Model updates: Honda’s pocket-sized grin machine is set and ready to cheer up 2023. Specification includes air-cooled 124cc engine, five-speed gearbox, steel frame, USD forks, 12-inch wheels and IMU-controlled ABS braking. Full LED lighting and neat LCD dash are the premium finishing touches.
For 23YM the Monkey will be available in the new Pearl Shining Black and updated Banana Yellow and Pearl Nebula Red that all feature colour-matched frame, forks, swingarm and rear springs, plus the classic tartan seat cover and stylish tank infills that reference the classic Monkey style from the late 1960s
2 Model overview
3 Key features
5 Technical specifications
The Honda Monkey bike is perhaps most widely known as a groovy icon of the 1970s, but it first saw the light of day in 1961. Originally developed as a 49cc child’s plaything for Tama Tech, an amusement park in Tokyo, it proved so popular that a road-going version was developed, which was initially exported to America and Europe in 1963, with a distinctive chrome tank, folding handlebars and 5-inch diameter rigidly mounted wheels.
Its popularity was based on a cute, instantly-likable design, tiny dimensions and ultra-light weight – which made it a whole load of fun around town. By 1969 its wheels had increased to 8-inch in diameter and from 1970 it gained even greater popularity, when the addition of quick-detach forks meant it would fit into the trunk of a small car.
By 1978 – a point that marked the start of real prime time for the Monkey – the bike had been re-styled with a teardrop style fuel tank and became hugely popular with legions of RV (Recreational Vehicle) drivers in need of convenient transport to use once they were parked up. And this is where and when the cheeky Monkey really cemented its place in millions of hearts; with its 3-speed gearbox and centrifugal clutch (which needed no ‘traditional’ motorcycle skill to operate) it gave thousands of riders their first experience of twisting the throttle on a powered two-wheeler.
Because it was so much fun, and so easy to ride, it did more to sell the concept of motorcycles to a wider public than perhaps any other machine. With its chunky tyres, mini-‘ape’ style handlebars, miniscule fuel tank and big, squashy seat the Monkey look is unmistakably of its time, but – just like the affection in which it is held – also timeless.
And in 2018 the Monkey’s time came around once again. Inspired by the original (but also as a usefully fun 125cc motorcycle fit for the 21st century) a brand-new Monkey cheered up the roads of Europe. For 2022 the Monkey got an engine upgrade, an extra gear for the transmission, suspension refinements and detail improvements, widening its ‘smile’ factor and building-in extra day-to-day usability.
Nothing changes mechanically for 2023 (23YM) but three brand-new, ultra-retro paint options mean that pocket-sized Monkey fun has never looked so good.
2. Model Overview
Drawn from the MSX Grom the Monkey’s two-valve air-cooled engine produces 6.9kW power with 11Nm torque. It’s durable and easy to use while a 5-speed gearbox opens up longer rides. The steel frame, USD forks, twin rear shocks and 12-inch wheels roll smoothly; for extra safety the ABS braking is Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) controlled.
Then, of course, there’s the inimitable Monkey look, correct from the mini-ape ’bars to upswept exhaust. 23YM sees the Monkey pay proper homage to the 1967 version, with its chequered seat pattern and classic Honda style of the time. This is the first version of the Monkey ever sold in Japan (see 4. Monkey Milestones below).
3. Key Features
• 124cc air-cooled engine delivers 6.9kW power and 11Nm torque
• 5-speed gearbox for easy cruising speed
• EURO5 compliance
The Monkey is equipped with an engine designed to ride and have fun on; 124cc, SOHC with 50mm bore, 63.1mm stroke and compression ratio of 10:0:1. It produces peak power of 6.9kW @ 6,750rpm with peak torque of 11Nm @ 5,500rpm.
A correcting plate manages the path of fresh air drawn in and feeds an intake duct inlet and connecting tube designed to smooth airflow. The shape of the airbox also promotes smooth airflow, smooth torque output and flexible drivability. For EURO5 compliance a compact catalyser deals with spent gasses efficiently; the exhaust downpipe length is optimised to the intake side, while the muffler uses a one-chamber design for efficient performance and characterful exhaust note.
The 5-speed gearbox spreads its ratios apart for longer journey ease and provides a more relaxed cruising ability. Top speed is 91km/h. Manual clutch operation imparts a full-sized motorcycle experience while 12-inch wheels deliver agile around-town response. Naturally, the Monkey’s small stature and assured low-speed balance allow it an easy passage through jammed traffic.
It’s also an economical engine, returning 1.5 litres/100km (WMTC mode) by using low-friction technologies, such as an offset cylinder and roller-rocker arm for the valve gear. Sophisticated PGM-FI guarantees highly efficient combustion.
3.2 Chassis & Styling
• Steel frame, USD forks and 12-inch diameter tyres
• Twin rear shocks feature two-stage springs to deal with rough surfaces
• Easy-to-manage 775mm seat height
The Monkey’s steel backbone frame is tuned for a suitable balance between rigidity and supple feel – perfect for the wide variety of conditions the machine is designed to be ridden in. Oval in cross-section, the swingarm echoes the circular design theme that runs through the bike.
Wheelbase is set at 1,145mm with rake and trail of 25°/82mm and a minimum turning radius of just 1.9m. Wet weight is 104kg, with a seat height of 775mm. The plush seat is made of high-density urethane for maximum comfort.
