Live from Tokyo, it’s the Honda RC-E

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Literally the nicest looking sportsbike we’ve seen since the 1960s, this Honda RC-E concept is debuting in Tokyo today. Don’t get your hearts in too much of a flutter, this is definitely a concept and stands very little chance of reaching production. So why should you care about it?

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Well, along with 2007’s Honda CB1100R concept, it demonstrates a styling direction that’s at once retro and futuristic that could be used to elevate Honda’s sports line above low-rent Japanese competitors. It also demonstrates that Honda is dipping its toe in the electric motorcycle world, developing technology and exploring packaging even while it waits for reality to catch up with the technology’s promise.

Perhaps tellingly, Honda made no mention beyond a “here’s some RC-E thing” during its Tokyo Motor Show presentation, so its doubtful the RC-E is capable of anything beyond being wheeled out onto a display and looking pretty. That’s ok, we’re happy to wait for either a conventionally powered sportsbike that looks this classy or an electric sportsbike from a mainstream manufacturer. Here’s hoping either of the above wears a Honda badge.

There’s a bunch of low-res live photos in this gallery in addition to two 4000px-wide studio shots that would make good wallpapers.

  • Campisi

    Perhaps tellingly, Honda made no mention beyond a “here’s some RC-E thing” during its Tokyo Motor Show presentation…

    I’ll just tell myself that they largely passed over the RC-E so that it wouldn’t detract from their automobile-related presentations, and that they really are looking into serialized production. It’s more fun that way!

    • The other Joe

      The impression I got is that they are sending the message that they plan to get into electric bikes at some point in the future, but don’t yet have any plans for the how and when of it.

  • Your_Mom

    I agree that it is gorgeous; the one styling element that gives me pause is that black tank insert. It is a bit jarring from certain angles and does not seem integrated with the rest of the design. And thanks for the two high-resolution images….

    • Gene

      Especially considering how damn well they integrated the electric motor. They could have done better than than. Looks like some suit went “and we need some carbon fiber thingie, where can we put that?”

      The triple clamp looks a little unfinished too.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’d buy it in an instant for the looks, then just live with the fact that it’s electric.

      • Chris Davis

        It’s not carbon fiber. Look closer. It has cooling fins which leads me to believe that it is a controller. You’re going to have to look further to find a hole in this design. Honda flat out killed it.

        • ursus

          Yes, it looks like functional heat dissipation and reminds me of the finned features on the recent Moto Guzzi concepts by Terblanche.

        • Gene

          Oops, you are very right… ok, that goes from gratuitous carbon fiber to ultra nifty!

  • Jesse

    Too late. Heart is fluttering.

    • motomoto

      As Jesse noted, “Too late. Heart is fluttering”. This bike is just gorgeous. I fell in love with the first photo and the hi-res images you’ve so graciously uploaded Wes only makes the heart grow fonder.

      As a guy that loves big mechanical masses like Guzzis, this bike pulls on the techno/designer heart strings. I’m a big fan of the “idea” of electric motorcycles but they often look like that’s what they are, tech before beauty (not saying tech can’t be beautiful). This bike gets it right.

  • M

    i’d suck your dick for one.

    • Case


      I hope that this bike doesn’t get shunned and/or forgotten about as they work on models into 2013 and beyond. Maybe make the wee-BR in this shape/style/color and see how it sells?

      Honda is an enormous company with a lot of inertia so changes of direction are very hard, but the design team that came up with this should be given one of each bike from the current product line to see what they can cook up. And anyone that worked on the Fury gets a kick square in the balls.

  • Mark D

    I want to feel that between my legs.


    • Brammofan

      #probably Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

      • Mark D

        I’d go gay for that bike.

  • AaronT

    Confession: Clutches are problematic for my gimped up left hand and I end up stacking it over the brake. I could ride this bike bone stock! It’s also the most visually appealing bike to come out of the modern age (1980′s+).

    • Myles

      Reps for still riding.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    The designers really thought out the details and how they add up to a greater sum. Awesome.

  • filly-fuzz

    Just brilliant

    electric or otherwise.

  • oldblue

    I’d ride it, but I’m afraid the bike would be ashamed to be seen out on the street with me.

    That rear wheel never goes out of style. Just like the Honda F3 rear wheel I just fitted to my race SV…

  • KR Tong

    Meh. It just looks like a honda. That’s not a bad thing, but “vanilla” comes to mind before “most beautiful thing in 50 years”

    • Archer

      Bullshit. If this had an MV badge on it some naysayers would be doing handsprings.

      • KR Tong

        If this thing had an MV badge on it people would be saying, “it looks like a honda.” It would help to have a deadpan shot of the tail of the bike but I can tell it’s the exact same smooth, teardrop, taillight-under-the-tail shape of RC51′s, F4i’s, and every other honda race bike. And that front. Besides it being way to minimal for an MV Agusta, the “big round forehead” shape is totally honda. Just image search “Honda race fairing front” You see the design language I’m talking about. Then you have the suspension which just looks really honda-esk. The rest of the bike just looks like the Brammo’s Empulse.

      • KR Tong

        I was looking for some other pics to show honda design language and thought this one was good:My bike | This bike

        See how theres a lip that goes from wide to flattening out? And the cowl bulges up from the lip? And the tail light never connected to the lip as it does on every other brand. It’s always tucked under.

        I was looking for more on that big front head but just google the last couple CBR1000RR’s.

  • ozgeek

    Silver and green reminds me of an old Elsinore

  • the_doctor

    Stunning. I am more a fan of solid colors, but this is great.

  • jonoabq

    game changer.
    Technical and cost considerations aside, this is super. The sound of fast would no longer be the same…I love it.

  • AHA

    Wow. Imagine if they put this out next year with a conventional engine (something between 250cc and 600cc.)
    If anything could sell in a recession it would be that.

    • bluemoco

      Whether it’s motivated by electric or ICE, this is indeed a great design direction. I’m envisioning a future family of CBR’s with a variety of gas+electric powertrains…

      Hopefully Honda is, too. :-)

  • Core

    This motorcycle is probably going to be like F.I.O.S, in another 10 15 years we’ll finally get it.

    It is freaking attractive though. And what get’s me is I’m not even a sports bike enthusiast.. I mean, I like the more standard style motorcycle, but this concept bike really does grab my attention and I don’t know why.

    Like a sexy woman I just can’t resist looking when I see it.

  • Erica

    i want it

  • Richard

    I don’t want Honda in the electric game because I like the thought of American’s dominating the market and racing like they are right now. But if they are going to enter they had better hurry the hell up or they will be left hind.