Best Tires For Honda Monkey

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Key Takeaways

  • The Honda Monkey works best with a dual sport tire
  • The Honda Monkey has been in production since 1961
  • The Honda Monkey is street legal

As the cost of gas rises by the day, more and more people are turning to mini-bikes as a way of getting around. What are the best tires for a Honda Monkey?

The best tires for a Honda Monkey are:

  • Vee Rubber Tire 120/80-12; 130/80-12
  • Pirelli SL60 Dual-Purpose
  • Shinko Mobber Knobby
  • Pirelli Diablo Russo
  • Michelin City Grip 2
  • Michelin Power Pure Scooter Bias (2019 - 21)
  • Kenda K761 Scooter
  • Maxxis Tire M6024

If the fact that the Honda Monkey is one of the best mini-bikes on the market today, then let the over 100 mpg it gets convince you. The monkey is lightweight, agile, easy to ride, and even easier on the pocketbook. Although it’s not a bike you want to ride on a cross-country trip, it has more than enough power to handle a daily commute across town. Mini-bikes like the Monkey have become the vehicle of choice by delivery drivers everywhere in many large cities, like where I live. With minimal hassle, these little bikes can get you a pizza or fried rice without waiting for the rush hour traffic to clear.

In this article...


What Is A Honda Monkey?

A Honda Monkey is the nickname for a series of mini-motorbikes that Honda introduced in 1961 and brought back in 2019. Nicknamed Monkey, for the way people looked while riding it, the small motorcycle, officially known as the Z100, became so popular that Honda decided to put it into total production. The Z series had a small 3.0L 50cc single-cylinder horizontal motor and three-speed transmission. Even though it has undergone modifications and design changes over the years, this little motorbike has been a constant hit for as long as it has been around.

What is the History of the Monkey?

Knowing that many cities worldwide were starting to develop burgeoning populations as people moved to congested urban centers to search for jobs, Honda saw the need for a lightweight, inexpensive, reliable form of travel. The first CZ100 was offered internationally in 1964 and introduced into the US market a few years later.

The first American Monkey Bike was called the Mini-Trail and came with eight-inch tires, white handle grips, and front suspension. Unfortunately, the first Mini-Trails had no mirrors or lights and, for that reason, were not street-legal. Many Americans purchased the bikes for their children to introduce them to the joys of riding but were upset that the bike couldn’t even be ridden around the neighborhood. Honda quickly corrected the issue.

The Monkey developed a loyal and enthusiastic following over the years, and its popularity is easy to see. The bike is small, lightweight (weighing a bit over 200 pounds), simple to maintain, and as inexpensive as any motorized vehicle could be.

Subsequent models over the years have had serious upgrades, including more power to the engine, wider fenders, and a more sleek appearance. In 2017, the head of Honda announced the discontinuation of the Monkey due to tightening air quality restrictions that were simply impossible to meet.

However, the Monkey could not stay dead. In 2019, Honda brought back the Monkey based on many of the features of the Grom. The Grom is slightly larger than the Monkey, but both are equipped with a 125 cc single-cylinder engine that produces nine hp and has front suspension and front and rear disc brakes. The new Monkey has a top speed of 56 mph, which is perfect whether you are a six year old would be motocross champion or a pizza delivery guy just trying to make a few bucks on the upper West Side. The cost continues to be pretty reasonable, as the base price is just north of $4,000, and the fuel economy couldn’t be much better at a whopping 104 mpg (some forums reported 188 - 200 mpg).

What are the Best Tires for a Honda Monkey?

The Monkey has a 12-inch wheel size but a wider tire on the rear (front = 120/80 -12 and rear = 130/80 - 12). There are many different manufacturers that produce tires for mini-bikes. Let’s review a few of them.

Vee Rubber Tire 120/80 - 12; 130/80 - 12.

This tire comes with the Honda Monkey straight off the assembly line. It is a dual sport tire that fits almost every mini-bike or scooter with 12-inch wheels and will work on the Monkey, the MSX125 (Grom), Kawasaki Z-125 Pro, and others. The tire is reasonably priced (around $50) and can be purchased from eBay, online from their website, or through a variety of distributors across the country. (If you want to replace what you had on the mini-bike, Vee is the way to go).

The company is based out of Thailand since its formation in 1977 and has been producing tires for everything from scooters to large commercial applications. (Basically, they produce tires for pretty much anything that has wheels). The tires are made of a durable polymer, although dual-sport tires tend to wear faster than regular street tires). These tires are street-legal and offer adequate traction on the road. Some reviews indicate that the ride on street surfaces is hard, but on soft surfaces or gravel tends to grip well. The tire received a 3 out of 5 ratings, with a 75% of owners indicating that they would repeat a purchase.


