Life on bikes

Honda Monkey Bike: More monkeying around

Having fully embraced his inner clown with his Grom addiction, Jock replaces it with a Honda Monkey Bike and starts a new journey that will probably end with him burning the credit card. We have a feeling this is not going to be the last we hear of this…

In October 2017 I bought a Grom and started the journey of ‘Circus Bear on a Clowns Bike’. Why did I buy something so small given I’m more ballerina rhino than racing whippet? Stupidity, of course.

Not because I’m stupid, arguably, but because I knew I’d look stupid on it. Years of overly serious riding on superbikes was brought into sharp focus when a back injury went from annoying to long term. No point trying to be Rossi (in my head) when just swinging a leg over your steed was more painful than watching Strictly Come Dancing. If I was never to achieve Vale levels of skill, I knew there was an inner clown waiting to burst out, which was more than achievable. And being stupid is more fun.

Cue mate selling a tidy, near stock (OG) MSX125 around the time I moved from London to a leafy cul-de-sac where the faint smell of piss and regular ambulance visits to the elderly neighbours are the most threatening thing I face each day. With the fear of owning a ‘soon to be stolen 125’ less of a concern now I was outside of London, ‘Grom’ and I were now a thing.

And so the journey of incredulous looks and epic fun began.

My other half wasn’t impressed by my purchase, but then again not being impressed could be the short summary of our relationship. She spent months telling people I’d stolen a local child’s bike. Every now and then she’d tell me there was a kid at the door crying, asking for his bike back. The bitch.

The Grom and I spent the winter of 2017/18 clowning around Kent’s finest back lanes, with an equally ageing mate on his daughter’s 100cc scooter; both us doing Derek and Clive recitals over our Senas. Basically, we spent hours failing to reach 60mph and calling each other obscene names. Listen to Ad Nauseam and you’ll get the idea.

Alas, this stupidity was to be ruined when his daughter asked for her bike back. Kids eh? You give them the best years of your life and then they take their scooters back. Summer came and went. We kept the swearing up in the Alps, the Vosges, in Italy, in Germany, in Switzerland, in the UK, generally anywhere this motorbike life took us. But on big boy bikes.

Then the Honda Monkey Bike gets released and I recall growing up seeing them under grown men who should have known better. There were two moto influences when I was growing up. ‘Denim Guy’ on a Z900, so-called cos he only ever wore denim. And ‘Monkey Bike Guy’ who had an original customised Monkey in yellow. He looked stupid. We all agreed he looked stupid. We made kids’ jokes when we saw him, but secretly I envied him cos I had a five-speed Dawes and he had an engine. I had low aspirations even back then.

Honda made it possible to reach those low aspirations this summer when they released the Monkey. Justin from Crescent Honda in Southampton happily obliged my youthful fantasies. And also sold me a new Monkey in black, boom, tish……!! I promised him I’d tell everyone what a great shag he is too. He may regret that conversation now.

In all seriousness, it was an insightful conversation with Justin regarding where the MSX and Monkey sit in the Honda range. Justin has been with Honda long enough to have to think about when ‘back in the day’ actually was, rather than a handful of years ago at school.

The Monkey Bike, to my and many other’s eyes, is basically a body kitted Grom. Honda will tell you it’s more than that, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be a modded Grom, the latest Grom is a fine bike. Just a shame the Monkey price is heavier on the wallet than the current Grom. Personally, I think that’s a mistake and plays a little too much on the history of the bike. That said there are enough changes to the Monkey to kind of see why there is a price rise. The Monkey has a whole extra shock don’t you know! And while Honda still represents an image of quality and reliability, which you can see across their range, it may explain the price tag of these two small bikes.

Reduce your motorcycle insurance premiums

Generally speaking, the Grom is still very much a youthful punter’s bike and a bit cheaper; the Monkey has been selling, anecdotally speaking, to riders over 30 and is a few hundred quid more expensive. Do the price tags match the bikes? Well, both are amongst the best of this kind of bike, and at four years old my outgoing OG Grom is still mint, has been 100% reliable, with only scheduled servicing and a bit of soapy love required. I hesitate to say this, but I think they are worth the money. Yes, it’s a crazy world where bikes with 12inch wheels are priced between 3k and 4k, but that’s the new world order. Or something like that. I want to blame Trump for this, but even that would be a stretch.

Honda Monkey Bike
© Jock Mc∆ock | Jock’s new love, waiting to be showered with trinkets

So deal made, I’ve become the proud owner of a black Monkey (bike). A chunky monkey who owns a Monkey, as my other half was happy to tell me when I mentioned the change. When I showed her the photo I’d taken while at Crescent Honda she snorted some kind of laugh. I wasn’t sure what she said after that as I was lost in a trance of my hands around her throat and visions of life insurance paying for a full-blown engine build. Also, added bonus, my 150yr old mate has bought my Grom so we can get back to swearing at other in the freezing cold at sub 60mph until the weather picks up. Gives us something to look forward to over the months ahead.

Honda Monkey bike vs Grom
© Jock McJock | The jilted Grom is gone, taking all her bling with her

As I type this I’m currently sat at home, having just got back from picking the bike up. The other half refuses to come downstairs and have a look at the new Highness that is the black Monkey in my garage. She’s shouting something about more kids at the door crying and don’t I dare get a loud exhaust for the bike in case I scare the elderly neighbours into some kind of seizure. Maybe we shouldn’t have left London.

Also while typing this I’m messaging Ben Harman at Ben’s Bike Racing in Belvedere, London. If you don’t know of Ben picture the seven-year-old version of yourself walking into a sweet shop with your pocket money, though in this case it’s a credit card and wall-to-wall ‘must haves’. He sympathises with my problem with the other half and while he’s not in the game of contract killing (that I know of), he does do a mighty fine range of seizure-inducing exhausts and credit card exhausting customisation for the Monkey, Grom and pit bikes. Tomorrow moring my two-mile old Monkey and I go to London in the van and tomorrow evening the neighbours will be handed out earplugs……

The other half can live upstairs if she wants. I’ll keep you all in the loop on the bike upgrades as well as the life insurance plans.

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The Author

Jock McJock

Jock McJock

Jock would describe himself as a world child, though a child with a greying beard and ever-receding hairline.

Gaining his bike licence over 30 years ago, from the roads of Perth, Scotland, to the dirt roads of Perth, Australia, he stopped counting the miles as the half million mark easily came and went, barely noticed. Emotive, sarcastic, direct, as happy to bimble and take in the view as he is to drag a kneeslider and ignore the view.

His biking CV is an eclectic mix, from racer to tourer, track instructor to ride leader, he has ridden all over the globe, describing the journey as ‘in progress’, never ready to sit back and settle for the biking memories he has. Rather than just going from A to B, Jock makes sure A to B has a story in it to tell.

Jock revels in the analytical side of riding and product testing. His passion spills out into helping everyone from newcomers to aspiring racers, providing guidance to those riders who may lack confidence on their bikes, through lectures and riding analysis.

So buy him a donut and a coffee and settle in for a roller coaster ride of biking emotions.