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'Grom Prix' introduces Honda's scrappy new Grom motorcycle

September 13, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new motorcycle from Honda will get a lot of looks. It will also raise a few questions, starting with "What's a 'grom'?" "Grom" or "grommet" is a slang term for a scrappy young surfer or skateboarder. The Honda Grom is designed to appeal to scrappy bikers.

The 100-mile-per-gallon 125cc Grom, Honda's newest motorcycle, is also its smallest.

"It brings back that heritage from the old CT70 days, the days where we were learning how to ride, and the unintimidating way to come into the motorcycle market," said Honda spokesman Bill Savino.

Its looks are a cross between "tough" and "adorable" -- like a shrunken-down sport bike, something with a bit more attitude than a scooter.

And to give it some cred with the real motorcycle crowd, Honda decided to stage the "Grom Prix" in the parking lot of its Torrance headquarters.

Three-member teams would compete on a tiny road course. Invited guests included celebrities from motorcycle racing, entertainment, and even riding enthusiast and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

Honda asked me to take part in the Grom Prix. But I'm 6 feet 6 inches tall, and the Grom is barely 3 feet tall at the top of the handlebars. Still, they insisted.

Fortunately I was teamed up with a like-sized rider at the event: 6-foot-4 comedian Alonzo Bodden, who could both sympathize and strategize.

"We're going to lose," said Bodden. "We're gonna lose, because there's some flyweights over there weighing in at about 110 pounds. But I'll knock 'em over, I don't care. I'm out for blood on this."

Actor-comedian Hal Sparks rounded out our trio, and the competition was on.

Guess which one of us easily fit on the bike?

Nevertheless, the Grom was very easy to ride, even for the long-limbed on our team.

There were lots of hotshots competing, for sure. But this wasn't about speed. To win you had to be consistent, closely matching a base time on two runs.

In the end, first place went to: "Adam Booth, Jeremy McGrath and Chief Charlie Beck," the team that included McGrath, the King of Supercross, and LAPD's top cop.

And the little Grom is probably going to be a winner in the showroom, finding its way into all kinds of garages.

"When I was a kid my dad never let me have a mini-bike, and finally I'm getting my own mini-bike," said Bodden. "I can't wait to get a hold of one of these."

The 2014 Honda Grom has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $2,999.