Mugen Will Compete in the 2012 Isle of Man TT Zero

02/16/2012 @ 3:42 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Mugen Will Compete in the 2012 Isle of Man TT Zero Mugen power logo

As of today, famed Honda tuning house Mugen will be tackling a new kind of project: the 2012 TT Zero. Announcing and confirming their entry into the Isle of Man TT’s electric motorcycle race, Mugen will be showcasing not only the company’s lesser-known motorcycle tuning chops, but also its hand at prepping electric vehicles for racing duty. Found in 1973 by Hirotoshi Honda (son to Honda founder Soichiro Honda), Mugen has previously made its name mostly on the automotive side of things, though the company offers a bevy of prepared Honda motorcycles as well.

Said to be campaigning an all-new original electric motorcycle, if we had to take a stab at what Mugen could be bringing to the Isle of Man TT, we doubt we’d have to dive too deep into our imagination. While it may not be quite as big of news as Honda itself racing in the TT Zero, we can expect Mugen to bring a very competent and polished machine to the Isle of Man, and we can also officially begin the speculation between Mugen’s entry and its connection to a certain Japanese motorcycle manufacturer.

For those that don’t follow the nuances of electric motorcycle racing, there exists a double-edged sword for OEMs who may wish to enter events like the TT Zero. While they may have decades of experience building motorcycles and an almost inexhaustible supply of very smart engineers, there is no guarantee that the resources of an established motorcycle manufacturer would solidify a race win at any of the electric motorcycle racing events, and as such a multibillion dollar motorcycle OEM could very well face the possibility of being embarrassed by a team operating on a shoestring’s budget and racing on a home made chassis.

Wanting to be sure that an OEM-backed entry would be more than competitive against entries like those from Lightning Motorcycles, Mission Motors, and MotoCzysz, it would be clever for a company like Honda to test the waters of electric motorcycle racing through say…less-official channels.

For example, Honda could consider using an entirely separate, but cordially related, racing-focused company to campaign Honda’s technology under a different own banner than its own. If that company should fail, well then it would not necessarily be a Honda failure and loss of face, while conversely the company’s success would lay the groundwork for a more official entry down the line.

Or, maybe this is just Mugen being Mugen. As always, only time will tell, but we think the bar just got raised for the competition for this year’s TT Zero.

Source: Isle of Man TT

Comment:

  1. Matt says:

    Bruce Lee – Enter The Dragon…

  2. As predicted, the heavies are coming. Start ups will find it harder and harder to make a good showing as Japanese consumer electronics technology meets Japanese motorcycle technology.

    This is going to become very interesting.

    M

  3. GOluse says:

    My hope and assumption at this point would be that the announcement has come as an afterthought. Meaning, there were plans well in advance to compete with the Electrics. Just a thought.

    Agreed, it should be very interesting indeed.

  4. Is it too much to hope for McGuiness on the Mugen vs Rutter on the Czysz? One of the hidden catches of TT-Zero is that you have to find a rider who is already racing during TT week and prepared to take on the extra hassle.

  5. Dr. Gellar says:

    This is exciting news! Welcome to the party Mugen… :-)

    @ Julian…I wouldn’t think it is too much to hope for. I read it from somewhere before that last year McGuiness was quite interested in trying out an e-bike on the TT course.

  6. When I talked to McGuinness at the 2011 IOMTT, he was very keen about the electrics. I’ll have to transcribe the interview this weekend I think.

  7. Damo says:

    I personally can’t wait for a long range, fast, silent electric superbike to come our way. I am super sure I am in the minority here, but I can wait to throw a leg over my bike and hear nothing but the wind and scenery blast by. I think we are still a long way off though.

  8. Oh good. Lightning and MotoCzysz could do with a light snack before the race. I vote vaporware.

    @Damo. Well, how fast and how far? Last I heard Lightning will sell you a bike for $40,000 that has 150 mile range, has (way) more power, and weighs about 50lbs less than a ‘busa. The new eCRP Energica has 120hp and is about the size of a 600, although it isn’t for sale yet, but you can reserve one.

    Depending on your definition of a long way, I don’t think electric superbikes are a long way off. The power is there, and you are looking at what 2 years, maybe less for Lightning, for someone like Brammo to offer 150+ hp bikes for the price of GSX-R1000. It’s range, or batteries that are the concern. Depending on how much range you feel you need the wait could be 5-7 years. Is that a long way off? In the mean time, the on-board charger tech should come along and motorcycles can take advantage of the power the charging stations have to offer. The new Empulse coming out will have an on-board charger as powerful as the one in the Leaf (3kw, up from the Enertia’s .8kW).

