John McGuinness rides the Mugen Shinden Ni

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A thinly veiled entry in the Isle of Man’s electric TT Zero race, the new Mugen Shinden Ni has just arrived on the Isle of Man. No sooner had it, than 19-time TT winner John McGuinness started turning laps at the local Jurby circuit. Here’s what he had to say.

“It looks like a brand new bike,” explains McGuinness. “Although it does have a few parts in common with last year’s. The new bike is lighter and has greater speed and agility. It’s more comfortable to ride, because they have changed the shape of the tank. There is a rear brake, but I’ve never used it. And then no gears: you just jump on and go as fast as you can. Basically, it is a scooter. A frighteningly quick scooter, mind!”

Both Mugen and MotoCzysz are targeting an average speed in excess of 110mph this year. That will put the battery bikes on par with the TT’s 650 twin class and is a significant advancement over last year’s race, where the Mugen recorded an average speed of 102.2mph in its 2nd place finish.

Over last year’s bike, the Shinden Ni is said to weigh 44lbs less, thanks to a new frame, swingarm, motor and, of course, battery pack. Those batteries remain the greatest limiting factor in the TT Zero. The 37.7-mile lap is as much a test of range as it is of power.

“The goal was to increase the power and make it available for more time,” explains Colin Whittamore, the GM of Mugen Europe. “We need more power and range if we’re going to reach the average lap speed of 110 miles per hour. This year we are also able to give more options to John, while last year they only had one. We told him: ‘If at this point of the race, you still have a certain amount of remaining battery charge, press this button.’ However, we have not yet decided our strategy for 2013.”

Asked if the Shinden hinted at future plans for a production bike from either Honda or Mugen, Whittamore responded, “There is no grand plan to get to sell a bike for either road or racing use. What we have here is merely a prototype. However, we are quite sure that this is the most expensive bike in the paddock.”

  • Richard Gozinya

    Neat! It’s great to see these teams pushing the technology every which way, with very few rules limiting them. Sort of a wild, freer way to go than what the big OEMs have done to racing.

  • John Lynch

    Yeah, but can it make that obnoxious open pipe Harley sound?

    • R_Melaun

      po·ta·to – po·ta·to – po·ta·to

  • Jordan

    I love McGuinness. He plays such a cool hand as a road racer, he doesn’t even have to act like it and I think how much he cares about his family is what gives him such an edge in competition. He also has a bizarre twitter feed.

    Shifting gears here:

    Since Toyota and Yamaha are practically BFF, why can’t they be bothered to make such a serious electric bike? It’s a shame the two don’t use their partnership more in motorsports to begin with, but this is such low hanging fruit for the two companies. Yamaha makes really good motorcycles; Toyota is famous for their hybrid powertrains, yet the two don’t make anything out of it. I think it’s a waste of potential… *ba-dum-tsh*

    *Potential as in potential difference, which is what voltage is, har har har.

  • Mister X

    This bit in the last sentence/quote by Colin Whittamore, the GM of Mugen Europe, is where the truth lies, “no grand plan” doesn’t in any way preclude actually producing production bikes from either of those companies.

    So if we’re to believe what Whittamore says, then I have to ask the obvious question, what do the stock holders of these companies think about ‘their’ Corporations providing huge amounts of ‘mad money’ for a full-on ground up build E-bike racing project that will have no future for dividend making production?

    And finally, an average speed of 110 MPH over a twisty, terrain changing 37.7-mile road course is nothing to dismiss so casually, McGuinness betrays his ‘old school’ bias against electric bikes, “scooter” indeed!

    • Richard Dort

      In my interview with Mr. Whittamore (another site) he explained that Mugen is a racing company and that they make motors for series and teams, as well as lots of other racing parts for all kinds of racing. With both F1 and LeMans racing series incorporating EV technology (read hybrid) they wanted an outlet to learn about and develop that tech. So this was both a fun and resourceful way to do that, with some historical context. As they have a lot more money to spend on the effort this year I would say the shareholders are just fine with it.

      As far as Honda making bikes. If you listen between the lines in another part of the interview you could come away with the impression that Honda is waiting for the start ups and other to figure out the best motor/controller/battery formula before jumping in. From what I have heard from others who can’t say very much at all, they already have a pretty good guess, but the tech is changing so fast I guess they are just waiting for it to settle down.

      • Mister X

        Thank you for the additional details about Mugen, Richard, that goes a long way in explaining their involvement.

        And while I agree that Honda is quite the conservative company, battery technology isn’t changing all that fast, I’d reckon it’s more like they’re waiting for a standardized charging infrastructure to be in place before they join the electric vehicle game.

      • Mister X

        Thanks, listening to the interview now, and you might want to fix the “Warning: Invalid argument” error at the top of the pages.

  • Kr Tong

    That is some of the most insane liveries I think I have ever seen. Where’s the replica fairings to this thing?

    And most expensive bike? Ballpark figure for what that means?

  • David Holmes

    What happened to the new commer Chris mannco?? I saw him last year pull some amazing laps for a rookie, he was supposed to do a ride out on the zero?

  • David Holmes

    Just found him on Facebook it’s Manko