Ape around on a reinvented classic for just £65 per month.
NOW IT’S HONDA’S turn to take a walk down Look Back Avenue and thumb a lift on the retro bandwagon – Welcome back to the Monkey Bike… At first glance you can’t help but notice that the Monkey Z125A looks twice the size of the 1961 original. It almost is. The Z50A rides on eight inch wheels, and the rider’s knees are up by their ears. The new one has 12-inch wheels and a bit more room for the pilot. But the cuteness remains. Turn the key and the new LED dash blinks its eyes at you as it runs a digit test. Honda have clearly reinstated their sense of fun. Based on the existing MSX125 the new Monkey is slightly shorter and slightly taller in the seat at 776mm. Six-footers will be comfortable despite high knees. On fire-up you can hear the exhaust, but it’d be nice if it was louder. Let out the first of four gears and the 9.2bhp Monkey bustles forward vigorously – 31mph in first until Check the the limiter mirrors cuts and in.
the traffic behind is floundering. 1-0 to me, but this game will be long as I am travelling across London city – surely the Monkey’s natural habitat. The Z125A’S combination of light steering, chunky tyres and peppy motor mean you can turn quickly, soak up pot holes and nip through gaps bigger bikes would struggle to cope with. And the single 220mm brake disc, which has Imu-based ABS, copes easily with the odd pedestrian stepping out. Suspension is soft and the rear twin shocks can bottom out over large speed bumps but combined with the USD forks the handling feels secure. Traffic is grid-locked and all the lights seem red but this new Monkey is making it fun. Stuck at the front of a traffic queue in neutral the bars vibrate quite a bit. Pull the front brake and the vibes stop, and there’s no vibration on the move. Even though you don’t feel like you’re on a small bike reality bites when a double decker bus blows past. But I’m enjoying myself and surely that’s what every generation of Monkey is all about. In fact, I could do this all day, and so can
the Monkey with its claimed 189 miles per ‘g’. The seat is wide, soft and comfy but there are problems. Firstly, it’s a single seat – the MSX can carry two, why not the Monkey? My 12 and 10 year sons would love to ride pillion with their dad, or me and the wife could pop to the pub – which would hopefully justify the purchase of a new Monkey. I know the single seat is a nod to the past, but when the accommodation is halved it reduces the reason to buy, especially when the pillion friendly MSX is out there, and cheaper. The second problem is that, unlike the original, the seat is not tartan. Cardinal sin. My next gripe is that there is no clock on the easy to read dash and, again, unlike the original, the handlebars don’t fold down. Surely it’s not beyond the wit of engineering to make this so, and then the new Monkey would mount on the back of a motorhome or fit inside an SUV. However, you would have to be pretty strong to lift it. At £3699otr 2018’s Monkey isn’t cheap. It’s also not as innovative or as secure as I would like. I want a clever lock you pull from under the seat, but there isn’t one. However, Honda do help by providing an alarm as standard and a tracker which is a free option, but you pay a £9.95 per month subscription. I went to ride the Monkey because I love crazy, tiny Hondas and in pictures the Z125A looks great. However, even with a £65 PCP monthly payment (£500 deposit) the downsides are just too numerous. What I want is for Honda to create a new Monkey with all the ingenuity that made the original genius for a new generation. A re-packaged MSX is just not that. That said the Monkey is a great city bike, sips petrol, is perfect for new riders and still pulls on the heart strings of us oldies, regardless of my many misgivings.
‘The Monkey is a great city bike, sips petrol, is perfect for new riders and still pulls on the heart strings of us oldies’
For all its faults the new Monkey is a good looking thing The way we are and the way we were
Your sensible head would buy the MSX, but like all modern retros the new Monkey has a seductive charm
Easy to read dash, unless it’s sunny