Isle of Man TT veteran John McGuinness recently got a chance to test the new Mugen Shinden electric rice bike to prepare for the 2012 TT Zero.
The test took place at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, a world-class racing circuit but perhaps not-coincidentally, a track built and owned by Honda, further fueling the belief the Mugen effort is a front for the Japanese manufacturer. The Honda-contracted McGuinness put the Shinden through its first big test, helping the Mugen team gather data on the electric racer.
“The bike was, as you would expect from a company such as Mugen, a well-designed and well put together proper race bike,” says McGuinness. “As soon as I got underway it felt natural and I almost forgot it was fully electric while I was also learning the Twin Ring Motegi circuit for the first time. Now, having ridden the Mugen Shinden I am looking forward even more to competing in my first SES TT Zero event.”
Despite being a newcomer to the TT Zero competition, Mugen has a lot of factors working in its favor. McGuinness and his 17 wins in the Isle of Man TT brings a level of experience most other teams in the competition lack. And though no one is officially saying it, the belief is that Mugen is receiving some support from Honda. Though not an official Honda company, Mugen was founded by the son of Soichiro Honda and specializes in tuning Honda vehicles. The two are as close as two companies can be without being officially associated.
The Mugen Shinden also has many similarities to the Honda RC-E electric sportbike concept, and is likely based on that prototype which first broke cover at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.