Honda's miniature motorcycle reviewed

I'm thinking of getting a Grom, an inexpensive, fuel-efficient new bike from Honda. Joel Johnson likes his a lot: it sounds like the best of both worlds when it comes to scooters and motorcycles.

That light weight changes the "intimidation factor" of the motorcycle. Riding the Grom doesn't feel like you've just swung your leg over a headstone with an exhaust. Everyone larger than a toddler can easily put both feet on the ground at a stop; keeping the bike upright when it starts to lean over takes little-to-no muscle. It almost feels like a toy.

But then somewhere in the top end of second gear the little 9-horsepower engine overcomes its trifling torque and gets some real speed under your butt, cruising between 35 and 45 mph with ease.

He warns that it's not that great for suburban commuting, though, thanks to a top speed in the 50s. And it's still a grand pricier than Honda's other hip little machine, the 50cc Ruckus, which has a similarly utilitarian vibe. I just can't decide!

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  1. My $.02 as a 150cc scooter rider ...

    Bike looks awesome but the 50MPH top speed is pretty close to a deal breaker for certain types of safe urban riding. It does not happen always but even in busy urban environments there are main routes you often need to ride where the traffic cruises or at least averages around 50 mph or higher. The big issue with the tiny little "legal everywhere" 50cc scooters is that they can't go above ~30mph without really straining and in some situations that can be dangerous for the rider and surrounding traffic when you become an actual impediment to the flow.

    I ride a 150cc vespa that requires a motorcycle license in my state mainly for this reason - the speed is there when I need it and I can ride safely and comfortably within and around normal traffic on all urban roads - congested and/or wide-open.

  2. I've never been able to find any advantage to a scooter over a small motorcycle. The toy size wheels on scooters versus the smoother, safer ride over bumps, holes and obstacles a full sized motorcycle wheel gives you is the real deal breaker.

  3. Eh. While I like the idea of smaller, lighter bikes in order to get more people interested with motorcycles (I made the switch after a dalliance with mopeds), $3K can buy a, for lack of a better word, real motorcycle. At least, a very decent used one.

  4. You could get a good used CB250 for less.
    They're bulletproof, top out at about 75-80mph, get about 60mpg and weigh about the same.
    I've been riding for over twenty years and can tell you from experience that the ability to quickly get out of the way is more important than a few mpg.

  5. hojo says:

    I'm in a college town. This means no superhighway riding needed to get to and from work (about 5 miles to work, big hills). I would love to just bicycle, but I get to work sweaty when I do so, and I have to look professional.

    I bought a Chinese 50 cc scooter, rode the hell out of it for two years, then upgraded to a Chinese 150 cc scooter (google GY6 for the engine and scooter type). These 150 cc scooters are really impressive.

    Mine was shipped from TX via some eBay reseller. My total cost was $1040 including shipping. It came in a giant crate on the back of a truck. It took me several hours to put it all together, check fluids, and so on--this was not serious mechanic work but I would not recommend it if you, for instance, have no idea how to swap out a light fixture or can't trade out a kitchen faucet.

    For about $1000, I have a cycle that is quiet, fast (I've hit 65 MPH on level ground), ridiculously cheap, comfortable, has great storage under the seat and in a separate trunk, and gets over 80 mpg. It is very easy to service and seems bulletproof so far. I tell my friends that it's 80% as fun as a "real" motorcycle at 20% of the cost.

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