Life on bikes

I am Grom

Across the world, grown men and teenagers are going nuts for a bike called the Honda Grom. Jock McJock (yes, he of BMW R1200GS and Triumph Street Triple 765RS fame), has joined the cult. 

Jock McGromster

Ok, so at 49, getting closer to 50, I bought a Honda MSX125, commonly known as a ‘Grom’. Why? Well honestly, to begin with, I really don’t know. It was shiny, low miles and a good mate’s that was up for sale. It had potential to fit in my cramped garage and that kind of seemed enough.

Being small, it didn’t seem like a ‘full-blown purchase’ like buying a ‘full-blown sized bike’. When I first bought mine home, my other half asked me why I’d stolen some kid’s bike. Dry darling, very dry. Her cat got a secret kick for that one.

I had virtually no idea about them other than they looked like a modern Monkey Bike and to a young Jock, those were cool. Listening to Fink recently tell me ‘not everything was better in the past’, I chose to ignore the older Monkey Bikes and get with the new. Or nearly new in my case; a blue 2014 model, which I understand is an ‘OG’ (original shape rather than the SF, new shape) and arguably the best. Of course, I’d say that…..

Grom Life

You’d be forgiven for thinking the biking community would be quick to grasp the idea behind Grom ownership. I mean look at them, they’re so, well small and amusing looking. I’ve subsequently found that the Honda Grom is in there with scooters, the mighty GS and Harleys. Some get it; some very much don’t. For all my fumbled reasons for buying one, I kind of went with the ‘it fits in the garage’ and ‘fuck being grown up’.

I asked the Grom FB page what their thoughts were on ownership and got a swath of answers. Most people said they bought their Grom because, in a Guardians of the Galaxy twist, ‘I am Grom’. Or in biker speak, they’re a load of fun. Riding with other Groms is fun, seeing the reactions of others – bikers, car drivers, pedestrians alike, is fun.

We had cheap to run answers, midlife crisis (my hand was up at this stage), new rider, commuter turned stunter, a ‘been there, seen it, lost the licence with big bikes, now modify Groms’ answer. My favourite answer was ‘Because Grom’.

Most people have done something to them, if just the basics like I have, all the way up to some mightily impressive uber trick modifications costing superbike money.

A few own bigger bikes, a few want to buy bigger bikes, some have more than one Grom, most are keeping their Groms. Some ride their Groms more than their big bikes. The overriding majority have grown attached to their bikes in an ‘I fell in love with this daft little thing’ kind of way, rather than ‘I love my bike because’….(insert image of mighty power and global touring in a bland, generic package). There is a sense that the Grom is a cult bike like those before them. Only smaller.

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Grom as commuting bike

A mate of mine subsequently bought one for commuting, cutting his 2-hour stress inducing drive into London down to 50 minutes of hysterical lunacy. You know, the usual bike commute for London. The impish nature of the Grom is difficult to argue in town and particularly if your commute is off motorways or fast dual carriageways. People still do those roads on their Grom, but fuck that for a game of soldiers, I don’t.

Grom as fucking around / fun bike

12inch wheels, 100-ish kilos, wide bars, the little Grom zips around like a crack head chasing the first hit of the day. No rider aids on mine, the latter ones have some ABS to brag about, but with the lack of power, you hardly need traction control or fuel modes. Old skool cool, what you do with your hands and feet generally transmits to a very reactive response, even if the top end is more National Speed Limit than ‘Bubba dropping the soap in the prison showers’ fast.

Honda Grom
© Jock McJock | In part 2 ‘My name is Jock and I’m a Grom Addict’ you can find out just how much he’s spent on his new love…

There is also a decent core of stunt riders and general hooligans on Groms, with stunt cages and 12 Bars. I honestly, had no idea what they were until Google helped me. I was thinking of oversized blocks of weed for millennials who weren’t happy with a simple 9 bar. But they are a real thing, available from locations as far afield as Thailand, the USA or even simply Edinburgh if you look up Stunt Savage Creations. The small, inane look of the thing looks all the better on the back or front wheel. My excuse for not being a stunt rider is;

* On top of being inept I likely weigh the same as a Grom, so it’s probably easier to stunt myself after a night on the lash than it is for me to style out a Grom. Put it this way, there’s only one stunt on my Grom, and that’s me (Ed: misspelling if ever I saw one).
* I like to think I have mechanical sympathy to back up my utter stunting incompetence.

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Grom as learner bike

It’s small, easy to ride and has four gears to play with like big bikes, unlike the automatic gearboxes shonky scooters have. (Taking sides already!!) Cheap to insure and tax (I genuinely thought the annual £18 tax was wrong), it’s almost perfect for those restricted to 125cc.

At anywhere from 100 to 140 odd mpg, it’s damn cheap to run. With a 5-litre tank, give or take, I get 140 mild miles, 100 pinned to the stop in the rural miles out of the tank. One of the goals for Grom owners is filling that perfect gallon and a bit into the tank each fill. Plus arguably the Grom has an image that 17inch rims don’t. It’s a small bike for the sheer hell of it and why the shit not?

Grom as winter bike

When you have 300bhp of almost too shiny British and German machinery in your garage, and a level of OCD that would embarrass a parade inspection, you’re not going to be riding on salty, greasy, shitty dirty roads between December and March. Those babies stay washed and waxed, alarmed, trackered, ground anchored, fuel stabiliser’d and covered for months. The mighty Grom is this old farts way of saying, I’m an all year round rider who doesn’t mind riding all year round. The hidden truth is I still go away after a ride and spend an hour washing the little fella afterwards. Grom that is, not, you know……the little fella.

I am Circus Grom

I worked out that I bought mine for a mixture of reasons. I wanted to ride all year, just for the craic, before remembering I normally ride only for fun and even on a Grom riding in the depths of winter isn’t actually all that fun, heated grips or no heated grips. Yes, yes, only poor kit, no poor weather. But I don’t give a shit about that cliché. Dirty roads mean cleaning the bike. Even a ‘kids bike’ takes a bit of a scrub when you have OCD and ride after ride means that gets old fast.

So really, after all the excuses and suggestions, the truth is I bought the bike because to my complete and utter amusement when I ride it, I look like a circus bear on a clowns bike.

In Part 2: My name is Jock and I’m a Grom addict, Jock decides to farkle the Grom up a bit. And then some.

Get yourself sorted:

You can’t have got this far without ‘really’ wanting to know what ‘Grom’ stands for. Officially the bike is the MSX 125, but in the US it had to be renamed due to trademark issues. According to Honda,”We went with Grom because, in surfing, a ‘grom’ is a kid that aspires to be really good or go pro.”

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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.