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Honda launches MSX125 - at last, go ape!

2014-09-03 09:29


LOOKS LIKE THE REAL THING: It's been a long time arriving but Honda SA eventually saw the light and here's the latest Monkey Bike for the city - the MSX125. Go ape... Image: Honda Motorcycles

  • Priced at R31 990
  • Honda’s latest version of 'Monkey Bike'
  • Compact, but with full-size parts
  • Top 5 125cc bike in European

Small-capacity motorcycles used to look the part: spindly frame, wimpy narrow spoked rims, tyres of a size now more common on pedal cycles, exhaust the diameter of a hosepipe. 'Scrawny' comes to mind...

Certainly not babe magnets...

Then the theory of evolution took over and the average high-school boy's first powered wheels swelled, if not in overall dimensions then in bulk, like a vertically challenged guy pumping iron, and what used to be called a 'monkey bike' took on the appearance of a small gorilla.

Got more of a roar, too, and better overall performance as over time tech took over from utility.


Honda claims to have created the original leisure motorcycle way back in 1963 with its now iconic, small-wheeled, Monkey Bike and continued - with new tech for each generation - with the Dax and Ape. Now, the bikemaker says, there's a completely new breed of young rider; ‘Generation Y’ in the USA, ‘Dek Neaw’ in Thailan, ‘Street-Kei’ in Japan.

Honda says: "Today’s teenagers, having grown up in the borderless internet age, share a culture, fashion and spirit that defies convention. They're instinctively drawn to motorcycling and need their first two-wheeled transport to be exciting but not unduly challenging, with a design that makes them smile.

"They also have a desire to turn heads and be more than just a little bit different - and all of that economically."

The result: the Honda MSX125 (Mini Street X-treme 125) that Wheels24 first told you about back in January 2013 though back then Honda SA was noncommital about the likelihood of the machine being sold in South Africa: 21 months later they've seen sense and the bikes are flowing in from Thailand. Oh yeah, and it's called the Grom in Japan and the US and in Europe has sold more than 3000 units in four months.

The price is at the top of the story - the following is what you will be getting for that not inconsiderable sum of money...


Looks, to start with. This is a handsome little guy which, if you hung it a distance away against a plain background, you might think was merely a normal 750 machine, but further away. Chunky 12" rims with proportionally large tyres (20/70 front and 130/70 rear), some parts the size of a normal motorcycle, a fuel tank that, though holding only 5.5 litres, looks the part, and feeds a fuel-injected 125cc engine capable of 7.2kW at 7000rpm and 11Nm at 5500rpm.

It weighs 102kg, drive is through a four-speed gearbox by chain to the rear wheel and top speed is a tad over 100km/h.                      .

Wheelbase is 1200mm, with rake and trail of 250 and 81mm  and the seat height 765mm - all very manageable in city traffic. The 31mm USD fork – a first for Honda on a 125cc – reduces unsprung weight and (thanks, Honda says, to the pistons’ greater pressure-bearing area compared to a standard telescopic fork) gives better damping feel throughout the stroke.

The top and bottom yokes are full-sized, further enhancing handling and rider feedback, while a light and robust single rear shock operates a simple and tough H-shape, 50mm x 25mm steel box section swingarm.

Hydraulic dual-piston front and single piston rear brake calipers clutch on a front 220mm and rear 190mm disc.


The MSX125 uses a combined projector headlight – not only does this feature give the front of the bike a strong identity and presence it also uses a single light source (an HS1 35W/35W double filament bulb) rather than a pair of bulbs for high and low beam.

Low beam is generated by the upper projection unit and high beam is produced by multi-reflectors which spread out in its lower section. A subtle blue light flanks the projector lens and adds character and visibility while the bright LED taillight melts seamlessly into the bike’s stubby silhouette.

Easy to read for its compact size the LCD digital dash delivers all the information the rider needs – speedometer, twin trip meters, fuel gauge and clock. Resetting the trip meters and clock, or alternation between odometer and trip meter is via switches either side of the display.


"All in all," Honda says, "the MSX125’s engine packs a perfect blend of punchy roll-on performance with useful, accessible and fun all-round ability. The effort put into reducing internal friction and increasing intake and exhaust efficiency has also produced a highly economical unit."

The MSX125 is available in Black Metallic, Pearl White, Pearl Red, Blue. All colours have a colour-matched tailpiece and headlight side cover as well as gold wheels, swing-arm pivot bolt and front callipers.

The Honda MSX125 is sold standard with:
• Free rider training course through the Honda Academy
• 12 months free roadside assistance
• Two-year unlimited distance warranty

On the hunt for a new Honda or simply looking for a new ride? Check out Gumtree's great selectionof new and used cars!

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