Just about everyone loves a Honda Monkey, and there are multiple good reasons why. The form factor is obviously a big one, especially since it has a near-universal appeal that reaches across generations. It's the rare bike that can instantly put a smile on your face just by seeing it, even if you don't necessarily care much about motorcycles.
Industrial design powers aside, though, what do you think of when you think of a Honda Monkey? Chances are good that serious off road riding isn't your first answer. Although no one in their right mind would probably take a Monkey to conquer the Erzbergrodeo, as this video shows, it can be more capable off road than you might expect.
Now, to be perfectly clear, this rider's off-road skills clearly play a significant role in how well they and the bike both do on their chosen terrain. What kind of terrain are we talking about, exactly?
There's a steep and bumpy hill to start out. There's also gravel, as well as a bit of uphill 4x4 single track that leads to a steep overlook. Later on, there's a water crossing, as well as a field filled with much more serious rocks for the little Monkey to attempt.
About This Honda Monkey
2023 Honda Monkey - Studio - Pearl Nebula Red, just like the one in this video.
What kinds of modifications has the owner made to this Monkey? From both the looks of it and the narration, few if any. It's a 2023 Honda Monkey, complete with that excellent red and black plaid saddle. Although there are plenty of aftermarket parts (including things like bash plates, handguards, and additional engine protection) available for the Monkey, you won't find any of that in evidence here.
A stock 2023 Honda Monkey, in addition to making about nine entire horsepower, rolls on a set of little 12-inch wheels. It does not come with off-road tires, although that's another thing that you could certainly turn to the aftermarket to change. It also has no suspension.
On the plus side, its tiny 45-inch wheelbase, 30.5-inch seat height, and 231-pound claimed curb weight all help to make it extremely welcoming and relatively easy to handle, even for new riders. It has a five-speed gearbox, and the 2023 model also comes with ABS as standard (though it's not clear how much help or hindrance that might be in this situation).
Honda claims that it gets a fuel economy of about 169 miles per gallon, though it presumably didn't test that metric in this type of riding situation. So, that may be more or less meaningful, depending on your vantage point. The tiny little fuel tank holds about 1.5 gallons, but if the actual fuel consumption is anywhere close to Honda's estimate, its eensy size can hardly be considered a mark against it. Who needs a giant, heavy fuel tank weighing you down when your bike literally sips fuel?
Should You Consider Off-Roading A Honda Monkey?
That's really up to you, your riding skills, and your level of confidence in your abilities. It also depends on how comfortable you are with potentially dropping your Monkey. Off road riding generally results in more bike dropping and having to pick it up, so you probably shouldn't try it with any bike where a few scratches and scuffs will ruin your entire day (or more).
On the plus side, the Monkey's small size, comparatively light weight, and relatively easy handling could be less intimidating for a less experienced off road rider.
There are clearly plenty of small dirt bikes and dual sports that are lightweight, have plastic bodywork that's built to take a beating, and also have much more suitable suspensions for this type of riding. Would that be as much fun as taking a bike that isn't really meant for this type of riding and showing its capability, though? For a certain type of rider, probably not.