Weird Wankel – The Hercules W2000 Was The World’s First Wankel Powered Motorcycle See and Hear It Run In These Videos

Weird Wankel – The Hercules W2000 Was The World’s First Wankel Powered Motorcycle See and Hear It Run In These Videos

We know that a bunch of you out there love motorcycles and while we’re interested by freaky stuff like the story of the Hercules W2000 rotary powered bikes, we don’t live and breathe the two wheel lifestyle. A friend of mine was telling me about this model and I thought he had sucked down one too many beers to be honest. I had never heard of a Wankel rotary engine motorcycle before and as it turns out he was right. This is the Hercules W2000 a single rotor, 32hp creation that was sold in the middle 1970s, starting in 1974. The engine was rated at a displacement of 294cc and while you’d immediately think that the low position of the engine would be great to keep the CG down, it also limited the bike’s maneuverability a lot and as such the thing got labeled a commuter motorcycle rather than a sport bike and that did not help things much.

NSU is the company that had all the patents (still does?) on the rotary engine and they put massive restrictions and limitations on anyone who was licensing their information to build rotary style engines. As such, the horsepower was limited on the bike and that also was another thing working against it. Hercules made a Wankel powered dirt bike for a short time as well, doing what they could to make use of the engine that never quite caught on in motorcycles, much like its story in the automotive world as well. A cult following is not enough to keep a design alive, especially when it needs to be mass produced and sold in volume. We don’t know how many of these machines made it to the United States, but we do know that there are some neat videos showing the Hercules W2000 in action. We like the first one the best because the gas tank of the bike is so rusty, the rider has a small fuel tank hanging from the handlebars as he fires it up and rides it.

Norton came out with a two rotor Wankel bike a few years after the Hercules and it apparently met the same fate at this model. Low sales and interest killed it before the design really had time to blossom. For the sheer freak factor alone we’d love to have one. Pulling into any sort of cruise night, bike show, or parking lot would surely get you a lot of glances because most people would have no idea what this thing in and by the looks of the fan on the front of the engine some may think it is a turbine! Those people would be morons, but there’s lots of ’em out and about these days.

Here’s to you Hercules W2000, a lost and largely forgotten experiment in Wankel powered two wheeled transport.


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