The 2012 SES TT Zero may not exactly be the talk of the TT paddock right now (Conor Cummins’ broken hand is still all the buzz here at the Isle of Man), but if you casually ask those familiar with one of motorcycling’s finest traditions, the
Honda Mugen Shinden is a strong favorite to win this year’s premier electric motorcycle race.
You would be hard pressed to find either Mugen or Honda willing to admit Big Red’s involvement with the God of Electricity, as the name translates from Japanese, but it is clear that 17-time TT race winner John McGuinness will be climbing aboard a very competent machine later in this TT fortnight.
While Michael Czysz has been waxing poetic about the razor-like aerodynamical efficiencies the MotoCzysz team has been cooking up in the lab, and is ready to bring to the electric motorcycle racing table this year at the Isle of Man TT, Mugen has clearly chosen a counter-pointed melody with its brute force approach.
There is a good yin & yang dynamic brewing between the TT Zero’s two favored parties, but if the latest photos coming from McGuinness and Mugen can be believed, the Mugen Shinden is one beast of a machine.
While MotoCzysz has a considerable amount of road-racing experience under its belt, having competed in all three electric motorcycle races at the Isle of Man TT (not to mention more than a few closed circuit races as well), our sources in Honda HQ suggest that the Japanese manufacturer is no stranger to electric motorcycles as well, and has had an electric motorcycle project in the works for over the past decade.
Whether or not Honda is involved with the Mugen racing effort at the TT Zero we will leave for debate, but certainly some of that expertise has been passed down to the Mugen squad — we also hear that McGuinness fellow is no slouch behind the handlebars, and he’s not a bad photographer either (see photo above).
From the company’s own photos, it appears there are multiple Mugen Shinden race bikes in existence, which should not be too surprising from such a well-organized racing effort. Getting to see some more details of the Shinden’s carbon frame and structure, a massive battery pack can be deciphered from the bike’s lines.
Also, judging from the words of the British rider and from these track photos (below), the Shinden’s 570 lbs of bulk is clearly not meant to create a nimble machine, but if that weight comes from a massive amount of battery storage, as we surely believe, it should suit the electric motorcycle extremely well over energy intensive Mountain Course.
More photos and details on the Mugen Shinden as we get them here on the Isle of Man. Until then, these photos from Mugen’s testing session(s) in Japan will have to suffice.