UPDATE: Added more information & technical specifications from Mugen’s press release.

This morning we learned that John McGuinness will be Mugen’s rider in the team’s bid to break the 100 mph barrier at the 2012 TT Zero. Heavily speculated to be a stealth project by Honda (無限 / Mugen was started by Hirotoshi Honda, the son to Honda founder Soichiro Honda), much speculation has been done over what sort of bike Mugen would be bringing to the Isle of Man TT, and now we have that answer.

Called Shinden (神電), meaning “God of Electricity” in Japanese, the machine may not have the same exquisite lines of the Honda RC-E electric superbike concept, but upon closer inspection, Mugen’s electric race bike seems like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Breaking cover at a press conference in Suzuka, the Mugen Shinden features a brushless three-phase 90 kW (120hp) DC motor, carbon fiber swingarm, and a carbon fiber twin-spar frame design.

So far we have no information on Mugen’s battery pack capacity (voltage is said to be over 370 volts though), but we do know that the Shinden will have a curb weight 570 lbs, meaning that a consinderable amount of battery is likely on-board the race bike. Looking at these photos (apologies for how small they are), we can see that Mugen is not using a concentric motor/swingarm, as was used with the Honda RC-E concept. The braking controls have been moved completely to the handlebars, and will operate the Nissin brake calipers, while suspension is unsurprisingly done by Showa, another Honda-owned company.

Technical Specifications of the Mugen Shinden Electric Motorcycle:

Name: Shinden (神電)
Length: 2,125 mm
Width: 680 mm
Height: 1,130 mm
Wheelbase: 1,485 mm
Ground clearance: 130 mm
Seat height: 840 mm
Curb weight: 260 kg / 573 lbs
Caster angle: 23°
Trial length: 96 mm
Tire (Front): 120/70-ZR17M/C (58W)
Tire (Rear): 200/550ZR17M/C (78W)
Frame: CFRP Twin-Spar-Type
Motor Type: Three Phase Brushless DC motors
Horsepower: 90kW / 120hp
Torque: 220Nm / 162 lbs•ft
Battery: Lithium-ion Battery
Battery output: 370V or more

Source: Autoby.jp & Yukky.txt-nifty.com

  • Dr. Gellar

    Glad to see Mugen will be competing their own bike, and not the Honda RC-E or a rebadged Mission R. I am a little surprised…the 120hp output of their motor doesn’t seem like a whole lot when compared to the outputs Lightning, MotoCzysz and Mission are likely capable of producing. Nonetheless, it’s good to finally get a first impression of what Mugen is bringing to the TT Zero table.

  • You know, Mission only rates it’s motor at 100 kW (13o hp)…

  • Just to be a pain, Mission’s spec sheet claims “141hp” motor and a “100kW” controller. Even though elsewhere it says a 100kW motor. Also, don’t forget Mission was only just 2 kph off of Lightnings top speed on the front straight of Laguna. And we know the Lightning had probably at least 200hp at the time. I think by the time they were done, the Mission guys had eeked a whole lot more power out of their batteries.

    Anyway, MotoCzysz had a 95+kW motor in 2010. Look, they may be claiming the manufacturers rating. And IF that is the case, just because it is rated at 90kW doesn’t mean they aren’t going to over watt the thing to death.

    That motor looks familiar. It’s bugging the crap out of me but I’m probably just seeing things . . . again. :D

  • Dr. Gellar

    I didn’t know…thanks for the tip. I’ll admit I’m not in the know on the kilowattage of the motors of all the major players, but if Lightning and MotoCzysz claim their machines last year could produce 200+hp (even if that is purely peak hp), I’m just not confident a 90kW motor is going to get the job done. I may end up being totally wrong, but I get the impression (purely a gut-feeling) that the kind of performance the Mugen will likely have may be in the ballpark to or slightly better than what the Brammo RR and Munch machines were getting last year, and those bikes got trounced by Mission, MotoCzysz and Lightning at Laguna. But we’ll see what happens… :-)

  • The power issue is being taken completely out of context.

    Having 10,000 hp won’t make a stick of difference if you cannot deliver that power into the ground. Motorcycles suffer from a very tiny contact patch with the road, and no tire currently made can handle the type of figures some American electric motorcycle manufacturers claim. At last year’s Isle of Man, Michael Czysz admitted that his bike was tuned to output a constant 80hp.

    At the end of the day, a successful vehicle system is about way more than just horsepower. The complete package, from handling to reliable, predictable and tractable power are far more important, and a lot harder to achieve than just cranking out big dyno numbers.

    I just wish Honda wasn’t so subtle and just branded it Honda. Soichiro would never have been afraid to fail.

  • Walt

    The output of the motor is almost solely dependent on the voltage and current limited by the controller.
    The IOM race for electric bikes is an efficiency race. It doesn’t make sense to crank up the power to maximum, charge off to a big lead, only to run out of battery power before the finish line.

    Battery power density is the limiting factory, so the overall power of the motor is adjusted high enough to win, but low enough to finish. I’m certain that the motor/controller/battery combination is capable of much higher outputs in a sprint race setup.

