The Electric Garage: Honda “Electric Supersports” RCE

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Since as far back as 2008 Honda has made noise about releasing an electric sport bike, and in 2011 they released the photo above, along with an announcement that it would be shown.  You can say whatever else you want about the bike, but it’s undeniably beautiful.  It’s clean and classic, from the nod to the seat shapes of decades-past roadracing and the gentle curves of the almost vintage-looking fairing, as well as cutting-edge and current.  It is, right down to the massive-looking frame members you see peaking from behind the rear of the fairing, simple form-follows-function design, 21st century style.  It’s got none of the science-fiction inspired “this is an electric motorcycle so we’re going to re-define motorcycle design” torture.  It’s a state of the art motorcycle, thank you very much, from a bunch of guys who’ve been re-defining motorcycles for a few decades.   No need to throw everything you know out the window for a simple drivetrain change.

Before you say it’s a rendering, and vaporware, well, no, it was in fact shown at the 2011 Tokyo Motor show, albeit with little fanfare, and less information.

What’s been confusing, especially from someone outside the racing world, is the relationship between Honda, this bike, and Mugen Racing.  We all read stories like this, from Motorcycle Daily, floating theories that somehow Mugen was involved with the development of the RCE, posted with this same photo, but it’s impossible to find anything but theories.  (I actually was confusing Mugen with Munch, who had a devastating battery fire back in June ’11.  What can I say, that’s how my brain works.  I had elaborate theories about how the Honda/Mugen team bailed on all plans to release the RCE because of that fire…  it was some fine fiction.  At least I have that bit sorted out.)

So, apparently Gizmag’s Mike Hanlon is the only one in the media who gave enough of a crap about the bike to shoot it at the show,  and his photos are here, in the gallery accompanying his post about it, here.

Until I hear from Gizmag’s legal department, or Mike, telling me to take his photos down, I’m grabbing a few notable shots from the gallery.  Do me a favor and stop by his post so when the lawyers come calling I can at least say I’m sending traffic to them.

These are shots that I find interesting from a design perspective – the battery pod in the belly, the vented covers for the motor, the gorgeous, graceful shape of the fairing blending into the “tank”, and even the headlights nestled under the front number plate and the directionals integrated into the mirrors.  Hell.  Just looking at those beads gives me a woody.

As a friend Gigi says (generally about shoes), this is everything.

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Wandering around the interwebs, I found this Honda site: Honda Worldwide: Designers Talk.  Serious eye-candy, along with some inspiring discussion about stuff like “design vs. styling”.

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