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?