USD front forks employ 100mm travel and wear a premium Alumite finish. The dual rear shocks feature two-stage colour matched springs to maintain ride quality on bumper roads and reduced bottoming. They have 102mm of axle travel; maximum ground clearance is 175mm.
A single 220mm front disc and 190mm rear provide secure stopping performance, managed by the IMU-based ABS. Fat, block pattern tyres make for a smooth ride and are sized 120/80-12 65J front and 130/80-12 69J rear.
Classic Monkey style (mini-ape handlebars, chromed mudguards, upswept exhaust with stamped heat shield, chunky tyres, padded seat and ‘peanut’ tank) pays loyal homage to the original and provides all the cues required to chime both with those of a certain age, and a much younger generation.
Older riders connect to a certain ’70s irreverence – maybe matched to a memory of their first feel of motorcycling freedom – innate in the design while newer riders, already turned on to all things retro, get both that and something undeniably funky to set them apart from their friends. One thing that unites everybody, whether riding a Monkey or simply passing one by, is the ‘smile’ factor. It’s that sort of bike.
A stylish tubular steel rear carrier is available as an official accessory – usefully suitable for heavier loads of up to 3.0kg. The glossy 5.6L fuel tank proudly wears a historical 3-D Classic Wing design Honda logo.
For 23YM the Monkey is available in the following paint options:
Banana Yellow with new yellow frame, swingarm, rear fork springs, black/white tartan seat and white tank infill
Pearl Nebula Red with new red frame, swingarm rear fork springs, black/white/red tartan seat and silver tank infill
**NEW** Pearl Shining Black with black frame, swingarm, rear fork springs, black/white tartan seat and white tank infill
• Circular LCD display and full LED lighting
• Wave pattern key with answer back
• Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) controlled ABS braking
Modern technology is fully present amongst the classic looks: a digital full-LCD circular display features speedometer (which winks playfully when the ignition is turned on), odometer with two trip meters and six-segment fuel level indicator; all lighting is LED.
A ‘wave’ pattern key (which also wears the Classic Wing motif) features an ‘answer back’ system that makes the lights flash at the push of a button to allow easy location in crowded car parks. The single channel ABS system operates with an IMU to mitigate rear ‘lift’ under strong braking.
4. Monkey milestones
First model – made for use at amusement parks, with 5 inch wheels, rigid suspension, foldable handlebars and Super Cub (C50) 3.1kW OHV 49cc engine. Backbone frame, triangular tank.
First road-going model – exported to North America and Europe.
First model sold in Japan – with ‘fold-down’ seat, handlebars and pegs to fit in the back of the car (the new fuel cap also added to prevent leaks when stored on its side during transport). Centrifugal clutch.
Telescopic front fork, 8” front wheels, low slung exhaust and indicators for the first time.
Quick-detach front suspension to make it fold down even smaller to fit in the trunk of a small car. Centre stand to support the bike during the removal of forks
Rear suspension and independent swing arm. First trapezium fuel tank and block tyres
First model with custom bike style ‘tear drop’ fuel tank with increased capacity of 5L
Chrome plated edition
Limited edition ‘Gold’ model
First appearance of hand operated clutch
‘R’ model with twin tube frame, single shock rear suspension and hydraulic front brake disc. 10in Comstar wheels with box section swingarm
Dual mirrors for the first time
Off-road styled ‘Baja’ model with twin headlights
2004 Freddie Spencer Special
In colours based on the CB750F ridden to victory in the Daytona 100 by Freddie Spencer
2009 Monkey Limited Edition JBH-AB27
First fuel-injected version, with roller rocker arm and off-set cylinder. Trapezium shaped fuel tank
2017 50th Anniversary Edition
New version commemorates 50th anniversary of sales in Japan
2018 Monkey 125
An all-new Monkey 125, re-imagined for the 21st century, takes to the roads of Europe
5. Technical Specifications
Type Air-cooled SOHC 4-stroke 2-valve
Bore x Stroke 50 x 63.1mm
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Max. Power Output 6.9Kw / 6,750rpm
Max. Torque 11Nm/5,500rpm
Oil Capacity 1.1 litres
Noise Level (dB) XXXXXX
Carburation PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Fuel Tank Capacity 5.6 litres
Fuel Consumption 1.5 litres/100km
Battery 12V 3.5Ah
Clutch Type Wet multi plate clutch
Transmission Type 5 speed
Type Steel backbone frame
Dimensions (LxWxH) 1,710 x 755 x 1,030mm
Caster Angle 25°
Seat Height 775mm
Ground Clearance 175mm
Turning radius 1.9m
Kerb Weight 104kg
Type Front USD fork, 100mm axle travel
Type Rear Twin shock, 102mm axle travel
Type Front 10-spoke cast aluminium
Type Rear 10-spoke cast aluminium
Tyres Front 120/80-12M/C 65J
Tyres Rear 130/80-12M/C 69J
Type Front Single 220 mm hydraulic disc with IMU-based ABS
Type Rear Single 190mm hydraulic disc
All specifications are provisional and subject to change without notice
Please note that the figures provided are results obtained by Honda under standardised testing conditions prescribed by WMTC. Tests are conducted on a rolling road using a standard version of the vehicle with only one rider and no additional optional equipment. Actual fuel consumption may vary depending on how you ride, how you maintain your vehicle, weather, road conditions, tire pressure, installation of accessories, cargo, rider and passenger weight, and other factors.