Honda Monkey (2018) | Review

Chris
By Chris Newble
ChrisNewble Obsessed with two smokes, riding gear and track-days. Strong believer in the fact you can never have too many motorcycles

 

I was fortunate enough to be in Milan last November when Honda first revealed the new Monkey to the world. It was launched early in the night saving the limelight for some of Honda’s headline acts but for me it was the bike that stole the show. So eight months later, when Honda kindly invited BikeSocial to the UK launch, along with eight other baboon’s journo’s, I was the first to put my hand up and head to London.

Since 1961 there’s been plenty of Monkey varients including a handful of special editions along the way yet it’s never lost its charm. For 2018 comes an MSX125 engine, LCD instruments, LED lights, colour-matched twin shocks and a choice of three colours.

 

Honda Monkey (2018) | Review

 

Price

The new Monkey can be yours for £3,699. That’s just £310 more expensive than its teenage counterpart, the Honda MSX125 and works out around £65 a month on PCP with a £536.53 deposit.

Since the price of the new Monkey was announced it has received a lot of backlash on social media. People are comparing it to the price of the original which just doesn’t make sense. This bike is no longer a toy or gimmick. It’s a modern day, fully functional motorcycle crammed full of all the latest tech.

Besides, this bike has the right to be the most expensive mini-bike out there. It’s the original. Legit. The bike that started it all. You’re not just buying another mini-bike, you’ll be owning an icon and the legacy that comes it.

 

Honda Monkey (2018) | Review

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

Greeted with 30C+ temperatures in central London which is never the most ideal weather to be sitting on top of a motorbike. However, the Monkey’s small 125cc engine made the ride far less agro, it simply just doesn’t pump out silly temperatures like larger bikes and the heat shield on the exhaust did a superb job of not cooking me throughout the day. In fact, you barely notice it’s so close to your inner thigh you’re when riding.   

Honda has taken great care in styling the exhaust for this bike. It’s maintained a lovely retro feel and the way the downpipes have been interwoven is marvellous. My only worry is that they are quite exposed, so this may limit any off-road aspirations you have for it. Well, ok, greenlanes as opposed to off-road.

The Monkey has a 4-speed gearbox and despite its engine size, I rarely needed to move out of the first couple of gears on the ride through through the city. This was not due to the slow moving traffic, more credit to Honda for the engine. First gear was more than capable of pulling me through and away from the traffic and tall enough to mean I wasn’t constantly feeding it gears every time I pulled away.

 

Honda Monkey (2018) | Review

 

Economy

One full 5.6 litre tank of fuel should hold enough for 220-miles and return a theoretgical mpg of almost 190. Incredible stats which were clear from the launch ride. Leaving the Ace Café at 9 in the morning with a full tank we rode all around the city until 4pm and the fuel gauge barley budged.

It’s even more impressive when you take into consideration how you ride this bike. It just draws out the big kid in you. All eight of us giggled our way through London in true Mario Kart style and by the look on sweaty car drivers faces and from reading our bulging fuel bars it was proving one of the most enjoyable and cheapest modes of London transport too.

 

Honda Monkey (2018) | Review

 

Handling, chassis and weight

The size of this bike makes it an absolute dream to dart through traffic on. On larger bikes you have to be sub-conscious of the rear of your motorcycle following you through a gap but with the short wheel base on the Monkey you don’t even give this a second thought. A split second after your front wheel is through the back follows and you’re already planning the next overtake.

Despite the benefits of their size, there is a stigma surrounding mini-bikes that thieves can just pick them up, place them in their pockets and run off with them. The reality is, they can, but then they can do this with every other bike too. If a thief wants it, they’ll probably get it.

But the Monkey isn’t as light as it looks. It weighs in at 107kg and when I tried to pick the bike up myself I failed miserably. If you lock it up sensibly then there’s no reason why we’ll see an increase in theft rate for it compared to other motorcycles. In addition to this, Honda has added an alarm to the bike as standard to deter any buffoons trying to nick them.

 

Honda Monkey (2018) | Review

 

Brakes

You feel a little mischievous riding this bike and, in a weird way, a little invincible too – like a computer game. I think it’s because when you jump on a mini-bike you have less cc, weight and size to worry about and a belief that you have more room for error - but this is sometimes when it can all go horrible wrong.

