No, it’s not an ’80s spy novel—it’s the model names of two new Hondas for the U.S. market.
The Forza is Honda’s new maxi-scooter, a 279cc, liquid-cooled Single that weighs in at 422 pounds ready-to-ride. It gets a CVT transmission, a 14 inch wheel in front (with 13-incher in the back), a 3-gallon gas tank (claimed fuel economy is 68 mpg) and low 28.2-inch seat. Combined brakes are newbie-friendly (ABS adds $500 to the price), and there’s even a 12-volt outlet to charge your phones and gadgets.
The Forza might be aimed at car drivers looking to get into scootering, who want more power than the PCX150, but are intimidated by the strum und drang of the monstrous 541-pound, triple-digit capable, $9270 twin-cylinder Silver Wing. The Forza’s $5,599 MSRP may raise an eyebrow or two, if I know our readers, but it’s actually competitive for the 250-350 commuter-scoot class. And if it handles like the PCX it clearly shares DNA with, it should be a nice ride—we look forward to testing it.
But maybe you want something more like the cheap, fun little Hondas of your youth? Okay—get ready to Grom. As the Gen-Y hipsters Honda is targeting with the Grom might know, a ‘grom’ is surfer-jargon for a younger kid who can really rip it up on a skate or surfboard, apropos for its aggressive naked-bike styling.
It looks like a Ducati Monster somebody left in the dryer too long, but the 124.5cc, single overhead-cam air-cooled Single is a throwback to the Z50…only intended for use on public roads. That means it’s a lot bigger than it looks, though much smaller than other entry-level sportbikes. Wheelbase is 47.4 inches, the seat is a surprisingly high 29.7 inches (though the narrow seat should make it easy for shorter riders to get both feet on the pavement) and ready-to-ride weight (with the 1.45-gallon tank topped off) is a claimed 225 pounds. Handling should be nimble, to say the least.
The 12-inch tires sound laughable, but there’s a healthy aftermarket supporting mini road-racing. For instance, Pirelli sells Grom-sized Pilot Pure trackday tires, and hop-up parts for these Honda OHC motors have been available since the 1960s. Though it is probably capable of 55 or 60 mph (when this model was announced by Honda Thailand in January as the MSX125, claimed power was 10 horsepower at 7000 rpm and a darling 8 foot-pounds of torque), it has a 4-speed gearbox and manual clutch and at $2999, would make a very appropriate learning bike for new riders—or a fun racebike/R.V. dingy/errand runner/pitbike for everybody else. It’s even got a passenger seat and pegs, which should generate plenty of wacky YouTube videos.
This bike was developed and is manufactured in Thailand, and it’s surprising it’s coming to the land of the 600-pound entry-level Harley-Davidson. I just suggested to Honda that the press launch should be at Sonoma Raceway’s Kart track—let’s hope big Red takes me up on that. The Grom is available in red or black and should be in dealers by August.