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Firstly let me apologise for putting what is essentially a small geared motorcycle on to ScooterLab, it’s not something we ordinarily do but this is no ordinary bike. It’s the quirky cult classic Monkey Bike, a bike that’s been around since it was adapted from a Japanese fairground ride in 1961, first hitting the road two years later. It still puts a smile on faces wherever it goes and this new for 2018 model should impress fans, both old and new.

The Monkey Bike has been reincarnated, brought bang up to date and is available in official Honda dealers right now. We were lucky enough to get a quick ‘taster’ spin around Nice on it last week during the Honda Forza launch. By no means a full on road test but it gave us enough time to appreciate the bike for what it is. It’s a fun looking machine for sure but has a grown up edge to it that means it’ll be a hit with fans of all ages. 

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  • It uses the same four-speed, air-cooled engine as the Honda MSX
  • Comes with LED lighting all round
  • New LCD instruments
  • Key with integrated alarm
  • Disc brakes at both ends with single channel IMU based ABS
  • Upside down forks with Alumite coating
  •  Colour coded twin shocks
  • Chrome exhaust/mudguard
  • Fat 120 front, 130 rear tyres
  • High handlebars

VIDEO | Monkey intro
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First impressions

On looks alone you’d happily buy a Monkey Bike, this latest edition takes the concept and makes it even more pleasing to the eye. It may be quirky but it’s a bike that was designed to be used. This is no gimmick, or kids bike. The styling is bang on, retro yet bang up to date. It looks cool from all angles and is finished very well. The new LCD instruments are classy, in fact everything about it oozes Honda quality.


Sit on board and it doesn’t actually feel as tiny as you’d expect, it’s not a particularly cramped riding position so it’s useable and fairly comfy. The high bars help with the ergonomics, leaving you sat upright, rather than crouched over. Everything is well placed for ease of use. Talking of first impressions, whilst Honda were in Monaco doing some static photos with the Monkey, a couple of Russian Oligarchs stepped off a huge multi-million pound yacht and tried (unsuccessfully I may add) to buy a couple of the bikes. It’s that kind of a machine, like a classic scooter it’ll start conversations wherever you go. It’s also a great little runaround to keep in your boat/caravan or motorhome.

Quick spin

As I said, this was just a quick spin around Nice rather than a full-on road test but it gave us a chance to use the machine during French rush hour. The Monkey uses the same air-cooled, fuel-injected engine as the popular MSX 125, I’ve tested that particular bike in the past and know it goes well. The Monkey was quick as well, it can accelerate away from a junction quicker than most motorists would expect. It’s also very nimble so you can carve a slice through busy traffic easily enough.

The four-speed manual gearbox makes the bike much nicer to ride than the old crash box Monkey Bikes of old. It also makes better use of the engine’s power and means the 125 can be ridden as a ‘proper’ bike, rather than just a gimmick you’d pose around town on. It also returns a claimed 189 mpg…

Monkeying around

The Monkey handles itself fairly well too, we spent much of our short ride blasting around roundabouts for the photos. It can get around corners for sure, and it stops well too. The gearbox is Honda smooth and precise, it’s easy to use and the engine has enough oomph to say it only makes 9.25 bhp. The lightweight machine tips the scales at just 107 kg so the power to weight ratio isn’t too bad and it shows on the road.

The Monkey comes in Banana Yellow, Pearl Shining Black and Pearl Nebula Red. It’s available as an official Honda Europe model (rather than a parallel import like the Monkey Bikes used to be). Strangely for such a customisable cult classic, Honda don’t list any aftermarket parts for it but I’m sure it won’t be long before  they’re available elsewhere.

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Maybe the Monkey needs some of our SLUK plastics...
Maybe the Monkey needs some of our SLUK plastics…

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2018 Honda Monkey 125 specifications

Engine: 125cc air-cooled, fuel-injected, 4-stroke, 2-valve SOHC

Power: 9.25bhp @ 7000 rpm

Torque: 11nm @ 5250 rpm

Brakes: Front 220mm disc, rear 190mm disc, two channel ABS

Wheels: Front 120/80-12, rear 130/80-12 

Suspension: Upside down front hydraulic forks, twin rear shocks d

Seat height: 776 mm

Weight: 107kg

Dimensions: Length 1710 mm, width 755 mm, height 1029 mm

Tank capacity: 5.6 litres

Warranty: Two years

Colours: Banana Yellow/Ross White, Pearl Nebula Red/Ross White, Pearl Shining Black/Ross White

Price: £3699


2018 Honda Monkey 125 gallery