Stephen takes the 2014 Honda GROM for a ride around town.
This bike may be small but it can keep up with the best of them.
Before my time, it was the Honda Trail 70 that won the hearts of young teenagers looking to buy their first bikes during the Seventies. Now, Honda hopes to reignite that passion for those looking to get their first taste of what it is like to ride something with an engine and two-wheels. Honda has kept with the nostalgia of the early 70s through creating a platform that delivers enjoyment while still retaining the easy-to-ride factor. The new 2014 Honda GROM got its rather strange name from the short form of ‘Grommet’ which is Surfer slang for a young surfer. Make no-mistake though, this small bike can fit a full-sized adult, and a passenger as well thanks to the long seat.
Although usually there is no ill-meaning behind the term ‘Grom’, it is often used to poke fun at younger surfers. During my time with my Metallic Black GROM, I never found anyone poking fun at this pint-sized bike. I was generally greeted with smiles and waves from Honda motorcycle owners and other two-wheeled enthusiasts alike. Even the general public gave the impression that they were in love with the miniature nature of this 125cc bike. During my very infrequent trips to the gas station to fill up the 5.5-litre fuel tank (thanks to an average fuel economy of 3.06 L/100km) this bike garnered an almost unreasonable amount of attention, even the owner of the Yamaha YZF-R1 filling up behind me must have been a little jealous from all the looks this bike was getting. Those that came up to talk to me often underestimated the displacement of this bike assuming it was 90cc’s or lower. Once I reassured them that it was indeed 125cc’s, they seemed genuinely astonished. Compared to other bikes in its class I can see why people were blown away at its small stature.
Hopping on the GROM I was immediately met with a seat height of only 29.7 inches, I was able to plant both feet flat on the ground with ease. Standing at 6 feet tall I also found that the GROM easily accommodated my size with ample room for my legs to hug the tank. The seating position is generally upright and the ergonomics made trips around town comfortably. The somewhat stiff single rear-shock suspension paired with 31mm inverted forks rode over bumpy roads with some roughness and likely contributed to my one comfort-related complaint. After an almost 80-kilometre trip was that the seat started to get really rough on my hindquarters and a short break was needed before continuing onwards.
It is easy to tell that the GROM is aimed at the younger crowd, having an easy to read gauge cluster, switches that felt well-made, and a light clutch made riding very easy. Once the 125cc PGM-FI engine fired up thanks to an electronic start switch, the GROM was able to propel its 225-pound body briskly and had no problem keeping up with local traffic. Although only having 9-horsepower and 8-pounds of torque may seem like it is underpowered, it was easy getting up to speed and maintaining it. Though, I would not recommend this bike on any highway where the posted speed limit is 100 km/hr or greater. As expected, the factory exhaust on this bike is quiet and I would personally make slipping on an aftermarket exhaust a priority after purchasing this bike.
The GROM delivers seamless throttle response across the rev range, a great accomplishment for an air-cooled four-stroke single cylinder. Braking on the GROM felt just as good, with a 220mm single disc with a hydraulic dual-piston caliper in the front paired with a single 190mm disc in the rear, it felt smooth and under control during both light and hard braking. The four-speed transmission also felt well put together with easy shifts and long gearing to help get the most out of the power-band while booting around town. I did notice that on this particular GROM that occasionally it was required to give an extra thump of the gear pedal to get into first gear. The GROM comes with a set of 12-inch wheels with a width of 120mm in the front and 130 in the rear, having tires almost as wide as the CBR250R and having a wheelbase of 47.2 inches gave this bike plenty of nimbleness and made taking corners a very easy and enjoyable experience with abundant grip to keep the bike planted firmly on the pavement.
I personally recommend the 2014 Honda GROM to anyone who is just starting to get into motorcycling or for someone who is looking for an affordable urban city commuter. Coming in at $3,200 as tested the Honda GROM is seriously reasonable for everything you get with this tiny bike. Many consumers agree as Honda has been desperately trying to keep up with the demand for this bike. Despite some finicky clutch and transmission issues that I am sure can be adjusted, this bike is a wonder to ride. One final note I would like to include though is the fact that this bike may cause some anxiety for owners who leave their bikes unattended for any given amount of time. Due to the GROM’s light weight, it would not take much for two people to pick up this bike and just walk off with it. I would recommend taking all the precautions of storing this bike in a private garage at night with a chain, disc-brake lock, or an alarm system, the latter is especially true for when you are out and about in the city.