh boy, it's a hoot. Its my 27th Motorcycle in 42 years of biking and its some of the best fun I have had. I look like an utter spoon on it, my fixated smile makes me look a few biscuits short of a full barrel, but when I stop, I have the biggest crowds round my bike and the most questions and "Wow I want one moments". Don't think about getting one, just do it.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Superb brakes, but I have got Hel Braided lines on mine. Handles a dream with Michelin Power Pures fitted and just flicks through the bends. You don't need a throttle, just flat out and laughing maniacally. Seat is not good for the Farmer Giles, so wear a pair of Lycra Cycling shorts under your Kevlar Jeans!

Engine 5 out of 5

It's a 125! What do you expect. Mine will pull 65 with my massive lardy butt on it and I cruise at 50 ish. Changed the chain and sprockets, got a 14t on the front. Pulls fine and on National Speed limit roads, you can have some big fun.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

It's a Honda, they invented reliability.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

£5 to fill the tank and it seems to run on vapour! I keep forgetting to fill up. Far too embarrassing to pay cash at my local garage, so always use pay at pump, otherwise people think you are filling up your lawnmower!

Equipment 4 out of 5

Just knocked of 1 point for the seat. Once you have bought one, you will be surprised at how much you spend on bolt on goodies, so the OE parts although good for the price, will end up in boxes in your garage. Go for Pro Taper Bars, Yoshimura Exhaust, Micheline Power Pure Tyres. Aftermarket shocks and upgraded front springs (I am saving for Ohlins). Tail Tidy, Crash Bungs etc etc etc.

Buying experience: Paid £2650 for mine, four years old, four owners. With 2700 miles on the clock!!! and three months MOT. Full service history. (Passed three months later, no faults). Change the oil and clean the rotary filter regular. Use good oil, there is only a litre in it. Main thing is keep all your receipts for bolt on goodies, in a sealed envelope, only to be opened on your death! Otherwise your Mrs will sell it for what you lied to her you spent on it!!!

4 out of 5 Honda Grom ! Great fun fir your buck!
10 July 2020 by Lee Etherington

Year: 2016

Annual servicing cost: £70

Best feature is fun! Although the Grom is fairly slow for. 125 , it handles well , is roomy and comfy, but delivers a ride experience that just makes you laugh out loud. Plus it is ridiculously frugal. I have had over 200 miles on one tank , around 170 mpg! It is well built easy to maintain and costs little to buy.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Budget but no real issues for the bike that it is.

Engine 3 out of 5

Slow yet simple.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Overall very reliable but the quality of the chain and sprocket set is dire. OE tyres lack grip in the wet but once these two things are changed no problems.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

4000 mile service intervals, low costs on oil as there’s hardly any in the bike. Everlasting brakes ! Nut and screw valves. Easy to home service.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Everything you need.

Buying experience: Dealer bought. £2600 new, good discount of £300 on list.

4 out of 5 Fun fun fun.
02 July 2019 by Toon 46 fan

Version: Non ABS SF

Year: 2017

Pros, fun bike that will put a smile on yours and everyone else's face. Cons, poor stock suspension and lack of speed.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

Front forks really benefit from either of the fork mods and heavier oil, rear shock is OK and cheap aftermarket one's can be had cheaply.

Engine 4 out of 5

Go down one in the front or up in the rear and with with only 4 gears you are soon trying to shift into 5th.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

It's an air cooled Honda, nuff said.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Service it yourself for coppers.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Digital speedo and fuel gauge is a nice touch.

Buying experience: Honda dealers used to offer 0% finance on these bike's with a free helmet or CBT

4 out of 5 The ultimate urban commuter!
28 December 2018 by pollosupersonico

Year: 2015

Annual servicing cost: £60

Lighter and cheaper than many scooters, more agile than any bigger motorcycle, faster off the line than most small cars. There is no better way to move around town.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

One of the most agile vehicles you can purchase thanks to its compact dimensions. The low, narrow seat makes it easy for shorter riders to use. However, it is quite hard. Rear suspension is spot on while the front is far too soft and slow to rebound. Brakes are adequate.

Engine 3 out of 5

A very simple 2-valve, air-cooled single that can trace its origins back to the 1970s, it is fuel efficient and super reliable. However, it is slightly lacking in power. The gearbox is poor: sloppy on downshifts, and could do with an extra gear.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Exhaust may rust if stored outdoors, otherwise fit and finish is very good. Excellent reliability.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Low price, simple construction and excellent reliability combine with good fuel economy to make the MSX125 one of the cheaper bikes to own.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Quite good for a bike this small and this cheap. The fully digital dash also has a rev counter, fuel gauge and clock. Newer models (2016-on) also come with an IMU-based ABS on both wheels. Only thing keeping it from scoring 5 stars here are the poor stock tyres.

Buying experience: Bought brand new in 2015 for €3500.

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