Tagged: Rotary

Barely Broken In: 1975 Hercules W-2000 with ONE MILE for Sale

1975 Hercules W2000 R Side

It’s a bit of a tragedy that, in the evolutionary march towards efficiency, strange beasts like this rotary-powered Hercules W-2000 have become extinct. These days, with very few exceptions, we’ve got singles for durability and economy, parallel twins for commuters and the occasional nostalgia trip, v-twins for character, triples for torque and performance, and fours for pure efficiency and speed. With regards to sporting machines, we’re almost entirely limited to v-twins, triples, and fours.

While that seems like a pretty wide variety of configurations, it’s nothing like what was available in the 60’s and 70’s: we had two-stroke twins and triples in air-or liquid-cooled varieties, square fours, turbos, straight sixes, and even the occasional rotary thrown into the mix. At first blush, the Wankel rotary seems like an ideal fit for a motorcycle: the design provides incredible smoothness without the need to resort to balance shafts, and few moving parts for ease of manufacture and reliability. Rotary engines are very compact, and make excellent power for a given “displacement”, although it is difficult to compare relative displacements with reciprocating engines, and that actually helped doom the W-2000 from the start…

1975 Hercules W2000 Engine Detail

Today, thanks to Mazda’s RX-7, RX-8, and various shrieking racecars, the rotary has become associated with performance machines. But the Hercules W-2000 was really more a high-end commuter bike, like the modern-day equivalent of a Toyota Prius, only much cooler. With a six-speed gearbox and glassy-smooth power delivery, it was comfortable and reasonably quick. Lubrication was added, early two-stroke style, by adding oil to the fuel in the tank, although later “Injection” models had a separate oil tank.

1975 Hercules W2000 Tank

Unfortunately, that hard-to-quantify engine led to insurance companies to classify the W-2000 as a much larger machine than Hercules had expected, meaning that it was effectively priced out of competition. That, combined with notoriously short-lived apex seals common to early rotaries and relatively modest performance, condemned the Hercules to obscurity. Sales were very limited, although the technical specifications make them of interest to the kind of nerdy enthusiasts who also covet hydro-pneumatic Citroëns.

From the original eBay listing: 1975 Hercules W-2000 for Sale

Mileage: 1

Get bidding on your chance to own a piece of motorcycle history!
This would be a great piece for the museum.

We purchased this bike from the original shop that owned it.
It has never been titled but it DOES come with a statement of origin.

It is in very nice shape, with the exception of some deterioration on the grips and the rear luggage strap.
There are some minor cosmetic issues here and there.
A little clean up will go a long way!

We recommend a complete service before running.

Put a bow on this bike and you will be a hero!

1975 Hercules W2000 Dash

There are 4 days left on the auction and bidding is up to $6,600. With just one mile on the clock, this is the one to have if you’re only planning on displaying it… Which might be the best way to enjoy this curiosity: reviews suggest that W-2000’s are perfectly competent motorcycles, but ultimately more of a technological footnote than a practical motorcycling solution: Wankel engines look good on paper, but rotaries have increased cooling requirements and reduced reliability that cancel out the advantages inherent in having fewer moving parts.

1975 Hercules W2000 Carb

And while it’s a shame for enthusiasts that there are fewer choices today than there were in the era of classic motorcycles, keep in mind that these engines died off for a variety of very practical reasons: two-strokes are inherently dirty and not particularly practical as day-to-day machines, sixes are big, heavy, and expensive to produce and maintain. Turbos add unnecessary complexity, and square fours have cooling problems not found in more common inline-fours. Luckily funky little bikes are still out there for enthusiasts who want them!


1975 Hercules W2000 L Side

Sunday Night Rotary Weirdness: 1975 Suzuki Re5

1975 Suzuki Re5 R Side Front2

Like the rash of turbocharged motorcycles in the 80’s, Felix Wankel’s rotary had its brief moment in the sun as motorcycle “fad of the moment.” And Suzuki went all-in, getting famous designer Giorgetto Giugiaro to pen the bodywork for the hat they tossed into the three-lobed, apex-sealed ring.