  9. I agree that

    1) the idea of a ‘silent’ motorcycle is very appealing, and . . . .

    2) that same bike with useable range is not here yet.

    I live not far from where Nissan is building (at ‘damn the torpedoes’ speed) the new American plant for Leaf production, as well as a battery plant for same. And I’ll apply this same test I applied to a Leaf when I thought about buying one:

    I live roughly 275 miles from The Barber Motorcycle Museum, on the outskirts of Birmingham. While not the Rockies or the Smokies, it’s a very ‘hilly’ drive from Nashville to Birmingham. At its current state of development, in a Leaf, it would be a THREE DAY DRIVE each way, no matter which way you recharge it (much less where). Any car or bike with a gas engine, this is a four or five hour drive, depending on traffic and lunch.

    Now I’m not ready to surrender the freedom to go anywhere I want, when I want, for what are now urban commuters (and I do mean urban). And if you think the EPA mileage projections are a little off, a lot of these electrical mfg. claims have more blue sky in them than a Montana sunset.

    So until this difference can be resolved, it’s a non-starter for me. I know over time it will be brought in line, one with the other. But then, at that time, how many more power plants will TVA have to build to recharge all these electric vehicles as they replace petroleum-powered vehicles? Will we be smog-shifting from engine exhaust to power plant smokestacks?

  10. Dr. Gellar says:

    Hahaha…gotta love how some folks (no matter what websites you go to) always have to turn the comments section of an e-bike racing article into one about EV viability. Cracks me up…

  11. Actually, Dr. G, I’m all for them. But as far as viability, at this point they’re just as not-visble for me as a 200hp sportbike, or an Electra-Glide, they’re just not on my radar at this stage of their development. Am I missing something, or aren’t these still either prototypes, one-off racers, or eked out in small numbers by startups (save for maybe the KTM FreeRide) for big bucks with small ranges, if I wanted to go buy one tomorrow?

    And no, if I can’t get on one tomorrow and ride several hundred miles without worrying about thumbing back home, it’s not viable right now. I am, despite what you may have taken from my comments, looking forward to the day to where the choice of internal combustion or electric is as simple as what color I prefer. But tomorrow, 17 February 2012, is not that day.

    I have no doubt that the technology will surely proceed to ‘that day’ faster than we can imagine. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wonder where the extra electricity will come from.

  12. Damo says:

    @ttxgpfan (@ttxgpfan)

    I am with Joey Wilson on this one. I am really excited about the whole thing. I would also be excited about a hydrogen bike as well, but I might feel like Dr. Strangelove riding the ICBM.

    In all seriousness, when an electric bike that can travel a minimum of 150 miles, has about 150-160HP weighs less than 420 pounds, can catch a full recharge in less than an hour AND only costs about $15,000 makes it to the market I will be first in line. That would be enough for me.

    Currently if I had $40,000 to drop on a bike I would buy the Erik Buell 1190RS.

  13. Richard Gozinya says:

    @Damo

    You know, there’s parts of your criteria that ICE powered superbikes can’t manage. Specifically weight (Not dry weight, but full running order weight) And range. But it seems that what you’re basically asking for is energy density parityl. By the time that comes around, most superbikes will probably cost at least $20k.

    As for Mugen getting involved, it’s great news for electric racing. The more competitors the better.

  14. Damo says:

    @Richard

    I was talking dry weight. Also my 2003 aprilia RSV Mille meets all these criteria (not to mention I only paid $3,400 for it, but that is another story).

    Basically if an electric bike came out with the weight/performance of an 10 year old superbike, at the cost of a present day superbike, I would still take the plunge.

    I actually think that is fairly reasonable on my end.

    I agree though, Mugen getting involved can only be good.

  15. Dman says:

    Considering Mugen has an exceptional reputation of providing very high quality bolt-on parts that do not add any performance enhancements whatsoever, it seems like a perfect fit for them to get into the e-bike realm.

  16. Whaddya want to bet that Mugen shows up with something that looks a lot like this:

    http://world.honda.com/design/designers-talk/TMS2011/rc-e/

    . . . . . ya think ? ? ? ?