Team Mugen was in force at the 2014 Isle of Man TT, putting in a 1-2 finish at the TT Zero event. To add to that double podium, John McGuinness took his Mugen Shinden San to a new Snaefell Mountain Course record for an electric motorcycle, dropping a 117.366 mph lap during the race…from a standing start.

Faster than both the Lightweight TT bikes and Subaru exhibition car that ran later that Wednesday, the public perception that electrics are slow certainly has to be challenged. The proof of that concept is in the pudding, and we have the entire record-breaking lap to prove it.

Take the next 20 minutes to watch McPint TIE-Fighter his way around the 37.773 mile road course (don’t pretend like you were going to do work on this fine summer day). It’s pretty astounding not only the outright speeds involved, but the rate of progression electrics have made in six year’s time.

As batteries become more power-dense, and thus the weight of these machines drop, the petrol-powered supersbikes will have some serious competition on their hands.

Source: IOMTT; Photo: © 2014 Richard Mushet / Mushet Photo – All Rights Reserved

Be sure to follow all of Asphalt & Rubber’s 2014 Isle of Man TT coverage.

  • Keith

    Anyone else find themselves tipping their head in the curse, changing your seating position during deceleration and acceleration? Not to mention riding the vanishing point +. I did.

  • teanau

    energy density graph
    Its taken us over 100 years to develop that little stain in the bottom left.
    Ill be first in line for a comparable electric bike, but several generations of massive advances in battery tech need to happen before we get there.

  • AntiHero

    If race organizers are looking to cut down on future ticket sales, electric bikes are the way to go. Watch a MotoGP on mute to see what I mean.

    Onboard video, however, is interesting–and makes it sound like he’s on a 74-Z speeder bike stolen from the Galactic Empire.

  • jzj

    @ teanau: a comparable electric bike is available right now: — 200HP, 168 ft/lbs torque, 218 mph top speed.

  • SquidleyMcSquidson

    Jzj, yeah it’s pretty fast, for half an hour. And this TT is pretty impressive, for one lap. Electrics will get there, but they aren’t there yet. The advances in motors has been amazing, but batteries continues to be the limitation. I think at some point there will be a breakthrough developed that will be a solution but we just aren’t there yet. Most people aren’t interested in a bike you can go ride fast for 30 minutes and then have to stop for hours. Perhaps hot swappable battery packs for a TT pitstop and do two laps? Who knows but it’s interesting to watch the evolution of the technology.

  • jzj

    There can be a few ways to think of the range issue.
    First, the gas bikes only do a couple of laps before refueling, so the battery bikes already have half the range. And that’s at race speeds. The Lightning is good for over 150 miles range in normal use, and that’s about how far many sport bikes can go on a tank.
    Second, the Lighting can recharge/refuel in half an hour. Longer than a 5-minute gasoline refueling, but not bad.
    Third, sure, it is possible to do quick battery-swapping — even Tesla has demonstrated that its cars can swap batteries in a couple of minutes.

    But doubtless there will be further rapid progress in battery development. In the past decade batteries have improved about a 1000% — amazing but true, as we’ve gone from lead-acid (20WH/KG) to lithium ion (200WH/KG). Lab developments indicate another quantum leap in the near future, with several times more energy storage and very rapid charge – discharge capability that will enable fill-ups as fast or faster than gasoline fill-ups.

    And every outlet a gas station.

  • boom boom washington

    the little sound as he streaks by the wall at 7:00


  • teanau

    jzj, be careful of your specs,
    The large battery pack used for your range* claim , is doubtful the same battery used for the weight claim (almost twice the battery weight).
    I dont see an explanation for the * iattached to those figures?
    Until i see the range achieved across multiple bikes on the electric equivalent of i have no interest in the claims of their marketing department.

    Torque and peak power are indeed very impressive, the reserve price STARTING AT: $38,888 may be impressive depending on the quality of components used in the base model. The weight is not at all impressive.

    The future of motorcycle power / efficiency and no doubt precise control will eventually belong to electric.
    In the mean time, i am not wealthy enough to subsidize the R&D with rose tinted scrutiny.

  • jzj

    Fair enough observations re battery pack size, weight, and cost: these should be explained.

    For my part, I built a 5+KWH electric motorcycle and it’s fine for around town, and didn’t cost much to put together ( I think it’d be interesting to get motorcyclists to honestly state how they actually use their motorcycles. Granted, the crowd reading this website are clearly serious motorcyclists and undoubtedly use their motorcycles hard. But for my part, for years I had an electric and a gas motorcycle, and I ultimately got rid of the gas bike as I found I couldn’t justify keeping it given how seldom I used it. The point being that for a lot of people a good electric motorcycle — say, the Zero S or the Brammo Impulse — would be ideal.

    All that being said, yes, the better the batteries, the better the motorcycles to come.

  • Gildas

    Looking at the stats;
    If the progression stays that fast, then the bike will be stupid fast by 2018.
    The organizers will then be obliged to make it a two lapper to slow the E-Bikes down to safer speeds.

    The problem with the TT is the lack of a feeder series.
    A time attack events on circuits with a spec battery and motor is missing.
    There is no series/class where I can build a bike for 10 000 euros with my mates and race it.

  • teannau:

    The densest batteries in production vehicles today are the Panasonic 18650s in the Tesla Model S, approximately 630 Wh/L and 240 Wh/kg. Discharging, motor and motor controller efficiencies will reduce this by about 15%, so closer to 540 Wh/L and 200 Wh/kg in terms of energy at the motor output shaft.

    In comparison, most of the energy (75-80%) from gasoline is thrown away as heat in the combustion reaction. When you look at what reaches the motor output shaft, gasoline is closer to 2000 Wh/L and 2500 Wh/kg .. about 4x as dense by volume and about 12x as dense by weight.

    For anything but short circuit races, electrics will continue to have a significant disadvantage. Fortunately, many race formats like AMA are short enough to allow electrics to compete against gas.

    For street applications, more density will improve range, but the Zero and Brammo bike range is already enough for many riders. Cost and charge times are I think are more important limitations.

  • smiler

    He is on a segway right?

  • With no engine noise and no gears there’s a weird purity to this. It could do with better braking, a bit more stability and a less insane race track.

    Can we please give one of these bikes (with camera) to a RingMeister and see it tackle the Nurburgring?

  • crshnbrn

    ^ I thought of the Nurburgring also, but pit John McGuinness against a RingMeister like Tim Rothig. I like Rothig’s run on a Ninja ZX-10R where he uses a camera that stays level with the horizon. I thought about that camera while watching the above video of McGuinness’s run.

  • bob


    Good observation. However, you must realize tesla cells are biased towards energy density, not power density. This means they are not suitable for high, continuous power such as this TT race. Instead you must use a “power” cell which has lower energy.

    Certainly a battery breakthrough is needed to bring the price DOWN and performance UP. The performance is damn near acceptable for real world use (sans all the whiney babies who need 200 miles range and refuse to accept a few hours charge time).

  • mike

    With maximum torque available at 0 rpm, and no concerns about gas and oil running to the back of the engine, this should make the perfect stunters bike!