1975 Suzuki Re5 R Side Front

Unfortunately, while his cutting-edge designs were generally loved in the world of automotive design, Giugiaro’s motorcycle designs were far more controversial, and the poor reception of the Re5 was blamed on his design. A much more conservative update didn’t do much for sales, so perhaps his slightly ludicrous flourishes weren’t to blame. In any event, they make this design very funky for classic enthusiasts: check out that wild, cylindrical dash [with hinged cover!], and matching taillight!

1975 Suzuki Re5 Cockpit

Made for just three years, from 1974-1977 the bike “displaced” a mere 497cc’s, although comparing the relative displacements of rotary engines and their reciprocating counterparts isn’t really useful. The bike performed well, but was far more complicated than it should have been in theory and offered no real performance advantage over more conventional motorcycles.

1975 Suzuki Re5 R Engine

From the original, very spare eBay listing: 1975 Suzuki Re5 for Sale


1975 Suzuki RE5 Rotary engine  RARE not running sat since 1990 Bike looks complete  chrome is fair seat has 1 rip  I squrted gas in AC  & it popped a couple times but thats as far as i am capable of going at this time  has title & manual  what I learned is that 5000 bikes were made from 75 – 77  all at 1 production run  great start for restore project as it is so complete & origional

The simplicity of the rotary sounds like an ideal candidate for a motorcycle powerplant: fewer parts could mean lighter weight and the low vibration means you avoid problems that plagued parallel twins and necessitated work arounds like Norton’s “Isolastic” mounting system.

1975 Suzuki Re5 L Engine

Unfortunately, rotaries in practice can be complicated beasts to make work, and the Re5 actually featured a very complex cooling system that included three separate oil tanks, including a total-loss system to lubricate the apex seals of the engine’s rotor, traditionally a weak point of Wankel engines.

1975 Suzuki Re5 R Side Rear

This one “ran when parked” but looks to be very complete. Do some research to be sure parts are available for the engine, but this could be a chance to get a very weird, very rare motorcycle on the cheap.


1975 Suzuki Re5 Dash

Wankel Week Continues! 1975 Suzuki Re5 for Sale

1975 Suzuki Re5 L Side Front

Two interesting rotary-powered motorcycles in one week! Back in the early 1970’s, it seemed like everyone was researching rotary engines, the “engine of tomorrow”. And you can see the appeal: the engineering of Felix Wankel’s brainchild was elegant and very futuristic.

Made between 1974 and 1977, the Re5 was designed as a sport-touring motorcycle with very space-age styling and specifications, sort of a Bike of the Future. Suzuki chose a 497cc displacement for their machine, although the relative “displacements” of rotary engines are difficult to really compare directly with their traditional counterparts. The bike naturally had a very smooth, torquey character, and testers felt the handling was nearly up to European standards. Interestingly, the bike returned surprisingly reasonable fuel mileage, usually a rotary’s weak point.

1975 Suzuki Re5 R Side

But while the rotary engine itself is very simple in theory, the Suzuki Re5 featured a complex cooling system with three separate oil tanks for the sump, gearbox, and a total-loss tank. The engine was fitted with two oil pumps, one of which was dedicated to mixing oil from the total-loss tank into the fuel to aid in rotor-tip lubrication and was actuated by the throttle twistgrip.

1975 Suzuki Re5 Engine

The bike did not sell especially well and the striking design by Giorgetto Giugiaro was blamed: in 1976, Suzuki provided kits to dealers to convert unsold “tin-can dash” models to the more conservative design featured on second-generation models. But that dash! Why would you want to change it? Such a cool design, something straight out of a Japanese TV show like “Kamen Rider.”

1975 Suzuki Re5 Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1975 Suzuki Re5 for Sale

This machine is a decent original example of an M model Re5. It will need a complete service as it has been stored, properly for a number of years. I would consider this bike a solid 7 on a scale of 1-10.

A compression test has been performed and the engine is within acceptable standards per the factory.

Most importantly, It has all of the difficult M specific parts. The parts themselves are very hard to find in any useable condition, and therefore quite expensive. For example, used turn signals are 150.00 each from Rotary Recycle. An instrument cluster is 700-1000.00 The headlamp unit is 500.00. You get the idea…

A complete service includes, but is not limited to servicing front hydraulic brake system. Performing a tune up, timing, oil change, battery etc. Replacing tires that may be dry rotted or past safe service life.

This bike is complete and very original. It will make someone a nice rider or display piece.

