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