Motorcycles

Honda's goofy Monkey bike returns with a 125cc motor

Honda's goofy Monkey bike retu...
After only a year's hiatus, Honda's Monkey bike is back with a 125cc powerplant and much bigger proportions
After only a year's hiatus, Honda's Monkey bike is back with a 125cc powerplant and much bigger proportions
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2018 Honda Monkey: cute font, guys
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2018 Honda Monkey: cute font, guys
2018 Honda Monkey: 125cc 4-speed powertrain
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2018 Honda Monkey: 125cc 4-speed powertrain
2018 Honda Monkey: deceptively modern dash
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2018 Honda Monkey: deceptively modern dash
2018 Honda Monkey: LED headlight
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2018 Honda Monkey: LED headlight
2018 Honda Monkey: now makes 9.25 horsepower
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2018 Honda Monkey: now makes 9.25 horsepower
2018 Honda Monkey: inverted forks and single disc brake
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2018 Honda Monkey: inverted forks and single disc brake
2018 Honda Monkey: twin shock rear end
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2018 Honda Monkey: twin shock rear end
2018 Honda Monkey: LED tail light and indicators
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2018 Honda Monkey: LED tail light and indicators
2018 Honda Monkey: 1.5 gallon tank
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2018 Honda Monkey: 1.5 gallon tank
2018 Honda Monkey: iconic slotted heat shield
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2018 Honda Monkey: iconic slotted heat shield
2018 Honda Monkey: 12-inch wheels and chunky tires
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2018 Honda Monkey: 12-inch wheels and chunky tires
2018 Honda Monkey: 1.5 gallon tank
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2018 Honda Monkey: 1.5 gallon tank
2018 Honda Monkey: compact riding position
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2018 Honda Monkey: compact riding position
2018 Honda Monkey: return of the clown bike
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2018 Honda Monkey: return of the clown bike
After only a year's hiatus, Honda's Monkey bike is back with a 125cc powerplant and much bigger proportions
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After only a year's hiatus, Honda's Monkey bike is back with a 125cc powerplant and much bigger proportions
2018 Honda Monkey: period style heat shield hides a modern, EURO IV compatible exhaust
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2018 Honda Monkey: period style heat shield hides a modern, EURO IV compatible exhaust
2018 Honda Monkey: 4-speed transmission
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2018 Honda Monkey: 4-speed transmission
2018 Honda Monkey: rear wheel
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2018 Honda Monkey: rear wheel
2018 Honda Monkey: tiny tank
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2018 Honda Monkey: tiny tank
2018 Honda Monkey: chunky, plush seat pad
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2018 Honda Monkey: chunky, plush seat pad
Monkeys through the years: 2017's 50th anniversary model closed the book on the 49cc Monkeys
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Monkeys through the years: 2017's 50th anniversary model closed the book on the 49cc Monkeys
Monkeys through the years: back on track with this 2001 model and its fresh tartan seat
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Monkeys through the years: back on track with this 2001 model and its fresh tartan seat
Monkeys through the years: things went way off the rails in 1987
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Monkeys through the years: things went way off the rails in 1987
Monkeys through the years: by 1991, it somehow looked like the Monkey was going to go compete at Dakar
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Monkeys through the years: by 1991, it somehow looked like the Monkey was going to go compete at Dakar
Monkeys through the years: by 1978, the back end had twin shocks and the forks were quick-detachable
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Monkeys through the years: by 1978, the back end had twin shocks and the forks were quick-detachable
Monkeys through the years: seriously blinged out '84 model in gold
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Monkeys through the years: seriously blinged out '84 model in gold
Monkeys through the years: 1967 saw a higher seat for adult use
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Monkeys through the years: 1967 saw a higher seat for adult use
Monkeys through the years: front forks get suspension in 1970
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Monkeys through the years: front forks get suspension in 1970
Monkeys through the years: The 1961 original Monkey bike, a kids' amusement park toy
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Monkeys through the years: The 1961 original Monkey bike, a kids' amusement park toy
Monkeys through the years: 1963 variant
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Monkeys through the years: 1963 variant
2018 Honda Monkey: in banana yellow/white
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2018 Honda Monkey: in banana yellow/white
2018 Honda Monkey: in black/white
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2018 Honda Monkey: in black/white

Drunk on the global sales success of the cheeky Grom, Honda has finally decided to officially release a 2018 version of its iconic Monkey, a comically styled, knees-round-the-ears, 49cc minibike that found cult status after initially being designed for a children's amusement ride.

Welcome to the late noughteens, dear readers, and a time when the struggling Western motorcycle industry seems to be enjoying a quiet revival under the steam of two factors nobody really saw coming: Uber Eats-style food delivery mania, and grown men giggling their way around town on undersized, blinged-out joke bikes.

