Two new production-ready electric bikes were given display space at Honda’s booth during the Tokyo Motorcycle Show today. While Honda has shown off a few electric car concepts lately, it has largely been quiet on the electric two-wheeler scene. That these two bikes are based on existing architecture and look mostly ready to go to showrooms tomorrow is indicative that Honda has been working on the project in secret for a while.
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Honda has apparently been partnering with Panasonic on battery swap technology, and used the Benly Electric scooter to showcase that technology. Meanwhile, the CR Electric uses an off-the-shelf CRF twin-spar frame and an electric motor/transmission unit emblazoned with Mugen logos for a very convincing race-ready EV.
The Benly scooter is based on a model already sold in many markets with a 110cc gasoline motor. With two removable battery inserts, a rider could theoretically charge up a backpack full of spares and ride for serious distances. No specifications are provided as to how much power each battery holds, or how powerful the electric motor might be. It would stand to reason that this scooter will be popular where scooters are popular, largely in Asian markets.
The CR Electric concept using an existing CRF frame would indicate that Honda and Mugen have been able to get batteries and motors down to a similar size as a gas tank and engine, which is exciting. Again, no power or range figures are provided, but Honda isn’t going to make an inferior product in this market.
Working with Mugen on the off-road ready bike shows some excellent forward thinking, as Mugen—with the Shinden team—have won the last five years of the Isle of Man TT Zero electric motorcycle race.
I live within a few minutes of about 1000 acres of public land open to dirt bikes, and would personally love the opportunity to flog one of these electric CRs for a few days. If the finished product looks even a little more polished than the prototype, it’ll be a good piece.
There are a ton of motorcycle manufacturers working on electric bikes, and some decent options already on the market, but when a behemoth like Honda jumps into the game, the small manufacturers have reason to worry. This bike, with Honda-backed service and distribution networks, will surely sell like really quick and really quiet hotcakes.