If Honda keeps this up, someone’s gonna ask, “What’s up, CityBike? Why are you guys all up on Honda’s jock?” I mean, yeah, I got all excited about the new CRF450L just a couple weeks ago, we pretty much never shut up about our love for the apparently unbreakable CRF250L, then there was that small-n-sexy neo cafe thing, and if you heard we like the NC700X, you heard right. For the record, I’m still excited about the 450L, even though the oil change interval is like two good days of riding. I snuck into a back room to check one out at American Honda when I was down there last week, and I’ve got two words for you, friend: giggity giggity.
I could go on, like about how the two words that apply to the DCT-equipped Gold Wing we’re riding right now are “fuck yeah,” but there’s news to talk about—so let’s get to it!
I knew Honda was going to do some kind of global unveil at the Smoky Mountain Crawl. We had a pool going here at World Headquarters, with Fish facing long odds on his 650 V-Twin Grom bet, Max hoping for a KLR competitor, and An ignoring the whole thing because there were no European bikes involved. I didn’t put any money in, but was hoping someone from Honda would clown the chuckleheads that are still somehow stuck on the idiotic idea that the CRF450L is gonna have 24 horsepower.
We were all wrong. Shocker, right? Turns out the murmurs of new minis for the 2019 model year were true: Honda’s downright cute Monkey will be available at US dealers in October, with the Super Cub showing up in January.
I really should have started with the red one, because what’s more quintessentially Honda than a two-tone red and white motorcycle with that archetypal wing on the side. But, come on… Banana Yellow? Too good to pass up. Here’s the red one, with ABS:
That’s right, ABS. But the yellow one only comes without ABS, because… bananas!
Honda would probably love it if I’d include some real information instead of just yakkity-yakkin’, so here’s some nuggets from the press release:
First unveiled in concept form last September at the Tokyo Motor Show, the models are both closely based on iconic motorcycles from Honda’s past, and are the latest examples of the company’s aptitude for developing pocket-sized motorcycles that capture the fancy of enthusiastic subcultures. Preceded by cherished models like the Mini Trail, the Z50, and more recently the Grom, the Monkey and Super Cub C125 are set to honor Honda’s heritage and define new lifestyles while appealing to a broad spectrum of riders.
“Since our ‘You Meet the Nicest People’ campaign of the ’60s, Honda has produced fun, confidence-inspiring models that attract new customers to the joy of motorcycling, while introducing new ways for existing enthusiasts to express themselves and interact,” said Lee Edmunds, American Honda’s Manager of Motorcycle Marketing Communications. “With the 2019 Monkey and Super Cub C125, ‘The Power of Nice’ returns. We’re continuing the tradition of offering American customers machines that are simultaneously nostalgic and up-to-date, and that beg to be ridden and personalized. We’re eager to see how our customers use these bikes to extend ‘The Power of Nice’ to the next generation.”
Honda’s heart is in the right place, but I’m not so sure about this “power of nice” business. Minis seem to inspire us to arguably anti-social behavior.
I could go on, and yeah, a VanVan 200 isn’t really a mini, but you get the idea. It’s like our Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month photo gallery. Come to think of it, maybe it’s not just minis, but motorcycles. Anyway, onward, if not upward.
There’s a long story behind the Monkey, stuff that other mags will probably copy and paste from the release if you’re interested, and yeah, Honda’s long history with tiny machines is kinda interesting, but we’re more interested in the Monkey’s ability to swing. You know, shenanigans and shit.
To that end, let’s look at some specs, which incidentally look an awful lot like the Grom’s.
Type: 124.9cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Valve Train: SOHC; two-valve
Bore x Stroke: 52.4mm x 57.9mm
Compression Ratio: 9.3:1
Induction: PGM-FI w/ 24mm bore, automatic enrichment
Ignition: Full transistorized
Transmission: Manual; four speeds
Clutch: Multiplate wet
Final Drive: Chain final drive; 15T/34T
Front: 31mm hydraulic telescopic inverted fork; 4.3 in. travel
Rear: Twin shocks; 3.3 in. travel
Front: Hydraulic; single 220mm disc w/ two-
piston caliper; ABS version gets ABS, duh.
Rear: Hydraulic; single 190mm disc w/ single-piston caliper
Rake: (Caster Angle): 25º
Trail: 82mm (3.2 in.)
Length: 67.4 in.
Width: 29.7 in.
Height: 40.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.3 in.
Seat Height: 30.6 in.
Wheelbase: 45.3 in.
Fuel Capacity: 1.5 gal.
Colors: Pearl Nebula Red, Banana Yellow (non-ABS versions only)
Curb Weight: 238 lbs. (with ABS), 234 lbs. (full shenanigans version)
Key differences here appear to be some minor weight gain (four pounds for the ABS versions, five for the non-ABS), two shocks in the rear, 1mm more trail up front, and a wheelbase that’s nearly two inches shorter than the Grom’s already diminutive 47.2″.
You know what that means, right? Bring the bananas, because it’s about to get nuts in here!
Never mind my crappy mixed nuts metaphor. The point here is that this pint-sized howler ought to be just as capable as the Grom when it comes to skate park mischief, and the abbreviated wheelbase will likely elevate its malark-abilities. You know, to help extend ‘The Power of Nice’ to the next generation.
Looks pretty sweet, right? There’s some other nifty stuff going on here, like the color-matched frame, shock springs and fork tubes, and LED lighting front and rear, including a taillight that Honda says is “round like a coconut!” If you’re a fan of that sort of humor, the Monkey’s model page is full of that stuff, but I gotta warn you: “bananas not included!”
The only real downside here, aside from having to listen to every single old man in a Hawaiian shirt, knee socks and Crocs tell you how he used to have a bike just like it back in the day is the price: Honda says the “starting MSRP” will be $3,999, and ABS will add two hundred bucks to that, if that’s your thing—your Monkey, your choice.
The bigger problem is the aforementioned old timers and their memories. Between everyone’s granddaddies buying up these cute little things in fits of foggy-eyed nostalgia, and honest, hardworking hooligans adding a dash of authenticity to their pit bikes, you can bet dealers will be charging a premium over MSRP, just as they did—and maybe still do—on Groms. So if your use case is primarily pre-dawn crashing in the bowls of your local skate park, you may want to save a few hundred bucks and go Grom.
But if you want to look cool, man, it’s hard to beat that red and white Monkey, eh?
Oh… there’s also the Super Cub, which I’m sure is… super. Maybe we’ll talk about it later, but for now, I’m headed to the skate park, by way of every sidewalk and staircase along the way.