The video in this clip below is a bit jerky, but it should give you a great idea of the unusual, fizzy sound the bike makes. And watching the tach, it’s pretty clear the rotary doesn’t mind having its neck wrung.

Suzuki Re5 ride video.

In spite of all the financial and manufacturing muscle put behind the development of rotary-powered motorcycles, it’s pretty clear that the layout was more of a novelty than a real advantage: the simplicity of the engine itself gets lost in the complexity of the carburetor, oiling, and cooling systems required.

1975 Suzuki Re5 L Side

Even though the Re5 was a more successful motorcycle than the Hercules featured earlier this week and had the manufacturing power of Suzuki behind it, it was still basically a footnote, with only about 6,000 built.

Bidding is just north of $4,000 as I post this. The chief selling point of these, aside from that gloriously wild dash, is the novelty of that engine. But really, what other reasons would you need?


1975 Suzuki Re5 Dash Front


1978 Hercules W-2000 Wankel With 3 Miles for Sale!

1978 Hercules W2000 L side

The Hercules W-2000 is a curious footnote in the history of motorcycling, one of only a handful of machines powered by Felix Wankel’s liquid smooth rotary engine. Thanks to Mazda, the rotary has come to be associated with performance applications, but a major advantage of the design is that it has so few moving parts, making it reliable and very economical engine to manufacture. In theory, at least.

1978 Hercules W2000 Dash

And while the W-2000 does have an unusual, eerily-smooth character and a 6-speed gearbox, it’s pretty clear that this machine was never intended as a sport bike. Really, it was more of a sophisticated commuter, one that certainly appealed to people with an eye for unusual technology.

I’d bet people that collect these also like Citroens and air-cooled Volkswagens, stuff that’s cool without necessarily being particularly fast.

1978 Hercules W2000 L Engine

Unfortunately, that whole “reliable and economical to manufacture” thing didn’t work out too well, and then The Government decided to tax it as a much larger-displacement machine, making the whole exercise basically pointless. The W-2000 is largely forgotten now, but does have a following.

1978 Hercules W2000 Headlight

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Hercules W-2000 for Sale


This is as nice as you will find. This bike is a true survivor. It is a 3 mile original. Look at the photos and decide for yourself. One not this nice sold down under recently for 15K US. It was not an oil injected bike. This is an EXCEPTIONAL example of an oil injected bike.


This bike has been properly stored as part of a large collection and will need only the most cursory service to make it road worthy. These bikes are very rare in the US and worldwide as total production was 199. They are almost never seen in public and some in private collections are modified. The Wikipedia photograph W-2000 is a nice bike, but it is a custom. It is not even close to factory original. This is as close as you can get to stepping into a time machine and stepping back to 1978.

To help clarify, Hercules produced 2 versions of the W-2000. A pre mix bike (Total Production about 1800) and an oil injected bike, total production 199. The motorcycle has no oil sump in the engine (and no, it’s not a two stroke) the only oil for the mains and seals (rings) comes through the fuel system. On a pre mix bike, you must mix oil at 1:25. A premix bike does it for you.

Finding a Hercules W-2000 is rare. Finding a premix bike is rarer still.  Finding a premix still on the MSO is unheard of…

The good news:

It’s all good… just look at the photos. You will be hard pressed to find a better one anywhere in the world… period.



The bad news:


Well that’s good to know: there’s no bad news. Other than the price, that is.The starting bid is at $15,000 with no takers and four days left on the auction. With miles this low, the bike is probably worth it, but it takes a very specific kind of buyer willing to fork over that kind of dough for an oddity like this, with no racing history, that was generally perceived as a noble failure.

1978 Hercules W2000 R Rear

Hopefully, someone, somewhere is taking a break from the garage where he’s rebuilding the  four-cam Maserati V6 for his ongoing Citroen SM restoration, stumbles across this time-capsule bike and decides it would go perfectly next to his Art Deco furniture collection.


1978 Hercules W2000 Tank

Rotary-Powered1976 Hercules W2000 for Sale

1976 Hercules W2000 R Side

This is a weird one: there haven’t been very many rotary-powered motorcycles like this W2000, and Hercules is certainly a forgotten marque.

Producing a mere 32hp from its single-lobe rotary, the bike was more of a commuter than road-burner, although a six speed transmission and the rotary itself indicate that something more than simple efficiency were the goal here.  Parts of the design are fascinating: that little clear feed tube for the oil-injection system is a pretty cool detail and the large cooling fan at the front of the motor is distinctive.

