Honda is doing everything possible to make getting in the saddle accessible to all. Utilizing a fuel-injected 124.9cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine, Honda has developed a family of fun bikes they call the Mini-Moto series, sitting in pride of place in the brand’s current line-up. 2014 brought the Grom, and in 2019 Honda hit the nail on the head by reprising the classic Z50 Monkey styling. Borrowing on many of the best parts of the Grom, the Monkey ditches plastic bits in favor of nicely painted metal features that follow 60 years of classic Monkey history.
I still remember sitting on my Uncle’s late 60’s Z50. I was maybe 5 or 6 years old and watching him take it out the back of his RV and adjusting the folding bars, then a weekend of watching the endless fun had by all who took a spin.
That is the charm of the Monkey, it is accessible to all. As a platform for learning, the Monkey excels thanks to a simple to shift 4-speed gearbox, flat seat, and easily approachable ergonomics. The small size and knobby tires encourage owners to bring their Monkey along on various excursions, perfectly suited to the camping and RV life, and just as at home as an urban runabout.
Our Take: Why You Should Buy a Honda Monkey
Photo Credit: Revzilla
Originally conceived in the 1960s as a 50cc bike with fat tires on 5” wheels and a 22” seat height, Honda fed right into the minibike craze, turning the Z50 Mini-Trail (aka the Monkey) into a cult classic.
The modern Monkey was able to capitalize on the successful sales of the Grom, offering a similar riding experience tuned more to light offroad abilities. The front suspension is a 31mm telescopic inverted fork with nearly 4” of travel, and the rear mono-shock provides just a bit over 4” of travel. Combined with the comfortable flat saddle and high-rise bars the Monkey handles most anything but the most extreme.
Honda borrows heavily from the Grom for the Monkey. Among the many changes, the Monkey received metal fenders, a metal fuel tank, a different swingarm, a unique engine side cover, exhaust, and headlight. Yes, the Monkey has lights, turn signals, and a license plate mount, so licensed riders can take it to the streets
With only 232lbs plus rider to keep moving, the 125cc four-stroke single happily revs up and down through the 4 gears and gets away from stoplights quicker than soccer moms late to the game. Thankfully the brakes are more than up to the task, and ABS is an available option. Beyond that, the only modern-looking tech Honda provides would be the LCD digital gauge that includes a speedometer, odometer, clock, and fuel gauge.
Speaking of a fuel gauge, I keep wondering if you even need one with the Monkey. The 125cc mill is a total fuel sipper, even when you are wringing it hard. The Monkey deliveries 134 mpg! This translates to about a 200-mile range from the 1.5-gallon tank, and about $5 bucks for a fill.
Bottom line: The Monkey is an absolute blast to ride. The ergonomics suit a wide range of adults, making the bike very approachable. With 10 hp the Monkey can get you up and down almost anything you dare, not with dirt bike aggression but always with a smile on your face.
Buy a Honda Monkey as a second bike. Have a blast, and teach friends and family just how much fun motorbikes really are. New riders would have a great time improving their skills on a Monkey, but it doesn’t make much sense as a primary bike.
Reasons to buy the Trail 125:
It is fun on wheels
134 mpg, enough said
Tires suited to the road and light trails
Strong brakes with optional ABS
Not intimidating at all
4 gears and a clutch, perfect for learning
Reasons not to buy the Trail 125:
Not safe for the freeway, top speed is 55mph
Not ideal if it is your only motorcycle
Production Run & Notable Model-Year Changes
Production Run & Model Generations
First Generation (2019 – ) Monkey
Sharing DNA with other Honda Mini-Moto bikes, the 125cc fuel-injected single-cylinder engine Monkey is good for 10 hp and matches well to the slick 4-speed manual gearbox.
Weighing just 232lb, with ergonomics for a wide range of riders, the Honda Monkey delivers an outstanding 134 mpg. The Monkey has knobby tires mounted on 12” wheels and comes to a halt via a single 220mm front disc with a dual-piston caliper and a 190mm rear disc with a single-piston caliper. ABS braking is optional.
Owner Reviews of the Honda Monkey
Photo Credit: Revzilla
Press & Magazines
2021 Honda Monkey First Look: 60th Anniversary!
“It’s the 60th anniversary of the Honda Monkey, and while we wish there was something new about the 2021 Honda Monkey, there’s not. Fortunately, there isn’t much we’d like to change about the funky little Monkey—except, perhaps, a Beastie Boys tribute model in brass (okay, that’s a different kind of Monkey)”
“Most motorcycles are drenched in menace, but the Monkey doesn’t take itself too seriously. The digital instrument cluster blinks out a cartoonish monkey face when you turn the key, and the color of the bike we rode is called Banana Yellow. Topping off the tiny 1.5-gallon fuel tank often costs less than the price of a Happy Meal. ”
“Shooting you straight, here’s my take on things: The Monkey is small, slow, undersprung for me (but probably undersprung for almost all adults who do not possess my heft), and none of it matters. They’re hilarious. They’re also wildly similar to a Grom. I think the seat is a touch more comfortable, and the handlebars feel a little bit narrower.”
The Honda Monkey is exactly the sort of fun factory it looks to be, and it is 100% okay to want one. I do. I currently have 4 motorcycles in the garage and would happily make room for a Monkey.
Yes, it is heavily borrowed on the Grom but is very much its own animal. The Monkey will happily take you on the street, down dirt roads, and simple trails with zero complaints. With only 10 hp there should be no expectation of speed, but power is not needed with how fun this little Mini-Moto is to ride.
A great second bike, the Monkey is the machine you will always toss in the back of your truck, or choose for that short rip to the store. Good luck searching one out on the used market, owners often don’t want to part with them.