There’s a common misconception that motorcycle riders and scooter riders are two separate groups with little overlap. In reality, most members of both groups recognize that each type of vehicle has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation, and with so many variations of both motorcycles and scooters now available, the old distinctions are no longer as relevant. Honda is further complicating matters with its new Honda Grom, a kind of supermoto-minibike that bestrides the valley between the practicality of a scooter and the ride quality of a motorcycle. And so, the question naturally arises — do you need a motorcycle license for a Honda Grom?
Yes! Honda Grom riders need a motorcycle driver’s license (Class M) to operate on public roadways because all of its models (2013-2023) have an engine that’s over 50cc. However, at 125cc (123.9 technically), the Grom may be classified differently from other motorcycles in some jurisdictions. And it’s this separate classification that confuses many people. Let’s clear up the mystery!
Is Honda Grom a Moped, Scooter, or Motorcycle?
The new 2023 Cherry Red Honda Grom — with a 124cc electric-start engine — is one of the most popular two-wheelers in the world, and one ride will tell you why.
The classification of the Honda Grom may vary from state to state. In some states, it may be considered a motorcycle, while in others, it could be classified as a scooter or a “small motorcycle.”
The Grom has two main names. It’s known as the Honda MSX125 in Europe and East Asia. In America, the same bike is known as the Grom. This name comes from Slavic languages, where it means “waves and riptides.” It can also be shorthand for “grommet,” suggesting that the Grom is a motorcycle for the young, especially riders who enjoy surfing and skating. The story goes that Honda America would have had a trademark infringement if it had called the new bike the MSX125. So, after some deliberation, the company decided to go with “Grom.” And before long, everyone was using that name, even in regions that kept the MSX125 moniker.
But still many places don’t differentiate the Grom from being a motorcycle, scooter, or moped. In Arkansas, for example, the Grom is classified as a scooter because its engine is between 50 and 250cc. However, true scooters typically have underbone or step-through frames, like mopeds, which have engines of 50cc at most and a maximum speed of 30 mph.
The Grom does not fit this definition because it has a body similar to a larger sport bike and a naked motorcycle. These two types of motorcycles are typically defined as having engines of at least 250 cc. However, some places simply consider anything over 50cc to be a motorcycle. For this reason, I would call the Grom a mini motorcycle. It’s part of Honda’s miniMOTO lineup of “pocket-sized” sport bikes.
As far as licenses go, you will need a Class M license, which is the same requirement to ride a standard motorcycle. The only exception to this would be if you’re a minor with a motorcycle permit, as you may be restricted to driving motorcycles under 250cc. Additionally, laws regarding registration and insurance may also differ depending on your location.
To sum it up, regardless of how your state classifies the Honda Grom, you will need a Class M motorcycle license to ride it around town.
But Is the Honda Grom Highway Legal?
Riding a Honda Grom on I-75, the longest highway in Michigan, which runs 395 miles from the Ohio border to the International Bridge in Sault Ste. Although it’s highway-legal in California, the Grom is definitely not highway-advisable.
The Honda Grom is a street-legal vehicle you can ride on a public roadway. However, there are some exceptions; freeways and interstates may have certain engine-displacement restrictions typically posted on entrance ramps. And yes, you must use on- and off-ramps when entering and exiting.
This is vital information about Grom because it is normally at a threshold. For example, in California, Florida, and Illinois, the minimum engine size is 150cc. However, the least engine size is 125cc in Michigan while other states lower the limit to 50cc. Any two-wheelers less than 50cc aren’t allowed on freeways at any time of the day or night. This is the universal rule if there is no road sign governing the use of the freeway.
What’s more, the Grom, with a top speed of approximately 65-70 miles per hour (mph), is able to meet minimum speed limits set in states that do not consider engine displacement. However, given that the Grom is better suited for city and suburban driving, it is advisable to stick to these environments rather than venture out onto the freeway.
Getting Your Honda Grom Motorcycle Driver’s License
You are not allowed to take your riding test on the Grom. You must meet the requirements set forth by your state, which usually demand a more powerful engine than what we have in a Honda Grom.
To obtain the motorcycle license, you will be required to take and pass a written exam as well as a road skills test. The type of motorcycle you use for the practical portion of the exam must meet the requirements set forth by your state, which usually demand a more powerful engine than what a Honda Grom offers. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will be able to utilize a Grom for your motorcycle test.
Step 1: Take a Written Motorcycle Test
Most states typically require would-be riders to take a written test to get a motorcycle learner’s permit. The written test covers topics like basic motorcycle jargon and operating techniques, as well as applicable laws.
Before taking your motorcycle license test, be sure to study the helpful resources that your state’s DMV offers. These materials will contain everything you should know to pass the exam. Exam topics typically include basics like road rules and motorcycle techniques. There are also more specific topics such as motorcycle terminology and safety practices, in addition to your state’s laws.
Step 2: Get Some Real-World Riding Practice
Getting a motorcycle permit is just the first step to hitting the open road. You’ll also need to get some practice in before you can go solo. In some states, new riders under 18 are required to have a given number of practice hours under supervision.
While motorcycles don’t offer the option of someone supervising you from the bike’s passenger seat, many states still require that another motorcycle user supervise as you learn to ride. Among common requirements for operating your motorcycle with a permit include limited use hours, no passengers, and being supervised by a qualified motorcyclist within a certain distance. Permit-holders are typically not allowed to ride with a BAC level above 0%.
