Right after it was made official that John McGuinness would race in the 2012 TT Zero on the Mugen Shinden, the 17-time Isle of Man TT race winner was whisked off to Motegi to test the electric superbike. McGuinness’s involvement with Mugen’s racing effort has only added further credence to the notion that the team is a front for Honda’s foray into full-size electric motorcycles (Mugen was also started by Hirotoshi Honda, the son to Honda founder Soichiro Honda).
Debuting the Honda RC-E concept last year, A&R has also heard reports that the Japanese OEM has been playing with electric motorcycles in various forms for almost a decade now. Despite continued reports that the Mugen Shinden is a rebadged Honda RC-E, the two bikes share almost no similarities, except of course for this whole running on electricity thing.
While the Shinden leaves a bit to be desired visually when compared to the Honda RC-E concept that debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show, underneath the bland white fairings is a carbon fiber chassis with 122 hp on tap, and a curb weight of 573 lbs. Unlike the RC-E, MotoCzysz E1pc, and the “Flying Banana” of Lightning Motorcycles, the Shinden does not have a concentric swingarm pivot and motor drive shaft. What the Shinden does have though is the winningest living TT racer at its helm, and likely one of the largest battery packs in the TT Zero field.
“I am honored to be asked to ride the MUGEN Shinden, which, originating from a company with such pedigree and from a country where over the years the best racing motorbikes have been produced, could prove to be a major milestone in the history of the SES TT Zero event,” said McGuinness after his test ride on the Mugen Shinden.
“The bike was, as you would expect from a company such as MUGEN, a well-designed and well put together proper race bike. As soon as I got underway it felt natural and I almost forgot it was fully electric while I was also learning the Twin Ring Motegi circuit for the first time. Now, having ridden the MUGEN Shinden I am looking forward even more to competing in my first SES TT Zero event.”