cruiser motorcycles

Top 10 Wankel Engine Motorcycles

Top 10 Wankel Engine Motorcycles

1. Norton F1 Sport

Norton F1 Sport
Photo Credit: @carthrottle

Based on Norton's RCW588 racing motorbike, the Norton F1 Sport is a sports motorcycle introduced in 1991. This motorcycle was built with a racing bike design and came at a high price of around $24,500. Originally, many riders thought the Norton F1 was produced by accident since Norton was struggling financially at the time.

The original Norton F1 Sport was created from spare parts, not originally intended to be fitted with or promote Wankel engines. But it did have the most recent racing bike seat and fairing, showing off the Spondon frame. The Norton F1 Sport has excellent features, including a Wankel engine, a five-speed gearbox, and dual-disc brakes at the front. The Norton F1 Sport stood out due to being unique from other Norton motorcycles and sports bikes, capable of reaching a top speed of 233 km/h.

Motorcycle Manufacturer Production Horsepower Torque Engine
Norton F1 Norton Motor 1991 90 hp 77.3 Nm / 7.88 kgf-m /57 ft-lbs @ 7500 rpm 588 cc Wankel Engine

2. Norton F1

Norton F1
Photo Credit: @handh

Norton F1 was first introduced to the motorcycle market in 1990. The Norton F1’s design resembled the Ducati Paso, the original CBR600, and the CBR1000. Though the Norton model had an excellent aluminum Spondon frame and high-end suspensions, it didn't gain a good reputation as a racing bike.

Only 130 Norton F1 have been made, all coming at high prices.

Motorcycle Manufacturer Production Horsepower Top Speed Torque Engine
Norton F1 Norton Motors 1990-1991 95.3 hp 155 mph 60 ft-lbs @ 7500 rpm 588 cc liquid-cooled twin rotor Wankel engine

3. Suzuki RE5

Suzuki RE5
Photo Credit: @wikipedia

From 1974 to 1976, Suzuki produced the RE5, a motorcycle featuring a liquid-cooled, single-rotor Wankel engine. The RE5 has a traditional roadster look but with unique stylistic elements designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro.

The 1974 model of Suzuki RE5’s Wankel engine was capable of horsepower of 62 hp, built with a smooth overall design and a barrel-shaped fuel tank with instruments mounted.

A feature that distinguishes the RE5 from other motorcycles is its cylindrical instrument panel and tail light. Additionally, it also has a special heat shield to protect the rider's legs from heat generated by the engine.

There are only a handful of Suzuki RE5 models available at used and second-hand markets.

Motorcycle Manufacturer Production Horsepower Torque Top Speed Engine
Suzuki RE5 Suzuki 1974-1976 61.9 hp 55.6 ft-lbs (75.4 Nm) @ 3500 rpm 168 km/h (104 mph) 497 cc Wankel rotary

4. Van Veen OCR1000

Van Veen OCR1000
Photo Credit: @drivemag

Van Veen was one of the earliest Holland motorcycle companies to manufacture a motorcycle with a Wankel engine. Henk Van Veen founded the Van Veen and the company ceased to manufacture motorcycles in the early 1980s. The Van Veen OCR100 was fitted with a 1000 cc Comotor 624 twin-rotor Wankel engine originally used in Van Veen's first prototype from 1974. In November 1974, it was displayed at the Cologne Motorcycle Exhibition with cast tires and triple Brembo disc brakes.

The Van Veen OCR1000’s 996 cc engine produced a horsepower of 100 hp and had a top speed of 135 mph, although the Wankel engine wasn’t as efficient as piston engines. The Van Veen OCR1000 performed really well with this engine. Its front suspension had a 42 m telescopic fork with dual shocks swingarm suspension at the rear, and a double-rotor engine. Each rotor has a volume of 498 cc and has a total displacement of 996 cc.

Only 38 Van Veen models were ever produced due to poor sales and being discontinued in 1981.

Motorcycle Manufacturer Production Horsepower Top Speed Engine
Van Veen OCR1000 Henk Van Veen 1974 100 hp 135 mph 996 cc Wankel Engine

5. Norton Commander

Norton Commander
Photo Credit: @silodrome

The Norton Commander is powered by the latest liquid-cooled, twin-rotor “P53” Commander engine first introduced in 1989. The motorcycle is ideal for riders who prefer the engineering of Norton over BMW or Honda. When the company deployed a variation of the Commander engine during the era of motorcycle racing, it became a powerful piece of equipment.

The Norton Commander has a liquid-cooled, twin-rotor Wankel engine producing a torque of 75.3 Nm at 7000 rpm, and came with a five-speed gearbox.

Two types of Norton Commander models were manufactured:

  • P52: A single-seat motorcycle for police
  • P53: A dual-seat motorcycle for civilians

Motorcycle Manufacturer Production Horsepower Torque Top Speed Engine
Norton Commander Norton Motorcycle Company 1988-1992 85 hp 75.4 Nm @ 7000 rpm 201.168 km/h / 125 mph Water-cooled twin rotor engine

6. Norton Classic

Norton Classic
Photo Credit: @bikeexif

The Norton Classic is a motorbike with a rotary engine, with only 100 models produced in 1987. The Norton Classic was the British company's first motorcycle with a rotary engine. David Garside of BSA’s Umberslade Hall Research Facility fitted the Norton Classic with a twin-rotor Wankel engine inspired by the Hercules Motorcycles’ air-cooled engines.