1976 Hercules W2000 Engine

Unfortunately, the bike was plagued by poor finish, relative unreliability, and a motorcycling community that wasn’t sure what to make of it.  In addition, the typical rotary questions with regard to “how do you quantify displacement” reared their ugly head: insurance and taxation were [and generally still are] determined by displacement, as a relative measure of the power that can be generated.  But rotaries can’t really be classified in quite the same way as piston engines and, when insurers decided to categorize it as a much larger-displacement machine, it drove a final nail into the coffin of what was intended to be a technologically sophisticated, lightweight and economical commuter.

1976 Hercules W2000 Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1976 Hercules W2000 for Sale

This is a 1976 Hercules W2000 Rotary powered motorcycle in excellent condition.  It is an extremely rare motorcycle and very few 1976 W2000s were imported into the United States. This 1976 model has the oil injection system so you don’t have to premix the oil with gasoline like on the 1974 and 1975 models. This is one of a very few that is in excellent running and can be driven on a daily basis. 

The bike has new tires, battery, and transmission oil.   All functions on the bike work well. The bike looks new, the chrome shines brightly, and the seat is soft with no tears.

1976 Hercules W2000 Tank

The W2000 isn’t all that sporting a motorcycle, but it’s pretty darn rare, and also very classic.  From an engineering standpoint, a rotary engine makes perfect sense: very few moving parts and none of that jerky, up-and-down piston stuff that’s so inefficient.  But in the real world, manufacturing hasn’t caught up with the dream, and fragile apex seals remain the Wankel’s Achilles Heel to this day.  In the 70’s?  Things were much worse: in the automotive world, warranty claims on the stylish, but rotary-powered NSU Ro80 basically sank that company…

So, not very fast or practical, but pretty interesting and collectable.  And, from this video [not the bike for sale], pretty neat-sounding as well: Hercules W2000 start up and ride away.  Not much time left on this auction, so all you engineering-nerd types, go check your bank statements and get to bidding!


1976 Hercules W2000 L Side

1975 Suzuki RE5

For Sale: 1975 Suzuki RE5

The 1970s was a decade of experimentation for many motorcycle companies. Honda moved the needle from two strokes to very complicated four cylinder four strokes, Ducati continued to evolve the Desmo valve actuation concept, Yamaha continued to beat the two stroke drum, and Suzuki wavered between two strokes and four, and went so far as to introduce a rotary as well. Of all of the novel bikes created in the 1970s, this one is perhaps the most novel; a Wankel-engined motorcycle for the masses.

Suzuki engineers stuffed a single rotor engine with a swept displacement of 500cc into a motorcycle chassis and sold it for a pittance compared to any other rotary of the day (Van Veen and Norton were the two other rotaries offered, and they were frightfully expensive). Still, the RE5 was more expensive than more “normal” counterparts, and failed to sell in large numbers. A 3 year model run saw relatively few changes (more on that later), and relatively few sales.

While Suzuki was able to succesfully mate the Wankel to a sporty motorcycle, they could not eliminate some of the inherent downsides of the rotary motor. First off, the Wankel is heavy, and the resultant 500cc bike outweighed any middle-weight and probably most liter bikes of the day. Part of this weight is due to the need for cooling. Check out the size of the radiator; rotaries run very hot and need robust cooling systems. Secondly, the fuel consumption of the Wankel is legendary – as America endured the oil embargo and rising gas prices, this became a concern. Combine high weight and high fuel consumption with relatively modest performance (the rotary is very smooth at high RPM but is not known for torque) along with a high sticker price and you have the makings for a classic showroom queen.

From the seller:
This is a good example of a very rare motorcycle. It is amazing how much power the Wankel rotary engine produces with just 500cc’s. I have ridden this bike around town a few times. It really runs great and man does it turn some heads. The bike is in such good running and riding condition you could ride it anywhere. It would make someone a good every day rider or you could just show it. You probably will be the only one in your town to own one. Bid with confidence, this is a very good and very rare motorcycle.

From a collector perspective, these are relatively rare motorcycles. They are not seen every day, either on the street or in auctions. Therefore, the desireability is pretty decent. These are complex motorcycles, and therefore the buyer would be cautioned to purchase the very best available if riding the bike is in the cards. Most two and four stroke mechanics are not totally familiar with the operation of the Wankel powerplant, which makes restoration a little more difficult, although by no means impossible.

