Honda first started showing concept versions of its 125cc Monkey back in 2016 at the Bangkok Motor Show. A near production model was shown at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show. And now the final production version has broken cover.
It’s still clearly a Monkey bike, but the new model is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s far bigger than the original Z50 Monkey, which finally went out of production last year after a 50-year run. And secondly it’s approved for sale in Europe, which means we’ll be able to buy them from Honda dealers for the first time in years.
That Euro approval means it’s got ABS and meets Euro4 emissions rules. That’s easy enough, since it shares its engine with the MSX125. It’s an air-cooled, fuel injected single mated to a four-speed transmission.
With just 9.25hp on tap, performance isn’t going to be terrifying. But unlike the old Monkey, the handling shouldn’t be scary either. And 1155mm wheelbase is far longer than the 895mm original Z50, and with upside-down forks and disc brakes it’s got all the on-paper attributes of a ‘proper’ bike.
A 5.6l fuel tank, allied to an official fuel consumption figure of 67km/l – that’s 189mpg – means you’ll get 232 miles between fill-ups. For city transport, the Monkey could make a case for itself that goes well beyond its mere retro appeal.
Price will be vital to its success, but it’s unlikely to be a million miles from the price of the MSX125 that lends it so many components. That bike comes in at £3349 at the moment. If the Monkey comes in with numbers like that – and the sub £100-per-month finance deals that would doubtless accompany them – it could be a surprise hit.