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 (?? / 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 (??), 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.
When it was announced that Mugen would be racing at the Isle of Man TT in the TT Zero event, a bevy of speculation began to hit the newswires. Of course, the biggest topic of conversation was that Mugen’s entry was really a front for Honda to race its electric bike unofficially against the privateer efforts of teams like Lightning, Mission Motors, and MotoCzysz.
With the entire electric motorcycle racing community believing there to be a connection between Mugen’s entry and Honda’s recently debuted RC-E electric race bike concept, it seemed that an established motorcycle OEM would finally have some sort of presence in electric motorcycle racing this year.
Of course if Honda is involved with the TT Zero race, then surely the company would tap its main man, seventeen-time Isle of Man TT race winner and King of the Mountain, John McGuinness. McGuinness hasn’t been shy about his desire to get on an electric bike after watching MotoCzysz’s Michael Rutter and Mark Miller narrowly miss the 100 mph average speed mark at last year’s TT.
Confirming his entry in the TT Zero race during a video shot in what looks to be the Morecambe FC locker room (yeah, we have no idea), McGuinness also lets it slip that he will be in Japan next week testing the Mugen/Honda electric bike — boom goes the dynamite. Video is after the jump, skip to the nine minute mark.
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.
Judging from our internal metrics, you love the Honda RC-E concept…you really love it. And what’s not to love about the electric superbike concept? The stylish design doesn’t stray too far from the basic shapes and lines that we think of when we conjure up a motorcycle in our minds; and if we’re really honest with ourselves, we all expect Honda, with its engineering prowess, to knock a project like this out of the park.
We still don’t have any real details about the Honda RC-E concept, but it’s probably safe to steal a line from KTM, when the Austrian manufacturer debuted the KTM Freeride E, it said that as a market leader, it could not afford to let competitors and new-comers explore the electric space by themselves. Rumored to have one of Honda’s hybrid automobile motors housed inside, the overall electric drivetrain package looks to be quite bulky, making us wonder how much battery power is on-board (or would be on-board, assuming Honda has even installed batteries on the concept).
What does Honda plan to do with the RC-E exactly? Well that is anyone’s guess really. Is the bike purely an experiment and display of what’s been going on in the Honda labs? Is the RC-E concept a precursor to a soon-to-be realized production model? Will we see one at an electric racing event soon? Only time will tell.
The Tokyo Motor Show is next month, and Honda has something special for two-wheeled enthusiasts. Fresh on the heels of KTM debuting the first major OEM electric dirt bike, Honda has an electric concept of its own: the Honda RC-E. The japanese company is being fairly terse about the RC-E’s details, simply stating that the bike is “an EV version of a super sports bike that pursues the joy of riding. A powerful and smooth ride unique to an EV model is achieved with the 250cc-class compact body.”