John McGuinness and the Mugen TT Zero bike

Twenty-three times Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness will shortly kick-start his 2016 racing season on board the same line-up of machinery that he rode last year: the Honda HRC Superbike for the road race Internationals, the Jackson Racing Superstock ‘Blade for his World Endurance Championship duties (and their CBR600 for Supersport road races), his own Superstock bike with EMC2 backing on the roads and the Honda Shinden Mugen electric bike for TT Zero.  

McGuinness’s quest to own a Mugen Electric bike 

Red Torpedo is delighted to be working with the ‘Morecambe Missile’ again this season – our fifth year with the TT lap record holder. McGuinness is a real character with a keen sense of humour and zest for life. Earlier this year, word began to circulate that he was keen to try to add a very special bike to his own collection. The bike in question was a Mugen TT Zero electric motorcycle – worth about a million quid! He’s always raved about the build and anyone fortunate enough to take a close-up look at a Mugen is normally blown away by its bespoke GP-like build quality and state-of-the-art components. So, not to be deterred, the bold John asked Mugen if he could have one. After a while, they agreed – but only if he lost 10 kilos before the TT to appease their ‘weight police.’

Although there are quite a few lightweight bike jockies around – (think Stuart Easton, Alastair “Wee Wizard” Seeley, keith Amor and Lee Johnston) – John’s not one of them. He makes no secret of the fact that he likes to scoff a few bratwurst bangers when he’s  in Oschersleben on WEC duties and he’s not one to turn down a few scoops – as a glance at his Twitter feed will testify. He’s not the only great road racer to pack a few extra pounds. The late, great David Jeffries liked his tuck and Michael Dunlop doesn’t look like he’d run away from the tattie scone tray or an Ulster fry. In fact, having a few extra pounds is often thought to be potentially beneficial in road racing in helping to steady the bike and keeping it planted over uneven surfaces.

The Battle of the Bulge

This is not the first time that the issue of excess kilos has arisen. Recently, John spoke about “The Battle of the Bulge” – (not the WW2 tank battle) but his encounter with Honda management in 2007. They decided that they’d weigh him four times in pre-season and if he wasn’t under a set weight each time, he would be 'fined' £4k. Rather than providing a positive incentive, he missed every target and had to pay £16k in total fines! However, the same year, he did the Superbike double at the TT and became the first man to break through the 130 mph barrier.

John’s McGuinness’s Training Regime

Faced with this challenge, most people might beast into the cross trainer sessions to watch the pounds disappear - but not John. In a recent announcement to the Twitterati about a trip to the gym he hashtagged it - “I’d rather shove live wasps up my arse.” Like many pro racers, his preferred fitness regime is riding MX bikes out of season – but the only difference is, many of the others back this up with several hours in the gym! Nevertheless, having set a new outright lap record at last year’s Senior TT, it looks like John’s “MX only” plan works just fine - but will it be enough to shed 2 stones?

The Mugen Weigh-in

At a recent Mugen weigh-in, John headed down south to their workshop with pockets stuffed full of pound coins, downed 2 litres of water and scoffed two full breckies on the train before jumping on the scales for the “baseline” weigh-in. The scales topped…….well, by all accounts, quite a serious number of kilos.

The stark realization of the task ahead has set in. The big fella knows that he’s never going to go down the gym route and adhere to rocket salads and cabbage soup – probably to the relief of his family. Although he’s been “going big” on the MX and enduro workouts, they’re not having quite the desired effects on the scales. So, in his own inimitable way, if all else fails, he’s come up with an alternative cunning plan. He reckons about £8ks worth of “fat scoofing” (liposuction) should just about do the trick. With a million quids worth of bespoke bike at stake, that’s got to be a no brainer in anyone’s book!

Of his 23 TT victories, John has won two races on board the Mugen electric bike and currently holds the TT Zero lap record at just short of 120 mph – a remarkable average for an electric machine. Over the last seven years, the average speed has increased by around 20 mph. So, if he doesn’t receive a Mugen for losing a couple of stones in weight, perhaps he’ll be given one if he hands them their third win and breaks the 120 mph barrier! TT Zero is on Wednesday June 8 and like all his other races, we wish him every success.

Photo: Peter Faragher (



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