Honda’s genuinely iconic mini-bike is re-imagined for the present day, with styling that draws heavily on the original, complemented by modern, premium touches such as USD forks, twin rear shocks, LCD instruments, IMU-based ABS and full LED lighting. Wet weight is a mere 107kg.
The Monkey was so much fun and so easy to ride, it did more to sell the concept of motorcycles to a wider public than perhaps any other machine. With its chunky tyres, mini-‘ape’ style handlebars, miniscule fuel tank and big, squashy seat the Monkey look is unmistakably of its time, but – just like the affection in which it is held – also timeless.
After the modern-day success of the sharp-suited MSX125, which proved the desire for a funky, pocket-sized town run-around, it was time for the Monkey name to return, reborn and ready for life in the 21st century city.
The new Monkey’s power unit is true to its origins, the horizontal SOHC 125cc single-cylinder engine is simple, robust and tuned to deliver useful about-town performance. Air-cooled, with bore and stroke of 52.4 x 57.9mm and compression ratio of 9.3:1, fed by PGM-FI, it produces 6.9kW @ 7,000rpm and 11Nm @ 5,250rpm. The gearbox is 4-speed.
The Monkey’s steel backbone frame has been tuned for a suitable balance between rigidity and supple feel – perfect for the wide variety of conditions the machine is sure to be ridden in. Oval in cross-section, the swingarm echoes the circular design theme that runs through the bike.
Wheelbase is set at 1155mm, with rake and trail of 25°/82mm and a minimum turning radius of just 1.9m. Wet weight is a mere 107kg, with a seat height of 775mm. The plush seat is made of high-density urethane for maximum comfort.
USD front forks wear a premium Alumite finish and are matched by dual rear shocks with 104mm of axle travel. Maximum ground clearance is 160mm. A single 220mm front disc and 190mm rear provide secure stopping performance, managed by the IMU-based ABS. Fat 12-inch block pattern tyres make for a smooth ride and are sized 120/80-12 65J front and 130/80-12 69J rear.
Naturally, the classic Monkey style had to provide the cues for the new model. A trapezoid silhouette highlights the compact length, while adding depth and substance to its stance. Simple, curved surfaces are designed independently of each other and feature throughout.
The glossy 5.6L fuel tank, finished in the same paint colour as the frame, swing arm and rear shocks, crowns the machine and proudly wears a historical 3-D Old Wing design Honda logo. Chromed steel high-level front and rear mudguards – plus the eloquently stamped exhaust shield, circular mirrors and high-rise handlebars – all pay homage to the original.
Modern technology meets the reincarnation of the classic Monkey look with a digital full-LCD circular meter, which features a speedometer (which winks playfully when the ignition is turned on), an odometer with two trip meters and six-segment fuel level indicator. All lighting is LED and the ‘wave’ pattern key (which also wears the Old Wing motif) features an ‘answer back’ system that makes the lights flash at the push of a button to allow easy location in crowded car parks. The single channel ABS system operates with an IMU to mitigate rear ‘lift’ under strong braking.