When Honda's Grom launched just five years ago, it was a head-scratching anomaly. What kind of serious rider would throw a leg over that thing? Well, it turned out there were more than enough riders who didn't consider themselves very serious at all. It didn't take long for companies like Kawasaki and Benelli to spot a winning formula and jump on board.

Monkeys through the years: The 1961 original Monkey bike, a kids' amusement park toy
Monkeys through the years: The 1961 original Monkey bike, a kids' amusement park toy

And if the Grom's a bit quirky, it's as stodgy as an accountant in a three piece suit next to a Monkey bike. Originally developed as a 49cc kids' toy for Tokyo's Tama Tech amusement park in 1961, with no suspension, 5-inch wheels and a padded seat not much more than 10 inches (25 cm) off the ground, the Monkey bike proved so popular that Honda put it into production.

Monkeys through the years: by 1978, the back end had twin shocks and the forks were quick-detachable
Monkeys through the years: by 1978, the back end had twin shocks and the forks were quick-detachable

Fast forward to the late '70s, and the Monkey was a full-on global phenomenon. It had easily detachable forks, so you could throw it in the trunk of your car or strap it to the back of your RV. It had a three-speed gearbox, a centrifugal clutch and a mighty 4.5 horsepower, so you could give it to anyone and they'd be putting around having fun in minutes. And it had big ol' ape hanger style raised handlebars, which looked like some sort of an attempt at toughness and made it even funnier.

Last year, Honda showed a 125cc Monkey concept bike in Tokyo, and now it's announced specs for the official release of the 2018 Honda Monkey.

2018 Honda Monkey: return of the clown bike
2018 Honda Monkey: return of the clown bike

It's vastly bigger than the old ones, using the 125cc motor from the Grom and making an uprated 9.25 hp (6.9 kW). Its 775-mm (30.5-in) seat height is actually half an inch higher than the Grom's, and its 107-kg (236-lb) weight makes it also a touch heftier.

The bike's 12-inch wheels are suspended by twin rear shocks and a set of upside-down forks. The frame is steel and the headlight, taillights and indicators are all LEDs.

2018 Honda Monkey: LED headlight
2018 Honda Monkey: LED headlight

Electronics-wise, the 2018 Monkey gets ABS with an integrated IMU to act as an anti-stoppie system, as well as a key with a button you can press to make the lights flash, just in case you've parked it in a row of identical minibikes.

Most importantly, it looks the part. From the chunky tires, to the beefy padded seat pad, to the slotted heat shield, tiny 5.6-liter (1.5-gal) tank and circular headlight, it looks like a Monkey through and through. We have to say, though, we want to see some higher, cleaner handlebars on this thing for the full ape hanger effect.

With a four-speed manual transmission, it's no longer something your grandma can jump on. It's a fully road-specified motorcycle that probably goes 50 mph (~80 km/h) and actually requires a license. It also won't fit in the trunk any more. So, it's unlikely to fulfil the role of the early Monkeys, which Honda describes as being "so easy to ride, it did more to sell the concept of motorcycles to a wider public than perhaps any other machine."

2018 Honda Monkey: compact riding position
2018 Honda Monkey: compact riding position

Instead, we suppose it'll be a retro version of the Grom. And that might be enough to make it a hit. It'll go on sale this year in red/white, black/white and a very Monkeyish banana yellow/white. Ook ook.

Source: Honda

7 comments
Hxy3000
My old 49cc Monkey did 80 km/h though it wasn't exactly road legal. Loved that thing.
DavidRogerBrown
Wonder if Honda will make a 125cc Ruckus model? The 50cc model doesn't have enough engine for steep hills.
flyerfly
Looks really good...disappointed that it is so heavy! I had an nice Monkey purchased in Japan in the 80's with all the bells and whistles and it was light ~ 130 lb. Adding a whopping 100 lb to that makes it a very different bike and impossible for some people to haul around at 235 lb. Old one had nice folding handles too so you could put it in the trunk/airplane. I guess I like the old one better...wish they would continue making it!
Mr T
Pointless, if you are going to make these things, make them electric, they are safer, quieter and less polluting. After all, it isn't oldies who are going to be riding these, but the young generation, who are much more aware of the issues of ICE vehicles and appreciate the advantages of the move to electric. I think any company that is still designing vehicles with ICE motive power (especially bikes like these, which are meant for occasional use and short range riding) and isn't doing it electric, is living in the past and needs a serious wake-up call.
John Gochnauer
Mr T- I daresay Honda (a company that has rather openly embraced environmentalism) knows exactly what they're doing when they make the decision to release an efficient little retro motorcycle.
rude.dawg
Sorry Mr T, but when you consider that the majority of countries on this planet still burn coal to produce electricity and that ebikes are generally more expensive by at least a few thousand dollars, then your electric powered Monkey will really just be an expensive, self-indulgent, elitist toy. Pointless.
mediabeing
It looks great. Now just double the displacement and we're good.