Step 3: Pass Motorcycle Skills Test
A crucial step in the licensing process is to take a skills test. The goal of the road skills test is to see if the applicant can control the motorcycle and follow traffic laws.
To demonstrate that you can safely operate the vehicle, you’ll need to complete a series of maneuvers in a secluded area. The types of maneuvers required will vary from state to state, but they may include things like accelerating, braking, and making controlled turns. If you’re taking the test in Ohio, you will be required to do a cone weave, make a normal stop, perform a U-turn, and do a quick stop, among other things. You’ll also need to do an obstacle swerve.
It’s important to be prepared before taking your motorcycle driving test. Consult the requirements for the test in advance. New Yorkers, for example, must bring their learner’s permit that includes a photo. You’ll also need to wear contacts or glasses, in case you have a permit showing you need them. Other requirements include your Student Certificate of Completion, a registered motorcycle that’s working well, and a properly licensed driver who’s at least 21 years old. For new drivers under the age of 18, you will need to obtain a Certification of Supervised Driving from your parents.
While Optional, It’s Recommended to Take the Skills Class
In many states, people can take motorcycle skills classes that help you prepare for your license exam and even earn you a discount on your motorcycle insurance. These classes generally last up to four days and have an instructor present during the course. By taking these classes, you may be allowed to waive the motorcycle exam that’s written, as well as the on-road skills test.
While there are many reasons to take a motorcycle skills course, the main drawback is the cost involved. A motorcycle skills course costs between $250-500. In California, a class that provides instruction for the skills test required to obtain a driver’s license costs $258. Note that this money doesn’t include fees for the written exam. And depending on which state you’re taking your test in, you may find a classroom setting that provides a mix of oral, video, and written instruction. This hands-on approach is often the best way to learn.
Time and Cost It Takes to Get a Honda Grom Riding License
How much money and time you’ll need before receiving your license depends on various factors. For instance, your age and experience play a role, as does the method you choose to get your license. You’ll also need to pass the test.
Adult riders in New York, who successfully complete their safety training course, will usually need to take an on-motorcycle training course that costs $297.50 ($10 written test + $275 class fee + $12.50 license fee). The instruction course usually takes up a weekend — 18 hours of online and on-motorcycle training over 2 days.
Alternatively, some people opt to teach themselves how to operate a motorcycle. However, this may take a long time before one feels confident enough to take the test. The cost for the written and road tests, as well as the license fee, is $22.50 ($10 written test + $12.50 road test and license fee). This fee does not include the price of a motorcycle or training.
For those already with a license, it is often cheaper to get an endorsement than it is to get a motorcycle license. This is because you are only paying to have your existing license updated rather than getting an entirely new one. The process usually only costs between $10 and $20.
Younger Honda Grom Riders Have More Steps to Get a Motorcycle License
In California, you must take this riding test first at the DMV to get your motorcycle license. It’s super easy, and all you have to do is ride without touching any lines. At turns, observe, indicate, and blindspot again before turning.
If you’re looking to get your motorcycle license and you’re under 18 (or 21 in certain states), there are a few extra steps you’ll need to take. In most instances, you’ll be required to have held your permit for a given period before taking the road test. Additionally, you may also need to pass a motorcycle skills class.
Can You Ride a Honda Grom on a Car License?
While each state has its own specific laws, in general, you’ll need some kind of permit, license, or endorsement to legally drive a motorcycle on public roads. For instance, to ride a 125cc Honda Grom motorcycle without taking a specialized motorcycle test or getting a unique license, you must have a full car driving license. However, the requirements may be different if you’re an inexperienced rider.
But no matter your level of experience, it’s always important to check the legal requirements in your state so that you can ensure you’re riding safely and within the law. Most states have permit laws for riders under the age of 18. L-Plates must be displayed on the bike, and pillion passengers or motorway riding are not allowed. Note that the minimum age for one to get a permit is 15 to 16 years.
Can You Register a Honda Grom Without a License?
You don’t need a motorcycle license to register your Grom. However, it’s a requirement to have insurance. Most companies require that you have a license to obtain coverage. Thus, it’s more difficult to register your motorcycle without a license.
Though you may be able to find an insurer who will sell you a policy without a license, it will likely come at a higher price.
Penalties for Driving a Honda Grom Without a License
Depending on the state, riding a motorcycle without the proper license could result in some serious penalties. In California, for example, driving a motorcycle without a motorcycle license could result in as much as six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Riding without a license is always a bad idea, even if some states have more lenient penalties for drivers without a license. The fees for unlicensed driving can add up quickly, resulting in hundreds of dollars in fines for repeat offenders.
Wrapping Up: Do You Need a Motorcycle License for a Honda Grom?
As the popularity of the Honda Grom rages — thanks to social media and hashtags like #gromlife, #gromsquad, and #gromski — there’s no better way to enjoy this motorcycle than to first get the required license. Opting to operate the motorcycle without a license can have serious consequences, including fines and jail time. And even if the laws aren’t as strict in your state, having a license gives the confidence that you’re ready to hit the road on your Honda Grom.
What if you already have the rightful documents? Well, it’s time to head out on your bike for a fun cruise.
About the author: Michael Parrotte was the Vice President of AGV Helmets America, and a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, and Sparx Helmets. In addition, he is the founder and owner of AGV Sports Group.