John McGuinness tested his new Mugen Shinden electric bike for the first time at Jurby airfield on the Isle of Man today.
The 19 times TT winner, who finished second behind Michael Rutter in last year’s TT Zero race, was full of praise for a machine that the Honda-backed team have described as ‘brand new apart from it’s cycle parts’.
“The new bike feels a bit lighter, faster and more nimble.” the Morecambe man said after the test session. “It is more comfortable to ride as well because they have changed the shape of the tank.”
Colin Whittamore, the General Manager of Mugen Euro, conformed that the new bike, designated Ni, is 20kg lighter. It also has a new frame, swing arm, motor, battery pack, controllers and invertors and bodywork.
“The aim is to increase the power and to make it available for longer.” Whittamore explained. “With increased endurance and power we are trying to achieve a 110mph lap speed.”
Mugen’s great rivals in the Zero TT, MotoCzysz, have predicted a similar lap speed after Michael Rutter topped 104 mph in last year’s race, the first time that an electric powered bike had lapped the 37 ¾ mile Mountain circuit at over 100mph.
Intense secrecy surrounded the test with photographers being prevented from taking pictures of either the race or test versions of the Mugen bike without their bodywork.
However, McGuinness revealed that he thought the bike was water and oil cooled for 2013.
“I saw a few more radiators when they took the covers off.” he said.
The team were testing new maps at Jurby that control how the bike discharges its power over a period of time.
“We can give John a series of options like a fighter pilot would have for the race or just one or two.” Whittamore explained.
“Last year we gave him just one-‘if you have a certain amount of power left at this point in the lap then push this button’. We aren’t sure yet of our 2013 tactics.”
Although Whittamore says that there is “no grand plan in the box to sell road or race bikes” he was unwilling to say just how much money Mugen has invested in the new machine.
“What you see here is a pure prototype.” he said. “We think that it is the most expensive bike in the TT paddock.”
McGuinness says none of this will affect the way he rides the bike in the race.
“There is a back brake but I never use it.” he explained. “It doesn’t have any gears so you just get on it and go fast. Basically it is a ridiculously fast scooter!”