Honda’s MSX125 Grom gets new top gear

by MotoGusto Editor

Honda’s pocket-sized funster gets a new name, plus retro-cool style update, with easily-removed body panels and new, EURO5-specification air-cooled engine and now with a five-speed gearbox. Revised LCD dash includes rev-counter and gear position indicator.

Easy to use, fun and functional, the original leisure motorcycle was defined by Honda in 1963 with the iconic, small-wheeled Monkey bike and carried on — redefined for each respective generation — with the Dax, Ape and the Monkey, itself reborn in 2018. The formula has found resonance with riders, sharing a culture, outlook and spirit that defies convention.

Known as the ‘Grom’ in Japan and the USA, it has been a hit across the world. In its first sales season, the MSX125 joined the CBF125 in the ranks of Europe’s top five best-selling 125cc motorcycles. And, over the last few years, it has established itself as a firm favourite, whether used for simple urban transport or as a heavily customised style statement by its target market.


After six years of modest success and several small styling evolutions, with an eye on the next wave of new riders, it’s time for a new MSX125. Or, to give it its new official European name, a new MSX125 Grom. Fully refreshed, with an even cooler direction of travel, it’s still Honda’s little machine with big dreams.


Completely redesigned bodywork gives the MSX125 Grom a new design language; fresh and fun, it’s also easily removed ready for an owner’s creativity to get to work. The updated LCD dash also now includes a rev-counter and gear position indicator.

A new air-cooled engine maintains the usable performance of the MSX125 but adds an extra fifth gear. And the unchanged chassis offers the same small-bike dimensions with big-bike suspension, braking and handling qualities.

Influenced by customers’ ongoing efforts to make their bike unique, the MSX125 Grom is designed around the concept of adaptability and easy customisation.

The previous MSX125’s look was very much a miniature reflection of the modern lines of Honda’s sport naked motorcycles of the time. For 2021, the new MSX125 Grom takes a different design direction. There’s a new kind of quirkiness about the bodywork — a distinctive individuality that mixes the modernity of sleek LED headlight, pared-down seat unit and subframe with the retro of the super-compact side panels and tank covers. Influenced by customers’ ongoing efforts to make their bike unique, the MSX125 Grom is designed around the concept of adaptability and easy customisation. All of the bodywork attaches with six bolts each side, a detail highlighted by large bolt surrounds for another unique design touch.

The gold finish to the USD front forks and yellow shock spring stand out in bright contrast to the blacked-out engine, exhaust, wheels and swingarm. 

Easy to read for its compact size the LCD digital dash has been redesigned to include a rev-counter and gear position indicator, alongside the speedometer, twin trip meters, fuel gauge and clock. Resetting of the trip meters and clock, or alternation between odometer and trip meter, is managed by the switches either side of the display.

The new 2021 MSX125 Grom will be available in the following colour options: Force Silver Metallic, Matt Gunpowder Black Metallic and Gayety Red.


The MSX125 Grom has a new, 125cc two-valve air-cooled engine, with 50mm bore and 63.1mm stroke, and compression ratio of 10.0:1. Peak power of 7.2kW arrives at 7,250rpm, with peak torque of 10.5Nm at 5,500rpm.

Just like the previous design, the MSX125 Grom’s engine packs a perfect blend of zippy roll-on performance with useful, accessible all-round ability. Really, this unit all about fun of twisting a throttle, but one major upgrade that riders will appreciate is the application of a 5-speed gearbox (rather than 4-speed) to spread the ratios further and give more relaxed, higher-speed cruising. Top speed is now just over 58mph.

Manual clutch operation still imparts a full-sized motorcycle experience, while the 15T gearbox sprocket, 38T final drive sprocket and 12-inch wheels deliver lively around-town response plus the ability to travel slowly in a high gear – perfect for filtering through tight traffic.

It’s also economical, returning around 185mpg by using low-friction technologies, such as an offset cylinder and roller-rocker arm for the valve gear. Sophisticated PGM-FI guarantees highly efficient combustion, and works in conjunction with both air intake and exhaust to deliver an involving experience at the throttle. A large, 2.5L airbox and panel-type, wet paper filter provide reliable and quiet airflow; the filter itself has a life of 10,000 miles. The exhaust downpipe and muffler are now two separate parts.

The MSX125 Grom is homologated for EURO5. These requirements include substantial reductions in permitted carbon monoxide emissions, more than a 40% decrease in total hydrocarbon emissions, tougher misfire detection and the introduction of a particulate matter limit.


The MSX125 Grom’s well-proven chassis is essentially unchanged. The frame structure enables efficient storage of PGM-FI-related components and electrical parts inside the tank cover and fuel capacity is increased (6.0L). The wheelbase is a snug 1200mm, with rake and trail of 25°/84mm. Kerb weight is reduced to 103kg. A low 761mm seat height makes the MSX125 Grom very manageable.

The suspension delivers beyond-class quality. The 31mm USD fork reduces unsprung weight and, thanks to the pistons’ greater pressure-bearing area (compared to a standard telescopic fork) offers improved damping feel throughout the stroke. The top and bottom yokes are full-sized, further enhancing handling and rider feel while a lightweight and robust single rear shock operates a simple and tough H-shape, 50mm x 25mm steel box-section swingarm.

Fundamental to the MSX Grom’s form and function are its 5-spoke (re-styled) 12-inch cast aluminium wheels, which feature wide 2.5-inch rims. Front 120/70-12 and 130/70-12 rear tyres also inject dynamic looks and performance. Hydraulic dual piston front (finished in gold) and single-piston rear brake callipers work front 220mm and rear 190mm discs. The ABS system operates through an IMU.


Type 2-valve air-cooled single cylinder
Displacement: 125cc
Bore & Stroke: 50.0mm x 63.1mm
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Max. Power Output: 7.2Kw @ 7,250rpm
Max. Torque: 10.5Nm @ 5,500rpm
Oil Capacity: 1.1 litres
Carburation: PGM-FI
Fuel Tank Capacity: 6.0 litres
Fuel Consumption: 65.7km/l / 186mpg
Starter: Electric Motor
Battery Capacity: 12V 3.5AH
ACG Output: 225W/5000rpm
Clutch: Wet multiplate
Transmission Type: 5-speed
Final Drive: Chain
Frame: Steel mono-backbone frame
Dimensions (L´W´H): 1,760mm x 720mm x 1,015mm
Wheelbase: 1,200mm
Caster Angle: 25⁰
Trail: 81mm
Seat Height: 761mm
Ground Clearance: 180mm
Kerb Weight: 103kg
Turning radius: 1.9 metres
Suspension: Front, USD Front Forks, 31mm; Rear, Mono shock, steel square pipe swingarm
Wheels: Front, 5-Spoke Aluminium Cast (120/70-12); Rear, Rear, 5-Spoke Aluminium Cast (130/70-12)
Brakes: Front, Single 220mm disc with a hydraulic dual-piston brake calliper; Rear, Single 190mm disc with a hydraulic single-piston brake calliper.

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