The Enthusiasm Behind Honda's Grom Bike
Discovering how the little 225 lb two wheeler, intended only for Asian markets, reached cult status
Honda is notorious for making cult bikes. From the NT650 to the CB series, they have consistently made reliable, fun and uncomplicated bikes, but most of these classics have reached cult status only after they were discontinued. The exception to this would be the Grom; weighing only 225 lbs dry, at first impression, it looks like a child's bike. But since its inception in 2013, the 125cc bike has already gained a legion of devotees and continues to grow in popularity with everyone from millennials to retirees. "We probably underestimated how popular it would be," says Honda Motorcycles media representative Tony Defranze. "We are really focused on making smaller motorcycles in an attempt to regrow the market. Our goal was to come out with some good, affordably priced products that were designed with the new rider in mind. But for the Grom, the demand exceeded our initial supply."
The From wave of popularity produced a forum which has connected "Grom Reapers" or "Grommers" around the world. Forum monitor Richard Wheeler explains the common thread of all these owners. "Fun!" he laughs. "Folks that buy Groms generally recognize from the start that they are going to be fun bikes to ride. You can buy a 100-horsepower street bike and then cruise around town in first gear and 1/8th throttle and hope you don't get a ticket. Or, you can buy a Grom and ride it at full throttle 90% of the time, slamming up through the gears and never worry about a speeding ticket."
Due to the Grom's accessible price, it has also lent itself to a "frenzy of modifications," says Defranze. "The Grom has adapted to so many different cultures in so many different ways." From Thailand to Texas, the Grom has not only helped grow riders, but jumpstarted a new cottage industry. "It's been amazing how this little bike came out of nowhere and really transformed the US culture," says Michael Stevenson of NC-based Hard Racing, a powersports aftermarket manufacturer who specializes in Grom parts. "It's a very inexpensive bike, so buyers figure, why not make it nicer? It's about being unique and making it their own. When we first bought a Grom, we didn't even know what the big deal was. Then we rode it, and that changed everything. It's so much fun, it feels like you're breaking the law every time you go out and ride it. That's probably the best way to explain it."
These mods can vary from simple bodywork to performance enhancement. Inspired by the mod mania, Honda recently used the Grom to celebrate the Goldwing's 40th anniversary by "dressing it up" to look like a classic Goldwing—with a metallic blue tank trimmed in gold and a chrome fender. "Hot-rodding" the bike to get extra horsepower has been a more frequent mod, "but lately, there has been more attention of styling, handling and suspension," says Defranze.
"Changing the springs on my Grom has made a night and day difference," says Wheeler. "So much so that after I did it, it became the first mod that I recommended for everyone else." For Wheeler, this was very important. "I'm 275 pounds," Wheeler says, "and I am not the biggest guy on a Grom!"
Images courtesy of Honda