Changes over the model years are very few. This is one of the earlier bikes, as seen by the pod-theme in the instrument cluster and tail light section. The last year bikes have conventional instrumentation and lights, as Suzuki attempted to boost sales by making the bikes appear a little bit more main stream. Unfortunately that failed, and the RE5 is now a collectable piece of history.

This bike looks to be in good condition, and is practically begging for a new home. Bidding interest has been very high, and the current bid sits at $4,000 – that is very low money for a very rare bike! For more information and your chance to bid on this rare wonder, click the link and jump over to the auction. Good luck, and tell ’em you found it on CSBFS!


What come around goes around: 1975 Suzuki RE5 Rotary

For Sale: 1975 Suzuki RE5 Rotary

The Suzuki RE5 is one of the iconic collector bikes of all time. One of only a handful of rotary powered bikes ever produced (reference Norton from England and Van Veen from Holland for the other two), the RE5 came at a time where the motorcycle world was slowly changing. Surviving against the onslaught of British bikes of the early 70’s, and with the European marques coming on strong (BMW, Moto Guzzi and Ducati), Suzuki took a gamble on a brave new technology: the Wankel engine. Instead of utilizing pistons and cylinders, the Wankel engine uses a triangular-shaped rotor that spins within a concentric housing. Made famous in later years by the Mazda RX-7, the Wankel engine was well-know to be very smooth at high RPMs.

Check out the Suzuki logo on the lower right of the above photo – the logo is a perfect representation of a rotor (in the center) and housing. The motor itself, while relatively compact for such cutting edge technology, was also pretty heavy. As a result, the RE5 was not a particularly light motorcycle and suffered greatly when compared to competitive sporting machinery from other manufacturers.

From the seller:
1975 Suzuki RE 5 Rotary Engine Motorcycle.

Looks good, strong runner. Tank and sidecovers are good quality re-paint. Have another tank and sidecovers that are original paint that look pretty good with some minor scratches. Tires near new tread depth. Has been run up Palomar Mountain, a worthy 7 mile steep climb from 2,200 to 5,500 feet altitude, with 230 Lb rider. Cali title in hand. Reg Expired 2007, but is on PNO , so no penalties.

So what happened to the RE5? Many think that it was an idea too far ahead of its time. When it was introduced in 1974, the RE5 was very odd looking with the round instrument cluster and matching taillight. It was not particularly fast for its size (the swept engine displacement was a mere 500cc), it was heavy (560+ pounds) and because of the technology it was also expensive when compared to contemporary machines. Suzuki changed the styling in 1976 in a last-ditch attempt to make the bike more mainstream, but it was a little bit too little and way too late; the RE5 died after only 3 model years were completed.

In addition to the weight, a rotary has a few additional drawbacks. Firstly, they generate a substantial amount of heat – hence the very large radiator dominating the frontal view. They exhaust is also extremely hot, necessitating heavy exhaust pipes complete with a fresh-air cooling system. Finally, there is the oil consumption issue to deal with. Because rotor tips were harder to seal than pistons, compression was never very high on these motors – but oil consumption was. Many a RE5 fell to neglect, and it is best to run away from any RE5 basket case given the cost of replacement (if replacement parts can be found at all).

Today’s listing is in pretty good condition, and the seller has included a video. Note that the bike runs well, idles without stalling, and does not exhibit any significant smoke out the exhaust (worn rotor tips will make the bike smoke like a two stroke):

So what price for such bravado and rarity? Well, the lucky fact is that despite low production numbers and unique parking lot appeal the RE5 is not an expensive motorcycle. Unlike the aforementioned Norton or Van Veen – both with price tags in excess of $100,000 – the Suzuki RE5 is downright modest. Prime examples go for well below $10k, and clean, rideable bikes can be had for approximately $4,500 .

This bike is available now, and the bidding is only at $2,125 with reserve not yet met. You have to hand it to the seller (a well known California-based collector) to start the auction out with a $500 strike price, and I would expect that current bidding is getting close to the reserve price.

To check out the auction, see the pictures, and bid on this great piece of Suzuki history, click on the link and . Tell them you saw it on CSBFS!