OUR GUY IN JA­PAN

And with John Mcguin­ness as a guide –what could go wrong?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Feature - By Stephen Dav­i­son MCN ROADS RE­PORTER

Guy Martin travel led to Ja­pan last week to test the 2017 ver­sion of the Mu­gen Shin­den electric bike that he will race in this year’s Zero TT. Show­ing the Lin­colnshire man the ropes was John Mcguin­ness, Guy’s Honda Rac­ing team-mate and the man who has rid­den ev­ery electric bike Mu­gen have built.

The duo spent five days in Ja­pan, vis­it­ing ev­ery­thing from the Honda mu­seum at Motegi to Sumo wrestlers in Tokyo along­side their on-track du­ties. Tagging along for the fun and games was MCN’S road rac­ing re­porter Stephen Dav­i­son. There was rarely a dull mo­ment...

DAY 1

It isn’t ev­ery day you see some­one emerge from the busi­ness class lounge of a ma­jor air­line wear­ing tanker driver trousers with re­flec­tive bot­toms but then again, it isn’t ev­ery day Guy Martin flies to Ja­pan. The truck me­chanic could have come straight from be­neath a Sca­nia as he ar­rived at Tokyo’s Haneda airport with John Mcguin­ness.

As the duo waited in a queue to check into their Ike­bukuro ho­tel Guy was recog­nised by a group of vis­i­tors who wanted to know if he was in Tokyo to make an­other of his tele­vi­sion pro­grammes. He is fa­mous even here.

“I’m here to see a man about a dog mate,” Guy told them with a typ­i­cally big grin.

DAY 2

Leaving Tokyo for Motegi and the Honda Col­lec­tion Hall with two Ja­panese jour­nal­ists, they quizzed the Bri­tish duo on the new Fire­blade be­fore ask­ing John why he didn’t race in the side­car TT races. The 23-times TT win­ner said he might think about it.

Guy de­flected the ques­tions by declar­ing he wants to build a turbo Fire­blade for his new team-mate.

“It will be the Guy Martin and John Mcguin­ness race team,” he joked.

“Bike rac­ing in Eng­land is bor­ing nowa­days be­cause it doesn’t al­low for rad­i­cal ideas like this. We will put NASA or Mi­crosoft on the fair­ing to make it look like we’ve got big spon­sors!”

The for­mer Pike’s Peak win­ner also

re­vealed he is build­ing a seven-litre, 1500bhp pick-up truck to race at this year’s Amer­i­can hill­climb event.

The Honda Col­lec­tion at Motegi can only be de­scribed as heaven for any mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­ast. Ev­ery road bike and race bike built by Honda, plus all of their four-wheel mod­els, are on dis­play. Martin and Mcguin­ness were like two kids in a toy shop as they crawled un­der ropes to in­spect crankcases and clam­bered over Do Not En­ter signs for a closer look.

Mcguin­ness was en­tranced by the Hrc-built Seven Stars Honda that tri­umphed in the 2005 Suzuka 8 Hour race.

“We need a bit of that Guy,” he told his Honda TT team-mate as they in­spected the bril­liantly en­gi­neered Fire­blade.

The com­plex­ity of the en­gines of the 1960s red and sil­ver Hon­das that Mike Hail­wood, Jim Red­man, Luigi Taveri and Ralph Bryans won world ti­tles with blew Guy away. Even af­ter a marathon five hours of view­ing he still wanted an­other fi­nal look at the five cylin­der 125cc Honda.

The next stop was the Sode­gaura For­est Race­way where the duo would test the new Mu­gen Shin­den.

En route Guy mused as to whether he would rather be a me­chanic or a racer.

“I only started rid­ing be­cause I en­joyed build­ing my own bikes,” the truck an­nounced.

“Then I won a cou­ple of races and I liked win­ning so I raced more and won more. But I prob­a­bly do like build­ing more than rid­ing.”

At Sode­gaura, Guy was in­tro­duced to the team and new bike. Both Guy and John Mcguin­ness were im­pressed by the new Shin­den 6.

“Are you feel­ing it?” Mcguin­ness asked. “oh yes,” a starry-eyed Guy replied. “they re­ally look the part.”

Such was Guy’s en­thu­si­asm that one of the me­chan­ics asked if he wanted to take the bike back to his ho­tel room.

“This new Shin­den is a lot thin­ner,” Mcguin­ness told his me­chan­ics.

“The old bike was fat­ter, like an old wife. Now I have a new wife,” he joked as the Mu­gen men fell about laugh­ing.

It was a sign of the re­spect and com­mit­ment that Mu­gen have for Mcguin­ness and Martin that the whole team were present to greet them at 7.30pm on a dark and wet Sun­day night.

“It never ceases to amaze me what these peo­ple do, how they keep push­ing on with the bike’s de­vel­op­ment,” Mcguin­ness added.

Be­fore we left for the ho­tel the team man­ager, Akihiro Miyata pointed to the Shin­den 4 ma­chine sit­ting in the cor­ner.

“If you crash the new bike you can ride that old bike,” he told the duo, laugh­ing. It was to be more prophetic than he could have imag­ined (see page 4 for the full story from test­ing).

‘If you crash the new bike, you ride the old one’ MU­GEN’S AKIHIRO MIYATA

Guy spent five hours ex­am­in­ing some of the amaz­ing ma­chines at the Honda mu­seum Guy and John ar­rive in Ja­pan ready to test the electric TT Zero Mu­gen

two heavy­weights of TT rac­ing Sumo wrestler (cen­tre!) with

The Honda mu­seum is Guy’s idea of heaven

Mcguin­ness and Martin soak up the in­cred­i­ble de­tail of the new Mu­gen

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