  • Good dual-sport tire
  • OEM tire
  • Reasonably priced


  • Made overseas
  • Must purchase from distributor or online



This tire is one of the most popular Enduro tires on the market. Its durable design and tread pattern makes it an excellent street or off-road tire. The tire has a taller sidewall, which is essential for adult riders. The pattern is symmetrical and arrow-shaped and channels water quickly. The tread pattern offers better traction on wet surfaces and around corners.

Pirelli is an Italian tire manufacturer that has been making tires since 1871. Based out of Milan, they are an industry leader in all things tire. Pirelli has a massive following in developing race tires, and many racing technology advancements have translated over onto street applications. While the tire has to be ordered through a distributor, Pirelli prefers to work through them, and many of them offer competitive pricing. A set of Pirelli’s costs more than the OEM Vee’s, but the traction and durability they get make them worth the price.


  • Good dual-sport tire
  • Excellent traction on wet surfaces
  • Moderately Priced


  • Made overseas
  • Must purchase from distributor or online


Shinko Mobber Knobby Tire

The tire offered by Shinko will fit either a Monkey, Grom, or Kawasaki 125-Pro. The tire works very well on the Monkey and delivers a great street ride. Reviews of this tire are very positive, with most reviewers extolling how well the tires performed on the road. Looking at the box tread pattern, you might think these tires would be better off-road, but that is not the case. The street feel is impeccable.

Shinko was established as a bicycle tire company based out of Osaka, Japan, just after WWII ended in 1946. In 1988, the company purchased Yokohama Rubber Company and began to produce motorcycle tires. While the manufacturing plant is in South Korea, the design office is in Japan. Currently, Shinko is responsible for producing over 200,000 motorcycle tires a month. The tires are imported through Western Power Sports out of Boise. A pair of Shinko

Tires will cost you a little over $120 not counting installation costs.


  • Good Knobby Tire
  • Excellent traction on road surfaces
  • Moderately Priced


  • Made overseas
  • Must purchase from the distributor


Michelin City Group 2

This tire is built for scooters or the Monkey and comes in various sizes. The tire is made of a silica compound that is particularly effective on wet road surfaces. The tread pattern is a sort of shark tooth cut which channels water away from the center and helps provide grip on dry surfaces. The tire is thicker than the original City Grip (this is the 2nd generation - hence the “2” added to the name).

It handles bumps more smoothly and, on lean-over, tends to stick better, enabling youngsters to correct and save the bike before falling off. (Believe me, any parent who has watched their kid tumble off a bike knows what I am talking about). The tire is recommended by several scooter manufacturers and has a 4.67 rating. Over 93% of respondents indicated that they would recommend the tire. (The rating on Amazon is even higher - 4.8 out of 5).

Michelin is the big boy on the block as far as tires are concerned, leading all manufacturers as the #1 tire brand in the world. They have garnered numerous JD Power Awards for quality, and this Fortune 500 company is the top tire company to work for in 2021, according to Fortune magazine. With over 8.2 billion dollars in sales in the US market alone, it is easy to see that the company must be doing something right.


  • Perfect tire for wet surfaces
  • Michelin knows tires - excellent company reputation.
  • High ratings both on Amazon and from the industry
  • A definite improvement over the first gen City Grip.


  • More expensive than other tires


Pirelli Diablo Russo Scooter

Pirelli strikes again. The Diablo Russo is a performance tire that happens to be street-legal. The tire is based on the racing design of the Diablo Russo line, and the tread pattern follows the tires built for larger, more stout motorcycles. The tires are made to grip and stick. They do. While the tread pattern is not as chiseled as other tires, the tire is known to wear evenly and last longer than most. Built from a dual silica compound designed for stiffness and traction, the Diablo Russo Scooter is the perfect tire for urban traffic. (If you are bringing my pizza, this is the tire you want to get for your mini). This tire is also good for the Grom, Kawasaki 125-Pro.


  • Perfect tire for city traffic
  • Even tread wear means more durability
  • Based on Pirelli racing technology, so increased stiffness when cornering.
  • Moderately priced, it might be on the high end.


  • It could be too close to a slick for many parents’ tastes.


MICHELIN Power Pure Scooter Bias (2019 - 21)

If you own a Monkey that is a couple of years old, consider purchasing a Michelin Power Pure set. This offering is the world’s first dual compound tire, which means that the center of the tire is designed for fuel economy and durability, while the sides are made for grip around corners. The tire's unique tread design keeps it centered on the road. Most reviewers praised its ability on wet surfaces. The tire has a 4.8 rating on Amazon and many very positive reviews. Many distributors across the country still carry the tire.

The quality of Michelin is well-known (your father probably thought Michelin was the best tire you could buy, mine certainly did). These tires are still on the high side of the average, but they are less expensive than the City Grip 2 that the company also offers. Michelin is the way to go if you want a good quality tire that will not let you down.


  • Excellent tire wear
  • Durable should last for a long time
  • Even tread wear.
  • Higher priced tire - but deals are out there.
  • I loved the look of the tread design - sharp looking on the bike.


  • Michelin doesn’t carry it, but most distributors do.


