The Honda MSX125 had no right to become as popular as it has. The mid-sized, 125cc four-speed bike known as the Grom in America (and here, unofficially) has captured hearts around the world.
It has even inspired a customisation and performance enhancement subculture all of its own. The Honda MSX125 doesn’t really fit into a bike category, and that may be the secret to its success.
It’s a bigger and more serious offering than the Honda Monkey 125, but lacks the big bike style and lavish equipment of more grown up 125s like the KTM 125 Duke or Yamaha MT-125.
Its lack of higher gears and modest 9.6bhp power output also make it a frightening prospect on the open road.
The Honda Grom is cheap to buy and you get a lot of miles from a gallon of fuel (Honda claim 185mpg, but we only managed 100 on road test) but there are cheaper and more frugal machines out there, too. A Rieju Strada 125 will get an astonishing real-world 148mpg and costs £800 less that the Grom.
So, it’s not the best, cheapest, fastest or most frugal machine out there. So why is it such a hit? It could be because it’s so much fun.
Chucking it around corners in town or whizzing between the traffic lights is a delight. It has a huge grin factor and has most of the fun elements of a Honda Monkey with fewer of the drawbacks.
Chief among which is the increased road presence, meaning you feel less likely to be eaten by an Audi at any given moment.
The pre-2018 version of the Honda MSX125 Grom had no ABS, making stoppies and skids a constant temptation. And that’s because the Grom brings out an element of childish enjoyment in everyone.
It’s ironic that Honda has such a straight laced image as a company, when they make both the MSX125 Grom and the Monkey, both of which are aimed almost entirely at having fun above all else.