Tagged: W-2000

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!

-tad

1975 Hercules W2000 L Side

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

Condition:

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 NEVER BEEN REGISTERED AND IS STILL ON THE MSO

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.

THIS BIKE HAS NEVER BEEN REGISTERED AND IS STILL ON THE MSO

OIL INJECTED

The bad news:

NONE

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.

-tad

1978 Hercules W2000 Tank