One of Honda's traditional racing partners, Mugen, unveiled the electric superbike that will attempt to bring home the fourth consecutive victory at the Isle of Man TT Zero. The Shinden Roku made its first public outing at the 2017 Tokyo Motorcycle Show, along with an electric motocross concept.
The TT Zero has grown to become one of the most popular electric motorcycle races in the world, supporting the legendary Tourist Trophy that has been taking place on the Isle of Man every year since 1907. The electric class of the TT was first introduced as TTXGP in 2009, and was won by Team AGNI's Rod Barber. The next year its name changed to TT Zero, and continued in this format to become integral part of the Tourist Trophy.
Mugen arrived at the TT Zero in 2012, essentially acting as Honda's partner in the electric class, employing a traditional Honda rider and multiple TT winner, John McGuinness. After achieving second place finishes in 2012 and 2013, Mugen proceeded to completely dominate the battery-powered field in every event since 2014, usually with McGuinness adding to his already impressive tally of Isle of Man victories. The only exception was last year, when a minor technical setback whilst leading left him in fourth place, with the win going to his teammate, Bruce Anstey.
The 2017 Mugen team will once again star McGuinness, with another expert rider and Isle of Man celebrity, Guy Martin, replacing Anstey.
Apart from winning, for this year's TT Zero, all the participants will be eyeing the 120 mph (193 km/h) average lap speed barrier. Signifying the radical progress achieved over just a few years of competition, the 87 mph (140 km/h) that Barber posted during his 2009 TTXGP win have led the electric superbikes to the 119 mph (192 km/h) record lap that McGuinness managed last year on the 2016 Mugen Shinden Go.
Owing its name to Japanese numerals, the sixth (Roku) version of the Shinden superbike doesn't appear to be very different from last year's motorcycle – the Shinden Go, or Five. Mugen does not disclose much in terms of technical data, and the only difference we can spot in the little information that has been released is a minor reduction in weight, from 250 kg (551 lb) to 248 (547 lb).
With the carbon fiber monocoque frame and all the running gear, including suspension and brakes, appearing to be identical with those used last year, we expect the only differences to concern the electric powertrain. The only relevant information we managed to get from Mugen's Japanese blog hints at new batteries of undisclosed capacity and the same maximum output voltage of 370 V as in previous Shinden models, as well as a new inverter. Apart from these, the Shinden Roku should be little more than a fine-tuned version of the motorcycle that has been dominating the TT Zero for three years in a row.
It will be very interesting to see what kind of competition will come against Mugen for the 2017 TT Zero, given that its stronger adversary in 2016, Victory, recently announced the end of its motorcycle production, and this is expected to also include its ex-Brammo electric racer that climbed to the second podium step last year.
Mugen unveiled the Shinden Roku at the 2017 Tokyo Motorcycle Show, displaying it next to a prototype electric motocross bike, the dinosaur-styled E.Rex. Practically no information was released for this motorcycle, with no tech details and only some PR lines about investigating the future of electric MX.