On a reasonably pleasant November day, I visited the Northwest Honda dealership in Wigan.
I travelled there on my “Big bike” for a pre-arranged test ride of Hondas latest incarnation of the little Monkey bike.
Originally introduced in the 1960s by Honda, these tiny 50cc motorcycles gained a popular following across the United states, Europe and beyond. So when I heard that they had produced a bigger version with a 125cc engine I just had to delve a little further and take a look.
The new Honda Monkey bike has stayed visually similar to its smaller relations with lots of chrome present. The chrome mudguards, exhaust heat shield and the exterior of the speedo dial all add to the retro styling. The LED headlights and tail lights continue this theme provoking images of something that wouldn’t look amiss off Flash Gordons spaceship.
The rugged look off road like tyres hint at the fun that could be had if you were to dare venture onto green lanes. Although clearly the Monkey isn’t designed or marketed in anyway as an off-road bike.
Currently available in three different colours, Red, Black and of course in “banana” yellow, don’t you just love it!
There are some plastic parts on the monkey too, after all it is the 21st century so it can be forgiven. The most glaringly obvious is the extension to the rear mudguard which you will either love or hate. I haven’t quite made my mind up yet. I know fitting a tail tidy will be the first modification that many new owners will make, doing away with what some may consider as an ugly after thought. On a positive note I can see the benefits in reducing spray but then that’s only relevant if you ride in all weathers!
It was with a degree of excitement that I donned my helmet and gloves and sat astride this little bike for the very first time. It’s one of those bikes that you orbit around before mounting, adoring the cute little thing for it’s looks and it’s size. Ignition on and the electronic single screen dial flashes into life and as it does so the zeros, like a little set of eyes flash and give you a naughty wink as if to tell you “you’re going to enjoy this”.
Having just rode to the dealership on an adventure touring bike the Monkey seemed like swapping to a childs toy. However within minutes I was settled into the large comfy seat and feeling at home. The position of the handlebars coupled with the seating position means you aren’t hunched over and feel in a rather commanding position for such a small bike.
The power from the 125cc air cooled SOHC four stroke two valve engine is nippy and is easily adequate for it’s likely use and the type of bike. I was able to pull away from traffic and around town it’s a joy to work your way sensibly through the lines of traffic. If you’re a commuter then this bike has to be on your list as a contender.
I took this little bike onto roads that had a national speed limit where it also performed well with a top speed around about 60mph. Thats easily enough speed for a bike this size. The 4 speed gearbox was easy to use and the gears were easy to find. I do like a gear indicator on a motorbike but unfortunately it doesn’t have one. There are only only four gears to remember so I’m sure I’ll cope!
The bike is fitted with hydraulic disc brakes front and rear with the reassuring addition of IMU based ABS on the front, although thankfully this didn’t come into play during my test ride.
The Honda Monkeybike at £3699 RRP may not be the cheapest small bike around when compared to Hondas MSX 125 or even the lower priced Benelli TNT. The Monkey does however provide you with things that may just mean the price tag is justifiable. A big grin, a touch of style and a little bit of well built Honda engineering.
Riding the Monkey was so much fun. Occasionally I’d pass a shop window and glance across and find myself having a little chuckle at me and the Monkeybike. It certainly gains attention, in a good way, so if you’re shy, be warned.
Would I buy one? Yes!
Will I buy one? Well if you’re reading this blog then you probably have already guessed the answer.