The importance of lightheartedness is not lost on me. Ride through life sullen and scowling, and you won’t enjoy anything. At least that’s my belief, which is why, even though I’m wearing little more than a jean jacket, a Biltwell helmet, and fleece cheetah-print gloves on a miserable, misty 40-degree morning, I’m riding toward Detroit at 60 mph on a 2014 Honda Grom, laughing and loving every teeth-chattering moment.

It’s small

Honda got its footing in America by selling small motorcycles such as the Dream and 50/Super Cub, and it’s again hoping to attract new buyers with the aggressive-yet-adorable 2014 Honda Grom, which looks like 5/8th-scale naked streetfighter. The 2014 Honda Grom (a slang term for “hooligan”) is a 125-cc mini-motorcycle with a snug, 47.4-inch wheelbase. Its seat is only 29.7 inches off of the pavement, and it weighs 225 pounds, making it lighter than my warm-up weight for squats. From the top of the 1.45-gallon fuel tank to the ground is barely 3 feet, but every inch of my 6-foot-plus self is surprisingly comfortable, thanks to the big, soft seat and straight-up, standard riding position.

It’s got street cred

“How much that cost, mang?” the guy in the murdered-out Impala sitting next to me at the stoplight asks. “A little more than three grand,” I say. “It fast?” “It’ll get going, sure.” He nods his head before rolling up his heavily tinted window. When the light turns green, I kick down into first gear, lightly twist the throttle, and ease off of the clutch. The Grom pulls away smoothly, and I roll the throttle wide open.

“Hunched over and freezing on a motorcycle half my size—this is life’s lightheartedness that I adore.”

It’s happy to rev…

The tachometer dips into the red at 8,000 rpm, but mind that not -- the real redline is around 9,200 rpm. I flick the shift lever with my foot and go into second gear, then third, and then into top gear. I yank on the throttle like I’m going to rip it off. I lean forward against the gas tank, tuck my elbows against my sides, and lower my head, trying to be as aerodynamic as possible.

…But it’s got no guts

Then the Impala, puttering along in the right lane, passes me at about 50 mph. The Grom’s air-cooled, fuel-injected, two-valve single-cylinder engine produces only 10 hp and 8 lb-ft of torque, so it’s by no means powerful. But it does make the most of the little power it has. Using the engine’s entire powerband, the Grom can get to 26 mph in first gear, 42 mph in second, 51 mph in third, and … well, who the hell knows what speed in fourth. The best I’ve seen is 62 mph, and don’t ask how long it took to get ther

It’s got character

Hunched over and freezing on a motorcycle half my size -- this is life’s lightheartedness that I adore. The 2014 Honda Grom combines classic “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda” cuteness with new naked bike fierceness, and its lightweight tossability, its low-output friendliness, and its affinity for high revs make it absolutely lovable. Others obviously love it, too, since the only other bike I see during my 50-mile ride is a Grom. As I’m passing him, I nod and give him a cheetah-print thumbs up, then cozy up against the gas tank and roll the throttle wide open.

2014 Honda Grom Specifications

Base price:$3,324

Price as tested:$3,324

Engine:0.1-liter SOHC 2-valve I-1/10 hp @ 7,000 rpm, 8 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm

Transmission:4-speed manual

Layout:RWD motorcycle

EPA Mileage:70-120 mpg (combined)

0-60 mph:29.2 sec (est.)

Top speed:62 mph (observed)

Cargo capacity:0.0 cu ft

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