Honda RC-E Concept | First Look

Will Big Red Build the First Mainstream eSuperbike?

By Aaron Frank | Photography by Honda

The only serious electric superbikes so far have been one-offs from upstart manufacturers like Brammo or design firms like Mission and MotoCzysz. That may change now that Honda has revealed this stunning RC-E concept at December’s Tokyo Motor Show. It’s no surprise that Honda is the first legacy OEM to attempt an eSuperbike. Big Red takes pride in being both technologically innovative and eco-friendly, and has considerable experience building electric cars.

Still, it's surprising to see such a high-tech concept wrapped in curvaceous, retro bodywork. The red/silver color scheme and the RC prefix reference Honda’s 1960s Grand Prix racers, and the numberplates are a nod to its “green” intentions. Honda shared little technical information, but Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes and sportbike tires speak volumes. Though the RC-E looks like a pure racebike, the mirrors, license-plate hanger and tiny projector-beam headlights hidden in the fairing vent suggest otherwise.

Power could derive from a variation of the ultra-thin, 10-kWh brushless motor from the Insight automobile. There’s no info about battery format or capacity, or whether there’s any regenerative-energy component. E-technology has proceeded more slowly than most enthusiasts would like, while manufacturers struggle to satisfy customers' performance demands. If anyone can change the game, it’s Honda. Upstart eBike manufacturers officially have cause for concern.