Monkey bike is the name given by Honda to one of their Z Series small, 50cc low-powered motorcycles introduced in the 1960s and fast forward almost sixty years to now, Honda again introduced a new Monkey 125, and the latest version of the species comes with a 125cc engine.
So we tested the Honda Monkey 125 in the rain and shine on the rugged streets of Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya including to 4 days to Sepang Circuit during the MotoGP pre-season Winter Test which is 60km away and we clocked over 1000km with the Monkey and to Gotong Jaya twice and Bukit Tinggi once! And we can tell you right up front, Honda got it right with this Monkey. Just that they didn’t include Bananas in the package!
If you are looking for a fun bike, it will be difficult to do better than the 2019 Honda Monkey 125. As long as your plans don’t include going over 120km/h, (126km/h down Karak slope after the tunnel) the Monkey is ideal for battling urban traffic. It is incredibly light weight, the handlebars are narrow for lane-splitting, it has enough power to overtake four-wheelers and lorries, and the Monkey is easy for anyone to ride, even rank novices. It is so much more fun in the sun as well as in the rain! Well in the rain isn’t for everyone.
The 125cc motor is unintimidating, yet fully capable. Anyone can grab a handful of throttle and not be startled. At the same time, after you’ve filtered your way to the front of the pack at a stoplight, you have the beans to break away from the pack. It will take some mostly fully twisting of the throttle, but the power is there and controllable. Even with air-cooled and sporting just two valves, it is a marvel of simplicity with a dash of modernity via the EFI.
The Monkey clutch four-speed transmission is great for learners who want to start with a clutch bike, and also can be enjoyed for experienced riders. One down three up make this urban motorcycle one of the most fun to ride bike we tested.
While the 125cc motor has decent low-end, you will be shifting it frequently. Third gear seems to be the sweet spot for balancing smoothness and instantly available acceleration. Fourth gear is fairly high, and designed for flat roads or downhills. Any significant hill will require third gear or lower. Happily, the motor revs out impressively—there’s no tach—so each ratio covers a good range of speeds.
This isn’t a bike that you tear about on in the city. The Honda Monkey 125 goes quietly about its business—even the final drive chain is enclosed—and other motorists don’t mind when you sneak on through. In fact, the Monkey is so good-looking motorcycle that puts smiles on the faces of drivers and pedestrians. Be prepared to respond to friendly waves and thumbs-up gestures.
The handling makes city riding easy. With a fairly aggressive 25 degrees of rake, a short 1155mm wheelbase, large 12-inch tires, and just a 105kg curb weight, there is nothing stopping you from changing direction on the Monkey. It goes where you point it immediately. If it went much above 100km/h, the handling still won’t be scary. However, under 100km/h and below speed, it’s just perfect for city commuting.
Honda gave the 2019 Monkey rear a simple twin suspension that works. There are no adjustments on the suspension—even the spring-preload on the shrouded shocks is set. Honda makes the most of 89 mm of travel on both sides with lively damping that allows the Monkey to recover quickly from bumps. The large 12 inch sporty wheels help on potholes, though the chunky stock tires are The Monkey’s high-aspect-ratio tires do more than just look cool. They’re extraordinarily practical too, giving you tons of grip and absorbing bumps or rough road surfaces. Every once in a while, when we get on lousy roads it still feel quite comfortable.
The ergonomics are non-intimidating with a reasonable seat height under 777mm. While the comfortable seat is very low compare to other mopeds, the light weight of the Monkey makes up for it. The original handle bar ergos, I didn’t like so I took it to the shop and changed to my Mini Motorcross bike handlebar paid the shop RM50 to dismantle and re-install it back when I return the Monkey to Honda after the test, look perfect.
The front and rear disc brake is powerful enough for the speed and weight of the Monkey. The front disc brake bites softly initially, and then responds to a harder grip gives a good braking. Skidding rear wheel if you are too aggressive but I never did skid the rear. I use both front and rear brake.
The dash is a simple digital yet compete with fuel indicator and mileage. The dash tells you at a glance how fast you’re going but not what gear you’re in. Beyond that, there’s not much you need to know when riding the Monkey.
Although the Monkey is rather expensive, compare to other bike models of the same capacity, it is an iconic bike which is finished nicely. There is tasteful retro red Honda badging, LED lighting, and finger-friendly switchgears.
One feature missing from the 2019 Honda Monkey is pillion foot peg. The Monkey is a solo rider machine. If you look at the swingarm, you can’t see any mounting points for passenger pegs. The plus side, the seat is super comfortable for long excursions and the fuel consumption is super low RM6 worth of petrol can get us to Sepang Circuit from Petaling Jaya and back with 2 bar left even we full throttle all the way. Approx RM9 of fuel for our ride, Petaling Jaya – Ulu Yam – Batangkali – Gotong Jaya – Karak – Bukit Tinggi – Karak – Gombak – Petaling Jaya. Pretty good for 5.6 litre tank bike.
The Monkey should run forever. This is an incredibly modern retro design and it’s virtually Monkey proof just Honda doesn’t add in the Bananas in the package. Sure, you might want to change the oil now and then—not that the Monkey is likely to notice if you don’t. Yes, you should follow Honda’s maintenance interval suggestions. In reality, you are not likely to experience a catastrophe if you don’t.
The 2019 Honda Monkey 125 is fun, friendly, practical and can make you go bananas in fun! This is a perfect motorcycle for zooming around a university, or densely populated urban area. It has genuinely classic modern styling without feeling dated. It does everything it is supposed to do nearly flawlessly. There are limitations, as there are with any motorcycles, yet the Monkey 125 makes you forget those boundaries as it puts a smile on our face on almost every ride.
Engine Type: 124.9cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore x stroke: 52.4mm x 57.9mm
Compression ratio: 9.3:1
Fuelling: PGM-FI with automatic enrichment
Valve train: SOHC, two valves
Transmission: Manual-shift 4-speed
Clutch: Automatic centrifugal
Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 26mm fork; 3.5 inches
Rear suspension; travel: Non-adjustable shocks; 3.6 inches
Front Brake: Single 220mm hydraulic disc
Rear Brake: Single 190mm hydraulic disc
Front Tire: 120/80-12
Rear Tire: 130/80-12
Wheelbase: 48.9 inches
Rake: 25 degrees
Seat height: 1156mm
Fuel capacity: 5.7 litre
Curb weight: 105kg
PRICE: RM13,999 excluding insurance and road tax.