Maxxis Tire M6024

The Maxxis is the tire for a rider looking for a comfortable ride. The tire boasts both street and off-road capabilities, but the sizeable knobby tread helps cushion the bike's feel while riding over bumps or cruising down the street. Since a Monkey is not always made to be a street cruiser (its pride and joy are that it is a lot of fun on a trail - hence the first American name - mini-trail). The tire has a 4.8 review on Amazon.

Maxxis is a large tire company that had humble beginnings in Taiwan as a bicycle tire manufacturer. It has factories in Thailand, China, India, and other locations. The company runs four giant distribution centers in the US and has its corporate US headquarters outside Atlanta. To their credit, the company is seeking additional investment opportunities inside the US and is committed to supporting local charities in the communities where they have a presence.


  • Best water distribution
  • Square knobs offer balance and cushion
  • Durable - tread wears fine
  • Moderately Priced


  • While distributed in the US, it is made overseas.


Kenda K761 Dual Sport Scooter

This tire has a nylon four-ply for extra resistance and wear. The wave pattern tread provides stability, with better than adequate water drainage. The tire is available in 29 sizes, so it fits the Honda Monkey. The Kenda K761 has a 4.6 out of 5 rating on Amazon.

Kenda began as a Taiwanese tire company in the early 60s and had been producing tires for scooters and mini-bikes for nearly that long. They have operations in VietNam and Indonesia and work through various distributors inside the US.


  • Unique Tread Pattern
  • Good grip - built for street city traffic
  • Durable - tread wears fine


  • While distributed in the US and made overseas.


How To Read a Motorcycle Tire Number

Knowing what tire size will work for your Honda Monkey is the battle. Most 120/80 or 130/70 will fit and work fine. A rider should always consult an owner’s manual for specific information regarding what size tire fits best.

To understand the code on the side of the tire, or when shopping online, simply remember that every number on a tire has a corresponding meaning. For example, a 120/80 - 12 62 S means,

  • 120 indicates the width of the tire (in millimeters)
  • 80 indicates the aspect ratio (between height and width)
  • 12 is the rim size (in inches)
  • 62 refers to the speed rating.
  • S refers to the type of construction.

Are Honda Monkeys Street Legal?

Yes, a Honda Monkey is perfectly street-legal. While most states require a motorcycle license for any motorized bike over 50 ccs, you may have to take a course or pass the driving exam before tooling down the street.

Riding on a highway is a different story for Monkeys. Most states prohibit any lower-powered scooter or bike on the freeway. (Just as you could not operate an electric bike on the freeway or take it on a bike path).

How Fast Do Honda Monkeys Go?

While they were never designed to be a cruiser of highways, the Monkey can go a respectable 56 miles per hour. Since most of the roads around the neighborhood are under that speed limit, the Monkey should do just fine. Always obey the speed limit, mainly if you ride in a neighborhood where kids are present.

Are there Speed Restrictions for Honda Monkey’s Tires?

There are speed considerations for the Honda Monkey. The 125 cc engine can only go so fast, and the tires are only rated for speeds around 50 mph. (Some extend up to 62). Anyone who wants to ride safely will keep the speed under 50 mph, wear a helmet, and obey all traffic rules. Obeying these edicts will keep the bike from being pushed to its limits and prevent accidents. The truth is that speed kills, whether it is on a bike or in a car.

Is Riding a Monkey Like Riding a Motorcycle?

The two are very similar. Although learning to ride a motorcycle is more challenging due to the size of the bike, a scooter is lighter, more agile, and less potent than a bike. Crashes on a scooter can still be serious, but wrecking while on a motorcycle tends to end up worse for the person involved. Monkeys are more fuel efficient, making them perfect for inner-city commuters.

Do I Need a License to Ride a Honda Monkey?

Yes, you will need a license to ride over 50 ccs in all fifty states. There may be additional tests that your state requires, so it is best to research the subject before purchasing or riding.

Don’t forget to be legal on most roadways; you will need proof of insurance, a valid license, and in many cases, a DOT-approved helmet.

Do I Need a Helmet to Ride a Honda Monkey?

Only three states in the US have no helmet restrictions (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire). Other states have compulsory helmet laws that apply to minors. About 19 states have mandatory laws that require a helmet in all applications, both scooter, and motorcycle.

There is no question that wearing a helmet can save your life in a crash. In 2021, over 5500 people died in motorcycle crashes, and almost one-third of those deaths involved people not wearing helmets.

Every motorcycle helmet is required to be DOT-approved. You can find the designation by looking for a sticker on the helmet. The sticker will be located on the outside back of the Helmut and read “DOT,” - which means it has passed the Department of Transportation’s tests.

Is a Honda Monkey Hard to Maintain?

Actually, no, it isn’t. The engine is small and easy to work on, even for novice mechanics. Besides changing the oil every 7500 miles with an SAE 5W-40 synthetic, you will have little else to do.