Like any great team, Honda’s miniMOTO lineup has a little something for everyone. The Grom favors sporty styling while the Monkey opts for retro-cool. The Super Cub adds urbane sophistication to the mix and the Trail 125 counters with rugged utility. With each member filling a niche, Team Red’s miniMOTO family may seem complete. However, Honda adds the new Navi to the miniMOTO ranks in 2022.
Toeing the line between a twist-and-go scooter and step-over motorcycle, the latest mini borrows the fan-cooled, 109cc Single from the Activa 6G and the Grom’s popular design language. Honda hopes that mix of practicality and performance will carve out a new niche in the miniMOTO range, one that caters to students, commuters, and scooter converts. To prove the Navi’s moto meddle, Honda invited us to Costa Mesa, California, to put the newest mini to the test.
Before we climbed into the saddle, long-time Honda collaborators Steady Garage and MNNTHBX (man in the box) showcased their custom Navi creations for the crowd. From a Tron-inspired, cyberpunk dragster to a stereo-equipped road racer, the two builds put the Navi’s custom potential on display. Honda wants Navi owners to follow in those footsteps, offering accessory TrueTimber and Icon Motorsports graphics out of the gate.
Even in stock form, the Navi’s Red, Grasshopper Green (shown), Nut Brown, and Ranger Green colorway give customers more than enough options to express themselves. All four liveries were in attendance when we threw a leg over the Navi. As expected, the 30.1-inch seat height proved agreeable right away. Very few riders will struggle with the perch’s height, especially when considering the Navi’s 236-pound curb weight.
After releasing the left-hand emergency brake and squeezing the front brake lever, the little thumper purrs to life. The automatic CVT transmission shifts into neutral at stops, so the emergency brake helps the Navi stay put when parked. With the Single fired up, users simply twist to go. The CVT relieves riders of friction points or shifting gears. While the automatic drivetrain offers the approachability of a scooter, it delivers comparable acceleration as well.
The Navi pulls away from a stop easily, and torque quickly peaks at 6.6 lb-ft at 5,500 rpm. It takes the thumper more time to reach its maximum 7.8 horsepower at 9,500 rpm (there’s no tachometer on the instrument panel). With its leisurely pace, the Navi obeys all posted speed limits, but on the backroads, riders can wind the miniMOTO all the way up to 50 mph. In full tuck, with the throttle pinned, and a light tailwind, the Navi even touches a top speed of 55 mph. Of course, you can’t take yourself too seriously on a 109cc motorcycle, and the gentle powerband ensures those antics remain harmless fun.
The drum brakes help with those efforts, and they’re predictably soft. Light on initial bite and overall stopping power, the brakes require a heavy hand and extra distance to do the deed. The linked system does maintain the Navi’s stability, but only compounds the vague feel at the lever and pedal when used in tandem. On the bright side (especially for newbies), the drum units lack the power to lock up. Despite stomping on the brake pedal with all my might, the rear wheel refused to brake traction. The “old school ABS” of the Navi’s drum brakes match its minuscule mill and $1,807 MSRP.
(Why the odd price point? Why isn’t it $1,799 or an even $1,800. Honda reps told us the price stands out, not just for how low it is – most electric bicycles cost more – but because it makes folks stop and think.)
Unlike the brakes, the basic suspension exceeds expectations. The 26.8mm inverted fork only offers 3.5 inches of travel and the rear shock lowers that figure to 2.8 inches, but the soft suspension soaked up most road irregularities. Only the harshest hits unsettled the chassis. Luckily, those instances were rare. Along with the supple suspension, the 27.5-degree rake made the Navi eager to tip in and the 50.6-inch wheelbase preserved that agility without sacrificing stability at top speed.
The balanced chassis not only remained composed at lean but also stayed steady at slow speeds. Combined with the user-friendly throttle response, the poised chassis allows riders to pick through rush hour traffic with confidence. The Navi’s motorcycle-style ergonomics only enhance that feeling. Mid-mount pegs keep the knee bed at a 90-degree angle and the reach to the bars is short. Compared to a sportbike, the riding position is neutral and relaxed, but compared to a scooter, it’s much more commanding.
The Navi’s aesthetics and ergonomics may resemble a motorcycle, but the ride is closer to a scooter. The rear-mounted engine contributes to that quality, shifting much of the weight to the back. That configuration leaves an engine-sized hole in the frame, which Honda fills with a lockable storage box.
In pictures, the cubby’s capacity looks nominal. In the flesh, the storage area proved much more spacious than anticipated. I easily fit two water bottles, a notebook, snacks, and a hat in the compact box. Most students and commuters will have no problem packing textbooks and light jackets into the lockable storage.
At $1,807, the Honda Navi presents an affordable gateway to Honda’s miniMoto lineup as well as the motorcycling world. The model’s tractability appeals to beginners while its simplicity keeps things enjoyable for experienced riders. Its unintimidating 109cc Single and no-brainer automatic CVT transmission help the newcomer carve out a niche in the miniMOTO range. Despite its practicality and user-friendly nature, the Navi is fun first and foremost. If there’s any qualification for joining Honda’s miniMOTO, it’s fun factor, and the Navi more than lives up to those standards.
2022 Honda Navi Specs
Base Price: $1,807
Engine Type: Fan-cooled Single, SOHC w/ 2 valves
Bore x Stroke: 55.0mm x 55.6mm
Horsepower: 7.8 hp @ 9,500 rpm
Torque: 6.6 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm
Transmission: Automatic CVT
Final Drive: Chain
Wheelbase: 50.6 in.
Rake/Trail: 27.5 degrees/3.2 in.
Seat Height: 30.1 in.
Wet Weight: 236 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 0.9 gals.