  • We don’t know what it weighs, but we can see from the svelte overall package that its weight will be in the same ballpark as the bikes that raced on the IoM last year. 120 horsepower, at anything remotely resembling equivalency with a ‘120 hp’ ICE bike is more than enough to get the job done, assuming that it’s available at the rider’s will – the way it is on an ICE bike until it runs out of gas.

    McGuinness: The upside is that for him, 100 mph TT laps feel like a ride to the shops. That said, I’m not sure that his enormous TT skills on ICE bikes confer any real advantage over any number of other riders on a machine with drastically different weight/power characteristics and possibly a need for adaptive strategy and riding style.

    All in all, if I had to bet on a TT Zero winner right now, I suppose I’d pick the Mugen… My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that Honda’s already seen the inner workings of the Mission; that’s based on Mission’s involvement with a Honda hybrid race car here in the U.S. I don’t think Honda really did that to learn from Mission, per se, as much as a kind of due diligence. The probably just looked around and wondered, Who should we benchmark ourselves against?..

    A note from the Dept. of Minor Disappointments: Couldn’t we see a beautiful carbon exoskeleton for the battery, incorporating mounting points for a Parker-style RADD front end, at least?

    I understand the argument that, at the TT especially, you want to control for the unexpected, and that the old-fashioned fork is the devil we know. Still, we’re still sticking so steadfastly to a basic machine architecture that evolved as the result of a slew of evolutionary developments from the 19th c. Rover Safety Bicycle.

    I fear that, now that we’re not designing on paper, we’ll _never_again_ start from a clean sheet…

  • @Mark Gardiner – all risk mitigation, my friend. in any project, regardless of market, using revolutionary features vs. tried & true not only doubles risk, but triples engineering time and resources required to develop & test adequately. And, if the bike is slow, those revolutionary features will get a bad rap, even if they had nothing to do with failure.

    I agree, though, cf is like cowbell, you always need more.

    @Walt – totally agree, IOM is all about energy on board & how efficiently the electrical energy is converted to kinetic mechanical, including aero, rolling resistance, & drivetrain losses. it will be interesting to see who comes out ahead.

  • Nishant K

    The Power of the motors doesn matter at all no one will go beyond 70-80wK power, the batteries will be drained in half the race… check out Charge -Movie… it doesn’t even matter how much torque you have… Oxford Yasa’s in Ecotricity had 700nm but it didn’t make any sense in the road race( different results on the track tho)…. its the Battery pack…. anything less than 12-13kW is nt suitable and more than that is of no use…. Everything at the end depends on what package you are having… Motoczysz’s bike weighed a lot even if it was mostly 3D printed….they could have managed 100mph if they had less weight and more batteries…

  • Added some information from Mugen’s press release. 570 lbs curb weight, 370V system, and it has the God of Electricity on its side.

  • I think the biggest issue for McGuinness is that riding one of these things compared to an inline-4 ICE would be kind of equivalent to the difference between the old 2-stroke big-bang versus the razor-thin powerband engines. The power and torque available will take some adjusting, but I suspect the power delivery to actually be easier to manage (assuming they’ve got the electronics adjusted to soften delivery at the initial twist just a tad).

  • Woody

    I’d rather see MotoSizzzzzz or Lightning take the 100+mph lap reward than a huge manufacturer, to be honest. They’ve both been in it longer, and I just like to root for the underdog and wouldn’t mind seeing the Mugen fail spectacularly.

  • Damo

    The more manufactures involved in the electric bike race the happier I am. If anyone can break the 100mph ave it will be McGuinness.

  • Dr. Gellar

    Alriiiighty…thanks for the education folks.

  • Awesome. Great to see the bike boys throw their hat into the ring. IOM times for electrics are a pure function of how much battery you can shoehorn in there, thus the smallest possible engine… more room for battery. At that weight they’re probably squeezing north of 15kWh in there, maybe more since who knows what battery tech Honda has access to. That’s definitely enough to break 100mph. The startups have figured that out too, so I don’t think Honda will be the only ones to break 100, and they may not be the fastest thing out there.

    As for ridability, these bikes are REALLY easy to ride. There isn’t much if any of a learning curve. It’s so natural and reductive the only adaptation is figuring out what to do with all of the excess mental power you can concentrate on other things like braking points and rear tire action. The rider’s challenge is figuring out the circuit as a coasting race… I’ll be really curious to watch how McGuinness adapts.

  • Brushless, 3-phase, DC. That’s unusual in TTXGP/TTZero, isn’t it?

  • Kyle G

    Video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiIDqEjcDp4

    Julian, a Brushless DC is a form of AC motor which is similiar to what Lightning and Motoczysc run.

  • Eric

    Carbon fiber frame & swingarm, and still 570lbs… sounds like they’ve got a BIG battery pack, probably more than any of their competitors. The TT should be really interesting this year!

  • frijole

    so no regenerative braking? I would think it would help boost life by capturing braking energy for re-use.. I guess its not worth the extra unsprung weight?

  • finance

    I plan to send this to my mom we were just talking about this this week!