Honda to race electric motorcycles

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Honda will become the first major manufacturer to enter the electric racing fray when its satellite company, Mugen, enters an all-new electric motorcycle in the Isle of Man TT Zero this summer. With huge historical significance, the company will race alongside electric innovators like MotoCzysz in an effort to set the first-ever 100mph average lap of the 37.7-mile Mountain Course aboard a zero-emissions motorcycle.

“We are keen to use this excellent event to educate and prepare the engineers of the next generation for the use of future technology,” stated Satoshi Katsumata of Team Mugen.

Mugen was founded in 1973 by Soichiro’s son, Hirotoshi and, according to Wikipedia, is an engine tuner and parts builder “closely associated with the the Honda Motor Company,” it is not owned by the manufacturer. But ownership and cooperation are a matter of semantics. One of Mugen’s functions is to work as sort of a Skunk Works-like R&D house for performance Hondas, proving new concepts and technologies before they’re adopted by Honda itself.

Late last year Honda showed its first electric motorcycle concept, the RC-E, pictured above.

Participating in the TT Zero has a nice historical symmetry. In 1959, Honda entered its first international competition on the Isle of Man, beginning a history of GP wins that’s carried through to this day. Are we witnessing the birth of another motorsports legacy that will drive development of future motorcycles?

  • Kevin

    This is so big. I can’t wait to see what some serious $$$ spent on R&D will do.

    • http://www.anotherdamndj.com evilbahumut

      +1

  • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

    I absolutely love the description of Mugen. They built Honda engines for some obscure series called F1 on teams Footwork, Lotus, Ligier, Prost, and Jordan throughout the ’90s. They didn’t win any championships but they got a Ligier to win Monaco. Ligier – a company whose road cars didn’t even belong on the road much less a track. Of course it was one of only three cars running at the end…

  • Myles

    So happy that Big Red is taking this seriously, can’t wait to see how they do.

  • ike6116

    Hope it has Honda badges and not “Mugen” badges.

  • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

    so exciting!!!! I’m so glad I’ll be there this year. I really hope Czysz is the first bike to break the ton, though. It’d be sad to see Honda swoop in at this point and nab that after they came so close last year.

  • Coreyvwc

    Awesome.

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

    Yes! Cue the tie-fighter noises!

  • Edward

    They’re fighting with lasers! pew pew pew!

  • Will

    The future is happening!

  • Coreyvwc

    I’ve got to imagine that the others EV startups are really scared but really excited at the same time. They just found serious competition AND true legitimacy in the motorcycle world.

    • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

      You said it man.

  • Liquidogged

    The significance of this to electric motorcycles could possibly be overstated, but it would be pretty hard. This is amazing news. I think a lot of us expected this sooner or later, but I was more in the later camp. Very glad to see Honda jumping in. It’s nice to see them doing some forward thinking stuff after some very boring cars and bikes lately.

  • contender

    Whodathunk my first Empulse would be a Honda?

  • Mr.Paynter

    “Are we witnessing the birth of another motorsports legacy that will drive development of future motorcycles?”

    Goodness gracious, I hope so!

  • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

    Honda, redeem thyself. This is a good start, now work on an Xr650r replacement.

  • 2ndderivative

    Any technical info on this bike yet? Power, weight, range, single or multi-speed transmission?

  • Slothrop

    That RC-E has some of the coolest headlights ever.

  • http://lightsoutknivesout.tumblr.com/ Scott Pargett
  • http://www.racetrackstyle.com Racetrack Style

    Take the “RC” history into consideration with the current timeline of e bikes and that makes for a good time to be a motorcycle fan.

    This is a glimpse into what the last turn of the century (+ a decade or so) must have been like to be a motorcycle fan.

  • Archer

    Marketing image considerations aside, it’s exciting to see Honda stepping up to this challenge.