It looks like for Japanese manufacturers, there’s apparently something to be said about retro and affordable and Honda’s returning miniature had to make an appearance. While all the other models on this list mean more serious business, it’s impossible to fit “Monkey” and “serious” in the same sentence, unless it’s to express that the model is everything but.
The “normalized” version of Honda’s 125cc, the Grom, is deserving of a place on our list, but I simply couldn’t overlook the Monkey—this is what happens when Honda does fun. The model dates back to the 60s, inspired by an amusement park motorized attraction. The Monkey did come to America after a few formative years abroad. The model is now making a comeback to the US for 2019 and minimoto enthusiasts have a lot to be excited about.
The 2019 Monkey isn’t a feat of technology and speed—in fact, if I’m going to be blunt, it has no pretense at all performance-wise. Not unlike the VanVan, however, what it will do, is slap the biggest smile on your face as you confidently take on any surface. You drop it? At 229 lb, picking it up shouldn’t even be on your list of concern. Honda is betting everything on the model’s fun factor and it looks like it’s winning.
Pros: fun, great retro looks, versatile
Cons: cramped, underpowered