Fortunately, the Monkey bike has some trick tech to back up any overzealous riding. It has single hydraulic discs’ front and back with an IMU-based anti-lock braking system on the front. This meant on the few occasions I did grab a handful of brake I didn’t get that uneasy front end dive, a feature which could prove priceless in wet/trickier conditions. Especially when you consider the smaller tyres you’re riding on.  

 

Honda Monkey (2018) | Review

 

Comfort and suspension

I’m going to stick my neck on the line and say this was one of the comfiest bikes I have ridden. The old school extra-large seat, high profile tyres and double rear shocks work together to make it such an easy-going ride. I also think it’s the riding position that really exaggerates these comfort features. I’m 5ft 6 so the body shape I have to adopt when riding mini-bikes really favours me and I left the day after a good 5-6 hours in the saddle feeling no niggles or pain.

 

Honda Monkey (2018) | Review

 

2018 Honda Monkey Bike verdict 

I’m so impressed by the 2018 incarnation; Honda has done the original bike proud; they haven’t cut any corners and instead added some high quality, nostalgic touches. In-doing so have also created an everyday, practical bike.

The Monkey bike makes you smile when you ride it, and others smile when they see it. A trait that only very few motorcycles possess.

 

Honda Monkey (2018) | Review

Second opinion: Michael Mann, BikeSocial Web Editor

The modern day Monkey offers terrific enjoyment particularly for those who remember the older versions. The introduction of a slightly more powerful motor straight from the MSX125 give enough oomph to hoik the front wheel up if you’re really trying but that kind of senseless behaviour is reserved only for journalistic integrity. You know, just so I ‘fully tested’ the bikes’ capabilities. The same goes for the rear brake – it’s easy to lock the rear tyre, so easy in fact I had to repeat the exercise several times on the approach to the traffic lights of Nice’s beach front just to make sure the same result applied.

Around towns, on camping holidays and for short commutes to the office or for a quick bit of shopping, the 2018 Honda Monkey is ideal. Small and lightweight with precise handling and a tight turning circle all makes for a stress-free ride. Operationally it’s a breeze, in terms of the clutch, gear lever and instruments that are a cinch to master.

The cheeky Monkey is so frugal that one full 5.6 litre tank of fuel should get you as far as 220-miles which represents an mpg nearing 190! I grew up riding a 1979 Honda ST70 around the garden so my memories of this size of Honda are very fond and I’m so impressed by the 2018 incarnation, that I’m seriously considering buying one. Especially seeing as though my own 18-month son has already declared his interest in PTW’s. Just by riding one will make you immediately more attractive and offers a guaranteed grin.

 

Three things I loved about the Honda Monkey Bike…

• The attention this bike gets. It makes you and others smile

• Cool start up animation on the dash

• Retro Honda logo on the tank

 

Three things that I didn’t…

• Exposed down pipes could limit heading off-road

• No rev counter

• Honda asked for it back at the end of the day

 

2018 Honda Monkey Bike spec

 

Engine

Bore × Stroke (mm)

52.4 x 57.9mm

Carburation

PGM-FI electronic fuel injection

Compression Ratio

9.3:1

Engine Displacement (cc)

125cc

Engine Type (cm³)

Air-cooled SOHC 4-stroke 2-valve

Max. Power Output

6.9kW @ 7,000rpm

Max. Torque

11Nm @ 5,250rpm

Oil Capacity (Litres)

Upper 1.1 litres; lower 0.9 litres

Wheels

Brakes Front

Single 220 mm hydraulic disc with IMU-based ABS

Brakes Rear

Single 190mm hydraulic disc

Suspension Front

USD fork, 100mm axle travel

Suspension Rear

Twin shock, 104mm axle travel

Tyre Size Front

120/80-12 65J

Tyre Size Rear

130/80-12 69J

Wheels Front

10-spoke cast aluminium

Wheels Rear

10-spoke cast aluminium

Dimensions and Weights

Caster Angle

25°

Dimensions (L×W×H) (mm)

1,710 x 755 x 1,029mm

Frame type

Steel backbone frame

Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres)

5.6 litres

Fuel Consumption

67km/litre (WMTC mode)

Ground Clearance (mm)

160mm

Kerb Weight (kg)

107kg

Seat Height (mm)

776mm

Trail (mm)

82mm

Wheelbase (mm)

1,155mm

Transmission

Clutch

Wet multiplate

Gearbox

4 speed

Transmission Type

4 speed

Instruments and Electrics

Headlights

LED

Tail Light

LED

 

To insure this bike, click here

 

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