The Norton Classic has 38 mm telescopic forks with front suspension and a three-way preload rear suspension. The Norton Classic is a conventional twin-shock motorcycle with a revolutionary engine, brakes, suspension, and overall look.

Motorcycle Manufacturer Production Horsepower Top Speed Engine
Norton Classic Norton Motorcycle Company 1987 79 hp 209 km/h / 130 mph 588 cc air-cooled twin-rotor Wankel engine

7. Norton Interpol II

Norton Interpol II
Photo Credit: @classicsuperbikes

The Norton Interpol II, also known as the P41, was produced by Norton Motors from 1984 to 1989. This motorcycle was made for the police force rather than motorcycle enthusiasts.

The Norton Interpol II has 38 mm telescopic forks with 130 mm of front suspension and a three-way preload-adjustable rear suspension.

The Norton Interpol II’s design closely resembled the BMW R100T.

Motorcycle Manufacturer Production Horsepower Torque Engine
Norton Interpol II Norton Motors 1984-1989 85 hp 75.3 Nm / 7.69 kgf-m / 55.6 ft-lbs @ 7000 rpm 588 cc air-cooled twin-rotor Wankel engine

8. Kawasaki X99 RCE

Kawasaki X99 RCE
Photo Credit: @ClassicMotorcycleShop

The Kawasaki X99 RCE is a motorcycle with a prototype rotary engine. The company made a lot of effort and expenses in making a Wankel engine, so Kawasaki is considered among the most innovative productions. The Kawasaki X99 RCE was first manufactured in 1974 until development ceased in 1975. This motorcycle was discontinued due to the sudden rise in oil prices in 1975, with the project still remaining discontinued to this day.

Motorcycle Manufacturer Production Power Torque Engine
Kawasaki X99 RCE Kawasaki Motorcycles 1974-1975 86.5 hp 10.78 kgf-m / 77.9 Nm Wankel

9. Yamaha RZ201

Yamaha RZ201
Photo Credit: @quora

Introduced in 1972, the Yamaha RZ201 was fitted with a 660 cc Wankel engine. Only a few prototypes of this Yamaha model have been made.

The Yamaha RZ201 has a liquid-cooled system that prevents the engine from overheating. This system cools and lubricates the rotors by directly feeding oil from the carburetor. The Yamaha RZ201 has the same suspension, frame, and overall look as the Yamaha TX750.

The Yamaha RZ201’s Wankel engine has a 56 mm diameter, and an 83 mm radius and utilizes an OCR/CCR (oil-cooled rotor or charge-cooled rotor).

Motorcycle Manufacturer Production Horsepower Torque Engine
Yamaha RZ201 Yamaha 1972 68 hp 7.8 kgf-m / 56.4 Nm at 4000 rpm Wankel

10. Hercules W-2000

Hercules W-2000
Photo Credit: @rideapart

Hercules was founded in 1903, with its mission being to produce small motorcycles with small-capacity engines. They only shifted their attention towards manufacturing larger two-wheelers in the 1930s.

The Hercules W-2000 is one of the oldest motorcycles fitted with a Wankel engine. Originally designed during the 1960s, this Hercules model was first shown off at a German trade show (Internationale Fahrrad und Motorrad-Ausstellung IFMA) in 1960. Manufactured in Germany, the Hercules W-2000 remained in production from 1974 to 1977.

The Hercules W-2000’s air-cooled Wankel engine is fitted with a front axial fan, ensuring a steady airflow that keeps the engine cool.

The Hercules W-2000 is equipped with a 294 cc engine but only can produce a horsepower of 27-32 hp @ 6,500 rpm and 24.5 ft-lbs(33.2 Nm) @ 4,500 rpm.

Hercules worked very hard to ensure the success of their new Wankel engine motorbike. The Sachs Wankel engine was hanging mounted longitudinally from the tubular steel frame, which had two down-tubes that folded back to give twin horizontal supports for it. This support was complemented by another mounting at the back.

Motorcycle Manufacturer Production Horsepower Top Speed Torque Engine
Hercules W-2000 Hercules 1974-1977 27-32 hp 90 mph (144.8 km/h) for 32-hp version 24.5 ft-lbs (33.2 Nm) @ 4,5,00 RPM 294 cc Air-cooled Wankel

11. Final thoughts

The Wankel engines are revolutionary innovations, especially when installed on motorcycles. Motorcycles with Wankel engines have a revolutionary cooling system, good durability, a compact design, and produce low vibrations. Wankel engines are preferred over piston ones because they are cheaper to manufacture, run more smoothly, are more fuel efficient, and are relatively lightweight. If you want to customize your motorcycle and improve its look, you can add new Saddlebags, seats, crash bars, fairings, handlebars, luggage racks, and sissy bars.

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