Living With The 2014 Honda Grom — Long Term Test: Month Five

The 2014 Honda Grom continues to lead an active life in our hands. When it’s not serving as my round-town transportation, it’s been busy putting a smile on RideApart contributor’s faces and, last weekend, I even used it to teach my girlfriend how to ride.

To recap, the Grom is a 3/4 –scale motorcycle built using the 125cc, four-stroke motor and four-speed gearbox from the Honda Wave — a scooter sold in Southeast Asia and one of Honda’s most high-volume models worldwide. It might only make 9 bhp, but it also weighs just 225 lbs with its 1.45 gallon tank full. That manual gearbox, the grippy tires and the decent suspension combine with the diminutive proportions and lightweight to make it a blast to ride at low speeds. It’s also cheap — just $3,199 — and we’re averaging about 85 mpg on ours, a little lower than the average reported by riders on Fuelly.

Or, if you’re new, an absolutely perfect bike to learn on. That’s because it’s utterly unintimidating — to look at, to sit on and to ride — even if you’ve never, ever ridden a motorcycle before. Unlike similarly proportioned scooters, it also has a standard motorcycle’s riding position, clutch and gearbox. With that equipment, new riders can learn the skills necessary to ride any bike.

New riders like my girlfriend Lara. Before Sunday, she’d only ever been on the back of a bike. But, after an hour or so on the Grom, she was confident enough to shrug off my guidance.

Lara on the 2014 Honda Grom in the backyard Lara on the 2014 Honda Grom in the backyard

We started with no-speed clutch drills in the safety (and privacy) of my front yard. Lara knows how to drive a manual transmission car, but the hand clutch on a motorcycle is essentially a new skill. So, after a brief bike walk around explaining the various controls and how you use them, we parked her in a corner and had her practice finding and modulating the clutch’s friction zone. Once she was confident with that, I had her put a helmet on and try pulling away for the 50-foot length of the yard. Paddling the bike backwards to the “starting line” helped her gain experience with the bike’s balance and in maneuvering it without the help of the engine. I had her leave the motor running and find neutral — another crucial, but often overlooked skill.

She surprised me with how quickly she picked it up so, even though we didn’t plan on it, we pushed the bike to the parking lot behind a local Chick-Fil-A — closed on Sundays — perfect for some car-free practice laps.

Lara on the 2014 Honda Grom in the parkiing Lara on the 2014 Honda Grom in the parking lot

There, we started with some 1st gear loops just so she could actually feel what it was like to ride the bike a little bit. Then, before she got the confidence to go any faster, we talked about looking where you want to go and counter steering, also touching on the separate brakes and how to use them. It’s good that we had that brake talk because, soon after, a little too sudden application of the front brake was as close as she came to toppling over all day.

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