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Honda RC-E Electric Superbike First Look

Friday, November 11, 2011
2011 Honda RC-E Electric Superbike Concept
The Honda RC-E is an electric concept motorcycle that tips the hand of the motorcycle manufacturing giant. Honda is already producing hybrid vehicles so transferring that experience to motorcycles is inevitable.
Good news for the electric motorcycle market is that Honda appears to be poised to jump into the fray with the RC-E, which Honda will have on display as one of seven Next-Generation Electromotive Concept Models. The RC-E, which according to sources, would incorporate Honda’s already established electric motors from its Hybrid automobiles, has the potential to set the burgeoning electric motorcycle market on its ear.

The only information on the RC-E available from Honda reads as follows:

"An EV version of a super sports bike that pursues the joy of riding. A powerful and smooth ride unique to an EV model is achieved with the 250cc-class compact body."

Sounds good to us! The RC-E concept features a very clean looking superbike chassis wrapped in classically styled bodywork that embraces Honda’s racing heritage. If this road-going electric superbike was to make it into production, then it would certainly have an immediate impact on the e-bike market. For starters, it looks like a factory effort. Whether it is raced or not (And you know that would be the goal) the RC-E has a racing pedigree that the other e-bike manufacturers only wish they had. It seems like a good bet that the Isle of Man TTXGP would be a fitting place to unveil it, too. With the production power of Honda behind it, retail pricing would potentially be lower than other e-bikes.

Last but not least would be the established dealer network that Honda already has in place. It would be difficult for the current start-up OEMs to offer similar levels of support, which in turn could give Honda the benefit of jumping into the game now that the market is wide open. On the flip side, if Honda takes the RC-E concept into production it will help give legitimacy to a market segment currently dominated by young companies.

A close look at the few Honda RC-E Concept Bike images we have reveals some tasty performance potential. For starters, the chassis is centered around the electric motor that appears to be utilized as a key component of the frame. Although there is no way of verifying the frame material, we have to assume it is aluminum. The swingarm attaches to
2011 Honda RC-E Electric Superbike Concept
The Honda RC-E electric motorcycle is being billed as a Next-Generation Electromotive Concept Model that is going to be unveiled at the 42nd Annual Tokyo Motorcycle Show.
the motor and a monocoque-style backbone runs up to the steering head. A single Ohlins remote reservoir rear shock appears to be a linkage-less set-up that attaches to the top of the swing arm. All of this would be well-suited to keeping costs down by keeping the design simple. The chassis will roll on a set of 17-inch spoke wheels.

A left-side chain drive and traditional rear brake set-up completes the drive train. Up front a good looking Ohlins inverted fork with radial-mount Brembo calipers and some massive rotors gives the RC-E a superbike pedigree. We assume the belly-pan would house the heavy batteries which would keep the CG low and help the RC-E handle like a motorcycle and less like a bicycle. The bodywork is futuristic Honda retro styling that evokes the Honda racing heritage. Surely, this was intended to tie Honda’s past with its future intentions. As a street bike the RC-E has potential to bring electric motorcycles to the masses. Does anyone remember the Honda Cub?

As an electric race bike, the RC-E seems tailor-made to establish Honda as a force on the racing circuits. Does anyone remember Soichiro Honda’s philosophy that success on the track leads to success on the sales floor? It would seem that Honda is gearing up to bring the electric motorcycle to the masses and we cannot wait to see where this is going. The Honda RC-E concept superbike. Man, does this have some potential.

We would like to invite you to look back at some important motorcycles in Honda History by viewing the Honda Collection Hall photo gallery offered on the right side of this article. The silver, red and yellow livery has been a theme in Honda's racing history.
Honda Collection Hall Photo Gallery
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Comments
losteroni   February 7, 2012 11:32 AM
With the fuel economy of motorcycles these days 40-50mpg I wonder if an electric is really economical since the batteries have to be replaced every 3-5 years and can cost 3,000 to 10,000 dollars . I guess if you reallly want to help cut down on carbon monoxide and hc's . Also it's probably pretty cool to go zero to 60 in 4 seconds with almost no noise .
nayehieona   November 21, 2011 12:08 PM
Greetings. This is an excellent article, which deals with a very hot topic. Well done! Hopefully, Honda Motors will enter the age of electric/viable motorcycles, much to the benefit of the cycling community. Ride Safe! GOD Bless!
Piglet2010   November 19, 2011 12:35 AM
Battery powered electric motorcycles are only a stop-gap until fuel cell technology matures. Of course, all the other electrical drive-train development will still apply.
Ron P.   November 18, 2011 05:34 PM
Good question Spokes. Maybe it is because companies like KTM and Honda understand the motorcycle market, while the others don't understand what motorcycle buyers will tolerate. Honda - please be working on incorporating this technology into an off-road bike.
spokes   November 13, 2011 07:18 AM
why is it that Honda and KTM can make an electric motorcycle that looks like a motorcycle and the companies that only make electric motorcycles can't?
leward18   November 11, 2011 11:21 PM
Can't wait to see an electric vs. internal combustion engine shootout.
nieseba   November 11, 2011 07:12 PM
I would like to see that paint job on Honda's other sportbikes! It's nice to see that Honda might be finally pulling their heads out of the sand and start revamping their product line.