When the Honda Grom debuted for 2014, it was a curiosity. The first question was, “What the heck is a grom?” Since 1959, American Honda has been based in Southern California, a place known for its tasty waves. When the time came to name a 125cc minibike, it chose the slang term for a talented young surfer.
The next question was, “Who’s gonna buy it?” Everyone, as it turned out. Priced at $2,999, the low buy-in and appeal of a modern, playful minibike proved irresistible. Dealers ordered them by the dozen, and when they couldn’t get as many as they needed, they took deposits and put people on waiting lists. Some early buyers flipped Groms for a profit.
Almost overnight, Grom subcultures popped up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Shops like Steady Garage in California and MNNTHBX (man in the box, get it?) in Tennessee started customizing Groms, and aftermarket companies began offering special parts like shocks, exhaust pipes, and big-bore kits. Grom enthusiasts started racing them, and friends and clubs got together for group rides.
There’s a house in my neighborhood that was occupied by four bikers who rode tricked-out Dynas and dressed like Sons of Anarchy cast members. At random times I’d see their garage door open, and out they’d come in black vests and half helmets on four identical Groms, their normally serious “cruiser face” replaced with boyish smiles.
The Grom has been Honda’s top-selling streetbike in the U.S. since it was introduced. Worldwide, more than 750,000 have been sold. And over the past few years Honda’s miniMOTO lineup has expanded to include the Monkey, Super Cub C125, and Trail 125, all powered by the same 125cc air-cooled Single.
After getting an edgy styling refresh in 2017, the Grom was updated for 2022 with a new look, a revised engine, a new transmission, a larger fuel tank, and a thicker, flatter seat. The goal was to make the Grom easier to customize, more comfortable, and – dare we say it – more practical.
Though still a fuel-injected, 2-valve 125cc Single with an overhead cam, the Grom’s powerplant now has a more undersquare bore/stroke (now 50 x 63.1mm vs. 52.4 x 57.9mm before), a higher compression ratio (10:1, up from 9.3:1), and a larger airbox, all aimed at making the little engine that could more torquey and fuel efficient. A replaceable oil filter simplifies maintenance, and the down pipe and muffler are now a two-piece design for easier replacement.
The Grom’s gearbox now has five speeds (up from four) and wider gear ratios, which, along with a larger 38-tooth rear sprocket (up from 34), help the bike cruise more easily at speed. Nonetheless, due to its top speed of about 60 mph, the Grom is too small to take on the freeway, not that I’d be inclined to do so even if I could. A larger 1.6-gallon tank (up from 1.45) will help the fuel sipper go even farther between fill-ups – last year’s model got an EPA-tested 134 mpg.
I showed up to the Grom press ride after a particularly stressful week. The day before we had shipped our August issue off to the printer, and I felt wrung out like an old dishrag. After getting a tour of the Steady Garage shop in Irwindale, California, and checking out some of their amazing Grom builds, our get-along gang of eight riders buzzed through the city streets and up into the San Gabriel Mountains.
I’m 6 feet tall and weigh more than 200 pounds. Honda hasn’t provided a curb weight figure for the 2022 model, but the previous model weighed 229 pounds. Even with my big sack of taters in the saddle, the Grom is zippy and pulls away from stops eagerly. Its clutch pull is ultra light, and rowing through the gears is effortless, which is good since keeping the Grom in the go zone requires the right gear and all the throttle you can twist out of the right grip.
Going up into the mountains was a tad slow, but going down was a total riot. With 12-inch wheels and barely 10 horsepower, the Grom is all about corner speed and drafting the person in front of you. Its brakes and suspension are as basic as you’d expect for a $3,399 motorcycle, but they are steady and predictable. (An extra $200 gets you ABS.) The Grom is tough and takes a lot of abuse without complaint.
By the time we got back to the valley, I had all but forgotten what I was so stressed out about. I had been so focused on keeping up and being smooth and laughing inside my helmet at the silliness of it all that the fun had displaced all of my concerns
It has been said that you never see a motorcycle parked in front of a psychiatrist’s office. That’s especially true if the motorcycle is a Grom. Go ahead, have some fun!
2022 Honda Grom Specs
Base Price: $3,399
Price as Tested: $3,499 (Grom SP)
Engine Type: Air-cooled Single, SOHC w/ 2 valves
Bore x Stroke: 50 x 63.1mm
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Wheelbase: 47.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/3.3 in.
Seat Height: 30 in.
Wet Weight: 229 lbs. (2020 model)
Fuel Capacity: 1.6 gals.