If you believe the conventional wisdom of the moto-trolls on our forum, a motorcycle should be full-size, fast AF, have the range of a WWII-era Dornier 217 medium bomber, and have the price of a 1980 Suzuki GS850 to have any hope of success, much less being a sales lead. Based on that, which model do you think Swedish high-end racing-focused suspension company Öhlins probably sells the most cartridge and shock kits for? The GSX-R? Ninjas? Ducati Superbikes?
No. It’s the humble Honda Grom 125, according to an off-the-cuff and unverified comment made by Honda’s Colin Miller. And Honda Grom Review 2023 I believed him because, at the remarkably well-attended Barber Small Bore bike show in Leeds, Alabama, it seemed every Grom was outfitted in ümlautty gold-anodized goodness. And why not? At just $850 for the cartridge and shock kit, it’s one small clue as to why this chubby little creature, with its 12-inch wheels and 10-horsepower Kennedy-era motor, is so popular.
Since 2014, Honda has sold 750,000 Groms worldwide. Not surprisingly, more than 50,000 are sold each year in Thailand (where the Grom is made), but when Colin told us that US Honda dealers, journalists gathered in a conference room at Barber Motorsports Park to wake up from their comas crumbled and even gasp a bit. Those are numbers that probably make the Grom one of the best-selling street bikes in America, which was “a bit of a surprise” according to Miller.
There’s a cartridge-style oil filter
Back in 2014, it was a hit from the start, and much of that success is due to the enthusiastic community that has grown around it. It’s not just a rich parts market (you can get anything for this bike, from race bodywork and aluminum swingarms to turbo kits(!)), but also a large and supportive community, with meetups and events throughout the year and almost everywhere in the US. That’s probably why Honda chose to introduce its updated 2022 model at the 2021 Barber Small Bore event. Honda wanted to show off this Grom enthusiast collection but also wanted to highlight the changes made to the 2023 model (it’s already been presented in Europe for 2021).
Honda wanted to take advantage of the best qualities of the bike: low cost of operation (and purchase), ease of maintenance and use for new riders, and customization. The engine is where the biggest changes are. It’s now an even longer-stroke engine, with a 50mm bore and 63.1mm stroke (from 52.4 by 57.9mm) and a more enthusiastic 10:1 ratio (from 9.3:1 ). The transmission has a fifth gear so you can take full advantage of the new 38-tooth rear sprocket and have more power distribution. And now, after many eons without one, there’s a cartridge-style oil filter so you don’t have to remove the side cover to clean out the spin-on oil, in case you knew. It had an oil row. That should make it easier for new riders to learn simple maintenance tasks.
Improved front ABS
There are also changes to the styling, brakes, fuel tank, and seat. The bodywork is now easier to remove, with six large screws on each side, and the gas tank gets an additional 0.14 gallons, for a capacity of 1.59 gallons. Hey! No laughing! At about 100 mpg, that’s an extra 14 miles of range, and the seat is thicker and flatter to help support those extra miles. The suspension is unchanged, but the 220mm two-piston front brake now offers improved front ABS, complete with step-sensing IMU to provide braking when the rear wheel is light or off the ground. Also for new passengers, there is a gear position indicator integrated into the new LCD display which also shows the fuel level,
For street riding, especially at lower speeds, the Grom gives up little to larger bikes. Although not adjustable, the front and rear shocks do the job and keep the wheels on the ground, and the bike doesn’t wobble or drift, even in high-speed turns. I was surprised by the effectiveness of the brakes, but at only 227 pounds to slow down, a single finger is fine for most jobs. And it’s slow, but for city driving and quiet two-lane streets, it’s enough to get the job done.
Back at the event, which was held in a test track parking lot on the sprawling Barber Motorsports campus, there were plenty of ways to test Grom’s mettle throughout the rest of the day. There were drag races (where again Jemaine beat me in five of the seven races), a Gymkhana event – if you can’t stop a Grom you’re not really trying, and if you can’t do a clutch wheelie. This is the bike to learn on, and don’t forget about the smoky burns and hackers, all made simple with that comical 47.2-inch wheelbase and a kind of muddy, rutted hare race called the Creek Bottom Classic.
My favorite part of the day
There was also a Hillclimb event, all followed by several epics (and some may say overly aggressive) parade laps of the main Barber circuit with what seemed like 100 or so minibikes of all descriptions, including a stretched and a lowered two-stroke scooter that it seemed like it was constantly crashing.
My favorite part of the day, maybe even of the year, was the little racetrack created by Sportmotocicleta Track time. The track was big enough to really practice technique, there was even a Daytona-style bench, but small enough that the paltry engine power wasn’t a bother, just enough to keep me ahead of the pack. journalists (suck it Jemaine!) the track and even in front of many of the modified bikes. That’s where I found the bike’s limits, scraping both the footpeg sensors and the exhaust in the tightest corners, but the Vee rubber tires and small-but-mighty brakes didn’t let me down. After getting the bits out I looked around for an adjuster on the shock, everyone at the event had Öhlins suspension.
“The Honda Grom 2023 is not cheap, they are a giant money pit,” exclaimed Joshua Kelley, the no-small owner of the Grom. He has put 14,000 miles on his 2020 model, sometimes logging 440 miles in a day. His bike was very well built, with engine mods giving him 13hp at the rear wheel, allowing him to cruise at 65mph all day. Still, one biker’s money pot is another biker’s change found on the couch cushions; A complete 200cc big bore, ported head, and high compression piston kit can be had for around $1,500, and $1,700 gets you a turbocharger. But it all adds up, and I can easily see spending $10,000 on my perfect Grom, at which point I hope someone intervenes and places me in a conservatorship.
I ended up putting about 120 miles on my Grom that day, including street, racetrack, dirt (what?), and racetrack. Not much for a full-size street bike, but they were quality miles I wanted for a dull moment. At a time when younger riders seem to be looking for a more fun, lower-cost, higher-tech motorcycling experience, the Grom, and it’s family of other minis, expertly delivers.